Someone chopped down a wooden Russian Orthodox cross at the entrance to the mountainous Seminsky Pass in southern Siberia's Altai republic on Monday night. That same day, nine crosses were found chopped down at a cemetery in Priozersk, Leningrad region.
Police are looking for the perpetrators. The Altai incident might involve a "sect," investigators suspect, because the cross was removed from the site, Interfax said. The cemetery incident was likely the work of a "psychologically unfit" man, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
The head of the Altai republic said he would take personal control of his region's case. Altai will prevent any attempt to "stage provocations" with religious symbols, Alexander Berdnikov said.
Over the last few weeks, several Orthodox crosses have been hacked down to protest the imprisonment of three Pussy Riot punk rockers who performed a "punk prayer" in a prominent Moscow cathedral.
On the day of the sentencing, a bare-breasted Femen activist, long blond hair falling to her hips, chain-sawed through a wooden cross on a hill in Kiev. The cross had been erected in memory of the victims of Stalinist repression.
In Altai, the destroyed cross had marked the location of a church to be constructed in honor of gulag inmates who built the Chuisky highway along the Mongolian border.