A deliberately shocking ad campaign for the upcoming anniversary of Victory Day in World War II sparked anger on Friday as it urged Russians to survive on wartime rations and sleep on bare ground.
The public service ads commissioned by Moscow city government and displayed on billboards ahead of the May 9 celebrations, describe wartime privations, with the slogan: "Our grandfathers could. You try!"
The hardships named include sleeping on bare earth for five years and surviving on wartime rations of one piece of bread, one lump of sugar and a cup of water per day.
"The capital has been put on bread and water," daily Izvestia headlined its story, calling the slogans "ambiguous."
"City hall seems to have forgotten that our grandfathers fought so that we would never have to experience what they did," commented the Communists of the Capital website.
The slogans prompted black humour from bloggers, who pointed out that the current economic downturn and low pensions combined with rising prices made the scenarios sound a little too close to home.
"Many grandfathers still can (live this way)," blogger rjunimogu commented wryly on a Livejournal blog.
"Muscovites understood everything correctly. After the elections, ordinary people will see this for real," a commentator, named only as Citizen, wrote on the website of the Metro freesheet.
The spokesman of the city's advertising committee, Vladimir Yakovlev, went so far as to assure Muscovites that they were not meant to take the campaign literally.
The ads "do not directly call for people to switch to black bread and water and sleep on the bare ground," he stressed in an interview with Echo of Moscow.