Robert Capa

A central gallery in Moscow, Russia, was due to exhibit never before seen photographs of Russian and Allied troops from the Second World War. However, the event was cancelled, leading many to believe it was a politically motivated stunt.

The House of Metenkov said the closure was due to “a technical issue”, but in what would have been the first of its kind, many suspect that the shutting down of the exhibition was to further isolate Russian citizens from knowledge of the Second World War.

The pictures – which were sourced by British and American Consulates from the Imperial War Museum in London and the US National Archives and Library of Congress – are the kind rarely on offer to Russian people. The exhibition, entitled “Triumph in Tragedy: allies in the Second World War”, would have been the first chance for many of them to see actual events from the Second World War through the documented process of a picture. The exhibition consisted of 150 photographs, including the work of Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Cecil Beaton.

The political hysteria surrounding the closure has been further heightened by the Art Gallery staff. One in particular anonymously told the BBC that the state-run gallery had “ordered” staff not to comment on the closure, in which they believe will never open again. Such accusations were furthered by Gallery Manager, Raisa Zorina, who dismissed the original claims of a technical fault, stressing the media to “read between the lines” and the overall severity of the event.

Although it is hard to single out one political motive, many of the gallery staff and international media believe it is due to the overall worsening political relations between Russia and the West. The timing also arguably proves deeply relevant, as Russia is currently preparing to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of WW2 victory – an event which public and state media are promoting heavily.

However, equally as mystified is the US consulate office, who strongly insists that it has worked with the gallery before. Further complicating the understanding of why the gallery would close just before such a momentous exhibition.

The director of the museum, Irina Yevdakimova, insists that the museum has closed for safety reasons. She strongly insisted that the fact the repair work clashed with the exhibition is “pure coincidence”. She continued, “The building is from 1880 – it’s very old,” she told the BBC. “We are a state museum and we can’t pick and choose when work is done.”

Izzy Lyons, Correspondent (Politics)

Image Courtesy: PhotosNormandie (https://www.flickr.com/photos/photosnormandie/6250670988), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic | Flickr

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