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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Auto Bombings: Poor Cars

I have been sick most of the week and didn't go out anywhere, so this week's Diary is based on TV-inspired observations and random memories rather than live experiences. Blowing up cars and taking hostages has become somewhat of a national sport here. I was particularly impressed by the story about the drunk who, when he ran out of money, took his own four-year-old daughter hostage, saying he would kill her if he wasn't brought vodka and money. And the turn of events is no less fascinating. Two militiamen eventually stormed the man's apartment -- one by breaking down the door and the other by coming in through the ground-floor window. Poised for a two-sided, simultaneous attack, the men fired their AKs, inadvertently killing each other in the process. Shaken by the ordeal and not hopeful of getting any alcohol out of two dead bodies, the kidnapper agreed to surrender. The first time I heard about cars being destroyed in Russia was in the late 1980s, but it's rapidly become one of the most popular ways of wreaking revenge or applying not-so-subtle pressure. Driving seems to be the most vulnerable part of the Russian tycoon lifestyle. Last year, a so-called godfather who went by the name of Globus was killed near his Chevrolet (a Caprice Classic) after coming out of the U Lisa disco. Earlier this year, reputed mobster Otari Kvantrashvili was shot and killed just before climbing into his Jeep Cherokee. Now it's Boris Berezovsky, the president of LogoVAZ, who was injured last week when his Mercedes was blown up by a bomb. I'm not so sure about the people, but I really feel pity for some of the beautiful cars that fall victim to gangland violence. Exporting a foreign car to the CIS is like sending a person off to a prison camp -- forcing them to work in awful conditions and under the constant threat of sudden death. n Despite voices of reason and recent artistic exhibits, Moscow authorities have made their final decision regarding the infamous Moscow swimming pool -- it will be torn out and work will begin on the reconstruction of the Church of Christ the Savior, the 19th-century church destroyed in 1939 to make space for the ill-fated Palace of Soviets project. For those who've got swimming pools of their own at their dachas, the decision probably seems quite logical. I wonder which architectural symbol of the new Russian nomenklatura will be demolished the next time the powers-that-be decide that what the masses really need is an enormous swimming pool -- the White House, perhaps? n Here are a couple of silly puns for would-be witty political reporters. What would you call a faction of democrats with communist inclinations? Demonists has a nice ring to it. And an alliance between fascists and nationalists could be called Fascination. (Don't tell Vladimir Zhirinovsky, though -- he start using it immediately for an international public relations campaign.) n I just heard on TV that Cicciolina, the remarkable Italian porn-star-turned-politician, now has a Russian counterpart. Yelena Kondulainen, a B-movie actress, has announced the launching of her own Love Party. Kondulainen is blonde and even somewhat more voluptuous than Cicciolina, but she's got none of the Italian's provocative wit or sensuality. The interview I saw with the new party boss was absolutely boring, centered mostly on the question of chlenstvo, or membership (chlen, or member, is the popular "legal" synonym for a certain part of the male anatomy). How clever. The original Love Party was short-lived; after dropping out of the Italian Parliament and marrying and divorcing artist Jeff Koons, Cicciolina moved on to her current occupation, the telephone sex business. I imagine Kondulainen will probably not follow suit -- judging by her interview, she can barely put more than three words into a sentence. n While on the subject of telephone sex: I've seen a number of ads in local weekly papers featuring gorgeous, scantily clad females tempting readers into calling up. The numbers advertised, however, are seemingly American, all beginning with the 8-10-1 code. What does this mean? Do Russian-speaking phone sex professionals live only in Brooklyn, or is this just the best way to guarantee a hefty profit, charging international rates for seedy conversations? It might be a worthwhile topic (and good safe fun) for investigative journalists.