Penis graffiti dropped from Russian competition

Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:10pm GMT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A painting of a large penis on a bridge in Russia's second city St Petersburg has been dropped from the shortlist for an art prize, the organisers said.

The painting, which pointed skywards when the bridge was raised, was painted last June by opposition Russian art group Voina, or War, to protest against tight security in the city prior to an international meeting.

The picture, which was washed off by firefighters, faced the St Petersburg headquarters of Russia's Federal Security Service, successor of the Soviet-era KGB.

Organisers of the prize for innovation awarded by Russia's State Centre of Contemporary Arts and supported by the Culture Ministry had included the picture, which Voina had called "A Penis in KGB captivity."

But after failing to get approval to include the picture from Voina, the organisers removed it from the shortlist, they said on their website.

Voina condemned the withdrawal of the prize from the competition.

"The repressive act of removing the Voina group from the award brings shame on the (organisers) and the Ministry of Culture," one of the group's activists, Alexei Plutser-Sarno, said on Sunday on his Internet web page.

Voina has staged other stunts to protest against the state. In November, police detained three members of the group on charges of overturning police cars during a protest against police corruption.

One member, Leonid Nikolayev, lodged a case against Moscow at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) earlier this month to protest against the arrest.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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