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Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia blocked a Jock Sturges exhibition in Moscow to protest what they characterized as child pornography.

Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia blocked a Jock Sturges exhibition in Moscow to protest what they characterized as child pornography.

Days after ultraconservative activists forced the closure of a Moscow photo exhibition they said constituted "propaganda of pedophilia," Russians respond online with examples of nudity in the world of art.

MOSCOW -- Russians are protesting the forced closure of an exhibition of work by a controversial American photographer after vigilante tactics by conservative activists who accused its Moscow organizers of promoting child pornography.

In response to the weekend furor that prevented the display of Jock Sturges' works at Moscow's Lumiere Brothers Photography center, Russian theater director Oleg Lipovetsky on September 25 called on compatriots via Facebook to post images of renowned paintings, sculptures, and photographs featuring nudity.

Many of Sturges' best-known photographs feature nude adolescents, and his work has prompted at least one FBI raid and efforts in the United States to get his books banned.

Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia on September 24 blocked the exhibition to protest what they characterized as child pornography, and one activist was detained for throwing urine at some of the images.

WATCH: Protests Close U.S. Photographer's Moscow Exhibition



Lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, for decades a conservative cultural warrior in the parliament, assailed the exhibition as "propaganda of pedophilia" and reportedly asked authorities to investigate its organizers.

Lipovetsky urged sympathizers to register their disapproval of the exhibition's closure via social media via a "flashmob" with the hashtag #withoutshame (#безстеснения).

"Let's remember the great images of art that glorify the beauty of the human body," Lipovetsky wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of the 19th-century sculpture Venus With Apple by Dane Bertel Thorvaldsen:

Facebook user Sergei Grushko posted a picture of the 1872 work The Sale Of The Child Slave by Russian war painter Viktor Verashchagin. "Officers of Russia!" he wrote, "Where have you been looking since 1872? Non-officers of Russia! Surely you don't want our children to be painted in such a way? Attention Yugend-Ombusdman! This obscenity is being displayed at the address: Moscow, Lavrushinsky pereulok, 10, hall 27" -- the address of Russia's Tretyakov State Gallery:

Irena Nesterova posted mirror-image photos of several works by Russian and Soviet painter Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, including his 1912 seminal work Bathing Of The Red Horse:

Pavel Rudnev posted contemporary Colombian artist Fernando Botero's Adam and Eve.

Tanya Sushenkova posted a "bodyscape" by photographer Carl Warner.

On Twitter, the hashtag appeared to have been hijacked for purposes other than those declared by Lipovetsky, with some users posting obscene sexual images and others attaching pictures of rubble and bloodied bodies, possibly in Syria.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, is widely reported to be stepping down.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, is widely reported to be stepping down.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin has always been a source for commentary -- sometimes incendiary, sometimes head-scratching, always colorful.

The face of many of Russia's highest-profile criminal probes, Vladimir Markin, has been making headlines again.

Russian media was widely reporting on September 14 that the chief spokesman for the country's Investigative Committee was stepping down from the position. And although the anonymously sourced reports could not be confirmed, and Markin himself was not commenting, the news prompted speculation about where he could be headed.

He has always been a source for commentary -- sometimes incendiary, sometimes head-scratching, always colorful -- on subjects ranging from relations with the West, Russian soccer fans, the Olympic doping scandals, and many other issues.

Here are a few of the more eyebrow-raising quotations during his nine-year tenure with the Investigative Committee:

* On the investigation into the murder of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, who was shot while walking on a bridge near the Kremlin on February 27, 2015:

"In this case the results of the accumulated evidence fully confirm the selfish motives of the accused in committing Nemtsov's murder; that is, a promised reward totaling at least 15 million rubles."

* On the need for an international investigation into the circumstances surrounding the U.S. landings on the moon, and the rock specimens of materials brought back to Earth, some of which were lost (Markin made this argument in the course of commenting on U.S. prosecutors conducting a criminal investigation into bribery at soccer's world governing body, FIFA):

"We are not contending that they did not fly [to the moon] and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific, or perhaps cultural, artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will show what happened."

* On what he perceives to be a persistent international bias against Russia:

"Russophobia is like AIDS, an illness that is untreatable and fatal. You can only buy more time with painkillers and military psychosis stimulants, but the result is always the same -- self-destruction and shameful death."

* On the decision by world sporting authorities to bar scores of Russian athletes from competing in the Rio Olympic Games, and on the victories garnered by the Russians who were allowed to participate (Markin also coined a snarky Russian neologism aimed at the West by tweaking the term "Anglo-Saxon" to make it "Naglo-Saxon," which translates roughly as "Impudent-Saxon"):

"On the question of who won or lost in Rio, the answer is clear: Russia did not lose and showed character, while across the ocean, the initiators of this large-scale provocation lost the last vestiges of respect and trust, lost what is most important in the modern world -- their reputation."

* On French police's reaction to Russian soccer hooligans who attacked fans attending a Euro-2016 match in Marseille, France:

"A proper man as he's meant to be comes as an amazement to them [the police]. They're used to seeing the 'men' at gay parades...."

* On the arrest of former Kirov region Governor Nikita Belykh for allegedly receiving millions in bribes:

"They steal like adults and they [try to] explain like children. You get handed a bribe in front of witnesses: you should say: 'I have sinned. I will bear the consequences with utmost rigor.'"

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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