Various photographs by Alyaksandr Vasyukovich and Sergei Loyko / spraypaint

On September 28, a man named Anton Belikov sprayed red paint upon prints taken by two photographers—Alyaksandr Vasyukovich of Belarus and Ukraine’s Sergei Loyko—while the works were on view at the Center of Documentary Photography in Moscow.

The photos depicted soldiers stationed in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where government forces have been fighting against Russia-backed separatists since April 2014. Belikov, who described himself as an artist,entered the space and, while being filmed, sprayed the works while denouncing the photographers as “fascists.” 

He later posted on social media that he would cooperate with authorities if they decided to bring suit. The prints themselves were damaged beyond repair. 


Following Belikov’s actions, the damaged photos had been replaced with signs saying they would not be restored, since “a public conversation about the war in Ukraine as a tragedy is, unfortunately, impossible in our city,” Sergey Lukashevsky, the director of the Sakharov Center, told the independent Dozhd television channel.

Still, the following day, on September 29, more protesters entered the space and tore down the signs. They also carried a red liquid they labelled “the blood of children killed in Donbass [a region in eastern Ukraine],” Lukashevsky said. In a Facebook post, the center wrote that the attackers shouted: “Rub out those jackasses and save Russia.” It appears that no criminal charges have been made.

Christopher Schreck