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Donald Trump gets statue in wife's homeland of Slovenia

SELA PRI KAMNIKU, Slovenia (AP) — There's no mistaking it depicts Donald Trump: a large wooden statue of the U.S. president has been erected in Slovenia, the homeland of his wife Melania. The nearly eight-meter high (26 feet) construction shows Trump with his trademark hair style, blue suit, white shirt and a long red tie. His right arm — fist clenched — is raised high like that of New York's Statue of Liberty.

When triggered, a mechanism opens a red-painted mouth and shark-like teeth appear. "Like all populists, the statue has two faces," its creator, Tomaz Schlegl, said. "One is humane and nice, the other is that of a vampire."

The monument was built on private property among the lush greens and rolling hills of the sleepy village of Sela pri Kamniku, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.

The statue has a temporary permit and has to be removed by Halloween, Oct. 31. Some local villagers, unhappy with its appearance, suggest torching it that day. "I thought it will be a sculpture, one statue," said Stane Supar, who owns land where it stands. "But now this huge thing has grown, and everyone tells me it's a provocation."

Schlegel, an architect, defended his project, saying it is "provocation against populism that the world is full of." "It is the Statue of Liberty, which no one today knows what it represents," he said. "The pose is that of Superman. He can do and say whatever he wants without consequences."

Two American tourists came Friday to this remote corner of Slovenia after hearing about the statue. "It seems like a really unusual location for a piece of art like this," said Eddie Flawer from Santa Rosa, CA.

"I'm not very fond of Donald Trump and I didn't know what to make of his hand up and doing the salute and the spikes coming out of the top of his head," Flawer said. "But maybe it's a metaphor of the Statue of Liberty which would make some sense since he seems to be doing everything in his power to negate the beauty and the spirit of the Statue of Liberty."

It's not the first time in Slovenia that a member of the Trump family has been carved in wood. A life-size sculpture of the U.S. first lady was unveiled in her hometown of Sevnica in June, drawing mixed reactions from the locals.

The rustic figure was cut from the trunk of a linden tree, showing her in a pale blue dress like the one she wore at Donald Trump's presidential inauguration. Her face is depicted in a naive local style.

The first lady, born Melanija Knavs, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling. She settled in New York in 1996 and met Trump two years later.

AP writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed to this report.

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