The portrait of Vladimir Putin as a woman which got artist arrested by secret service

Posted on 2:17 AM by Sameer Shah

A Russian artist was arrested by the secret service after depicting prime minister Vladimir Putin as a woman.

Painter Alexander Shednov, also known as Shurik, portrayed the former president in a tight, low-cut dress with long hair and large hoop earrings.

He said the image was a protest against Putin - who fosters a reputation as a strongman - trying to return to the Kremlin for a third presidential term.

In the top left hand corner of the picture Shednov shows his subject saying: 'Oh I don't know - a third Presidential term? It is a bit too much....on the other hand, three is a charm.'

The artist had attempted to beam the portrait onto the main administrative building in Voronezh, his home city, on Russian Independence Day last Friday.

But Shednov's endeavour did not go down well with the FSB, which replaced the KGB as Russia's intelligence agency.

He was arrested by counter-intelligence officials, claims he was questioned for seven hours and beaten.

Friends said his flat had also been searched and some of his paintings removed.

Shednov now faces a charge of inappropriate behaviour and is due before a court.

Critics will see it as the latest evidence of intolerance by the authorities to harmless protests and freedom of expression in Russia.

There is no legal obstacle to Putin standing for a third term in office if the current president Dmitry Medvedev stands aside or in the next scheduled election in 2012.

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