Russian village artist finds peace art undesirable
AFP interviewed retired engineer Vladimir Ovchinnikov, who has spent decades painting murals in his small town south of Moscow but finds some of his art unwelcome after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“They painted on it,” Ovchinnikov, 84, said during a recent stop at an abandoned shop in a village field near Borovsk, his town of around 10,000 people two hours’ drive from the Russian capital. .
Ovchinnikov had painted a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on one side of the building, but it had been covered in white paint.
Moving briskly, he took out a black pencil and began to draw a dove on the lime, until another local man approached and threatened to call the police.
But Ovchinnikov insisted he had no fear in continuing his efforts. “At my age, I’m not afraid of anything,” he said in an interview at his home.
Since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24, authorities have resisted any sign of opposition.
AFP reports that thousands of protesters have been arrested, independent media have been shut down and several people have been convicted and fined under a law that criminalizes “discrediting” the Russian armed forces.
Ovchinnikov is one of them. The silver-haired, bearded pensioner was fined after drawing a little girl wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag with three bombs hanging above her head on a building in Borovsk.
It was also whitewashed, and Ovchinnikov painted a dove in its place. He received more than 150 donations to help pay the fine.