WATCH: Putin Honored by Russian Cossack Group With Likeness of Roman Emperor

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Cossacks salute during an unveiling ceremony for a bust of Russian President Vladimir Putin. May 16, 2015. Credit: Reuters

St.Petersburg Cossack group unveiled a bust of the Russian President Vladimir Putin depicted as a Roman emperor on Saturday.

The ceremony held at a small village outside St.Petersburg was attended by members of the local Cossack group Irbis and journalists.

The group's leader Andrei Polyakov said the idea to erect monument to the acting president appeared after Russia's takeover of Crimean peninsula and the emperor theme came up because Cossacks wanted Putin to be Russia's leader for life.

"This is an image of the Roman emperor, this image is known to any civilised person. Probably Cossacks would want to have an emperor for life, who would give strength to the state, who would take care of Russia's destiny throughout his whole life, because presidents come and go, but an emperor as a symbol is probably what Russia needs," said Polyakov.

"After his (Putin's) departure from the position of the president maybe the people and Cossacks will make our President an emperor," Polyakov added.

Cossacks traditionally served the Russian tsars on the borders of their empire and lived in relative freedom but were persecuted later in the Soviet era.

Neither part of the police nor the military, they have enjoyed a rapid revival since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, becoming a staunchly conservative social force invited by local officials to join security efforts.

Their brand of Russian Orthodox patriotism has won public praise from Putin.

But critics accuse them of fierce nationalism and their presence can add to the tension between ethnic Russians and minorities, especially in cities such as Moscow, where many migrants are Muslims from the North Caucasus and ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia.