A Moscow court on Tuesday sentenced to two and a half years of penal colony a man who had vandalized a painting of the murder of tsarevich Ivan by his father Ivan the Terrible by Ilya Repin. In may 2018, Igor Podgorine broke the protective glass of the large canvas painted between 1883 and 1885 and exhibited at the Tretyakov gallery in Moscow. Torn in three places, the paint had to be removed from the room where it was exhibited, for the first time since the Second world War.

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Igor Podgorine, worker in the building of Voronezh (south-west), had initially claimed to the police to have acted under the influence of alcohol. At his trial, he, however, said they had wanted to damage the canvas because it was according to him a “lie” that would sully the reputation of the first Russian tsar, Ivan the Terrible.

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The state Tretyakov gallery currently hosts a major exhibition of the works of Repin, but the picture vandalized is absent due to repair work still in progress. The work had already been the target of an attack in 1913, when a man had lacerated with a knife. Ilia Repin, who was then still alive, had then participated in the restoration of his painting, protected by a glass.

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Several high-ranking officials in Russian political advocate for the rehabilitation of the tsar Ivan IV, who got the nickname “Terrible” because of his brutal rule and the creation of a secret police which caused terror and executed thousands of people. In June 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin had said that the murder of his son Ivan the Terrible was a “legend” used by the west against Russia.