Address regarding the case of Andrey Yerofeev and Yury Samodurov
1 July 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
Alexandra Sviridova, writer