By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 29 2013 12:00 PM ET
A Russian artist who painted images of President Vladmir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev embracing and wearing women's undergarments has fled Russia after authorities seized the art and shut down the artist's exhibition at a St. Petersburg museum, reports The Guardian.
Fearing further retaliation under the Kremlin's violent crackdown on LGBT people and "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," Konstantin Altunin fled Russia and is seeking political asylum in France, according to the museum director who hosted the since-shuttered exhibit at St. Petersburg's Museum of Power.
The four paintings removed by police were satirical depictions of Putin and Medvedev in negligees, bras, and panties, tenderly stroking and caressing one another.
Russian police officers did not specify which laws Altunin's paintings had broken, but The Guardian notes that in addition to running afoul of Russia's broadly defined national ban on "homosexual propaganda," the pictures could be considered a violation of a law that forbids insulting state politicians or authorities. That same law saw Russia's leading LGBT activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, brought into court for allegedly insulting members of Parliament on Twitter. Alexeyev said Russian authorities also raided his home this week, ransacking his apartment and confiscating several pieces of electronic equipment.