Orthodox activists on Friday smashed several sculptures by a renowned Soviet artist at an exhibition in central Moscow, denouncing the show as "blasphemous."
"Delusional people came to the exhibition who broke several works belonging to the Manege collection, by Vadim Sidur," said a spokeswoman for the Manege exhibition centre next to the Kremlin walls, Yelena Karneyeva.
She told AFP that there were "several" attackers, and that "several sculptures are completely smashed." The works were made of plaster and linoleum.
She said that police had come and led away the activists.
Orthodox activist Dmitry Tsorionov, known by the nickname Dmitry Enteo, told AFP he was at the Manege exhibition centre. He said he was with police and that they were going to close down the exhibition.
"We called the police," he claimed. "They will close the exhibition for offending believers," he said.
He had earlier written a Tweet saying "Right in the centre of Moscow there is terrible blasphemy, we are running to liquidate it!" The message gave no more details.
Quoted by Interfax news agency, Enteo said the exhibition included an "indecent" depiction of Jesus Christ and was "dirty, harsh mockery of Jesus Christ and the saints."
Enteo, who heads the nationalist God's Will group, is one of the most prominent conservative activists. He cites Orthodox values while picketing and heckling at arts events and protests, sometimes with a television camera crew in tow. This year he attempted to stop a gay pride rally in Moscow.
Police closed the exhibition to investigate and began questioning witnesses and activists, Interfax news agency reported.
The exhibition called "Sculptures that We Don't See," showed works by Soviet sculptors that did not see the light of day during the Soviet period because of their non-conformist nature.
The exhibition, which opened to the public Friday, included some works with religious themes including a crucifixion bas-relief.
Vadim Sidur, whose works were targeted, was an avant-garde non-conformist artist who was unable to show his works publicly in the Soviet era. He died in 1986. He is commemorated with a museum in Moscow. His art has been sold at international auction houses such as Sotheby's.