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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
Performers wave Russian flags near the Sochi 2014 countdown clock just outside the Kremlin in Moscow in February 2013, a year ahead of the Games.
Why are the Sochi Winter Olympics organizers and American comedian Stephen Colbert the greatest pollsters?

Because they both know how to ask leading questions.

During George W. Bush's presidency, Colbert was fond of asking guests, including Democratic congressmen, whether Bush was "a great president or the greatest president."

WATCH: Stephen Colbert quizzes his guests on Bush.


An online poll on the official Sochi Olympics website appears to leave just as little wiggle room for respondents (H/T to Kirit Radia).

"Are you looking forward to the Olympic games?" it asks.

The options:

"Yes, I've been waiting since the victory in Guatemala! I can't believe there is so little time left!" (The International Olympic Committee chose Sochi as the site of the 2014 games in 2007 in Guatemala City.)

"I'm really looking forward to them! The Games are a great event, not only for our country, but for the whole world!"

"I'm looking forward to them, because I enjoy sport and follow every Olympics."

"I'm looking forward to them, because I hope for great results from our athletes!"

"Other"


Despite the optimism of the Olympics pollster, the Sochi games have had their share of controversy: Preparations for the two-week sporting event are said to have cost some $51 billion -- 10 times as much as any previous Winter Games; rights groups have complained of environmental and human rights abuses; terrorism fears prompted by two recent attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd have prompted an unprecedented security clampdown; and an antigay law passed in Russia last year has caused some activists to call for an Olympic boycott.

But perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has taken to the optimism of the organizers. He recently walked back a decree banning "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets" before or during the Olympic Games, promising to set up special "protest zones" in Sochi.

-- Glenn Kates

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About This Blog

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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