The exhibition vandalism case closed


Moscow police closed the case of the pogrom on Vadim Sidur's exhibition at the Manezh in August 2015. It is reported that the case was closed on September 23, "due to the lack of evidence." Polina Yesipenko, a former suspect in the case, announced the decision on Monday on her Facebook page.

The mayhem at the exhibition "Sculptures that we do not see" at the Manezh was organized by the leader of the movement "God's will" Dmitry Tsorionov (Enteo) and several of his supporters, including Enteo's girlfriend Polina Yesipenko who is always involved in all the actions. The rioters damaged four of Sidur's lino cuts, saying these works offended the feelings of the faithful. Two of the works were damaged very seriously. According to the experts of the Center named after Grabar, they required a long-term restoration with the use of some individual techniques.

On September 7, 2015, the Tversky District Court of Moscow fined Yesipenko and one more of the rioters - Pavel Timonin - for the amount of 1,000 rubles each, according to Article 20.1, Part 1, of the Administrative Code (namely, disorderly conduct). On September 15, the same court arrested a third pogrom participant, Georgy Soldatov, for five days, and on September 22, Tsorionov was sentenced to ten days in the detention center.

In addition, police opened the case under Article 214 of the Criminal Code (vandalism). However, on September 7, the prosecutor's office refused to approve the corresponding resolution. One week later, on September 14, a new case was initiated under Article 243 Part 1 (damage to cultural values), which prescribes up to three years in prison.

Yesipenko was the only supernumerary in this case. On March 16, 2016, she was detained and then charged. On March 18, the Simonovsky District Court of Moscow placed the rioter under house arrest. There she remained until August 8, when it became known that the police investigator, who was in charge case Yesipenko's case, released the accused from house arrest on her own recognizance.

The matter was referred to the Tversky District Court of Moscow, but on July 15 during the first hearing on the merits, the court judge, Alexander Merkulov, returned the case to the prosecutor's office to eliminate the violations in the indictment. In September, the case was completely closed. As Yesipenko fairly wrote, 'There will be no precedent in the post-Soviet history of our country, where an Orthodox Christian would be sentenced, and this is very important'.

Commentary from Alexey Kozlov, the expert of the project Inside Russia

Closing of criminal and administrative cases against "pro-government" activists, or simply against those who attacked the objectionable, is a regular practice of law enforcement bodies of the Russian Federation.

For example, after the violent dispersal of the LGBT rally in Voronezh on 20.01.2013, only one attacker was arrested (dozens or hundreds of people took part in the dispersal, and in the counter-rally - hundreds of people with far-right or extreme orthodox views). And the attacker was sentenced to only 40 hours of hard labor, and was eventually released even of this ridiculous punishment by the prosecutor's office.

Numerous right-wing radicals' attacks on opposition and LGBT events were usually not prosecuted at all, at best with an administrative fine. The situation with the closure of the case against the rioters at the exhibition of Vadim Sidur is characterized by the fact that real material damage was done, which will have to be compensated by the owners of the exhibition hall, the insurers, but not by those who really caused it. Thus, there is a clear stimulation of impunity. And we will see more than one attack on activities objectionable to Orthodox radicals.

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