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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wanted: Handmade toys

Grandfather Frost, or someone strongly resembling him, was arrested on Arbat on Thursday, allegedly on the orders of Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

The incident took place at about 2:13 p.m. close to Costa Coffee, and it took a police car, two gun-toting policemen and a mysterious man in plain clothes to take the reluctant, rotund white-bearded man in red into custody.

The last sight of the “Ded” — as the mystery man referred to the suspect, possibly meaning Ded Moroz, the Russian name for Grandfather Frost — was of him limping into the police car and being driven west in the direction of the local police station.

Before he was taken away, he was selling traditional Russian matryoshka nesting dolls from a trolley that he rolled along Arbat.

The mystery man — himself as round as a beach ball and heading for Santa Claus proportions — began loading the dolls into the trunk of the police car. The policemen stood by, not saying a word, but more than likely wishing they were raiding a liquor store.


The dolls were presumably evidence of Ded’s crimes, although the mystery man hadn’t been watching much “CSI” lately. Instead of opening the dolls up and placing each doll in a smaller and smaller plastic bag, he just picked them up and put them in the trunk — while talking on a gold Nokia phone.

All the while, Ded, deserted by elves and now picked on by trolls, was pleading to be let go. He tried to pull away his trolley before it was picked clean, using a piece of wood as a ramp.

The mystery detective — or perhaps the man in charge of Arbat street negotiations when police need to make useless but symbolic arrests — stuck his foot in front of the wheel to stop him moving the trolley.

This went on for 30 seconds before the detective gave up and allowed Ded to pull his trolley away into a storage cupboard, although he did grab another matryoshka doll for the boot.

Grandfather Frost then peeled off his traditional red top, making him look somewhat diminished, as if he was just a fat, old man with a white beard trying to make a living. He grabbed his walking stick and limped around the corner to another storage cupboard, followed assiduously by the policeman with the automatic rifle clutched in his hand.

“A real criminal, is he?” I asked.

“It’s the city government,” said the policeman as he cradled his gun in his arms, as if worried the reindeers would begin their attack any moment from the rear.

He didn’t explain further, so the city is either clamping down on summer Deds or illegal street traders. As no one else seemed to be arrested on Thursday, it looks like the former.