Some Russians angered at 'historical' Playmates
December 10, 1996
Web posted at: 3:45 a.m. EST (0845 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- When such historical celebrities as Catherine the Great and Natalya Goncharova, the wife of the 19th century poet and novelist Aleksander Pushkin, posthumously made their debut as pin-ups in the Russian edition of Playboy, not everyone appreciated the joke.
Many were outraged, including the Vice President of the Russian Academy of Science Vladimir Kudriavstev, who filed a lawsuit against the magazine.
The portraits, which ran in Playboy earlier this year, represented famous Russian women past and present in a semi-clothed or unclothed state. The paintings were the fruit of the imagination of Russian artist Dmitry Vrubel, who is best known for his mural on the Berlin Wall of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing former East German leader Erich Honecker.
Vrubel's portrait of Catherine the Great shows the Czarina with her traditional diamond star, but little else.
The artist says the resulting uproar is ridiculous and he cannot understand why the case needs to be settled in court. But the Russian Academy of Science and other social organizations like the Saint Petersburg Center for Gender Issues found the pieces "offensive" and "insulting" and decided to file suit under article 152 of the civil code, which allows plaintiffs to sue for harm done to their honor and reputation.
Leonid Petrenko, a lawyer who represents the Academy of Sciences' Professor Kudriavstev, says the professor was particulary angered by a portrait of the scientist Sofia Kolovelvskaya, the first female member of the Academy.
The suit demands 100 million rubles ($18,000) in damages from Playboy. The matter has been scheduled for a preliminary hearing December 16th.
Russian Playboy's editor-in-chief Artemy Troitsky says that the portraits were not offensive. But since objections arose it has dropped the portrait series from its pages, shelving portraits of Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his lover Inesa Armand, as well as current-day Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva.
The first Russian edition of Playboy magazine was published in June 1995.
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