'Medvedev Girls' strip for Kremlin chief
Two young women stripped down to bikinis in central Moscow on Thursday to express support for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in the latest exposure of bare flesh ahead of 2012 polls.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already inspired an apparently rival group of women to similar acts of naked daring but this was the first time the incumbent Russian president has prompted an erotic frisson.
Surrounded by a gaggle of photographers, activists from a group called Medvedev is Our President said they would take their clothes off to support Medvedev's initiative to cut down on the public drinking of beer.
They invited members of the public strolling on Pushkin Square to pour their cans of beer into buckets. When the beer reached a certain level, they took off their shorts, then their tops.
Anna Sirotkina, a blonde activist who stripped down to a black bikini, told AFP the event was aimed at attracting the attention of young male beer drinkers.
"We're taking our clothes off because this event is aimed mainly at young men and our main slogan is 'Choose beer or us'," she said.
It remains unclear which of the two men will stand in next year's presidential elections, and the "Medvedev Girls" unsurprisingly said they wanted the current Kremlin chief to stand for another term.
Passers-by were sceptical, however.
"They could at least have put on music, or Medvedev himself should have come down and taken his clothes off himself," said 18-year-old student Alexander Klachkovsky.
The group has promoted itself in a video as a rival to another Internet group called I Really Do Like Putin and some of its members last month stripped to bikinis and washed cars in a soft-porn tribute to the strongman prime minister.
But activists played down any rivalry, saying the groups were friends.
They have played a football match and on Monday are going to do a "tandem" bike ride together, said organiser Alisa Meshcheryakova, 25.
It was unclear who was behind the group, with organiser Meshcheryakova claiming that it was a grassroots initiative.
"What we are doing, we are doing with our own means," she said, denying that she is a member of any political movement.
Nevertheless she said that she worked for an ad agency and that the group has an electronics Internet store as a sponsor, which donated prizes such as an iPad.
© 2011 AFP