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In a Facebook post, the Adzhigardak resort said the statue was a “sign of gratitude for [Putin's] contribution to popularizing ski sports and a healthy lifestyle."

A life-size sculpture of President Vladimir Putin has appeared at a ski resort in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk.

MOSCOW -- Vladimir Putin is not only very much alive, he is also likely to remain Russia’s president until at least 2024 if, as is widely expected, he wins reelection next year to a fourth term.

But that hasn’t stopped the occasional statue popping up to immortalize the 65-year-old Russian leader and ex-KGB officer.

The latest likeness appeared this week in the form of a bronze, 180-centimeter-tall Putin holding skis at a winter resort in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk.

The statue appeared on November 9 as Putin traveled to the region to attend a Russian-Kazakh cooperation forum where he met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The Adzhigardak resort where the statue was raised posted photographs of it on Facebook, adding that the official unveiling ceremony will be held on November 25.

The Kremlin has carefully cultivated an image of Putin as an athletic tough guy, with photo ops famously showing the president throwing opponents in the judo ring, tranquilizing a charging tiger, posing shirtless outdoors, and swimming the butterfly stroke in a mountain river, among other things. Beefcakey Putin T-shirts and calendars are sold across the country.

However, the sculpture of Putin appeared to be a local initiative -- and a possible attempt to curry favor with the Kremlin. In the Facebook post, the resort said the statue was a “sign of gratitude for [Putin's] contribution to popularizing ski sports and a healthy lifestyle."

The sculptor was identified as Dmitry Kostylev from Chelyabinsk, who spoke to the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper: “The proposal to make a sculpture of the leader of the country was unexpected," Kostylev said. "It is a real responsibility to depict historic figures. The schedule for the work was tight. There was only 1 1/2 months.”

The statue appeared to get a mixed reception online. While many shared the news on Russia's VK social network, with apparent Putin fan groups writing "respect," one user drolly wrote: "Did Putin die?"

The sculpture is not the first of Vladimir Putin.

In December 2011, Zurab Tsereteli, a sculptor close to former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and whose works dot the Russian capital, unveiled a sculpture of Putin in a judo kimono with his arms akimbo.

In 2015, a group of Cossacks unveiled a bust of Putin depicting him as a Roman emperor. The bust was located about 20 kilometers from St. Petersburg on territory belonging to the Cossacks.

A screen grab from a YouTube post by 10-year-old Alina in which she tearfully recounts how no one showed up at a meet-and-greet she had organized for her followers.

A Russian 10-year-old has won the hearts of compatriots with a poignant video about a party she threw that no one attended.

A young Russian girl who hosts her own YouTube channel has elicited a wave of sympathy with a post in which she tearfully recounts how no one showed up at a meet-and-greet she had organized for her followers.

The video by Alina, a 10-year-old girl from the city of Nizhnekamsk in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, has garnered more than 2.3 million views since it was posted on November 2 and triggered an outpouring of support from across the country.

In the clip, she says more than 20 followers of her YouTube channel -- titled Like TV Show -- had said they would come to the "fan meeting" she had planned earlier that day, but that no one came.

"I waited there for half an hour and no one showed up," she says with tears running down her cheeks. "I looked everywhere in the park, but there was no one. Please don't deceive me like that anymore. I'm very, very upset right now."

She adds that she had bought "lots of candy" and wanted to "ask riddles and hand out prizes."

"I thought we would have fun and take pictures, and I would finally get to see my friends and subscribers," Alina says.

Words Of Encouragement

Viewers weighed in with words of encouragement for Alina, telling her to hang in there and that they would love to attend one of her fan meetings. Her well-wishers included popular Russian video bloggers such as Yan Gordiyenko and Eldar Dzharakhov, each of whom has millions of followers on YouTube and Twitter.

Both Gordiyenko and Dzharakhov said on Twitter that they would like to travel to Nizhnekamsk to support Alina.

Predictably, arguments erupted in the comments section of the video about whether it was merely an attempt to "hype" Alina's YouTube channel, which jumped from 6,000 subscribers before the video was posted to nearly 190,000 by November 9.

Others noted that YouTube does not allow children under the age of 13 to create an account, while some wondered whether Alina was accompanied by her parents to the fan meeting she had arranged.

Alina has posted more than 90 videos on her channel since launching it in January. She has discussed arts and crafts, making microwave cheeseburgers, and brought on her younger sister for her show as well. She begins each episode by showing two thumbs up, a signature move she even delivered before she broke down in her viral video.

In a video she posted prior to the November 2 fan meeting, Alina excitedly spoke about her plans for the event and showed off the candy and prizes she was going to give away.

On November 7, Alina got an invitation from Russian volleyball star Yekaterina Gamova -- a two-time world champion -- to come to a joint fan meeting before a November 18 volleyball match in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.

"I watched your video, and I want to tell you not to worry or get too upset," Gamova said, adding that the two would organize "a little party" for their fans, including candy and autographs.

Alina has posted two more episodes since the tearful video. In a November 8 clip, she said she wanted viewers to know that she is not planning to close her channel.

"I'm here. All is good with me. I'm alive and well," she said.

Opposition supporters take part in an unauthorized rally in central St. Petersburg on October 7.

Russia's renowned Tretyakov Gallery this week tweeted out opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's latest attack on President Vladimir Putin, but later said its Twitter account had been hacked.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny appeared to receive public support from an unexpected source this week -- Moscow's renowned State Tretyakov Gallery.

The gallery's official Twitter account on November 1 tweeted out Navalny's latest video announcing that he plans to sue Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration over what he calls an orchestrated nationwide effort to stymie his campaign for the March 2018 presidential election.

The video still accompanying the link featured a photoshopped image of Putin as a waiter carrying a pig's head on a tray -- a reference to an incident this week in which Navalny's campaign said the head of a pig was tied to the door of an Irkutsk office building where it plans to meet on November 4.

The tweet from one of Russia's most famous art galleries, which stated that the gallery "liked the video Vladimir Putin And The Pig's Head," triggered bemusement among Russian-language Twitter users.

"The Tretyakov Gallery knows what's up :)," one Twitter user wrote.

Referring to announcements by several individuals -- including TV personality and journalist Ksenia Sobhack -- that they intend to enter the Russian presidential race despite no realistic attempt at winning, another Twitter user wrote, "The Tretyakov Gallery announced that it will run for president."

The original tweet of the Navalny video was subsequently deleted, and the gallery later said on Twitter that its account had been "hacked." It said the video "has no relation whatsoever to the museum and its activities."

Navalny, who has riled Russia's ruling elite with his anticorruption investigations, is seeking to run in the election, which Putin -- who has yet to announce his candidacy -- is widely expected to enter and win.

Navalny has continued to campaign nationwide despite statements by officials that he is ineligible for the ballot due to a financial-crimes conviction that he says was fabricated as retribution for his political activism.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged in a statement in September that Russian authorities are "systematically" interfering with Navalny's bid for the Russian presidency, including with raids on his campaign offices and detentions of his volunteers that it called "arbitrary."

Stanislav Yus (right) stands with Christopher Miller outside Ukraine's Yuzhmash rocket factory.

Stanislav Yus -- a laureate of the Soviet Lenin Prize, Lenin Komsomol Prize, and a Hero of Socialist Labor -- is already a legend in his own right, and one of the last of his generation of missile designers.

DNIPRO, Ukraine -- Stanislav Yus is as polite and unassuming as the missiles he created for the Soviet Union were menacing and deadly.

When I meet Yus beside a once-dreaded but now-defunct "Satan" SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that he designed at the height of the Cold War, he's cheerful yet appears somewhat surprised to find an American on the other side of a handshake. You'd have never been allowed here 30 years ago, he chuckles.

"Here" is inside Ukraine's heavily guarded and secretive state-run rocket-making factory, comprised of the Yuzhnoye design bureau and its manufacturing partner, Yuzhmash.

Yus, 80, a native of the Dnipro region, started his career at Yuzhnoye at the age of 22 under the tutelage of then-chief designer Mikhail Yangel, a Soviet legend. He rose rapidly through the ranks, helping design several rockets and spacecraft. But his legacy is built on the massive ICBMs he designed, like the Satan, as the West called it, which could deliver 10 or more nuclear warheads with great precision halfway around the world in roughly 20 minutes.

Yus -- a laureate of the Soviet Lenin Prize, Lenin Komsomol Prize, and a Hero of Socialist Labor -- is already a legend in his own right, and one of the last of his generation of missile designers.

After a quick ride to Yangel's original home near the factory, Yus gives a detailed history of Yuzhnoye and explains how drastically things changed for the factory at the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. In a nutshell, government contracts had ensured that the factory stayed busy. The period following Ukraine's independence was a "trying" time, he says.

He appears uncomfortable, or perhaps just cautious, when discussing the relationship between Ukraine and Russia these days, more than three years into an undeclared war that has killed more than 10,100 people. He prefers to stick to talking design, the more technical the better.

But I want to know: Did he ever think about the devastation the missiles he designed during the Cold War were capable of inflicting, of nuclear annihilation?

Yus takes a deep breath.

"I wasn't overthinking it," he says, suggesting that compartmentalization is a key element for a missile designer to effectively do his job.

Pressed a bit, he admits in his characteristic manner that he remained fully aware that, had the Cold War turned hot and his missiles been let loose, it would have marked a "very destructive period for the world."

"We were working in accordance with the Soviet policies only to protect the Soviet Union in the event that we were struck first," he adds.

Today, he says, with Yuzhnoye having diversified and investment spread among other activities, "it doesn't allow us to work fully in the area of rocket complexes." Rocket design and manufacturing continues, but at a much slower pace than in Soviet times.

Much of Yus's focus now is on designing high-capacity wind turbines, trolleybuses, and combine harvesters that the company believes will help it to endure in a new age.

But given the chance, he'd get back to work full-time on designing missiles, Yus says, which are "needed for the defense of the country."

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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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