Russia: 'Glum' Snow Maiden statue given makeover

A before and after composite image of the Snow Maiden Image copyright NTV
Image caption The statue went under the chisel to achieve her new look (right) and was polished off with a fresh coat of lipstick

A statue of Russia's Snow Maiden has been removed from a north-western town and given a mood makeover after complaints that she looked miserable.

The Snow Maiden is a traditional character from Russian folklore, and considered an essential part of the country's New Year celebrations. A huge statue of her was erected in Gatchina, near St Petersburg, alongside a super-sized Grandfather Frost, Russia's equivalent of Father Christmas. But it wasn't long before local people and media alike started commenting on the Snow Maiden's somewhat glum expression.

A presenter for the NTV news channel described the statue as having a "dismal face", which didn't show any "happiness in anticipation of the New Year". Some residents gave wry responses when a local TV channel asked what they thought of the statues, with one man saying they simply reflected people's general mood, while another said: "I just don't look at them."

In order to imbue the Snow Maiden with some festive cheer, its head and shoulders were promptly taken off and returned to the workshop, where artists plastered on a smile and a "friendly look", NTV's presenter said.

Local authorities shelled out nearly 1.2m roubles ($16,600; £11,200) on the statues, according to the pro-Kremlin TV channel LifeNews. It described both the figures as "frightening" and dispatched a reporter to the scene to witness the newly cheerful Snow Maiden being reassembled.

Image copyright Life78
Image caption While Grandfather Frost was spared, the Snow Maiden was temporarily chopped in half

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