Russian MP demands probe over sex shops' use of WWII medal

29th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Russian MP on Wednesday asked prosecutors to investigate a sex shop chain for using a depiction of a World War II medal on price tags for vibrators ahead of next month's 70th victory anniversary.

The chain of shops called Casanova 69 rolled out the labels decorated with a likeness of the medal -- bearing a hammer and sickle in the centre -- in display cases with goods including massage oil, vibrators and butt plugs, regional media reported.

The Yekaterinburg-based sex shop chain, which claims to be Russia's oldest, swiftly replaced the price labels after media reports prompted outraged reactions.

Oleg Mikheyev of A Just Russia party -- one of three so-called opposition parties in the State Duma which is usually staunchly pro-Kremlin -- said he asked prosecutors to check whether the stores had committed the crime of desecrating a symbol of military glory.

This would be punishable with compulsory labour for up to a year under a law banning "rehabilitation of Nazism."

The medal, called Order of Fatherland War, was given for bravery in battle.

"You can't turn a blind eye to these things. Therefore I sent a letter to Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika asking him to carry out a review of the facts," Mikheyev said on his website.

"I hope the prosecutors will identify who, and with what aim, created publicity for a sex shop by putting one of the main war medals on price tags for sex toys and lubricants," he said, calling this "beyond the boundaries of good and evil."

The stores' commercial director Dmitry Shchepin defended the idea behind the labels, adding that the images of the medals were just 6 millimetres high.

"Nothing will change in our policies with this new appeal to the prosecutors," he said in a message to AFP, insisting the company had not meant to insult anyone.

"We are not stepping back from our concept -- the greatest respect for veterans and victory," he said, adding that staff have organised concerts at residential homes for war veterans.

He said the stores had "received no official or verbal complaints from customers."

"We took down the price labels the same day after getting reaction first of all from the media. We had a discussion and took them down."

The medal labels were highlighting a "special offer for Victory Day", which marks the surrender of Germany to the Soviet Union in 1945, he said.

Ahead of the May 9 Victory Day commemorations, Russia is highly sensitive to any perceived slight to the memory of those who fought or the historic role of the Soviet Union.

Three young women were jailed for terms ranging from 10-15 days at the weekend for performing sexually explicit "twerking" dance moves in front of a war memorial in the southern city of Novorossiisk and posting a video of their performance online.

In another blunder, authorities in a town on the outskirts of Moscow on Monday apologised and pulled down patriotic billboards that accidentally used an archive image of Nazi forces with the slogan "They fought for the Motherland."

© 2015 AFP

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