Russia Update: Russian Orthodox Extremist Enteo Arrested at Manezh for Attacking Exhibit

August 17, 2015
Russian Orthodox extremist Dmitry Enteo with shards of a sculpture at the Manezh. Photo by Gazeta.ru.

The Russian Orthodox extremist who goes by the name Enteo and his followers attacked a sculpture exhibit at the Manezh last week, damaging art works. The question is whether Moscow prosecutors will follow through with charges after detaining the vandals.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

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Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

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Russian Orthodox Extremist Enteo Arrested at Manezh Exhibit for Damaging Sculptures

Dmitry Enteo, head of the extremist Russian Orthodox group Bozh’ya Volya [God’s Will] was arrested August 14, Gazeta.ru and Ixtc.org reported.

Enteo and his group members have led a number of attacks on liberals including gay parade participants, Sakharov Center event-goers, and anti-war marchers.

This time Enteo made an attack on the Manezh Exhibition Center where a show sponsored by the Moscow City Department of Culture titled “The Sculptures We Don’t See,” featuring works of the LeSS art group from the 1960s-1970s, was under way. He claimed the abstract works “offended the feelings of believers.” His turn of phrase was meant to echo the Russian law against insulting religious believers which was used to put Pussy Riot activists in jail for more than two years.

Enteo and about 10 of his followers burst into the show at the Manezh, an exhibit hall by Red Square which would only have shows approved by the authorities.

On his Twitter account, he wrote “There is terrible blasphemy in the center of Moscow at the exhibition, we’re running to liquidate it!” Gazeta.ru reported. The tweet has since been deleted.

Enteo countered his critics by saying that none of the art works exhibited were damaged. But visitors to the exhibit who tried to save the sculptures said they were damaged, and utro.ru reported that four reliefs of the crucifixion of Christ and another sculpture depicting St. John the Baptist were smashed during the attack.

Enteo is the assumed name of Dmitry Tsorionov, RIA Novosti reported.

The work that seems to have offended the extremists was a sculpture by Vadim Sidura titled “The Creator with Adam And Eve” featured in an article in utro.ru.

2015-08-17 16:32:25

Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

The Moscow City Police issued a statement at the time, said utro.ru (translation by The Interpreter):

“An investigative operations group is working at the scene,
and all the circumstances of the incident are being established, an
inspection is being made.”

The Very Reverend Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the
Synodal Department for the Cooperation of the Russian Orthodox Church
and Society made the following statement:

“The law must be observed in everything. If Tsorionov has
violated the law, let him answer to the full severity of the law. But
the law must also be observed by those who organize exhibits.”

There has been a tacit understanding under the Putin regime that
the forbidden art works, literature, and historical revelations of the
“perestroika” era before 2001 are to be left untouched, even as
rollbacks of the liberal reforms of the Yeltsin era continue apace.

Yet with the reappearance of Stalin, the closing of the Perm Labor
Camp Museum on political prisoners, and other attacks on art shows and
cultural events, this understanding seems to be eroding.

Russian media used the term “pogrom” which means “destruction” in Russian to describe the attack.

And some bloggers made a rather far-fetched comparison of the group to
ISIL in a videotape of the attack, which shows exhibit visitors and
organizers arguing with Enteo, saying he should go and pray in church
and help the poor rather than attacking art works.

 It remains to be seen whether Moscow authorities will follow through on prosecuting this vandalism.

Translation: Dobrynin demands a real jail term for Enteo.

Konstantin Dobrynin, deputy head of the Federation Council’s Committee on Constitutional Law said that he believed Enteo was performing these actions to gain fame.

“Therefore it is the duty of the state to provide him with this ‘fame.’ Within the framework of the Criminal Code in effect, he has quite certainly earned himself five years of ‘fame.'”

Dobrynin has sent an inquiry to Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin urging him to investigate the incident.

Yaroslav Nilov, head of the State Duma’s Committee on Civic Associations and Religious Organizations has also called for investigation of the attack on the art show.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick