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The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum strives to promote cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech.



Pussy Riot Hits Putin Where It Hurts


Despite the fact that this trial sought to portray Pussy Riot as a trio of Satanic lesbians – the judge said they were peddling “homosexual propaganda,” – their real crime was hitting Vladimir Putin in the one place he’s seldom hit: His cynical manipulation of Russian Orthodoxy. The clerical establishment is barely distinguishable from an apparatus of state security. Russia’s brand of orthodoxy is based on the concept that Moscow is the “Third Rome” and on a belief in Russian uniqueness. Being “unique,” Russia sees itself as surrounded by numerous enemies that the FSB must combat. The FSB helps to protect the Orthodox sphere of influence against Western proselytising, and in return the Church blesses the security service in its struggles with enemies of the state.



Prick Riot

Pussy Riot members accused of blasphemy and hatred of religion? […] The true blasphemy is the state accusation itself, formulating as a crime of religious hatred something which was clearly a political act of protest against the ruling clique. […] What is Pussy Riot’s modestly obscene provocation in a church compared to the the gigantic obscene provocation of the state apparatus which mocks any notion of decent law and order?


Art and Politics in Russia Today


The Arkadia International Bookshop in Helsinki will host a discussion on art and politics in today’s Russia with journalist Oksana Chelysheva and street artist Alexandra Kachko on Monday 26 March 2012 at 6pm. Oksana and Alexandra will discuss Alexandra’s art and other topics pertaining to Russia today: The imprisonment of the members of the feminist punk group, Pussy Riot, the dismantling and criminal prosecution of the organisers of the Be Cautious: Religion! and Forbidden Art exhibitions, the Voina art group and the reasons they are on international wanted lists and currently in hiding. The discussion will be in English and Russian. Entrance is free and green tea will be served. A donation of EUR 2 or more to fund the event would be most welcome.


Voina Tests Boundaries of Art


Russia has a deep tradition of avant-garde art that has tested the boundaries of art and expression. The work of the art group, Voina (“War”), is part of this tradition. As Russia’s political and economic system continues to centralize and grow more sclerotic, corrupt, and reliant on natural resources, this group is seeking to shake things up, juxtaposing humor and the absurd next to the grayness of Russian official life. The performance and public guerilla art of this collective is dedicated, in their words, to the “destruction of outdated repressive-patriarchal socio-political symbols and ideologies.”


Extremist Abstractionism


Russia's official cultural watchdog, Rosokhrankultura, refused to allow paintings by Russian contemporary artist Avdey Ter-Oganyan to be included in an exhibition of Russian modern art in the Louvre. The agency objected to four of Ter-Oganyan’s works in his series, “Radical Abstractionism,” saying the paintings called for "a violent change of Russia's constitutional order and incited religious hatred.”

In response, some artists refused to participate in the exhibition unless Ter-Oganyan's forbidden works were included. The conflict was later resolved after the Louvre issued an official report saying that the display would involve “all artists and works planned to be featured” and confirmed that the Russian authorities had agreed to put on display works that were previously dismissed.


Art Trial Reveals Clash of Russian Cultures


Two prominent intellectuals, facing a verdict of up to three years’ imprisonment over a museum exhibition in 2007, issued dire warnings on Thursday that Russia was starting to resemble Nazi Germany, contemporary Iran and the Soviet Union in the harshness of its growing nationalism, dominance of the Russian Orthodox church and fear of modern art.

Yuri Samodurov, former director of Moscow’s Sakharov Museum, and Andrei Yerofeyev, a former curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, have been on trial for nearly two years on charges of fomenting ethnic and religious hatred. The verdict in the case is due Monday. It has sharply divided the Moscow intelligentsia and become a lightning rod for feelings about the church, whose power has grown steadily since Communist rule crumbled two decades ago.

Mr. Yerofeyev opened a news conference on Thursday by showing a video against contemporary art produced by Narodny Sobor, or People’s Council, a nationalist organization that he said was the driving force in the charges against him and Mr. Samodurov. “We have the classic situation of a fascist party that is attacking contemporary culture,” he said. “Through destruction it is trying to get attention, your attention.