New East Digital Archive

Police confiscate Putin underwear painting

Police confiscate Putin underwear painting

28 August 2013

It’s been up and down in the Russian art world this week. Although the Olympic Committee of Russia ruled that the use of the Olympic rings in a painting by artist Vasily Slonova was legal, police yesterday seized a satirical portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. In the painting, displayed at The Museum of Authority in St Petersburg, the pair are dressed in women’s underwear and Putin is combing Medvedev’s hair.

The city authorities also confiscated a number of other paintings including one of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox covered in tattoos, and two more making fun of the lawmakers who spearheaded the campaign for the “homosexual propaganda” law. One depicted St Petersburg deputy Vitaly Milonov against a rainbow background while the other was of Yelena Mizulina, the Duma deputy who not only pushed for the passage of the federal law but has since called for punishments for people using foul language on social networks. In an interview with Reuters, Milonov said the images were inappropriate and “of a distinctly pornographic character”.

The Museum of Authority opened on 15 August with the current exhibition, The Rulers, featuring paintings of public figures such as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and President Barack Obama in addition to Putin. Since opening, the museum has shown its solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community and last weekend offered free entry to those who said they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered on the door.

In somewhat happier news, the Olympic Committee of Russia ruled in favour of Slonova’s use of the Olympic rings in his artwork. Slonova’s posters were removed from an exhibition in Perm in June for their satirical depictions including one of the Olympic rings as nooses. The exhibition was shut down along with three others, one of which featured photos of the anti-Kremlin protests in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in December 2011.