The Russian Anti-Monopoly Ministry has demanded the withdrawal of a popular but controversial TV commercial for the leading Russian beer producer, Tinkoff, the Moscow Times has reported.

The award-winning 30-second ad features a man in boxer shorts dreaming that he is lying on the deck of a yacht with his arms around two naked women.

"Due to the many letters received from people complaining about the non-ethical character of this advertisement, the ministry on Tuesday instructed TV stations to avoid airing it," said Larisa Bulgakova, spokeswoman of the Anti-Monopoly Ministry, which acts as a watchdog for the Russian advertising market.

However, the Ministry's demand is technically an "instruction" rather than an official ban. A special commission has been convened to review the case next week. That commission would have the power officially to ban the ad which has actually been running in Russia for about six weeks.

"The chances that the ad will be prohibited by the commission are very high," Bulgakova said, adding that the complicated bureaucracy involved in Russian advertising regulations was responsible for the delay in a ban being ordered.

An additional piquancy has been added to the case by the suggestion that the super-premium Tinkoff is the beer brand favoured by Russian president, Vladimir Putin.