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    Coca-Cola removes blasphemous ads from Nizhny Novgorod

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    Coca-Cola has removed offensive and blasphemous advertisements, which provoked a row among Russian Orthodox Christians, from the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod, an antimonopoly official said Tuesday.

    NIZHNY NOVGOROD, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Coca-Cola has removed offensive and blasphemous advertisements, which provoked a row among Russian Orthodox Christians, from the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod, an antimonopoly official said Tuesday.

    "As a rule, advertising laws are broken due to a willful error, but in the case of the Coca-Cola company, experts said there was nothing intentional. At present, there are no ads on the streets which could offend Nizhny Novgorod residents' feelings," Mikhail Teodorovich, the local antimonopoly department chief, told journalists.

    In mid-December a group of religious citizens sent a letter to the city's prosecutors, the governor and the local bishop complaining about the world-famous beverage company's "blasphemous ads."

    The believers said the advertising imagery used on refrigerators in Nizhny Novgorod showed distorted images of various well-known churches in the city, as well as views of the local Kremlin.

    The activists demanded that the ads be removed and Coca-Cola brought to trial for "inciting religious hatred and undermining national dignity."

    "Coca-Cola is using all these Orthodox symbols in a blasphemous way by placing images of Coca-Cola bottles inside the pictures," the letter said. "Some [church] images are deliberately turned upside down, including the crosses."

    A cross turned upside down is a symbol of Satanism. An investigation was launched into the complaint and the results are due to be announced soon.

    Coca-Cola issued a statement two weeks ago saying that "guided by the principles of responsible marketing, we have made a decision to remove refrigerators depicting Orthodox churches in Nizhny Novgorod, and all similar images will be shortly replaced by others."

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