ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — About 500 people have held a protest in Russia's second-largest city over the destruction of a century-old bas-relief of the demon Mephistopheles.
The sculpture was a small landmark in St. Petersburg, a city noted for its striking architecture. It is not clear who removed it last week, although a group which identified itself as Cossacks claimed responsibility. City authorities said they have found fragments of it amid construction refuse.
The disappearance raised fears of growing religious intolerance in Russia. This month, several activists ransacked an exhibition of Soviet-era non-conformist artists near the Kremlin, shouting that the works offended Christians.
"I'm actually in shock from what's going on in our country, where some people think they have the right to destroy architectural monuments," said Oleg Mitskevich, one of the demonstrators Sunday.