Russia: Mario replaces Crimea on Moscow murals

The original Crimea-themed mural Image copyright Artem Sizov/Gazeta.ru
Image caption Residents of Novoslobodskaya Street weren't keen when this "patriotic" mural appeared on their building

Massive murals celebrating Russia's annexation of Crimea are disappearing from buildings in Moscow, with one being replaced by the video-game character Mario.

The mural, painted incongruously on a stately 19th century residential building on historic Novoslobodskaya Street, showed a Russian soldier playing hockey with Crimea, under the slogan "Happy Russia Day. 2014: we took back what was ours". But it has now made way for Nintendo's Mario declaring "Reach for the stars", the Gazeta.ru website reports.

The murals are the work of Art-Facade, a project run by pro-government youth groups. Their coordinator, Alexander Diaghilev, tells Gazeta.ru the aim was to promote young artists through a competition called "2,000 Homes for Russia". Launched in March, it promised participants the chance to showcase large-scale works in Moscow and St Petersburg. The only problem, as Mr Diaghilev acknowledges, was that the Novoslobodskaya Street residents weren't asked whether they wanted their building turned into a patriotic fresco. They didn't, and asked Art-Facade to "paint it over with something benevolent". This resulted in the Mario mural.

Mr Diaghilev is now promising a whole new series of murals next year, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. "We're talking about images of Soviet liberator-troops, and perhaps the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, the Kremlin victory parade, planes, tanks, and wartime posters," he tells the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

Image copyright Artem Sizov/Gazeta.ru
Image caption The new mural shows Mario telling people to "reach for the stars"

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