News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Putin Promises to Halt Censorship of Artists in Russia

On Friday, December 2, President Vladimir Putin met with film directors and artists and vowed that he would protect artistic freedom in Russia, Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times reports. Putin called any interference with theater or exhibitions “absolutely inadmissible.”

During the same meeting, the Russian leader said that he agreed with a court ruling that sentenced Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov to twenty years in jail in Siberia. Putin claimed that the Sentsov was not imprisoned because of his films but for “in fact dedicating his life to terrorist activities.”

Artists appealed to Putin about their concerns relating to the power of conservative groups and recently censored arts shows, including the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography’s decision to shut down an exhibition by US photographer Jock Sturges and a theater in Omsk’s cancelation of a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” both of which were protested by right-wing groups.

Putin defended the religious rock musical and said that it should not have been canceled, but he also said that as artists they have a responsibility to not offend people’s religions. He cited the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the deaths of twelve people, as why it is important to “not split the society.”