Polish prosecutors said Thursday they would not charge an arts student who angered Russia by installing a sculpture of a Soviet soldier raping a pregnant woman in the Baltic port city of Gdansk.
"In the sculptor's behaviour, we saw no sign of inciting racial or national hatred nor desecrating a public place used to commemorate a historic event," Gdansk prosecutors said in a statement.
They said however that arts student Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk, 26, could face fines for his unauthorised art show once police conclude their probe.
Szumczyk installed the life-sized sculpture Saturday night to Sunday next to a communist-era memorial hailing the Red Army for chasing Nazi forces out of the city in 1945.
Historians say Soviet soldiers raped numerous women during the liberation, though no statistics exist.
"I wanted to show the tragedy of women and the horrors of war," Szumczyk told AFP Wednesday.
The sculpture was only on display for a couple of hours before police removed it on a tip off from a local resident.
But Russia's ambassador to Warsaw caught wind of the sculpture and denounced it as "vulgar" and "openly sacrilegious" on the embassy's website.
"I am deeply outraged by a prank of a Gdansk Academy of Arts student whose pseudo-art desecrated the memory of 600,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the fight for Poland's freedom and independence," ambassador Alexander Alekseyev said Tuesday.
Szumczyk said his work was an "an expression of pacifism and a signal for peace" that was not specifically directed against the Red Army memorial.
Such memorials regularly provoke anger in Poland, as they represent not just the city's liberation from the Nazis but also Moscow's half-century reign over Poland during which scores of Poles were killed.
The situation is particularly delicate in Gdansk, which was part of Germany until the end of World War I when it became a free city with mostly German residents. It was occupied by Nazi Germany at the start of World War II.
Most of the women raped by Soviet soldiers in March-April 1945 were German, along with Poles and Russians deported there by the Nazis to work in factories.
Western historians have long written about the atrocities but the subject has never been widely debated in Russia and remains largely taboo.
Stalin and his military commanders are believed to have turned a blind eye to reports of assaults.
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