A man who damaged one of Russia’s most celebrated paintings after lashing out with a metal security cordon has denied being drunk at the time of the attack.
Appearing before a court on Tuesday, 37-year-old Igor Podporin said that he had been angered by the painting’s “disrespectful” depiction of Ivan the Terrible. He also claimed that he had been pressured into telling police that he had been “overwhelmed” after drinking several shots of vodka at the museum cafe.
Podporin was arrested at Moscow’s State Tretyakov gallery on Friday after attacking a 19th-century masterpiece by painter Ilya Repin with a metal pole from a nearby security cordon. The blows shattered the glass protecting the canvas, tearing the painting in several places. Russian bank Sberbank has already publicly pledged to fund the restoration work, which is estimated to cost between 5 and 10 million rubles ($80,000-160,000.)
Completed in 1885, Repin’s painting shows controversial Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible cradling his dying son in 1581. Although most historians believe that Ivan killed his son after striking him with a “mortal blow”, others dispute the claim, leading some Russian nationalists to view the work as a “distorted” view of a Russian history and “offensive” to a great Russian leader.
Tretyakov Director Zelfira Tregulova condemned the attack as a sign of “aggression in society”, claiming that people are increasingly unable to distinguish between art and historical documents.
Podporin was originally charged with “damaging a cultural artefact”, and offence which has since been upgraded “damaging a cultural object with special value to the Russian people.” If found guilty, he faces up to six years in prison.