Siberian serenades sweetheart from a dangling van

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

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Birthday surprise van on a crane, Biysk, Siberia, September 2017Image source, Biysk Television
Image caption,
Alexander's van gets into position

A young man in the Siberian city of Biysk has made up with his girlfriend in spectacular fashion by serenading her from a van - suspending by a crane outside her third-floor bedroom window.

Neighbours on Leningradskaya Street took to the Vkontakte social media site to report a lorry with a crane hoisting the van high into the rainy morning sky, with some hoping the police would "stick it" to the driver when they turned up.

But it gradually dawned that this was a special occasion, as the van was decorated with balloons. And when Yelena Gorbunova opened her window to see what was going on, she came face to face with her ex-sweetheart Alexander bearing flowers, gifts and a card to mark her 29th birthday, while a saxophonist below played her favourite song - the Aerosmith hit Dream On.

Image source, Biysk Television
Image caption,
Yelena Gorbunova: "Alexander likes to surprise me"

She told Russia's Metro newspaper that Alexander "often surprises me with presents, but never before like this!" She said they split up three weeks earlier after going steady for a year, and the romantic gesture has persuaded her to "make up with him".

'Envy me in silence'

A video report by the TOK online news site has been viewed and shared widely on social media, and the story has made television news bulletins and the press. Popular opinion has largely applauded Alexander as "cool" and "the sort of guy you don't get many of these days", although some voices worry that he could have injured himself or damaged the building.

Not everyone is a romantic. One social media cynic muses "just imagine - you reach her window in your van, and there's some other bloke staring out at you in his pants".

As it happens, the police did turn up after some neighbours complained, but Yelena was defiant on VKontakte: "Envy me in silence. The police made it all the more interesting." The officers decided no law had been broken, and soon went on their way.

Alexander told the Biysky Rabochy newspaper that he has another surprise lined up for Yelena - he plans to propose to her, but hasn't "decided exactly how to go about it yet".

Image source, Biysk Television
Image caption,
Alexander is planning his next move

Reporting by Maria Kiseleva and Martin Morgan

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