The 'bored' security guard who vandalised a £750,000 painting in Russia has been unmasked as a war hero decorated for military courage.
Alexander Vasiliev doodled some eyes on the blank faces of the figures in Anna Leporskaya's classic painting during his first shift at the Yeltsin Centre, located in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk Oblast region in west-central Russia on 7 December 2021.
This all happened during an exhibition called 'The World as Non-Objectivity. The Birth of a New Art' and, after bosses noticed that the painting had been defaced, he lost his job.
Now, the security guard has explained how the doodling came about, admitting: "I'm a fool, for what I've done," before going on to say: "To be honest, I didn't really like these pictures [at the exhibition].
"They left a difficult impression. I tried to pass by without looking [at them]. I watched how people reacted, and then I saw teenagers, 16 or 17, standing and discussing why there are no eyes, no mouth, and no beauty."
He told Yekaterinburg newspaper E1 that he had been egged on by the schoolgirls visiting the exhibition.
"There were girls in the group, and they asked me: ‘Draw on the eyes, you work here'."
He also said that he thought the work had been done by young people and says he even asked those encouraging him to draw on it whether they were their paintings and they apparently said they were.
He went on: "They gave me a pen. I drew the eyes. I thought it was just their children's drawings.
"I saw people passing by, smiling."
He claimed he asked to go home soon afterwards because his wounds from the Chechen War - when his body was riddled with bullets and he was not expected to survive - had begun to hurt.
In 1995, a senior lieutenant, he was one of only four out of 36 soldiers in his detachment who survived a ferocious gun battle.
His wife Yulia - a Covid nurse - said he was a 'normal man' but he could be 'naïve like a child'.
She blamed his war wounds for his action.
The results of the doodle session resulted in the painting being 'slightly penetrated' by the ink as the canvas was not covered with a protective varnish.
The picture was removed from the exhibition and returned to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow where renovation took place that cost around £2,500.
Featured Image Credit: East2West