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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In the Spotlight

Pop star Alla Pugachyova celebrated her 60th birthday this week, and everything was in place -- from a three-hour concert on Rossia television to a medal from President Dmitry Medvedev. And there was no doubt about who was the bigger star in the room at the Kremlin ceremony.

Alla has been hugely popular since the 1970s, and most foreigners come across her through the songs in the 1975 film "Irony of Fate." She had a great voice -- chain smoking has since taken its toll -- and stage presence, even though she embraced all that was worst in 1980s fashion and hairstyles.

Nowadays, Alla is more often seen on television shows such as the "Star Factory" talent show and "Two Stars" on Channel One, which she co-hosted until recently with Maxim Galkin, the boyish comedian who is rumored by certain tabloids to be her boy toy.

Last month, she announced, while promoting a multicity tour, that she was giving up her concert career. Many took this with a pinch of salt, as she first announced this back in the 1990s.

The bulk of the Alla celebrations took place on Rossia television, which not only broadcast a solo concert on her birthday but will also show a jubilee concert on Sunday. That will be similar but with dozens of her celebrity friends singing tributes and piling flowers on the stage until it looks like a mafia funeral.

The birthday concert on Rossia featured Alla in a black minidress singing her greatest hits. At one point, she walked through the hall collecting hundreds of bouquets, which she tossed to minions. Svetlana Medvedeva was in the audience and kept looking around as Alla went on a walkabout, perhaps expecting a curtsey. But she didn't seem to have a bunch of flowers, and Alla completely ignored her.

President Dmitry Medvedev met Alla on Wednesday, carefully lowering a medal over her hair. He looked genuinely pleased to see her and had a toothy grin as he asked her if she was really leaving the stage or might give "little concerts." Alla seemed more interested in smiling at the cameras and wasn't really listening as Medvedev talked about her songs following him "over the years."

"For 60 years," she said throatily to the 43-year-old president, who gave this a big laugh anyway.

The most interesting part of the television coverage was a 1993 documentary by Leonid Parfyonov on Channel One, which revealed a more vivacious side of Pugachyova as well as the gritty details of how she became a star. The film centered around a concert in Nizhny Novgorod, where Alla wore pink satin and looked every one of her 43 years -- she has had a little work done since -- but literally jumped around the stage.

In breaks, Pugachyova told Parfyonov about her early years, when she gave concerts for lumberjacks and slept in the wings with her roadies and enormous rats.

By 1993, she was already a huge star and had given up staying in hotels because people would climb into her room. Her rider included a Chaika limousine and a detached house outside the town. The Nizhny Novgorod concert was the first time that she traveled in a sealed-off railway carriage, so people couldn't walk through and say hello, something she still has today.

"If you want to love the people, you need not to talk to them," she told Parfyonov with an ironic laugh.

There will be a chance to see more Alla on Friday evening, when Channel One will show another concert and a feature film that she starred in, "The Woman Who Sings."