His work seized, Putin painter seeks asylum

  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 6:39 PM
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Earlier this month, a visitor photographed “Travesty” by Konstantin Altunin at the Muzei Vlasti in St. Petersburg, Russia. Four paintings by Altunin were removed this week.

Photo: Yelena Palm • Interpress via AP,

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The artist who fled Russia after authorities seized his paintings depicting President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women’s underwear has begun to take steps to claim permanent asylum in France.

“I don’t want to return to Russia,” Konstantin Altunin said in a phone interview from Paris. “I want to live and work in an atmosphere of freedom.”

Alexander Donskoy, the owner of the Museum of Power gallery in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, said Thursday he has been unable to secure an attorney to help retrieve the paintings, which have gone missing, after 20 lawyers rejected requests to represent the gallery.

Putin who hosts the Group of 20 nations in his hometown St. Petersburg on Sept. 5-6, is being accused of stamping down on opposition movements, human rights and freedom of speech in Russia.

Donskoy said in an interview that authorities who raided his premises left no documentation after they took four works by Altunin. He doesn’t “believe the artworks could be returned” because he found no trace of them at police headquarters.

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