Russian spymasters eager to show their artistic side

Photo: FSB From Shostakovich to Solzhenitsyn, Russian artists have always had good reason to be wary of the secret police. But the KGB’s successor organization, the Federal Security Service (FSB), is looking to change that. The FSB has launched an annual competition to find the best artistic portrayals of its work. Categories include film, television, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
596127_080305_fsb2.jpg
596127_080305_fsb2.jpg

Photo: FSB

From Shostakovich to Solzhenitsyn, Russian artists have always had good reason to be wary of the secret police. But the KGB's successor organization, the Federal Security Service (FSB), is looking to change that. The FSB has launched an annual competition to find the best artistic portrayals of its work. Categories include film, television, acting, music, and literature. According to the BBC, "the FSB wants to change the perception that artists and secret policemen are not always comfortable companions."

The 2007 awards were held on December 17 and from the photos on the FSB website, it seems a great time was had by all. Sculptor Vadim Kirilov took top honors in the visual arts for a piece depicting an FSB agent rescuing a child from the Beslan school siege. The prize for music went to singer-songwriter Alexander Rosenbaum who, incidentally, is also a State Duma member from Putin's United Russia party. The complete list of winners is here. (In Russian)

Photo: FSB

From Shostakovich to Solzhenitsyn, Russian artists have always had good reason to be wary of the secret police. But the KGB’s successor organization, the Federal Security Service (FSB), is looking to change that. The FSB has launched an annual competition to find the best artistic portrayals of its work. Categories include film, television, acting, music, and literature. According to the BBC, “the FSB wants to change the perception that artists and secret policemen are not always comfortable companions.”

The 2007 awards were held on December 17 and from the photos on the FSB website, it seems a great time was had by all. Sculptor Vadim Kirilov took top honors in the visual arts for a piece depicting an FSB agent rescuing a child from the Beslan school siege. The prize for music went to singer-songwriter Alexander Rosenbaum who, incidentally, is also a State Duma member from Putin’s United Russia party. The complete list of winners is here. (In Russian)

The Russian state security apparatus’s previous significant contribution to the arts was the gigantic and intimidating statue of Soviet secret police founder Feliks Dzerzhinsky that once dominated Lubyanka square in front of KGB headquarters. The statue was pulled down with great drama by a crane in 1991, but can still be seen along with dozens of discarded Lenins at Moscow’s Park of the Arts.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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