Every perky young news anchor working at a local television station in a remote Siberian city dreams of one day attracting national attention, getting their big break. That dream, in a way, has come true for Maria Bukhtuyeva of Kemerevo's TVK.
Her short segment from the channel's January 28 newscast has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and is quickly becoming a meme of the Russian-language Internet.
Meaning to discuss the long-in-the-tooth topic of whether it is finally time to bury the mummified remains of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin on display outside the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Bukhtuyeva made a startling slip of the tongue.
"Should we bury Vladimir Putin? This topic is now being actively discussed on the Internet," Bukhtuyeva said.
"It was raised by presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov. The businessman thinks a referendum should be immediately held exactly on this question. And this immediately summoned many reactions from [Internet] users."
Only about 90 seconds later was Bukhtuyeva informed of her error, after which she offered a hasty explanation.
"In the previous piece, we were talking about Vladimir Lenin -- another leader -- and so, of course, we were talking about him," she said. "And it was about his fate that Mikhail Prokhorov made his suggestion."
Three days later, after nearly half a million people had snickered over the slip, Bukhtuyeva -- who interestingly had been reduced to doing the weather forecast -- was called in to explain herself one more time and to respond to Internet speculation that she would be fired or worse.
"I'm alive and well," she said with a smile. In a heartwarming exchange with another moderator, Bukhtuyeva agreed that all's well that ends well and, thank goodness, "we live in a democratic country."
Regardless of how Bukhtuyeva's slip was received by her employers at TVK, she has won a lot of new fans on the Internet.
One web user posted a 15-minute video
just showing a screen shot of Bukhtuyeva's page on the blogging platform LiveJournal, in which hundreds of people congratulate her, thank her, and generally create a continuous outpouring of support.
A similar video of her page
on the Russian social-networking site Vkontakte said that within three days, she had received more than 14,000 messages, almost unanimously supportive.
Other amusing takes on the theme emerged online as well.
In this one, Bukhtuyeva's slip is matched with a discussion by Russian Orthodox Church figures, who are also talking about Lenin but don't use his name -- referring to him only as "the main terrorist on Earth" and urging that he should be buried on the far side of the moon, "so it isn't even visible."
Taking advantage of the coincidence of timing, another video
melds Bukhtuyeva's remark with footage of North Koreans hysterically bemoaning the recent loss of leader Kim Jong Il.
But with the presidential election just a month a way and Putin widely expected to manufacture another victory, he may well find himself citing Mark Twain's famous quip that "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."