Author Topic: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner  (Read 2016 times)

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Offline RichC

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Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« on: October 24, 2006, 09:54:12 PM »
Here is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/world/europe/22russia.html

Here is the article:
   

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By SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY
Published: October 22, 2006

MOSCOW, Oct. 21 — A group of men burst into a contemporary art gallery here Saturday, destroying work by an ethnic Georgian artist and beating up the owner, Marat Guelman. Mr. Guelman is well known both for his display of politically inspired and irreverent art and, most recently, his public attacks on neofascists for their dislike of non-Russians and of Western influence on Russian society.

Mr. Guelman said the attack was carried out by 10 men who looked like skinheads. The attack was the latest incident to raise troubling questions about xenophobia and freedom of expression in Russia.

On Friday, Russian officials seized 11 pieces of art that Mr. Guelman had exhibited. The art was on consignment to a London gallery owner, Matthew Bown, who was taking the pieces out of the country when he was detained at Sheremetyevo-2 airport on Friday.

The photo collages that were seized included one depicting President Vladimir Putin, President Bush and Osama bin Laden lounging in boxer shorts and another of a veiled suicide bomber with her skirt held up to reveal racy lingerie.

Mr. Bown was allowed to leave for London, but the artwork was not released.

It is unclear whether the seizure of the artwork on Friday and the attack on the gallery were related, coincidence or driven by news about the airport seizure on the radio and the Internet. Mr. Guelman has made a fair number of enemies this year because of his public criticism of neofascists and nationalists.

He is now on a list of “enemies of Russia” that is being circulated on the Internet by Russian neofascists.

Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was gunned down in her apartment building on Oct. 7, was also on the list, as are many prominent human rights advocates. Ms. Politkovskaya made her name as a searing critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya.

Mr. Guelman has also angered Russian Orthodox fundamentalists with his criticism of their influence on politics and for displaying artwork they consider antireligious. Although he has long cultivated connections with the Kremlin, he has been increasingly critical of Mr. Putin.

It was also unclear whether the attack on the gallery and the Georgian art was related to anti-Georgian sentiment that has surged this fall.

Tensions between the Kremlin and President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia led to a crackdown on Georgians in Russia this month. The government has accused some Georgian-owned businesses of violating health or other regulatory standards and has deported hundreds of ethnic Georgians deemed to be in Russia illegally.

In a telephone interview on Saturday evening after he was released from the hospital, Mr. Guelman said he had been treated for a broken nose and other injuries.

He said 10 men dressed in dark blue and wearing hats and heavy boots charged into the gallery at around noon, forced the employees against a wall, seized their phones and then proceeded to vandalize the artwork and attack him.

“They started to beat me with their shoes, with chairs,” he said. “Then they threw a computer at me. It was awful.”

He said pieces of graphic art by Alexander Djikia, a Moscow-based ethnic Georgian artist who has lived in the United States, were destroyed and paintings by him were damaged. Mr. Djikia could not be reached for comment.

The official RIA Novosti news agency said Saturday that the Moscow prosecutor’s office had opened a criminal investigation into the gallery attack.

Aleksandr Brod, the director of the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights, which tracks xenophobia and hate crimes in Russia, said the attack on Saturday highlighted troubling currents. Mr. Brod is also on the list of “enemies of Russia.”

“Such demonstrative attacks on famous people are becoming the norm,” he said. “This is a big misfortune and serious grounds for the authorities to stop and think,” he said.

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2006, 03:35:09 PM »
This is so disturbing. I'd heard before that attacks by skinheads and other neofascist groups were on the rise in Russia (several years ago there was a rash of attacks on foreign students, particularly Africans, and a few years ago a Chinese man was actually murdered by one of these groups). One theory going the rounds is that Putin's government turns a blind eye to such violence because then it can tell the West, "See, only we stand between Russia and fascism." But if you ask me that's a very dangerous game to play and it's not unlikely that a fascist leader could rise to power in Russia in the foreseeable future. The red-brown coalition, as epitomized by the writer Limonov's self-consciously "postmodernist" and trendy National Bolshevik Party, is not something that can be easily brushed aside. Limonov acts as if his party is just one big joke but his followers go around beating people up. (Limonov's party is the one that sports the Soviet red flag but in the place of the traditional hammer and sickle there is a swastika.) 
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because I have seen no other

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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2006, 07:03:45 PM »
Quote from: Elisabeth Today at 03:35:09 PM: "But if you ask me that's a very dangerous game to play and it's not unlikely that a fascist leader could rise to power in Russia in the foreseeable future."

Agreed. A humane, just and strong government doesn't just give people two choices . . . our regime or chaos. A humane, just and strong government makes it abundantly clear that destruction of property and/or violence towards people will NOT be tolerated, and that freedom of expression--so long as it does not deny others their own right to express themselves--is sacrosant.

Excuse me if I echo some of the correspondence of Nicholas and Alexandra, but Russia has so much potential for so much good. However, as was mentioned in a previous post--by Elisabeth, I believe?--centuries of tsars and commissars apparently have flattened the spirit of many Russians, to the point (again, in accordance with what Alexandra wrote) that they do seem childlike and accepting. Or perhaps the more accurate conclusion would be that many Russians seem reconciled to a hard life and a sad fate. Of course, that type of attitude can be found in many other nations . . . i.e., the United States is inhabited by a considerable per centage of people convinced that everyone in government or aspires to a government job is corrupt, so why even bother to vote. But it is tremendously discouraging--and often horrifying--to read about certain groups who are intent on making post-Communist Russia a hooligan's paradise. Although our tour group visited  Russia and Ukraine for just two weeks, since that time I've felt a profound connection to both nations. So I emphatically hope that instead of these nations regressing,  humane and courageous leaders will be elected and supported by the people, and that the hatemongers will loose their power and, if they continue to wreak havoc, will be brought to justice.



Offline Tania+

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Re: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2006, 08:50:34 PM »
Janet,

Many Russians inside and outside of Russia echo your same thoughts. Russia has been it seems fighting against every kind of traumatic events, and political upheaval. It is shameful that these skinheads are tolerated if at all. Having these ruffians is not a choice at all.

Your right in that many nations suffer in a sense the sameness of like issues, but for us in the West, I don't think we are suffering as much as Russia has, and is still going through. I know first hand how bad things are presently in Russia, and it is quite piercing.

Let's hope and pray that as you have stated, 'real and humane courageous leaders will eventually be elected and supported' by the whole of Russia. I do hope though that your visit to Russia was a good visit, in spite of any difficulties you may have run into.

Tatiana+
TatianaA


Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2006, 07:06:06 PM »
Hi Tania--

We didn't have too many problems during our 1991 tour of Russia and Ukraine; however, we were warned about certain areas in each city and took the recommended precautions. If I had it to do over again I would NOT wear my white athletic shoes, since that immediately identified me as an American! However, no ill came of it, and I did take some wonderful early morning walks along the Neva while the rest of our tour group members were still in their rooms.

Our tour group did take an overnight train from Kiev to Moscow, and my roommate was nervous about this since she felt overnight train trips were dangerous. However, nothing worthy of a Miss Marple adventure occurred. What she and I did experience, the second-to-last day of Moscow stay, was waking up to find a burglar casing our room. However, as I have since told friends and family, this type of thing happens all over the world--tourists are classic targets--and although we were considerably shaken up by the experience and certainly reported it to the hotel's concierge, nothing was stolen . . . except, of course, our peace of mind!

Offline Tania+

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Re: Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2006, 10:00:23 PM »
Hi Janet,

Your peace of mind as anyone's, is 'everything', and on a trip even more. Sorry that it transpired. We had a few incidences as well, but as world travelers, we got educated real soon :) ...as you said, it happens everywhere. Your lucky though the thief or ransacker did not stay too long. Many times these ruffians will go to any means to make sure there are no witnesses. I know its a mind chilling experience, but that's all the more reason that when you go into your room, or even your home, you make a lot of noise so the thief will run off. Sorry, but I have not had the pleasure or knowledge of knowing who Miss Marple is. I hope she is safe as well.
Thanks for sharing your experience, and a bit of info about your trip to Russia. I guess it does not matter if we are visitors or live in any city anywhere in the world, some people just don't have boundries, nor conscience, period. Thanks again, and God Bless!

Tatiana+
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