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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prostitutes and Porcupines on April Fools'

MTModels posing in the second-floor window of the mobile phone store on Tverskaya.
A gang of porcupines escaped from the zoo. An Amsterdam-style brothel -- that is, girls posing in the windows -- opened on Tverskaya. Russian flight attendants will start to wear designer outfits. And the Russian Orthodox Church is to offer confessions on the Internet.

Those were some of the practical jokes played on Muscovites as the media and some companies got into the spirit of April Fools' Day on Monday.

Most of the jokes came in the form of newspaper reports, such as Komsomolskaya Pravda's story about five stray porcupines being at large in Moscow or Moskovsky Komsomolets' article about flight attendants donning the more stylish gear.

The brothel, in contrast, looked a lot more real to pedestrians on Tverskaya Ultisa.

Just a stone's throw from Red Square, opposite the Intourist Hotel, passers-by were greeted by a scene from Amsterdam's red light district. In the second-floor windows of a Stalin building stood four skinny girls wearing nothing but underwear. They stared down at the people outside, chatted on mobile phones, ate and periodically sought refuge from the heat of the spring sun by thrusting various limbs in front of a fan.

An ad on the window suggested that each model was going for 70 euros. A closer inspection showed the sum was the price for a mobile phone package from the April Fools' Day prankster, the Yevroset cellular phone chain.

Oddly enough, reaction from the street was muted, with most passers-by simply glancing up, shrugging their shoulders in a gesture of amusement and continuing their business.

"It looks like people no longer want or need jokes," said Dmitry Patratsky, head of advertising at Yevroset and the mastermind of the window stunt.

The girls declined to talk to the media. Patratsky explained that they were not professional models and stood behind the glass for free. "They want to become models, so for them it is a chance to have a little taste of the job," he said.

The few pedestrians who were not too preoccupied with their own business stood on the pavement watching the models with barely disguised lust.

"They are too far, it's not funny. They should have placed them on the ground floor," said a 47-year-old driver who gave his name as Alexander.

Another passer-by, Nina, a teacher, was not amused.

"This is horrible. This is a total degradation of morality," she said. "If this is a joke, it's a bad one."

Police proved to have the biggest sense of humor. After learning the display was an April Fools' joke, they left the shop alone.

Muscovites tend to be good sports when it comes to April Fools' pranks, according to a survey conducted by ROMIR. Some 75 percent planned to fool their friends and relatives on Monday, Interfax cited the survey as saying.

The tradition, which dates back for centuries and whose origin is unknown, has been observed for decades in Russia. The name comes from the custom of playing practical jokes or sending friends on foolish errands on April 1.

Muscovites were not the only recipients of practical jokes Monday. In the southern city of Rostov, a police officer took to the street with a sign reading, "Help an honest policeman," the Evropa Plus radio station reported. The officer turned out to be a cameraman from the local television station, and he promptly returned the 50 or so rubles contributed by elderly passers-by, the radio said.

Also Monday, Izvestia said that Yevgeny Kiselyov, the chief editor of Shestoi Telekanal, had accepted the post of Russian Ambassador to Iran and pop star Filipp Kirkorov plans to run for the Bulgarian parliament. There was a hint of truth in the reports -- Kiselyov is known to speak Farsi, and Kirkorov is a Bulgarian by blood.