: Bloomberg: Waxwork Putin shows Russia's creeping influence at EU fringe

12:53 Apr. 12, 2016

Bloomberg: Waxwork Putin shows Russia's creeping influence at EU fringe

Wax figure depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the soft opening of Madame Tussauds, a waxworks museum, in Shanghai, China, May 1, 2006 (AP photo)

Radical leader predicts surge in voter support before election

At the end of a busy street an hour from Belgrade, past outdoor cafes, discount clothing stores and second-hand mobile phone outlets, artists at a tiny wax museum worked day and night for two months to complete a tribute to Vladimir Putin.

Read also Putin operates secret special forces across Europe – German journalist

The figure stands alongside a Yugoslav communist party flag and a panoply of such local luminaries as late strongmen Slobodan Milosevic and Josip Broz Tito, thanks for Putin's support of Serbia's opposition to the Kosovo's independence.

"Around 75 percent of Serb citizens respect Putin and Russia, so we decided to let Putin be the first foreigner," said Dragan Markovic Palma, the mayor of Jagodina, which unveiled the statue last month. "Russia has helped a lot."

Read also Protesters in St. Petersburg demand Putin's resignation over ‘Panama Papers' scandal

As Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic campaigns before April 24 general elections, his bid to prepare the country for European Union membership is facing a lurch to nationalism. It includes throw-back sentiment for Russia in the country of 7.2 million people as the EU is itself shaking under doubts about its future and resentment lingers over the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.

One of the beneficiaries has been the Radical Party, which wants to end talks to join the trading bloc.

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