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Russian police track down Gogol's missing nose

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, July 11 (Reuters) - A giant statue of a nose, inspired by Nikolai Gogol's story of a man's pursuit for his runaway nose, was tracked down by Russian police on Friday, 10 months after it vanished.

Life imitated art when the marble sculpture, erected in Russia's second city eight years ago to honour the tale, went walk-about last September from the house where the story's hero is supposed to have lived.

The head of St Petersburg's sculpture museum said the 100 kg (220 pound) proboscis was found in a city apartment block.

"Both the residents and the police, who found the nose, treated it with affection," Vladimir Timofeyev said.

Gogol's odd story, called "The Nose," tells how a Major Kovalyov goes on a frantic search through the Tsarist capital in search of his nose, which takes on a life of its own and gets up to all kinds of trouble while running round the city.

Kovalyov finally tracks down his mischievous missing nose, in the nick of time as it is planning a move to Latvia.

The marble nose is not St Petersburg's only disappearing monument. The city's tiny statue of a bronze bird -- the 11 cm (4.3 inch) Chizhik Pyzhik -- has been stolen dozens of times by intrepid souvenir hunters and art collectors.

"I have already lost count," Timofeyev said. "We just throw up our hands in despair -- when will they stop?"

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