Russian investigators have launched a probe after a monkey wearing a Nazi uniform was paraded around during a bizarre state circus.
The offensive pantomime was to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas, which take place on January 7.
This year the diocese in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurt Republic in Russia, decided to stage a traditional event on January 8.
During the show performers dressed in military paraphernalia and dressed goats and monkey’s in Nazi symbols and uniforms, local media reported this week.
The show was commissioned by the Russian Orthodox Church, which said it showed the ‘spurning’ of Nazism, the BBC reported.
The diocese defended the performance, saying that it was meant to be a representation of the Great Patriotic War fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during World War II.
But investigators are now involved as Russian law prohibits propaganda, production, and dissemination of Nazi symbols and lookalikes.
Rule-breakers can be slapped with fines of up to RUB 100,000 – roughly £1,000.
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The diocese said they had not broken any laws on restrictions over the use of Nazi symbols because it is regarded as permissible when portraying the Third Reich in a negative light.
“A special feature of circus art is entertainment, and there is nothing surprising in the fact that the images used in it have an ironic and sometimes even grotesque character," the diocese told The Moscow Times.
However, after the video footage started to go viral, prosecutors confirmed they are investigating the matter.
Elena Krasnova, head of PR at the circus, told the BBC: “There is nothing unusual about such ironic or grotesque characters being used in circus performances.”
She said that images of the animals had been taken “out of context”.
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