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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Walesa sheds his whiskers
Lech Walesa (before and after)
Walesa had not shaved since he shot to fame
One of Poland's most potent symbols of anti-Soviet resistance has temporarily ceased to exist, a victim of the country's hot summer.


Some say he looks younger, but for me, he lost something that belonged to him, part of his charm

Emelina Wolanska
Walesa spokeswoman
Lech Walesa, who led the banned Solidarity trade union movement in defiance of the communist authorities in Warsaw, has shaved off his famous drooping moustache.

But the 58-year-old former president said he regretted the move, and was now regrowing his whiskers for a forthcoming speaking tour of Venezuela.

"I wanted to cause a bit of a fuss over the summer holidays, but my wife Danuta and I realised it wasn't a good idea," he said.

Shock

Mr Walesa has not shaved his upper lip since he first shot to fame at the head of striking shipyard workers in Gdansk in the early 1980s, although he frequently trimmed his moustache during his five-year term as Poland's president a decade later.

He said recently he had turned down a $1m offer from an American razor company to shave it off.

A spokeswoman for Mr Walesa told AFP news agency he had taken the plunge because of irritation caused by the intense heat.

"When I saw him, I stood there with my mouth open wide," Emelina Wolanska said.

"Some say he looks younger, but for me, he lost something that belonged to him, part of his charm."

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