Culture Minister Sued by Tretyakov

VedomostiThe photo of two police officers kissing was one of the works pulled in Paris.
The Tretyakov Gallery filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Culture and Press Minister Alexander Sokolov for saying that a recent exhibition by the gallery in Paris "brought shame on Russia."

Sokolov made the comments after the ministry pulled 17 pieces from an exhibit in the Maison Rouge exhibition hall in Paris last month in conjunction with France's "A Year of Russia."

The ministry explained the move by saying the works, which included a photograph of two policemen kissing while grabbing each other's buttocks in the woods, were too "provocative."

Sokolov said the exhibition would "bring shame on Russia, and in this case all of us bear full responsibility."

Valentin Rodionov, the state-run gallery's director, was due to provide further specifics of the case at a news conference scheduled for Thursday. The spokeswoman for the Tretyakov Gallery, Anna Kotlyar, confirmed on Wednesday that Rodionov filed the complaint Tuesday but declined any further comment.

Sokolov said Tuesday that he found Rodionov's move perplexing.

"I am surprised by this move," Sokolov said , RIA-Novosti reported. "I don't think it is rational."

Sokolov was criticized by many in the art community for what they felt was censorship, and private gallery owner Marat Gelman referred to the minister as "an idiot" in his personal blog. After Rodionov filed the case, Gelman wrote that he wanted "to applaud" the director for "putting the reputation of the museum ahead of his personal relationship with the minister".

Not all of Rodionov's colleagues were as positive. Tretyakov deputy director Lidia Iovleva called the case "Rodionov's personal business," Kommersant reported Wednesday.