More than a thousand Russians rallied in Saint Petersburg on Sunday after a century-old bas relief of a mythical demon was destroyed amid fears of increasing religious intolerance under President Vladimir Putin. Last week, the figure of Mephistopheles was ripped down from the facade of a century-old building in Saint Petersburg. An obscure group calling itself the Cossacks of Saint Petersburg claimed responsibility. The seemingly religiously-motivated act of vandalism caused an outcry in the former imperial capital and police launched a probe. The figure of a bat-winged creature on Lakhtinskaya Street dated back to around 1910. By some accounts, the bas relief paid homage to legendary Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin famed for his role of Mephistopheles.

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