Art Censorship in Russia Tests Civil, Religious & Cultural Liberties

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues

‘Forbidden Art’ Draws a Fine
by Richard Boudreaux
The Wall Street Journal
July 13, 2010

Outcome of Closely Watched Russian Censorship Case Leaves Both Sides Fuming

Moscow-In a closely watched case of censorship backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, two prominent Russian curators were convicted Monday of inciting religious hatred by staging an art exhibition that included an image of Jesus Christ appearing to his disciples as Mickey Mouse.

But a Moscow court ordered the curators to pay fines rather than serve three-year prison terms demanded by the prosecution.

The 14-month trial’s outcome displeased both sides: The curators said it advanced a return to Soviet-era cultural censorship with rules now dictated by a conservative, politically powerful church. Orthodox Christian activists voiced anger that the defendants avoided prison, and a church official said the fines, totaling the equivalent of $11,340, were too low to dissuade new artistic offenses against the Christian faithful.

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