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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Last orders for Putin cafe
Barman Yevgeny Tochilov pours beer in Putin cafe
The Putin cafe: Victim of fears about personality cult

A Russian cafe which called itself "Putin" has been forced to change its name.

The owners claim they have been encouraged by local officials to remove all references to President Vladimir Putin, after the Kremlin said it was concerned at what is widely seen as a growing personality cult around him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin has boosted the Kremlin's powers
It had seemed like a good idea for two enterprising young students in the Ural Mountains to open a cafe, call it "Putin" and offer a selection of food dedicated to the Russian president, including Putin biscuits, Putin milkshakes and Kremlin drinks.

After all, Mr Putin remains super popular in Russia - his approval rating is approaching 80%.

When it found out, though, the Kremlin was rather embarrassed.

Last month, Mr Putin spoke out publicly against what many here see as a Soviet-style personality cult building up around him.

The cafe's days were numbered.

Now local officials in Chelyabinsk have persuaded the owners to ditch the Putin theme.

Ever since Vladimir Putin took charge of Russia, a whole string of projects and products honouring the Russian leader have sprung up across the country - everything from T-shirts to watches, sculptures to schoolbooks recalling Mr Putin's youth.

His portrait has even been discovered on Russian Easter eggs.

The Kremlin has denied encouraging this wave of mass adoration, but until now has done little to stop it.

See also:

10 Jul 02 | Media reports
21 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
15 Jun 01 | Media reports
28 Feb 01 | Media reports
11 Nov 00 | Media reports
17 Dec 00 | Media reports
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