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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wanted

Spasibo Bolshoye,” somebody wrote in silver paint on a wall of the Shchusev Museum of Architecture. The thank you seemed to be addressed to someone called “Ratty.”

The message is possibly interesting, if written by a “Wind in the Willows” fan, but it won’t stick in the mind like another piece of graffiti I saw yesterday.

Walking past the McDonald’s on Pushkin Square, as usual I saw couples everywhere, some on cheap, some on expensive dates, munching together and sharing fries. On the sidewalk below them, a man had written of his former love.

You could tell the man was not just upset but seething. Obviously, the chalked words gave it away. They were on the lines of “Don’t trust Katya Khodilanaleva” — the names have been changed because the rain washed away the libel — “who is devious, scheming” and a Russian word that rhymes with the Suzanne Vega song “Luka.”

There hadn’t been such hatred on the streets since the last time Anatoly Chubais went out for a walk without his bodyguards.


This was not just the sudden cry of a man scorned. As you walk down the road, he repeated himself at regular intervals for 500 meters. And most frightening of all was the handwriting: neat, perfectly spaced letters written with a steady hand.

You expect graffiti on walls or even in pungent public toilets, but there are also many messages under your feet.

At the moment, you can see the word “milk” written all over the sidewalks, which is not a cry for a gay politician to become the next Moscow mayor but an ad for a band that played here a couple of months ago.

While wandering through the courtyards of Moscow, take a look at the pleas and wishes written on the ground.

On Chistoprudny Bulvar, there is a bright-orange “Happy Birthday.” Near Sretenka, someone has written a name the length of half a building.

Head to Staropimenovsky Pereulok and opposite No. 16, a man has squeezed his broken heart out onto the sidewalk in a big, 84-point headline asking for forgiveness.

“I love you. Love you. Forgive me, sweetie,” he has written.

It’s been there for weeks, perhaps longer — he obviously knew not to use chalk — but there’s no way of telling whether he was successful. Is it a good or a bad sign that the words haven’t been painted over?

Does a woman choose to keep the words of her wooer so she can see them out the window in the years ahead, when the most romantic thing he ever does is take out the trash?

Or maybe she wants to remember the stalker who was hit by the SUV just as he was painting the dot on the third and final exclamation mark.