The picture was removed from a section of the chain’s Russian website where customers could pose on furniture in the store.
The image was part of an annual campaign whereby readers could vote for their favourite picture, with the winning entry to be used for the front cover of the upcoming Ikea furniture catalogue.
However, Ikea pulled the picture from the website citing that such images do not reflect the company’s own vision.
“Ikea is a commercial company working with home furnishing; home interiors are our focus. We take no standpoint when it comes to religious and political questions,” said Ikea spokesperson Sara Carlsson to The Local.
The image, which had garnered 1,431 “likes” from the public – more than any other picture uploaded that week – was replaced with text explaining the decision:
“We cannot allow our advertising project to be used as a means of propaganda,” according to The Moscow Times newspaper.
The ski-masks are an apparent reference to Pussy Riot, the Russian protest band that was arrested in Moscow in August and sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism following a performance in a Catholic church that mocked Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
The arrest sparked a flurry of protesters supporting free speech and the release of the band, which included support from high profile names in the music world including Madonna and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The three Pussy Riot members who were convicted are due to have an appeal hearing on October 1st, with supporters of the band planning to hold a worldwide rally on the same day.