SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- A mural in Crimea depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin has been defaced with a profane piece of graffiti calling the Federal Security Service (FSB) a "bitch."
Painted stencil-style lettering appeared on the mural on an apartment building in the capital of the Russia-controlled Ukrainian region, Simferopol, on May 21.
The white lettering standing out from the blue naval uniform Putin is depicted wearing read "FSB, shall we play? E2 - E4. Now it's your move, bitch."
The site was cordoned off by police and what appeared to be plainclothes law enforcement officers.
E2 - E4 is a popular opening move in chess, and many in the former Soviet Union would recognize it as a reference to The Twelve Chairs, a 1928 satirical novel by authorial duo Ilf and Petrov.
Putin headed the FSB in 1998-99 and was a longtime officer of its predecessor, the Soviet KGB.
The graffiti also included the wording "Telegram-Party of Crimea's Independence, Sovereign Crimea," and the little-known group's address on the social network Telegram. Its account was created in April.
People identifying themselves as representatives of the group contacted RFE/RL on Telegram and said that the 100-centimeter-by-150-centimeter graffito was painted on the mural on May 21.
They said that their final goal was Crimea’s independence from any country, and that they plan similar stunts in the future.
Russia seized control of Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops without insignia, securing key facilities, and staging a referendum deemed illegitimate by Ukraine and most other countries.
Rights groups and Western governments say Russia has conducted a persistent campaign of oppression targeting Crimean Tatars and other citizens who opposed Moscow's takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
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