The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet theatre has defended its right to artistic freedom, after the city’s prosecutor’s office accused its recent production of Wagner’s Tannhauser of breaking the law on offending religious feeling. The production, staged in December last year, was slammed by Novosibirsk’s bishop, who accused the performance of desecrating religious symbols.

The bishop said that the show “humiliates believers' feelings and the Orthodox Church, and incites religious hatred”. However, it remains uncertain whether he had seen the performance or was responding to a poster for the performance in which Jesus is depicted crucified between a woman’s legs.

A spokesperson from the theatre's PR department has said that it “intends to defend its professional attitude and artistic policy in compliance with the Russian Federation's law”.

In June 2013, Russia’s State Duma passed a bill which made "offending religious feeling" a crime carrying a jail sentence. The move came a year after Pussy Riot performed their "Punk Prayer" in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Church, which saw two of the women end up behind bars. 

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