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kissing policemen
Russia's culture minister claimed Kissing Policeman (An Epoch of Clemency) was politically provocative and banned it and 16 other works from a display of contemporary Russian art in Paris

A photograph showing two policemen kissing passionately in a Siberian forest has been banned by the Russian government.

The image shows the two uniformed policemen kissing on the lips and holding each other by the buttocks in a show covered forest of birch trees.

The picture entitled Kissing Policemen (An Epoch of Clemency was due to go on display at an exhibition in Paris, but was banned by the Russian authorities.

Russian culture minister Alexander Sorolov described the controversial picture as political provocation.

He said he was pulling it and 16 other works from a display of contemporary Russian art at Paris's Maison Rouge exhibition hall this week.

Mr Sokolov said: "It this exhibition appears, it will bring shame on Russia. In this case, all of us will bear full responsibility.

"It is inadmissible... to take all this pornography, kissing policeman and erotic pictures to Paris."

Another work by the same artists, the Blue Noses collective, which showed Vladimir Putin, George Bush and Osama bin Laden cavorting on a double bed in their underpants, was also banned.
Customs officers confiscated the montage from a British art dealer last year when he tried to take it to London.

The creators of the Kissing Policemen claim it is a homage to the celebrated British graffiti artist Banksy.

"We were inspired by Banksy's iconic image of two constables kissing. We wanted to do the same but in Russia," said Alexander Shaburov, who created it with Viacheslav Mizin.

The picture had nothing to do with homosexuality, but was an absurdist fantasy about what could happen if everyone showed mercy and tenderness to each other, he explained.

However, the image received no mercy from the authorities in Russia, prompting Shaburov to claim: "The state is beginning to administer culture in the same way it did under Khrushchev."

The photo was taken in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and shown at the Tretyakov gallery in February and March this year. It is now in a small gallery in Moscow.

There was no scandal when it was shown in Russia, Shaburov added.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is not known for his sense of humor. He banned Russia's version of the satirical British TV puppet show Spitting Image in one of his first acts as president.

- Oct 16, 2007

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