Professor at prestigious Moscow art school accused of abusing his underage students

A Moscow court has ordered the arrest in absentia of a teacher at the prestigious Moscow Central Art School of the Russian Academy of Arts on suspicion of sexually assaulting underage students.

The arrest warrant issued against Viktor Yelizarov by the Khamovniki District Court entered into force last week. He faces up to 12 years in prison. A long article detailing the allegations about Yelizarov’s behavior for many years towards young underage women studying painting with him was published in November by Baza, an investigative medium. Over the summer, more than ten former students filed complaints against Yelizarov with school principal Dmitry Gubanov and the police, Baza reported.

Yelizarov was suspended from partial boarding school in September and disappeared from sight and from his website, which had previously described him as an “energetic brush and palette master” who “passionately transfers his knowledge and skills. life experience to young artists, being in co-creation with his students.

Several of the students spoke officially with Baza using their full names and shared their stories on social media as well. At the end of November, they also detailed their allegations in a video on Baza’s YouTube channel..

Anatasia Kopittseva, who graduated from the school in the early 2000s, said Baza: “I remember how when I was 12 he held my hand for a long time and kneaded my leg from inside my hip, telling me that girls have this wonderful ‘bun’ in this location. I did not understand how to behave in this situation. Should I tell my parents? ”.

Kopittseva said Baza that Yelizarov favored blond girls with blue eyes and cared for them, focusing at the age of 10-12 after testing their limits and determining “how close their bond was with their parents, how close he had to worry about the kid telling them everything, how much they needed another teacher-parent figure. ”He would then talk more and more about sex with his victims and“ start pushing for sex ” once they hit puberty, she said.

Another student, Ekaterina Sverchkova, described field trips in which he woke students in the morning “by touching our private parts while we slept”. She said he told the students that the age of consent was for “average” children when they were “gifted.” On a trip to Crimea, she surprised Yelizarov in bed with a 15-year-old student, she told the Baza reporter Anatoly Suleimanov in the video. Suleimanov said the student, now around 27, did not want to speak in public because she spent years in psychotherapy following Yelizarov’s abuse.

Yelizaveta Tulchinskaya, who studied at the school from 2002 to 2009, said that Yelizarov showed students nude photos of his wife, who is still listed as a teacher at the school, and spoke about their sex life.

Kopittseva described on Facebook how difficult it was to give the interview, how sad she was that a man had done so much to damage the school’s reputation and how grateful she was that “to at one point I found the strength in myself to spare new young students. new incurable traumas.

She said other women wrote to her with similar stories to hers. “While everyone remains silent about such cases, believing that it has only happened to them, society as a whole believes that there is no such thing as pedophilia. And it will certainly not affect their children. It is our common problem that must be addressed. You can’t face it without public disclosure, ”Kopittseva wrote.

Support was expressed for Yelizarov on his Facebook page by several of his colleagues. One described it as a “tailor-made case” of “false accusations” by Yelizarov’s “own newborns” and offered to testify in his favor if he should stand trial. Tulchinskaya described his disappointment at these statements.

Several sexual assault and harassment scandals have rocked top Russian schools and universities in recent years.

In October, a fine arts school math teacher resigned after parents found BDSM content on his social media. A story on the website of Tsargrad, a conservative TV station founded by Konstantin Malofeev, a billionaire who professes orthodoxy and wants to restore the monarchy, claimed the teacher was part of a liberal Western plot to promote the contemporary art and destroy classical Russian art.

Kayleen C. Rice