Amnesty International has released a statement which describes the convictions handed down against art curators Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre as “a blow to freedom of expression.” That seems generous – more than a blow, it’s a knock out. Although it’s good to see that AI is just now beginning to get the idea that there is deficient rule of law in Russia.
According to Yerofeyev, the driving force behind this trial is the nationalist group Narodny Sobor: “We have the classic situation of a fascist party that is attacking contemporary culture,” he said. “Through destruction it is trying to get attention, your attention.”
“These shameful verdicts are yet another blow to freedom of expression in Russia. Such judgements have no place in a state supposedly ruled by law,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.
The prosecution claimed that Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeev, had arranged the exhibits, some of which used religious symbolism, in such a way that they incited enmity and hatred and also denigrated the dignity of Christian groups, in particular Orthodox Christians.
“None of the works incited enmity or hatred. Freedom of expression cannot be restricted or prohibited simply on the grounds that some people find the views expressed offensive or disagreeable,” Nicola Duckworth said.
“Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeev were convicted solely because they dared to show a number of censored art works that had been refused public display at other exhibitions.”