Of Axes and Car Hackings

A few years ago, while hanging out at my future wife's apartment, I opened a cupboard in her cramped bathroom. To be sure, this is not a habit of mine, and I can't recall my exact motivation. What I found hanging in this cupboard above the toilet, however, made me uneasy: a small ax.
 
"Uh, I don't mean to sound paranoid or anything, but do you think you could get rid of that ax in the bathroom?" I asked her after exiting.
 
I had been covering crime for the MT for about a year at that point, and it seemed every second murder played out the same way: friends or lovers drink, friends or lovers argue, one of friends or lovers grabs ax and hacks other friend or lover to death. Postmortem dismemberment by the killer was an occasional twist in these cases.
 
It's not that I feared police would find my severed body parts in several different trash containers in the area, but why take a chance, you know?
 
The ubiquity of the ax in Russian households, after all, continues to figure prominently in thousands of bloody crimes. Just this week, as the MT reported, a top Interior Ministry official said more than half of all murders stem from alcohol-fueled arguments between friends and relatives. Murder weapons in these disputes are commonly "a kitchen knife, an ax and other weapons that happen to be at hand," he said.
 
For the Russian-speakers out there, just go into Yandex and do a news search for "убийство топором."
 
Which brings us to a curious variation on the ax theme out in Novosibirsk, where, thankfully, the only thing that got axed was a foreign car.
 
A Novosibirsk court on Wednesday convicted Konstantin Ryazantsev of aggravated property damage and threatening to kill someone after he took an ax to a Toyota Corona involved in a minor fender bender with the Lada he was driving in rush hour traffic last year, local television reported.

The court handed Ryazantsev an 18-month suspended sentence.
 
According to Moskovsky Komsomolets and local television, the incident broke down like this: About a year ago, the Toyota driven by one Viktor Zhigulin scraped side-view mirrors with Ryazantsev's Lada. Angered, Ryazantsev grabbed the ax he had with him in the cab of his car, stepped outside and hacked off Zhigulin's side-view mirror before bashing in the Toyota's body and windows.
 
Ryazantsev later explained his actions by saying that he wanted to leave notches in the Toyota in order to help investigators in case Zhigulin tried to flee the scene, MK reported.
 
"I repent for falling for a provocation, if one can say that," Ryazantsev said in televised comments. "That is, I was provoked."
 
According to the television report, he remained silent when asked exactly what the provocation was.
 
So for those of you out there who, like I do, spit at cars that do not stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, you might take heed. Maybe axes are becoming a common car accoutrement as well.