In his efforts to create a new vision for his country, Putin is destroying its vibrant arts scene
Editor’s note: This article was produced in Moscow under reporting restrictions imposed by the Russian government.
On a cold, late September morning outside an imposing pair of wrought iron gates, a family waited, out of place in one of Moscow’s most upmarket neighborhoods. An elderly woman stood guard over a gym bag and plastic bags set on the sidewalk, while a young man in track pants smoked nervously, talking to his girlfriend, who was dressed up as if for a special date.
The gates opened and the older woman took the man’s face in both her hands, saying a quick prayer before he headed into a sleek, prestigious museum. It was the Russian capital’s most incongruous center for military recruits, one of many mobilization points across the country which has sent Russian men to fight Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. The image of armed police patrolling the City of Moscow Museum, its exhibition halls emptied of art and commandeered by the Russian Defence Ministry, was just the latest, rawest incarnation of a fierce culture war within Russia itself, stoked by the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions in Ukraine.
Pic: Illustration by Joanna Andreasson for New Lines