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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Guide to the Stars




I wasn't too shocked when I heard that three Russian pop figures got drunk on a plane and started screaming swear words and getting in the way of the crew. To misquote the famous expression, every country gets the celebrities it deserves.


The three singers, Kris Kelmi, Vladimir Presnyakov and Leonid Agutin, spent the whole flight from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow laughing hysterically, singing loudly and generally making asses of themselves, a Russian newspaper reported.


The first two names, while minor figures in the Russian pop world, are hardly scandal-worthy. Kelmi, despite his exotic Baltic name, is completely lacking in talent. Presnyakov's main claim to fame is that he is the ex-husband of Alla Pugachyova's daughter. My friend Slava Mogutin, a Russian writer living in the States, swears that he saw him sucking beer from a table top in a New York bar.


But the news about Agutin caused me real pain. A young, talented singer and dancer who first introduced Latin rhythms into Russian pop, Agutin has always been a symbol of gentle manners.


"He was the worst of all. He was totally wasted," said Olga Bakushinskaya, a reporter at the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, who was on the plane with the drunk celebrities. She added that she was shocked when she saw Agutin mocking a simple Krasnoyarsk man who had treated him to some of his hard-earned vodka.


"I had mistaken him for a respectable man," Bakushkinskaya said sadly.


So had I. A former tank commander, Agutin was portrayed as an obedient and respectful child in the recent book "My Son Leonid Agutin," written by his mom, a high-school teacher. Perhaps she didn't know her son as well as readers of the Russian version of Playboy. He once told the magazine that he has no complexes. "As long as I have nice underwear on, I don't turn red if my fly is open," he said by way of illustration.


Agutin hasn't been the only celebrity to let me down recently. Alexander Nevzorov, a prominent St. Petersburg television journalist, was a much-admired perestroika-era crime reporter. But now he throws all his talent and prominence behind the radical opposition. His first feature film, "Purgatory," won a top prize at the film festival in Assisi, Italy, this week. The film is about the war in Chechnya and looks like a Defense Ministry propaganda piece with its "we will bury you" message.


Oh, well, we all make mistakes.