Police Say Body Found Likely Artist's

APMikalchuk
BERLIN -- Berlin police have found a body that is probably that of a missing Russian artist who had been condemned by the Orthodox Church for an exhibit in her home country, authorities said Friday. The death was an apparent suicide.

The body was found Thursday afternoon in the Spree River near the Muehlendamm bridge in the capital's central Mitte district, police said.

"In all probability" it is that of Anna Mikhalchuk, who has been missing for three weeks from her home in the neighboring district of Charlottenburg, police said in a statement.

Police are waiting on autopsy results to determine without a doubt that it is the missing 52-year-old.

"So far there are no indications that Ms. Mikhalchuk was the victim of a crime," police said. "She apparently took her own life."

Mikhalchuk, also known in Russia under the name of Anna Alchuk, moved to Berlin with her husband in November 2007.

She was last known to have left her apartment March 21, and her husband, Michail Ryklin, reported her missing the same day.

Mikhalchuk was tried by a Moscow court in 2005 and acquitted of charges of inciting religious hatred for her works in a controversial art exhibit condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The 2003 exhibit -- titled "Caution, Religion" -- was organized by the Sakharov Museum, which is also a leading activist group, promoting democracy and human rights.

When she was first reported missing, museum officials worried that it was somehow connected to her work, but police said "the background to her disappearance appears to lie in personal issues."

"There are no indications of a possible political motive," police said.