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Moscow Curators Say their Trial is Political
Andrey Yerofeyevis seen in Moscow, Russia, in this photo dated Monday, July 5, 2010. After a 26-month trial, the two prominent Moscow curators, Andrey Yerofeyev and Yury Samodurov, are facing the prospect of three years in prison when the judge makes her final ruling in a few days, on July 12, 2010. The art work behind Yerofeyevis, formed part of the "Forbidden Art"exhibition put on by Curators Yerofeyev and Samodurov at the Sakharov Museum in 2007 as part of an effort to fight censorship of the arts, but it was considered profane by the Russian Orthodox Church. AP Photo/Misha Japaridze.

By: Khristina Narizhnaya, Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW (AP).- Two prominent Moscow art curators facing the prospect of three years in prison for an exhibit that offended the Russian Orthodox Church said on Thursday their trial has been a political show.

The 2007 exhibit "Forbidden Art" set up by Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev featured paintings with images of Jesus Christ. In one, Christ appeared to his disciples as Mickey Mouse. In another one, of the crucifixion, Christ's head was replaced by the Order of Lenin medal, the highest Soviet award.

Samodurov told reporters Thursday the trial reflected the desire of the Russian Orthodox Church and the government to tighten control over society. He said the church was coercing people into orthodoxy. "Unfortunately it is supported by the government," he added.

Yerofeyev said the trial was political and "has nothing to do with democratic justice." He said that a driving force behind their trial was the religious ultra-nationalist movement Narodny Sobor, or the People's Assembly, led by Oleg Kassin.

The trial ended last month, and the judge is to deliver a verdict Monday. The defendants and their lawyers have said the court proceedings were biased in favor of the prosecution.

Artists, rights activists, journalists and opposition figures have signed several open letters calling for the charges to be dropped. The latest letter, signed by some of the biggest names in Russian art, was sent to President Dmitry Medvedev.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Moscow | Russian Orthodox Church | Andrei Yerofeyev | Yuri Samodurov |

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