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28 Oct, 2021 15:10

Russian man investigated for ‘insulting memory’ of war heroes after placing his portrait in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum

Russian man investigated for ‘insulting memory’ of war heroes after placing his portrait in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum

St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum has appealed to the city’s prosecutor’s office after a local blogger hung his own portrait on a wall of the world-famous institution, in the portrait gallery of participants of the War of 1812.

Last week, Kirill Smorodin put up a picture of himself in a period army costume and posed in front of the image for a photo. After the Hermitage discovered it being shared on social media, the museum administration called for Smorodin to be investigated. He is accused of insulting the memory of defenders of the fatherland.

The picture of the blogger was initially posted to his Instagram account, along with photos of museum visitors looking at the unusual new addition to the Hermitage collection. His account has since been completely deleted.

When asked about the stunt by Russian newspaper Gazeta, Smorodin dubbed it a “harmless joke.”

The Military Gallery in the Hermitage, designed by Italian architect Carlo Rossi, was built in 1826 and displays 332 portraits of generals who took part in the War of 1812. The room retains its original design to this day. At the time, the Hermitage was known as the Winter Palace, and served as the official residence of the Russian emperors. Nowadays, it is a world-class art museum.

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The War of 1812, also known as the Russian Campaign, was a six-month-long invasion of Russia by the French Empire, led by Emperor Napoleon I. It finished with a decisive Russian victory but left hundreds of thousands dead. Many of the commanders and leaders, such as Mikhail Kutuzov and Pyotr Bagration, are still seen today in Russia as national heroes, where the French invasion is better known as the ‘Patriotic War of 1812.’ 

The conflict is not to be confused with another War of 1812 fought between the US and the UK, which famously led to the burning of the White House in Washington, DC.

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