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Beatles-Style Poster With Slain Russian Activists Removed From Wall In St. Petersburg

Witnesses said the poster was removed after hanging in position for several hours.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Police in Russia's second largest city, St. Petersburg, have removed a wall-sized poster with portraits of slain Russian rights defenders, politicians, and journalists, hours after it appeared on a wall in a park.

The poster, drawn as a replica of the 1966 Beatles' Revolver album cover with portraits of slain lawyer Stanislav Markelov, journalists Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova, human rights defender Natalya Estemirova, and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov among others, appeared on July 15 on the wall of a transformer vault in the Pushkarsky Garden in President Vladimir Putin's hometown. It came on the 12th anniversary of Estemirova's murder.

Natalya Estemirova, the head of the Memorial human rights center's office in Chechnya, was abducted near her home in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on July 15, 2009, and shot dead. Nobody has been convicted of her killing.

A sentence saying "Heroes of the days that passed" was written on the right side of the poster.

Witnesses said the poster was removed by police officers and a number of men in civilian clothes after hanging in position for several hours.

In late April, a mural of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny was painted on the same wall and survived only a matter of hours before authorities painted over it.

In that mural, Navalny, Putin's most-vocal critic, was shown smiling and making the shape of a heart with his hands with the slogan "A hero of a new time" next to them.

Local police then launched a probe into "vandalism motivated by political, ideological, racial, ethnic, or religious hatred."

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Beatles were a symbol of freedom among Soviet youth.