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“Drawing the Court – 2” showcases courtroom sketches of trials that took place in recent years in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and carried significant social weight. Specifically, we chose to focus on political trials.

The exhibition is comprised of two sections, tentatively titled “agitational” and “historical.” Posters in support of individuals currently being prosecuted are on display in our Great Hall.

The "historical" section is a compilation of original sketches from trials in which the defendants have already been released. We will be displaying sketches from both high-profile trials and others that have flown under the radar, without giving preference to cases that have received media coverage. 

While few people are likely to read court reports if the defendants' names are not immediately recognizable, they may react differently to courtroom sketches. These sketches are not simply a substitute for photography; the artist conveys their relationship to the events and assessment of the situation. Quite frequently, court sketches harmoniously incorporate fragments of court transcripts and author commentary into their renderings of trial participants.

Just recently, a judge handed down guilty verdicts to eight of the May 6 Prisoners. But Russia’s current political trials are not over yet – the cases against Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozhayev are under way, and hearings for the remaining defendants in the Bolotnaya case are set to begin soon.

All of these people need our attention and support. 

An electronic archive with hundreds of sketches drawn by artists over six years of work on this project is available on 

Exhibition participants:

Ekaterina Belyavskaya
Ilmira Bolotyan
Radik Vildanov
Viktor Volodarskiy 
Svetlana Gofman
Anna Zvyagintseva
Viktor Korb
Andrey Kortovich
Lyubov' Krutenko
Tamara Krutenko
Olga Lavrenteva
Viktoria Lomasko
Marina Naprushkina
Iya Ozerova
Aleksandr Tot
Vlad Tupikin
Anna Sheffer

Curators: Victoria Lomasko, Zlata Ponirovskaya
Producer: Natalya Dashevskaya

Radio Svoboda, Colta, Bolshoi Gorod, May 6 Committee

The exhibition will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from March 14-28 2014. Hours of admission are 11:00- 18:00.

The opening will take place on March 14 at 19:00 at: Sadovaya ul. Karetniy Ryad d 5/10, International Memorial.

History of the Genre

Court artists have always been a busy lot. Initially, there was no photography to be employed in courtrooms, then it became banned at trials, and, finally, the idea rooted that a sketch done on the spot sometimes says a lot more than a photograph. The genre of courtroom sketch is now past its prime, and the decline started in the late 1970’s when a Florida court decreed that photography is admissible in American courtrooms. Yet even now, in many cases a court is simply not ready to turn a trial in a sort of reality show, and photographers are sometimes banned from the room. There are times when a court artist works in a team with a court reporter who selects a scene for the artist to represent, but there are practically no traces of sensationalism in courtroom drawing. This is a serious job, after all, and very delicate. It’s easy to understand why it’s more preferable than court photography.

Court artists use different techniques, ranging from pencil sketches to watercolors. In genre, the courtroom art is also different, from portraits to scene sketches. Courtroom art is not defined by technique or genre, but by the location and circumstance, as well as the artist’s vision and his or her ability to catch and depict transient moments.

The history of court drawing may have started with the work of Honoré Daumier, and his series of lithographs “Les Gens de Justice” in particular (1835-1848).

Honoré Daumier Honoré Daumier Honoré Daumier

the Beilis TrialIn Russia (and, later, in the USSR, and, again, Russia), artists were first admitted into courtrooms in the mid-19th century. In 1881, at the “March 1” Group (the “Pervomartovtsi”, or the “People’s Will” underground anti-Tsarist organization members) Trial there were present at least three artists: explorer and medical doctor Pavel Pyasetsky, “Itinerant” painter Konstantin Makovsky, and police artist A. Nasvetevich. There still exist sketches from the Beilis Trial in 1913.

The famous painting by the Soviet group Kukryniksy “The End. The Last Hours in Hitler’s Hideaway” and their graphic series “Accusation” (portraying war criminals and their lawyers at the Nuremberg Trial in 1945-1946) were based on the artists’ eyewitness accounts of the Nazi criminals court trial. The Nuremberg Trial participants were also depicted by Soviet cartoonist Boris Yefimov in his “Nuremberg Series”.


In the United States there are dozens of eminent artists famous for their court drawing.

American illustrator Leo Hershfield (1904-1979) worked in courtrooms at the trials of the Chicago Seven charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot; the Harrisburg Seven and the Gainesville Eight, who protested against the war in Vietnam; he drew the proceedings at major trials of pediatrician and civil rights advocate Benjamin Spock; American war criminal William Calley, sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor for ordering the My Lai Massacre; Clay Shaw, the only person prosecuted in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Jack Ruby who shot Lee Harvey Oswald; Arthur Bremer, convicted for an assassination attempt on presidential candidate George Wallace; the murderer of Martin Luther King Jr. James Earl Ray, etc.

Famous comic book artist Dick Rockwell (1920-2006) participated in court trials of Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army radical organizations.

Journalist and artist Rosalie Ritz (1923-2008) covered proceedings at the trials of Patty Hearst who had joined the leftist radical organization “Symbionese Liberation Army”; Sirhan Sirhan, the senator Robert F. Kennedy killer; Charles Manson, the leader of apocalyptic quasi-commune responsible for the murder of actress Sharon Tate; and the Black Panthers (Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis) trials. American illustrator Bill Lignante worked alongside with her in covering Charlie Manson, Patty Hearst, and Sirhan Sirhan.

Paulette Frankl still works as a courtroom artist. She covered major trials of American civil rights attorney J. Tony Serra, Ellie Nesler who killed her young son’s molester in 1993, and the gambling executive Ted Binion’s murder trial in the late 1990’s, among others.

Paulette Frankl

In 2005, there was an art show “Case Studies” by Moscow artist Pavel Shevelev, exhibiting his sketches from Meshchansky Court where the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev was heard in 2004-2005. In his interview to “Novaya Gazeta” the artist said about the most interesting part of this job, “The most interesting part is that there are 50 thousand artists in Moscow, but it occurred to no one just to come and draw this trial. And there are 5 million people who don’t come to the court”.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides "news, information, and analysis" to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed".[3] RFE/RL is supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a bi-partisan federal agency overseeing all U.S. international broadcasting services.[4]

Founded as an anti-communist propaganda news source in 1949 by the National Committee for a Free Europe, RFE/RL received funds from the Central Intelligence Agency until 1972.[5] During the earliest years of Radio Free Europe's existence, the CIA and the U.S. Department of State issued broad policy directives, and a system evolved where broadcast policy was determined through negotiation among the CIA, the U.S. State Department, and RFE staff.[6]

RFE/RL was headquartered at Englischer Garten in Munich, Germany, from 1949 to 1995. In 1995, the headquarters were moved to Prague in the Czech Republic. European operations have been significantly reduced since the end of the Cold War. In addition to the headquarters, the service maintains 20 local bureaus in countries throughout their broadcast region, as well as a corporate office in Washington, D.C. RFE/RL broadcasts in 28 languages[7] to 21 countries[8] including Armenia, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.[9]

Novaya Gazeta — (Russian: Новая газета, translated as New Gazette) is a Russian liberal opposition newspaper well known in the country for its critical and investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs.[2] Four Novaya Gazeta journalists, including Yury Shchekochikhin and Anna Politkovskaya, have been murdered since 2001.[3]

It is published in Moscow, in regions within Russia, and in some foreign countries. As of 2009, the print edition is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; English articles on the website are published more erratically. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and State Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev own 49% of the newspaper and the paper's staff controls the remaining 51% of shares. — marketing agency

COLTA.RU — the largest and most respected Russian expert web project touching upon up-to-the-date cultural issues and social agenda of the day. The Colta Project is heir to the Project, which has been active on the Web for 5 years with the same creative team, whose wide experience and contacts are always at its full disposal. An independent mass media resource, sticks to a new business model for the Russian Web market – the project is independent from official governmental or private business organisation, and has no hosts or corporate investors. is a totally national project, which is socially funded, with a helping hand from Russian intelligentsia.

Creative People Network, a unique multilingual online platform for the presentation and development of various artistic cultures. Kroogi is an ethical model for distributing copyrighted material with a "Pay What You Want" commercial principle.

Culture News Agency

Khodorkovsky & Lebedev Communications Center (

«Memorial» is a movement which arose in the years of perestroika. Its main task was the awakening and preservation of the societal memory of the severe political persecution in the recent past of the Soviet Union.

Memorial is a community of dozens of organizations in different regions of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia.

Memorial is a group of specialized research, human rights, and education centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities.

Memorial is a museum, a repository of documents, and a number of specialized libraries.

Since 2004, the Sergey Kuznetsov Content Group ( has been providing content for and supporting Internet sites, including not-for-profit efforts, as well as promoting them in social media. The company’s projects have received a number of professional awards, and reached top positions in Internet sites popularity ratings. The company has been working in close cooperation with numerous non-profit organizations, including the AVI CHAI Foundation, British Council, Transatlantic Partners against AIDS, Russian Media Partnership against AIDS, etc.

The Andrey Sakharov Memorial Museum and Community Center for Peace, Progress and Human Rights ( was established by the international nongovernmental organization, The Andrey Sakharov Foundation: The Public Commission for the Preservation of the Legacy of Academician A.D. Sakharov, in 1996. The Museum and Community Center promote the preservation of historic memory of millions of political repression and Soviet regime crimes victims, as well as the consolidation of open democratic society and government values in contemporary Russia. The Museum’s permanent exhibition features the thematic shows “The USSR Mythology and Ideology”, “The Political Repression in the USSR”, “The Road through the GULAG”, “The Resistance to the Unfreedom in the USSR”, and “Andrey Sakharov, His Personality and Destiny”. The Museum arranges temporal exhibitions on a regular basis, together with roundtable discussions, seminars, and public debates. Being a complex cultural and social/human rights organization, it also carries out research programs and projects.


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