Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre searched


A search by officers for the Department for Fighting Organized Crime [!] began in the morning of 18 January and continued though the day. 

One suggestion why the Sakharov Centre has been targeted is that it is in connection with an exhibited entitled “Forbidden Art – 2006” which stirred up a lot of feeling among some religious believers.  In November last year a criminal investigation was initiated against the curator of the museum under Article 282 § 1 of the RF Criminal Code “Inciting hatred or enmity”.  Those who complained about the exhibition called it “blasphemous”.

Andrei Blinushov from the human rights website, however, gives a different assessment of the situation.

The search of the Sakarov Centre is in my opinion a demonstrative act. If the issue had really been one of a specific exhibition based on denunciations from religious fundamentalists, the investigation unit would be asking for specific material. 

You carry out a search when there are grounds to believe that somebody is consciously hiding evidence, weapons or drugs. Obviously the investigations are not mad enough to believe that in a museum in the centre of the capital, such things can be hidden. Still more so since the Museum Director Yury Samodurov is a well-know human rights defender both in the country and abroad.

And yet the enforcement bodies decided to carry out such an action, knowing in advance that it would attract a lot of public attention. What for?

My version is not at all optimistic. This is probably revenge against the museum staff and Yury Samodurov, the Centre’s Director, because they dared to allow their premises to be used for putting forward the Presidential candidacy of dissident, human rights defender and writer Vladimir Bukovsky.

It was impossible to find any other building for this purpose in Moscow everybody found some pretext or other for not providing their premises. The manager of a Moscow concert hall openly admitted that the FSB [Security Service] had put pressure on them.

The period of mass infringements of the law going by the name of “elections to the State Duma” has ended. The authorities have fairly flagrantly created an effective monopoly with a totally controllable parliament to which they haven’t admitted any opposition politicians. Now the Presidential “elections” are coming up. All opposition candidates, including Bukovsky, have been pushed out of the campaign using numerous bureaucratic subtleties.

It is clear that the authorities have decided to even more firmly “asphalt” the public realm.  So that nobody will dare to publicly, as the Sakharov Museum did, support those who oppose the Kremlin. This is the glorious beginning to 2008, a jubilee year commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

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