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Sarajevo Pays Tribute To Legendary Shoe Shiner

Thousands of Bosnians have signed a petition urging the authorities to erect a monument to a legendary Sarajevo shoe shiner who died this week.

Husein Hasani, known to everyone as Cika Miso (Uncle Misho), worked on the streets of the Bosnian capital for more than 60 years, even during the 1992-95 war. He died of a heart attack on January 6, aged 83.

An empty wooden chair, with a pair of shoes as if waiting to be cleaned in front of it, stood on Sarajevo's main Tito Avenue where he used to sit.

Around a large photo of Cika Miso on the chair, dozens of people laid flowers or lit candles, while others paid tribute in silence.

A Roma born in Kosovo in 1931, Husein Hasani came to Sarajevo at 15. At age 21, he began shining shoes, taking over the job from his father.

Always in a neat suit, freshly pressed white shirt, his hair carefully combed and his moustache trimmed, Cika Miso did not leave his spot even during the three-year-long siege of Sarajevo.

In 2009, he was awarded a medal for merit by city authorities, as well as a modest apartment and a pension.

Sarajevo Mayor Ivo Komsic said Cika Miso was a symbol of Sarajevo and that his death had left the city "emptier."

He was the last shoe shiner of Sarajevo.

-- RFE/RL's Balkan Service

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