On Sunday over a thousand Russians protested in Saint Petersburg after a one hundred year old relief sculpture of a mythical demon was destroyed by a group calling themselves The Cossacks of Saint Petersburg highlighting the increased religious intolerance under President Vladimir Putin.The figure of Mephistopheles, a bat-winged creature on Lakhtinskaya Street dated from 1910. It was said to depict the Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, famed for his role of Mephistopheles.
The sculpture was torn off the facade of an Art Nouveau period building in Saint Petersburg, in a religiously-motivated act of cultural vandalism. Police have now launched an investigation.
More than a thousand people including architecture conservationists gathered in front of the building in the city centre to express their shock over what this brazen act of vandalism. Hands off art, read one placard, while another one said in English: Save our Saint Petersburg.
The Cossacks of Saint Petersburg group said in a statement:
Mephistopheles embodies evil in this world and this person decided to act, most likely, to kill Evil.
The figure encouraged “open worship of Satan” and was unacceptable because it was opposite a church.