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Putin Underwear Painting Seized by Police; Russian Gallery Shut Down

Image: Putin Underwear Painting Seized by Police; Russian Gallery Shut Down

By Michael Mullins   |   Wednesday, 28 Aug 2013 02:25 PM

A painting of Vladimir Putin in women's underwear was recently seized by Russian police from a gallery in St. Petersburg.

In the painting, the Über-masculine Russian president, who is usually pictured riding shirtless on a horse or wrestling with large breed dogs in the snow, is seen in the painting wearing a tight-fitting slip and brushing the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is wearing knickers and a bra, Reuters reported.

Police seized the satirical artwork on Monday, reportedly claiming it had broken unspecified laws.

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In addition to the Putin-Medvedev painting, police removed three other paintings they deemed illegal.

Two of the seized paintings ridiculed Russian politicians who supported anti-gay legislation, while a third painting showed the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, also an outspoken opponent of gay rights, with his torso covered in tattoos, according to gallery staff.

The paintings were removed from the St. Petersburg's Museum of Power gallery, where they were displayed in an exhibit called "Leaders."

Local authorities became aware of the apparently illegal artwork from a tipster.

Although police did not provide the specific law violation that would have justified the seizure, Russia has a law prohibiting insults toward authorities — an offense that carries a maximum one-year prison term, Reuters notes.

One of the removed painting's subjects, St. Petersburg Deputy Vitaly Mironov, who had his face combined with the rainbow flag for gay rights, described the images as being inappropriate and "of a distinctly pornographic character."

The gallery's owner, Alexander Donskoy, told Reuters that after seizing the artwork without any explanations, police subsequently shut down his entire gallery.

"This is an (illegal) seizure," Donskoy told Reuters. "We have been given no formal documents banning us from operating and no receipt confirming our petty cash was seized."

The host city for next week's G20 summit, St. Petersburg was one of the first Russian cities to introduce a law that banned the spread of "gay propaganda."

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