Putin Prefers Going Topless? Russian Police Seize Painting of President in Lingerie.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 27 2013 7:47 PM

Putin Prefers Going Topless? Russian Police Seize Painting of President in Lingerie from Gallery.

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A visitor looks at a painting representing Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev by Russian artist Konstantin Altunin in St. Petersburg.

Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is well known for cultivating a certain image. Usually that includes riding wild horses, aiming a rifle at various ferocious creatures, and generally doing it all shirtless. You know, something like these.

But, apparently, lingerie doesn’t fit into Putin’s idea of ‘Brand Putin.’ So, when a Putin-inspired painting depicting the President in his less-than-formal-attire popped up at a Russian art gallery, something apparently had to be done. And something was.

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Russian police confiscated the painting, along with three others, on Monday from the St. Petersburg gallery. According to Reuters, the police gave no indication of what law had actually been broken by the offending pieces of art, but Russia does have a law on the books prohibiting insulting authorities. The offense comes with a potential one-year prison sentence. The Russian Interior Ministry issued this, somewhat cryptic, statement about the seizure: “Following an initial inspection, police seized four paintings that have been sent off for analysis, on the basis of which a procedural decision will be made.”

The gallery raid, unsurprisingly, comes as St. Petersburg is set to host the G20 summit next week. The city is also one of the first Russian cities to introduce laws against the spread of “gay propaganda.” Russia, which is set to host the Winter Olympics next year, has come under fire for its anti-gay laws.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.