Moscow militants arrested after vandalising US photographer's show

MOSCOW (AFP) - Three members of a Russian militant group were arrested on Saturday (Jan 6) after hurling liquid at exhibits in a Moscow show by controversial US photographer Jock Sturges.

It was the second time the exhibition has been vandalised.

In September Kremlin activist threw urine at some of the pictures, forcing the show's closure, after a government adviser condemned the images as "child pornography".

The exhibition, at the established Lumiere Brothers Gallery close to the Kremlin is the first to show Sturges' work in Russia and is titled "Jock Sturges: Absence of Shame." Sturges is a well-known photographer whose nude images of children have regularly prompted accusations of paedophilia, which he denies.

The Moscow exhibition was reopened at the end of 2017.

The latest attack came when the three members of a small militant cell visited the exhibition and decided that an image of a naked woman with a baby "violated the law", Igor Beketov, one of the attackers, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

After organisers at the venue refused to withdraw the picture, one of the militants "threw a foul-smelling liquid on the illegal photographs," he told the Tass news agency.

Police then arrested the three men involved, according to Beketov.

The gallery confirmed that the militants had demanded that one of the photos be removed "or better still that the exhibition be closed down".

The event is not open to those aged under 18.

"It is about art and not pornography," the centre said on social media.

After least year's attack curator Natalia Litvinskaya told journalists the show "has nothing to do with paedophilia" but said she wanted to close it after receiving "threats from absolutely delusional people."

It is not unusual in Russia for extremists or Orthodox militants to vandalise or even destroy exhibitions which they consider outrageous or blasphemous.