The painting and three others by Altunin were seized from the Museum of Power gallery in St. Petersburg. Police have said they are examining the paintings to determine if they violate a law, though they have not said what that law may be.

Altunin said he fears he will be arrested if he returns to Russia. He told Bloomberg he wanted to stay in France to “live and work in an atmosphere of freedom.” 

Altunin’s flight is just the latest incident among several relating to a crackdown on freedom of expression in Russia. 

Last year, three members of the band Pussy Riot were imprisoned for protest against Putin they made in a Moscow church. 

In July, Russia passed a law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors, bringing about calls in the United States to boycott the coming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. President Obama has so far rejected such calls.