A community of Russian artists has attracted controversy by burning a model of what some say appears to be a Catholic church at an Orthodox Christian festival.

Setting fire to an effigy is a traditional part of Maslenitsa, or “Butter Week” – a six-day festival marking the last week before Orthodox Lent, although it also has pagan roots.

Nikola-Lenivets – an “art park” devoted to modern art and architecture near the western city of Kaluga – usually has its own take on the festival, and every year sets a different shape alight.

But not everyone was pleased by their decision to incinerate the “Flaming Gothic”, a 30m-high structure of twigs and debris, roughly resembling a West European medieval cathedral.

In a widely-shared Instagram post, well-known TV presenter and comedian Maxim Galkin asked how people could justify burning something like that on an Orthodox holiday, especially as Russian law bans actions deemed “insulting to the feelings of believers”. Russia has a small community of Catholics, amounting to no more than 0.5% of the population.

“Imagine the hoo-hah on our TV channels if someone burnt an object looking like an Orthodox church somewhere near Berlin or Paris,” he added. Read more