The painting shows Vladimir Putin in a slip, brushing the hair of Dmitry Medvedev who is wearing knickers and a brá
A painting of Russia’s president and prime minister in women’s underwear has been removed from a St Petersburg gallery by police.
The officers also seized a picture of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his torso covered in tattoos, and two others poking fun at lawmakers who have backed legislation banning so-called gay propaganda.
The police service said it had taken paintings, by artist Konstantin Altunin, from the Museum of Power gallery – based in two rooms of a flat – after receiving reports they were illegal.
It gave no further details but Russia does have a law against insulting authorities – an offence that carries a maximum one-year prison term.
One painting showed President Vladimir Putin wearing a tight-fitting slip and brushing the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is wearing knickers and a brá.
St Petersburg deputy Vitaly Mironov, whose face was combined with the gay rights movement’s rainbow flag in one of the paintings, said the images were inappropriate and “of a distinctly pornographic character”.
Russia’s second city, which next week hosts world leaders at a G20 summit, was one of the first Russian cities to introduce a law banning the spread of “gay propaganda”.
The Russian parliament has also adopted similar legislation, prompting protests from abroad and calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics which Russia will host in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in February.
Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy said the officers had also shut down his establishment and given him no explanation for the removal of paintings from the exhibition, titled ‘Leaders’.
“This is an (illegal) seizure,” he said. “We have been given no formal documents banning us from operating and no receipt confirming our petty cash was seized.”