The exhibition “Duel. From God's judgment to a noble crime". However, the vernissage did not take place: the site now has a notice that the exhibition has been postponed indefinitely. “The project is based on exhibits from European museums, which were forced to withdraw them ahead of schedule due to the geopolitical situation,” the report says. “Currently, the Moscow Kremlin Museums are working to implement the exhibition without European participation, and express their sincere gratitude to the Russian museum community for offering assistance in the current difficult circumstances”.
According to The Guardian, the recall of the exhibits was a concerted action by European cultural institutions. The publication learned that one of the participants in the boycott was the British royal court, who demanded back six exhibits from their collection shortly after the start of the special operation in Ukraine. Among them were a dueling glove, a cavalry helmet, a breastplate and three swords from the 17th century, one of which allegedly belonged to King Charles I. “Due to the aggravation of the situation in Ukraine, the Royal Armories recalled items that were provided for rent. Other major European collections did the same, withdrawing their items from the upcoming exhibition, the press service of the Royal Collections said in a statement. “The Moscow Kremlin Museums have shown professionalism and willingness to cooperate, all exhibits have left Russia and are now in Europe on their way home”.
The British Queen and the Royal Armories Museum in Leeds were key contributors to the exhibition, according to its press release. Museums such as the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna also agreed to provide their exhibits. The decision to withdraw was taken in concert. As the press secretary of the French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, quoted by Le Monde, said on this occasion, “our presence could be interpreted as a sign of divergence among Europeans. We couldn't afford it." At the same time, the French side also mentions that communication with representatives of the Kremlin Museums took place in a warm atmosphere and "without any obvious hostility".
The main sponsor of the exhibition was Alisher Usmanov's Art, Science and Sport Foundation. Usmanov became one of the first Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned by the UK, the US and the EU after the start of the special operation. After the announcement of the sanctions, he left the presidency of the International Fencing Federation, saying that he would return when justice was restored.