Spectators are invited to drill nails into an effigy of Russian president Vladimir Putin being crucified in the former headquarters of the KGB in Riga, Latvia.

The statue depicts the Russian president nailed to a red cross, compete with a barbed wire crown of thorns, with spectators invited to hammer more nails into the effigy as they see fit.

It has been erected in the courtyard of the building that was once the KGB headquarters in the former Soviet state. Putin served as KGB officer in east Germany in the 1980s.

It forms part of a 10 piece exhibition in the centre of the city dedicated to the country's 20th century history, but its meaning remains unclear, as the artist has chosen to remain anonymous, and has released no statement about the work.

"It is logical that this exhibit is in the center of Riga," one visitor told Latvian TV station TV5. "He [Putin] used to work in the security service himself and deserves to have a nail driven through him."

In recent months, tensions between Russia and the Baltic nations have increased, with Moscow holding snap military drills near its western neighbours, and naval exercises in the Baltic.

Latvia is one of four Baltic states to request the permanent presence of Nato troops on its land in response to the perceived aggression.