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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stars Try Government at Crisis Party




In what one spectator compared to fiddling while Rome burns, Moscow's glittering celebrities staged their own crisis show at the Golden Palace casino on the same day people demonstrated across the country to protest unpaid wages and pensions.


To the creak of a dozen pairs of leather trousers, Russia's entertainment elite joined the political process Wednesday night by taking part in a mock parliament with a variety of stars acting as deputies, while others played the part of a new, improved Cabinet.


While noshing on a lavish spread, the assorted celebrities became for a few hours a younger, slightly more made-up, cowhide-heavy government. Instead of Yevgeny Primakov, crooner-turned-State Duma-deputy Iosif Kobzon was installed as prime minister. The battalion of glam figures in his Cabinet included pop singer Valery Meladze as first deputy prime minister in charge of finance; burly, deep-voiced singer Mikhail Shufutinsky as first deputy prime minister in charge of national questions; and ex-Bravo lead man Valery Sutkin as first deputy prime minister in charge of extraordinary situations. Also in the Cabinet was Vladimir Presnikov Sr., a musician whose other claim to fame is as the father of the man who used to be married to the daughter of Alla Pugachyova.


President and host of the evening was Muz TV presenter Sasha Pryanikov.


The rest of the army of glitz was split into three parties vying for power f the People's Party, the Communists and the Democrats. Instead of elections, the three parties competed through five different games.


These included making a special dish from crisis food like pickled cucumbers and eggs. Singer Irina Oteyeva presented Kobzon with the Communists' edible phallic creation.


"It's a symbol of today ? it's a Communist creation," Oteyeva said


Other games included creating an anti-crisis anthem to a lambada tune, deciding where best to hide your money (in a champagne bottle) and leveling a critical attack on the government.


The final result, decided by Kobzon's Cabinet, came as no surprise as the Narodnaya, or People's, Party was declared the winner. But there were very few narod actually in the crowd.


"I just came for an evening that looks at today's situation with irony," Sutkin said afterward. "It's not the most interesting show in the world, it's just a private party." Finally, in saccharine display of mutual admiration, the Cabinet showered praise on the stars gathered.


"You are a unique group of people," said folk singer Natasha Babkina, who said in complete seriousness that she and the other famous faces were also suffering because of the crisis. "We have a lot more spare time now," she said.


One of the few people in the room who was neither a famous star nor a member of the press was not impressed. "It's piggish," said a student who preferred not to give her name.


"It's a feast in the time of the plague," she said, referring to the title of a play by Alexander Pushkin.