Russian artists in holy water attack on Lenin mausoleum

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Screen grab from video shows men throwing water at mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow, said to be on 19 January 2015Image source, Other
Image caption,
The two men are awaiting a court hearing and were kept in police detention overnight on Monday

Two Russian artists have been arrested after throwing holy water and shouting "rise up and leave" at the mausoleum containing Vladimir Lenin's tomb.

A video of Monday's incident shows the men breaching a barrier to access the building in Moscow's Red Square before dowsing one of its walls with water.

Seconds later, police officers intervene and lead the two men to a nearby police vehicle.

They could be held for up to 15 days for disorderly conduct, reports say.

The men, identified as Oleg Basov and Yevgeny Avilov, are members of an art group called Blue Rider.

The group dubbed the performance as: "The Exorcist. Desecration of the mausoleum."

The men told the news website (in Russian) that the act was an attempt to rid Russia of its Soviet past, which they said was beginning to assert itself in the present.

Irina Dumitskaya, of the Blue Rider group, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the aim of the performance was "to demolish the myth that Lenin lives forever by attempting to resurrect him on the Epiphany holiday just as Lazarus was raised from the dead".

Orthodox Christians in Russia celebrated Epiphany on Monday, marking the baptism of Jesus in the Orthodox Church.

The group is known for performing social stunts, including a performance in St Petersburg last year of a man in military dress kneeling on a Ukrainian flag and washing his face with blood.

Moscow's Red Square was also the location of a Pussy Riot protest song against President Vladimir Putin in 2012. Two members of the all-female feminist punk group were imprisoned for a performance attacking the president at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour later that year.

In November 2013, naked performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky also nailed his scrotum to the square outside Lenin's mausoleum in political protest.

Vladimir Lenin's embalmed body has been been on display in Red Square for more than 90 years, following his death in 1924.