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Putin lingerie artist seeks French asylum after fleeing Russia

Reuters/Stringer

A Russian artist whose paintings depicted President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wearing women's underwear, has formally requested political asylum in France, after fleeing to Paris earlier this week.

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Konstantin Altunin flew out of Russia on Tuesday evening after his exhibition in Saint Petersburg was closed down and the organisers were detained by police.

He says he feared criminal charges. He says he is shocked by the reaction of Russian authorities, and had expected that his works would be met with humour.

“They just said ‘We don’t like it’ and sealed up the doors and that was it. I don’t think there is such backwardness in any other country.”

Saint Petersburg is to host the G20 summit next week.

Altunin said he had created the painting of Putin and Medvedev when, in 2011 they announced a job swap with Putin returning to the Kremlin and Medvedev becoming prime minister.

“It is absolutely innocent irony,” he said.

A police statement did not specify which laws were actually violated.

One Russian law prohibits insulting state authorities, and another one bans homosexual propaganda aimed at minors.

Last year, an exhibit showing members of the Pussy Riot punk band as holy icons led to protests by pro-government activists and criticism from religious groups.
 

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