Alexander Vasilyev, 63, an army veteran, addressed the incident publicly for the first time in an interview with E1.ru earlier this month and revealed that he was “confused” and “depressed” during his first day on the job and was egged on by a group of teenage girls.
‘To be honest, I didn’t really like these pictures [at the exhibition],’ Vasilyev said. “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.
“There were girls in the group, and they asked me: ‘Draw on the eyes, you work here.'”
Vasilyev, who faces potential prison time in connection to vandalism charges, said he regretted being a “fool” once he realized the value of the painting.
The former senior lieutenant served in the Chechen War and was one of only four surviving members of his 36-soldier unit, experiencing gunshot wounds during battle in 1995 and receiving a medal for his bravery.
Vasilyev’s wife, Yulia, blamed her husband’s war-wounds for the incident, which she said made him act “naive like a child.”