Feb 19, 2018

The burning of a structure that resembled a Catholic church by a group of artists has attracted controversy in Russia.

Every year, the art park Nikola-Lenivets, which is near the western city of Kaluga, celebrates the Orthodox festival of Maslenitsa, or “Butter Week,” by setting fire to an effigy. This year, a sculpture called the “Flaming Gothic,” described by BBC News as “a 30m-high structure of twigs and debris, roughly resembling a West European medieval cathedral,” was incinerated. The burning of a structure that recalled the Catholic faith quickly attracted criticism, with a well-known TV personality asking how such an act could be justified on an Orthodox holiday and noting that a Russian law bans actions deemed “insulting to the feelings of believers.” In 2012, members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot were found guilty of hooliganism for staging a rock concert in a Moscow cathedral.