ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Russian artist unveiled four giant paintings by Russian President Vladimir Putin in central Istanbul on Saturday, saying he wanted to show the good ties between Ankara and Moscow, despite differences over Syria and other issues.
Russian artist and former Arkhangelsk mayor Alexander Donskoy takes a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Istiklal Street in Istanbul, Turkey, February 15, 2020. REUTERS / Umit Bektas
However, shortly after Alexander Donskoy introduced his "Putin is Russia?" On Istiklal Street, the authorities removed his paintings because he had not been allowed to display them there.
"We currently have an exacerbation of relations with Turkey," artist Alexander Donskoy told Reuters. "So I show here, right in the center of Turkey, on its main street, where the Russian embassy is, that Putin is Russia."
“I wanted to draw attention to how Putin is seen in Russia: as a superhero. So, I wrote in the portraits & # 39; Putin is superhero & # 39; ”Said Donskoy.
Turkey and Russia support opposing sides in the Syrian war, but have collaborated to seek a political solution, while forging close ties in the defense and energy sectors.
But a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive since December in the northwestern Idlib region has broken ties. Ankara and Moscow have exchanged barbs in recent days, accusing themselves of breaking agreements to contain the violence in Idlib.
Media reports this week quoted the Russian ambassador to Turkey as saying he has received several death threats since tensions have escalated after 13 Turkish troops were killed in Idlib in attacks by the Syrian government.
Donskoy said he wanted to provoke emotions in people who passed through the paintings and see their reactions. He said he plans to hold more exhibitions elsewhere, including in the United States.
“There will be more in the countries of Western democracy. Then, I will show that the Russian people regard the sanctions against Putin as sanctions against themselves, ”he said.
"So, I'm an ambassador for peace."
Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Written by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Edition by Frances Kerry; Edition by Frances Kerry
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