TODAY

TODAY   |  September 05, 2013

Painting of Putin in drag keeps artist in exile

A painting of Russia’s President Vladimir Putinwearing a dress is keeping the artist from his wife and daughter, fearing he will be arrested if he returns to Russia from Paris.The government arrestedthe director of the art gallery where the painting was hung.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> controversial painting featuring russian president vladimir putin . the artist fled the country after his work was confiscated. keir simmons is in moscow. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, willie. this morning the family of the artist behind the controversial picture are speaking out. they live a long way from where president obama and other world leaders are gathering today here in russia . and speaking out for them is a real risk, this is the first time they have let the cameras in. in far-away northern russia , a bizarre painting, mocking russia 's powerful president, giving him a woman's body, has torn a family apart. isia is 2 years old. her father, the painting's artist is thousands of miles from the family. her mother, elena , must hold herself together.

>> i'm afraid.

>> reporter: you're scared.

>> yes.

>> reporter: they live in a small town, but her husband, constantine , fled a week ago. he fears if he returns, he will be arrested. police closed the art gallery . this week, the director was detained overnight.

>> it is hard for me, because i am far from my family.

>> reporter: elena showed us her husband's abandoned studio. this is his painting of you.

>> yes.

>> reporter: he loves you.

>> yes.

>> reporter: this is putin here?

>> yes.

>> reporter: constantine is one of many who have challenged putin 's russia . but many support putin .

>> mr. putin has provided the people with a sense of security, because he keeps telling them that he saved them from the chaos of the 1990s .

>> reporter: elena and her daughter don't feel secure. we helped them connect via skype with constantine in paris. it's the first time isia has seen her father since he hurriedly left. in paris, constantine wipes away tears. it's good to see him.

>> of course.

>> reporter: her family divided in a country where for some freedom of speech is still a dream. other artists have faced tough measures, jailed for two years, and there have been protests against anti gay laws ahead of the winter olympics . but others say these artists know the risks, and the clampdown brings them more publicity.

>> and a story like this underlines the relationship that comes with the g-20 summit in russia . keir simmons , thanks so