Moscow gallery cancels Sochi show after visas denied
One of the Olympic torches rises in front of a poster with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic logo just outside the Red Square in Moscow, on October 7, 2013.
Winzavod, a cutting-edge gallery complex, said it had cancelled the exhibition called "The Sochi Project," due to open next week, for administrative reasons.
But the photographer Rob Hornstra and writer and filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen, who are behind the project, said they believed the gallery took fright after Russia refused them visas.
"Winzavod unilaterally terminated the collaboration. This follows the announcement last week that Russia had denied the duo behind the project a visa," the exhibition's creators wrote in a statement on Facebook.
"It seems justified to conclude that following Russia’s refusal of Hornstra and Van Bruggen’s visa, Winzavod panicked and withdrew its support."
Winzavod said in a statement that the reason was that Hornstra had not signed a contract or sent over his work in time for the October 17 opening.
Hornstra said late last month that the Russian foreign ministry had refused to renew his journalist visa, while van Bruggen's visa application was also turned down.
He and van Bruggen attributed this to a book they collaborated on focusing on widespread disappearances of opponents of the Kremlin-backed authorities in the troubled North Caucasus close to Sochi.
The exhibition was to be part of a programme of cultural events put on by the Dutch government in Russia this year to celebrate ties between the countries.
The Sochi Project's website discusses environmental damage and corruption surrounding the vast project to transform an outdated seaside resort into an Olympic venue, saying that "cracks are beginning to appear in Putin's prestige project."
Russian and Dutch ties have hit a low recently.
The Netherlands are taking legal action over the seizure of Greenpeace's Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise ship, while President Vladimir Putin this week demanded an apology after Dutch police apprehended a Russian diplomat in The Hague.
The Netherlands issued an apology after the spat escalated and Russian authorities threatened to ban cheese and tulip imports.