Pussy Riot photo removed from website

2012-09-23 22:04
(Supplied)

(Supplied)

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Moscow - Furniture firm Ikea has removed a photograph from its Russian website of people in colourful ski masks like those worn by punk band Pussy Riot, three of whose members were jailed after staging a protest against Vladimir Putin in a church.

The picture, which showed four people in the masks sitting on IKEA furniture, had been posted on a section of the site which displays photographs of customers posing at stores.

A notice on the website confirmed the image had been removed and said: "IKEA is a commercial organisation that conducts its activity outside of politics and religion.

"We cannot allow our advertising project to be used as a platform for campaigning of any kind," it added.

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after belting out a song criticising Putin, then prime minister and now president, in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February.

They were handed two-year jail terms.

The brightly coloured balaclava masks they wore during the protest have become the band's trademark.

A large opposition protest in Moscow recently featured big balloons with the mask design and the words "Free Pussy Riot".

The Russian Orthodox Church head has called the cathedral protest part of a campaign aimed at curbing the resurgence of Russia's main faith.

Foreign governments, rights groups and musicians have criticised the women's sentences as excessive.

Russia has dismissed the criticism from abroad, which the Foreign Ministry said pointed to a "clash of civilisations".

Putin has said the state is obliged to protect the feelings of the faithful.

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