Lifestyle & Belief

Russian police detain curator over Putin painting


A visitor looks at the confiscated painting by Konstantin Altunin last month.


Olga Maltseva

Police in St. Petersburg on Tuesday briefly detained the director of an art gallery from which local authorities recently confiscated several controversial paintings, including one of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women’s underwear.

Tatiana Titova, director of the Museum of Power gallery, told BBC’s Russian Service that police had detained her “without explanation” for around three hours early Tuesday morning. She does not appear to have been charged with a crime.

Titova’s gallery made headlines last Monday after the authorities raided the venue and confiscated four paintings, including those of Putin and Medvedev, as well as others depicting Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, covered in prison tattoos and Vitaly Milonov, an outspoken anti-gay lawmaker from St. Petersburg, against a rainbow background.

Konstantin Altunin, the artist responsible for the paintings, which were part of an exhibition called “Rulers,” has reportedly fled Russia for fear of arrest and is seeking asylum in France.

Last week’s raid was carried out after police received a complaint from Milonov, according to the RIA Novosti state news agency. The gallery was closed but will reopen on Thursday.

St. Petersburg is set to host the G20 later this week, where US President Barack Obama is expected to meet representatives of Russia’s embattled LGBT community, currently reeling from a national law banning gay “propaganda.”