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Saeima speaker waves aside concerns to back controversial photo exhibition

Latvian parliamentary speaker Inara Murniece on Friday gave her unreserved backing to a photo exhibition in Jelgava by controversial US photographer Sergey Melnikoff.  

The exhibition has been relocated to Jelgava following instances of vandalism against it in central Riga. In the most recent attack, the 'People of Maidan' exhibition was initially reported to have been completely destroyed, with Melnikoff demanding compensation

However it now appears the exhibition is still in good shape. 

In a message reported via Facebook on Friday, Murniece - who has already been photographed arm in arm with the colorful photographer - said:

"Thanks to everyone who put together the exhibition. Thanks to those who organized it. Thanks to everyone who did not give up."

Volunteers have said they will protect the exhibition during its stint in Jelgava, after security promised by the organizers absented itself in Riga, possibly contributing to the risk of vandalism and resulting in Riga City Council revoking permission for the exhibition to continue.

In her comments Murniece made no reference to evidence uncovered by LSM that Melnikoff has represented works by Ukrainian photographers including Pulitzer finalist Efrem Lukatsky as his own, or that he has suggested ethnic Russians be deported from the Baltic states in cattle trucks. 

Nor was any reference made to another powerful connection the photographer claims in his promotional video in addition to Murniece - that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he appears to be having a friendly chat in a photo that admittedly looks completely bogus.

The exhibition continues to be officially supported by the Latvian Foreign Ministry.


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