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Over the last 10 years in Belarus, sculptures have sprouted up like dandelions in Belarus's towns and cities. Normally paid for by the municipal authorities, their subjects are often rather banal and, well, rather pedestrian: warriors in chariots, ladies in 19th century dress, or the odd street musician.

But the municipal authorities of the city of Homel, in southeastern Belarus, pushed the bounds of creativity a little further with a sculpture depicting a man crawling out of manhole, right in front of the city department for communal services. The same sculpture was also installed in the city of Babrujsk.

Unfortunately, the Belarusian authorities seem to have taken a little too much artistic license. Apparently, the sculpture is an unauthorized copy of a sculpture in Bratislava, Slovakia, called "Canal Worker."

In a letter to the Homel city authorities, the lawyer of sculptor Viktor Hulik demanded $825,000 in compensation unless Homel's version was dismantled.

After claiming that they just had the same idea -- in the vein of "great minds think alike" and all that -- the Homel authorities have now dismantled Jan The Plumber, leaving the warriors in chariots and the musicians to guard the streets alone.

-- Alexander Lukashuk

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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 transmission+rferl.org

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