Russian prosecutors say they have opened an investigation into a circus performance that featured a monkey wearing a Nazi uniform and goats with swastikas.
The prosecutor’s office for the Udmurtia region said on January 13 it had launched a probe into “the display of Nazi symbols” after they became aware of the performance from social media.
The January 8 performance was part of a show at a state-run circus in the regional capital, Izhevsk, that was commissioned by the local branch of the Russian Orthodox Church a day after celebrating Christmas.
According to video published by the circus, the performance showed a monkey being led around the ring by a woman in a Soviet military uniform and two goats with red blankets on their backs displaying swastikas.
The Orthodox diocese in Izhevsk defended the show by saying it was intended to be “a symbol of not just the victory over fascism, but also of the spurning and the global condemnation of the ideals of Nazi Germany.”
The diocese also pointed to an amendment passed last year lifting a blanket ban on the display of Nazi symbols as long as they are intended to “create a negative attitude to Nazi ideology.”
Izhevsk is the capital of Udmurtia, a republic in Russia’s Volga Federal District some 1,250 kilometers east of Moscow.