Like a case of “restorers” echoed the Museum of Andrei Rublev

In December it will be 70 years to the unique Museum of ancient Russian culture and art. Andrei Rublev, located on the territory of the ancient Moscow Spaso-Andronikov monastery. Festive events have already started. Welcoming the honorable guests will be the Museum’s Director Mikhail Mindlin, who just a month ago received a suspended sentence for loud “the case of restorers”. His release from office officials of the Ministry of culture… forgot. Or did not want. From the very beginning, the Ministry has closed his eyes to the fact that Mindlin — collector, and collect ancient icons, but the Rublev Museum glorious for their icons. It’s the same thing that put the Fox to guard the chickens in the forest. But maybe someone would need?


photo: Alex geldings

“Mindlin M. B. sentenced to imprisonment for a period of one year with a fine of 100 000 rubles. In accordance with article 73 of the criminal procedure code of the Russian Federation to consider a conditional sentence with a probation period of 1 year and 8 months” — quote from the official report of the Dorogomilovsky district court of Moscow.

The sentence to participants of the “case of restorers” (among other it took the former Deputy Minister of culture Grigory Pirumov) about the theft of the allocated for the restoration of cultural monuments of funds was announced on 9 October. All the defendants were found guilty under article 159, part 4 of the criminal code “Fraud”.

Actually the thing itself largely shocked the public. Never in the number of accused were not many high-ranking employees of the Ministry of culture. Some (such as Pirumov and former Director of property management, the Ministry of culture Boris Mazo) immediately found himself in jail, and released them only after sentence with the phrase “in connection with the passing of time.” Others (such as Mindlin) just arrested, but the arrest did not, until the verdict, they remained in the wild, and in their jobs.


photo: Eva Markachev
One of the halls of the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael. Now there is construction stuff, where do you go of the icon is unknown.

Why so lucky Mindline? Then you need to understand what exactly he was accused of.

— These events relate to the period when Mindlin was the Director of the State center of contemporary art, — tells a source in the investigation. — He was accused of theft during the restoration of the monument of Federal value — the tower “Kronprinz” in Kaliningrad. This legendary fortifications (built by the project of a Berlin General and engineer Ernst Ludwig von Aster). The tower was transferred to the operational management of the State center of contemporary art in 2003. And if in the XIX century, there were barracks, military police, now there is… restaurants, and a gay club. Architectural restoration project of the tower (in the attic on an area of 500 sq. m was supposed to be an exhibition hall for contemporary art) was developed by the authors, which was himself Mikhail Mindlin. The money was allocated considerable. But the restoration was, to put it mildly, neither good, nor bad. When in the NCCA conducted searches, then first of all seized documents for the restoration of the “Crown Prince”.

In court, “the case of restorers” was considered in a simplified procedure (took only 3 trials), because all of the defendants pleaded guilty. About of remorse at trial, Pirumov and Mazo we wrote, they were sincere and loud, but Mindlin managed to “damned by” quiet. However, the mere fact that guilt is something he admitted (otherwise, his case was allocated in separate manufacture), says a lot. Logically then the person had to submit a letter of resignation. In the end, talking about crime, not about childhood pranks, then will not get off the naive: “I won’t”. Mindlin but not filed. In my awkward request, addressed to him personally, did not answer (probably thought that it was a provocation).


photo: Eva Markachev
This and other unique chandelier removed and replaced with a lamp.

The Ministry of culture of the Russian Federation also was not fired Mindlin. Or when a criminal case was initiated, not when he was sentenced. Maybe it really is particularly valuable? An indispensable leader?

— When Mindlin happened, in my opinion, a catastrophic event for the Museum, — says Vice-President of the Foundation for the preservation of the cultural heritage of Andrei Rublev Violetta Volkova. — Take, for example, Michael the Archangel Cathedral, which was built in 1691 by order of the wife of Peter I Evdokiya Lopukhina. This unique three-storey temple. The lower tier was originally given to the Shrine of the genus Lopukhins, and all other services were held. For many years there was a constant deployed and the main exposition of the Museum (sometimes there was held a scientific conference). The collection of icons gathered bit by bit, and the fact that it was in this Cathedral is part of the concept of the Museum. During the Mindlin espositio actually turned (the exhibition was only on the 1st floor and only until November 21, then what is unknown), all the dismantled iconostasis. In the result of ill-conceived restoration all chandeliers — chandeliers of incredible beauty, made in a single copy, is replaced by spotlights and fluorescent lights. Where chandeliers, we do not know, nor can we track the fate of the removed icons. Mindlin States that makes modern exposition of comfortable space for visitors. It would be great if it was not the ancient temple, which has always respected the rules of coexistence in the altar area with the exposition. By the way, Mindlin had plans to do in the Cathedral toilets, cloakroom, a café, and in the chancel to put the lift. Technical assignment still exists, it has not been canceled, but work has been suspended (this happened after the publication in “MK”. — Approx. of the author).

From the beginning, when Mindlin was appointed to lead the Museum, all the expert community was perplexed. He is a great expert in the field of contemporary art, but not Orthodox. The Rublev Museum and the special that is in the territory of the monastery, its main exhibits are the icons.

— Mindlin demonstrates a specific attitude to Orthodox culture, which is closely intertwined with the Rublev Museum — the Director of the international award in the field of modern religious art, “life-giving spring”, approved by the Russian Academy of arts, Igor Gribok. — At the time, he supported the “pussy Wright”, among the winners of the innovators of “Innovation” prize, established by Mindlina, controversial art group “War”. After he took office, there was a criminal case in relation to Pirumov and group of people. Inside Ministry of culture it was known that Mindlin was immediately questioned as a witness. After indictment, to leave him in the high post was unethical, and from a legal point of view as something strange. Oh and after the verdict…


photo: Eva Markachev
Protect the ancient Cathedral from the café and toilets?

Lawyers explain: to talk about a record like formally before, because the verdict has not yet entered into force.

The Prosecutor’s office appealed the verdict, demanding tougher punishment, one of the defendants, Pirumova — says Volkova. — The appellate court will hear the case on 5 December. Up to this point the sentence is not considered to be enforceable not only by Pirumova, but also for all other defendants. That is, formally, before the specified date criminal records from Mindlin’s no — and the Ministry of culture is not obliged automatically to fire him. Mindlin himself admitted guilt and agree with the verdict. Do not forget that the very senior official collector. And collects the items on the preservation of which specializiruetsya Museum.

— There is a Code of professional ethics of the International Council of museums ICOM, — said the Director of the Registry of cultural values Vladimir Roshchin. — It says that it is impossible to prevent conflict of interest. Some countries have total ban on the employment of collectors and cultural institutions. After all, what is inside the Museum, — a subject of personal interest of the collector. There is a risk that he may use his official position.

It’s funny, but your icons even Mindlin exhibited at the exhibition “Who collects”, which was held in… the Rublev Museum. Belonging to him personally among the exhibits were these (included in catalogue): “the Sainted Metropolitan of Moscow” (the second half of the XVI century), “virgin of Kazan” (beginning of XX century), “pectoral Cross” (XVII–XVIII century. Great Ustyug).

On the occasion of the anniversary of the Central Museum of ancient Russian culture and art. Andrei Rublev this week will begin the solemn events planned presence of distinguished guests (“MK” full program). So, with the blessing of his Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill will hold a Liturgy in the Spassky Cathedral of Spaso-Andronikov monastery representatives of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches. For the first time in the history of the Museum of Andrei Rublev, but in General the activities of the museums of the Russian Federation can take Director, who was convicted for committing an intentional criminal offence. And the Ministry of culture does not see anything strange. And the presidential Decree “On the National anti-corruption plan for 2016-2017”?

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