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Address regarding the case of Andrey Yerofeev and Yury Samodurov
1 июля 2010

Currently another politically motivated trial of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev’s epoch is coming to its end in Moscow.    This process is held against the organizers of an art exhibition, entitled “Forbidden Art 2006” – Yury Samodurov and Andrey    Yerofeev.
This process – is a continuation of a forcible takeover of Russian culture by clerical circles. The goal of the individuals, who    initiated the charges, representatives of the ultra-nationalistic organizations and Moscow’s Patriarchy who joined the side of the    prosecution, is to impose a strict and tight control over the use of symbols and images of religious origin.
We regret that the office of Moscow’s Prosecutor did not follow the recommendation of the Public Council of Moscow’s    Prosecutor that asked not to support the state charges. Contrary to the Council’s suggestion the office of Moscow’s Prosecutor    asked not only to recognize the guilt of a well-known fine-art expert Andrey Yerofeev and curator of exhibition projects and well-known human rights activist Yury Samodurov, but also called for their imprisonment.
Therefore, the Prosecutor’s office on behalf of the state has publicly declared that it still takes the side of religious radicals who    aspire to impose an absolutely anti-constitutional spiritual censorship in our country. In fact, the use by artists of the biblical    images, which includes social criticism, has a long history. It is important to mention that its persecution is associated with the    darkest and gloomiest periods of the state’s reaction. The given process – is a trial against a branch of modern art. The charges    were based on the testimonies of 200 hundred mobilized activists, majority of whom have not seen the exhibition, but    nonetheless, were recognized by court as witnesses, as well as on the expertise of the witnesses who are fundamentally against    modern art. From above mentioned we could see the biased approach of the prosecution’s side.
The given practice differs slightly from Iran’s totalitarian regime. The distinction is only in the moderate degree of punishment    that is called for. However, in reality, all of these events stand in the same line as an order to kill the author Salman Rushdie.
We are convinced that this trial has already, by the fact of its existence, dishonored Russian justice system. In a modern    European state that considers itself to be a law-based and democratic state no such proceedings can take place.
Thus, in case of a guilty verdict we are calling for an open condemnation of the Russian Federation as a state, where the    freedom of creativity is equated to criminal crimes.
Currently the judge, who holds in her hands not only the destinies of two people, but also the future progress of the Russian    culture for the years to come, has left for deliberation.
We understand how miserable is the statistics of acquittals in our country. However, we are hoping that the court will make its    decision based on the principles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation that guarantees the freedom of creativity, art and    self-expression.
We are hoping that the judge is a true Russian patriot and that she is not indifferent to the reputation of the state, under whose    name she will be pronouncing the verdict.
   Human Rights Council of St. Petersburg
   Ludmila Alexeeva, chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group
   Konstantin Azadovsky, Chairman of St. Petersburg’s PEN-Club Executive Committee
   Andrey Babushkin, Committee “For Civil Rights”
   Valery Borschev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
   Lubov Volkova, Moscow “Social Partnership” Fund
   Svetlana Gannushkina, Committee of civil assistance
   Oleg Orlov, Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
   Lydia Grafova, chief editod of “Migration 21st Century” magazine
   Valentin Gefter, Institure of Human Rights
   Nina Katerli, writer, member of Moscow’s Union of writers and PEN-club
   Sergey Kovalev, Andrey Saharov’s Fund
   Andrey Piontkovsky, writer
   Boris Strugatsky, writer
   Victor Shenderovich, writer
   Lev Ponomarev, All-Russian movement “For Human Rights”
   Ernst Cherny, responsible secretary, Public committee for the defense of scientists
   Clergyman Gleb Yakunin, Public committee for the defense of freedom of conscience
   Ludmyla Alpern, Elena Gordeeva, Valery Sergeev, Centre for assistance to reform of criminal justice
   Igor Nagavkin, Volgograd’s organization of social and legal protection of convicted and imprisoned
   Viktorya Sergeeva, Виктория Сергеева, “Penal Reform International” in the Russian Federation
   Sergey Sorokin, Movement against violence
   Dmitry Pyslar, “Soldier’s Right” Fund
   Nikolay Gudskov, Esperantist
   Serget Zagnyi, composer
   Igor G. Yakovenko, professor of Russian State Humanitarian University
   Dmitry Belomestov, journalist
   Gregory Dorohov, composer
   Svetlana Isaeva, Irina Alexandrovskaya, “Mother’s of Dagestan for human rights”
   Vadi Postnikov, social activist, editor of “Tribunal… now in Tyumen” newspaper
   Tatyana Korlyar, deputy of Obninsk city Council
   Mikhail Sytnykov, member of the Russian Journalis’s Union, Moscow
   Vladimir Oyvin, Social Fund “Glasnost”
   Elena Ryabinina, Human’s Right Institute
   Yevgenya Romashova, economist, Moscow
   Boris Katz, professor of the Fine Arts Faculty of St. Petersburg European university, member of St. Petersburg’s Union of Composers
   Mikhail Lobanov, Pushino
   Elena Bonner
   Alexandra Sviridova, writer