Police seize painting of Putin in women's lingerie

Artwork mocking Russia's incumbent leaders has been removed from a St Petersburg gallery

By Liz Fields

Published August 27, 2013 10:02PM (EDT)

Russian police have seized a painting of the President and Prime Minister depicted in women's underwear, and shut down the St. Petersburg gallery where the artwork in question was being exhibited.

The painting shows President Vladimir Putin in a tight-fitting slip brushing the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is wearing a bra and panties. While no official reason has been given for the painting's removal, police said it was "of a distinctly pornographic character," reports The Guardian:

The officers also removed a picture of the head of the Russian Orthodox church, his torso covered in tattoos, and two others poking fun at MPs who have backed legislation banning so-called gay propaganda, gallery staff said.

The police service said it had taken paintings from the Museum of Power gallery – based in two rooms of a flat – late on Monday after receiving reports that they were illegal. It gave no further detail but Russia does have a law against insulting authorities, an offence that carries a maximum one-year prison term.

St. Petersburg was one of the first cities to introduce homosexual propaganda laws in Russia, where it is now effectively illegal to acknowledge publicly that gay people exist. The anti-gay legislation has provoked outrage and widespread protests from activists and athletes who have called for boycotts on the Winter Olympics to be held in the Russian city of Sochi next year.

Liz Fields

Liz Fields is an Australian freelance journalist based in New York who has previously scribbled for Slate, ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald and more. Follow her on Twitter @lianzifields

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Anti-gay Laws Art Dmitry Medvedev Painting St Petersburg Vladimir Putin