The Museum of Moscow sent out an urgent retraction last week saying that an exhibition on the early Soviet local history museum movement opening on 9 December will be called Remove the stuffed fox and not Remove the stuffed moose, as previously stated.
The museum maintained a Monty Python-esque poker face, deftly replacing one animal for the other in ads for the show.
Hawk-eyed observers speculated that the reason for the correction might have been an ongoing political scandal.
In October, police caught the Communist Party parliamentarian Valery Rashkin with a dead female moose in his car. At first, Rashkin claimed he had found the deceased animal in the forest and planned to turn it in to police, but was met suspiciously quickly by a horde of law enforcement officials before he was able to do so. Then he said he had mistaken the moose for a boar, which can be hunted legally.
Nonetheless, Rashkin was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and charged with unlawful hunting (punishable by up to five years in prison). Communist Party officials cried foul, saying Rashkin was targeted for political reasons. Rashkin compared the amount of attention being paid to the moose incident with the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.
“The reason for the renaming [of the exhibition] has not been revealed," wrote the Sobesednik newspaper, adding that "the figure of a horned artiodactyl" could, however, be associated with recent events.
Russian art world observers have pointed out on Facebook that state cultural institutions face intense pressure due to the arbitrary application of restrictive laws, but are making things worse with such self-censorship.