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En russisk domstol har dømt Sakharov-museet for blasfemi for å ha avholdt en utstilling som driver gjøn med religion.

Utstillingens navn er «Forsiktig! Religion». Museets direktør og kurator er hver ilagt en bot på 3.600 dollar. De fryktet fengsel, slik aktor ba om.

Sakens kjerne er at påtalemyndigheten griper inn og får et museum dømt for en utstilling.

Etter vestlig målestokk var kritikken beskjeden. Men det var nok til å provosere enkelte russere voldsomt.

The exhibition had been open only four days before six men from an Orthodox church in Moscow ransacked the museum, damaging or destroying many of the 45 works on display. Criminal charges against four of the men were dropped, while two others were acquitted last year in a trial that led to the new charges against Mr. Samodurov; the museum’s curator, Lyudmila V. Vasilovskaya, who was also convicted and fined on Monday; and one of the artists, Anna Mikhalchuk.

Ms. Mikhalchuk, who exhibits under the name Alchuk, was acquitted Monday. She said the verdict in effect erased the separation of church and state in today’s Russia. «I am afraid the formulation of the court’s ruling will be used as a precedent for the authorities,» she said. «It practically crosses out Russia on the list of secular nations.»

En ting er at russere har et mer pietetsfullt forhold til religion. Men det ligger også en følelse av at myndighetene sender et politisk signal. Det settes en presedens som vil bli brukt til å gripe inn mot andre kunstuttrykk. Det er klimaet i Putins Russland som åpner for en slik tolkning.

One sculpture depicted a church made of vodka bottles, a biting allusion to the tax exemption the church received in the 1990’s to sell alcohol. A poster by Aleksandr Kosolapov, a Russian-born American artist whose work often satirizes state symbols, depicted Jesus on a Coca-Cola advertisement. «This is my blood,» it said in English. The court refused a request by prosecutors to destroy the artworks, ordering that they be returned to the artists who created them.

Russia Fines Museum Aides for Art Said to Ridicule Religion