A graffiti “war” is taking place in Belgrade, says Piotr Nikitin, a Russian anti-Kremlin activist in Belgrade.
Across the street from a school where a shooting occurred on May 3 that killed 10 people, a mural of Vladimir Putin was repeatedly repainted in support of Ukraine (sometimes changing from the red of the Russian flag to “bloodless” blue). The painting in honor of Ratko Mladic, a Serbian war criminal, is often restored.
Passions are high. After Nikitin asked local media to report on the repainting of the Putin mural, in which he was involved, the Serbian president berated Nikitin on television. The artist was detained in Belgrade for 44 hours on July 13.
Another Russian antiwar activist, Ilya Zernov, fled to Germany after being beaten for painting over graffiti that read “Death to Ukraine.”
Aida Corovic, an activist who was beaten by police after throwing eggs at Mladic’s mural, believes the state sees far-right graffiti as useful, writes The Economist.
As Russia’s losses in Ukraine mount, nationalist street artists have moved on to other messages: Homophobia (“I don’t want father and father), militarism (“Sparta of Serbia”), and irredentism (“When the army returns to Kosovo”). “Krokodil”, a liberal cultural center in Belgrade, has also changed its look.
When she painted over a mural calling for the reconquest of Kosovo, nationalists restored the mural and defaced its premises with nationalist slogans. Now its founder, Vladimir Arsenijevic, takes a more subtle and less political approach to the war.
“Krokodil” pays artists to involve young people in painting a series of permitted murals that will supposedly emit “gentle things like beautiful, peaceful female images.”