[…] The Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow had a show titled Caution! Religion in 2003, which included This is my blood by Alexander Kosolapov. The artwork looked like a Coca Cola advertisement with Jesus Christ on it and the words “This is my blood” in English. Another piece related to it showed Jesus on a McDonald’s advertisement that said “This is my body.” Paired together they are a Biblical reference to Jesus using wine and bread as metaphorical references to himself, in what is known in Christianity as the first communion.
The show was only open for four days when vandals associated with the Russian Orthodox church damaged or destroyed many of the art pieces in the exhibit.
The museum was taken to court for violating Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, which prohibits inciting ethnic and religious hatred. The case included museum director Yuri Samodurov, curator Lyudmila Vasilovskaya, and artist Anna Mikhalchuk.
The court ruled that the exhibition was “openly insulting and blasphemous” to the Russian Orthodox Church. The court convicted Samodurov and Vasilovskaya of inciting religious hatred through the exhibit and fined them about $3,600 each. Charges were dropped against Mikhalchuk. Despite requests by prosecutors to destroy the artwork, the court ordered it returned to the artists. Samodurov tried to appeal the ruling before the European Court of Human Rights.
A year after the trial, Samodurov and the Sakharov Museum came under fire again for another exhibit with religious themes. In July 2010, Samodurov and guest curator Andrei Yerofeyev were convicted and fined under the same Russian code. […]