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Christians attack art exhibition in Russia

by Hannah Tooley

Members of God's Will, a right-wing Christian group, led by self-proclaimed missionary Dmitry 'Enteo' Tsorionov are reported to have damaged the display at Moscow's Red Square, according to the Moscow Times.

Who is Dmitriy Tsorionov?

* Based in Moscow, Russia 

* Founded the Russian Christian group God's Will

@ Dimitriyenteo has more than 50,000 followers on Twitter 

* Describes himself as Orthodox Christian, right-wing, conservative, pro-life, pro-family, pro-gun, creationism, anti-communism

One video of the event shows a female activist ripping a linoleum engraving of a naked Christ off its plinth, throwing it on the floor and stamping on it.

Another incident involved a sculpture named Beheading of St John the Baptist #2, made up of a series of heads displayed on plates, being seized by the leader Enteo and smashing the plate it had been on.

A spokesperson from the gallery said multiple works were damaged and that works by one of the creators, Sidur, had been on display for 20 years without any problems.

The group claimed it offended their beliefs and was illegal under recent laws.

During the attack activists are thought to have shouted that the works on display were offensive to people of faith and violated legislation introduced to deter protests such as that carried out by the group, Pussy Riot, in Moscow's main cathedral in 2012.

The gallery said it would file a complaint with the police, according to the Guardian, however Ento, the group's leader says it was the gallery who has broken the law.

During his stunt he says: "Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are being mocked.

"This is punishable under the criminal code."

Russia has been accused in the past of encouraging religious intolerance, in 2013 Vladimir Putin made "offending religious feelings" a criminal offence in response to an anti-government protest by members of Pussy Riot in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral.

The law does not clearly state what qualifies as an offence, and those convicted can serve up to a year in prison.

Lyudmila Dyagileva, a visitor present during the attack, called the group "fanatics and extremists whose actions have nothing to do with faith and Christianity.

"If they get away with it, it will send a message that you can do anything you want," she said. "It is a signal that you can destroy everything if the authorities do nothing."

Enteo was detained by the police following the attack, but was released the same evening.

He staged another protest over the weekend, in which he has been accused of verbally attacking two elderly visitors in front of the Manezh.

He said the pair could not be true believers and should be sent to a labour camp.

Some leading Russian Orthodox Church have criticised Enteo's activities, Vladimir Legoida, a spokesperson said: "What so-called Orthodox activists do, as a rule, has nothing to do with religion."

The government has also condemned the God's Will movement and head of the presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, compared Enteo's actions with those of "barbarians from the Islamic State", according to Russian news site Interfax.

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