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Statue of Russia's poet Alexander Pushkin unveiled at Manila's Mehan Garden

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Feb. 4 — A bronze statue of Russian national poet Alexander Pushkin, with whom Filipino Tagalog poet Francisco Balagtas is compared, was unveiled recently at the Mehan Garden in Manila to celebrate Philippines-Russia friendship.

City Mayor Alfredo Lim said Pushkin and Balagtas were both revolutionaries who influenced the course of their country’s literature by being the first to use the vernacular in their works.

The statue was donated by Russian sculptor Grigory Potosky, who was present at the occasion last week. Also present were Mayor Lim, Russia’s ambassador to Manila Vitaly Y. Vorobiev and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Administration Franklin M. Ebdalin. Vorobiev said Pushkin defined the Russian language.

Ebdalin underscored the unveiling as the first step towards the commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Russia on June 2, 2011.

Pushkin, born in Moscow in 1799, was a nobleman and proud of his heritage. His first poem was published when he was 14 years old, and "Eugene Onegin” is acclaimed as his most famous narrative poem. He supposedly turned to writing poetry as a way of making money.

Pushkin was wounded in a duel and died on January 29, 1837, which was greatly mourned by the whole of Russia.

Sculptor Pototsky, who was presented with the Key to the City of Manila, expressed gratitude to the City as he stressed the hope that the symbolic key “will open the hearts of the Russians to Filipinos.”

Pototsky is a member of the International Union of Artists at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

He has participated in more than 100 exhibitions since 1985, and his works are found outside Russia. The statue in Manila is his first in the Philippines.

The project is a joint undertaking of the Philippine Embassy in Moscow, the DFA, the Senate of the Philippines, and the City Government of Manila. (PNA)

LDV/GJB

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