A newsreader who slipped up and said bloggers were debating whether Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should be buried has become an Internet sensation and received thousands of grateful posts in Russia.
Maria Bukhtuyeva, a newsreader from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, made the mistake when wanting to say presidential hopeful Mikhail Prokhorov had proposed holding a referendum on whether Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin should be removed from a Red Square Mausoleum and buried.
"Shall we bury Vladimir Putin?" Bukhtuyeva of Krasnoyarsk's TVK television channel inquired instead last week. "This topic is now being actively discussed on the Internet."
The Russian blogoshere exploded with delight, with thousands of commentators sending her virtual flowers and leaving numerous posts on the young woman's page on the social site VKontakte, a Russian version of Facebook.
"Masha is the voice of the people," read one post, referring to her by her diminutive name. "Masha, you said everything right," read another post.
In a bid to address the controversy, Bukhtuyeva's colleague asked her on air how she managed "to become an Internet star in a matter of 26 seconds," noting that the recording uploaded on YouTube was viewed half a million times over three days. She said it was just a slip of the tongue.
Putin is seeking to reclaim his old Kremlin job in the March presidential election, but is wrestling with growing unpopularity.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow last month, and the nascent protest movement is hoping to muster another big rally in Moscow on Saturday.
Lenin, who led the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, died in 1924 and his body, which regularly undergoes repair, was preserved in a mausoleum open to visitors.
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