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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is an art critic now, in case you didn't know.

After his painting of a snowfall fetched $1.1 million at a fundraiser in January, Putin's eyes were "immediately caught," the RIA Novosti news agency breathlessly relates, by the sword in the 1973 work "Prince Oleg With Igor" during a tour of artist Ilya Glazunov's gallery on June 10.

Russia's former president-turned-renaissance-man told Glazunov that the "sword is a bit too short, it looks like a pocket knife," which in turn "looks like it is only good for slicing sausage."

Glazunov immediately agreed to alter the painting.

Good, because the prime minister, in his own words, doesn't "miss a single detail."

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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