November 01, 2003

Promises, Promises ...

When I look out the window of my seventh floor apartment in the southwest of Moscow, I am greeted by a heavily-armed blonde dressed in nothing but a bullet-proof jacket, a plant that looks suspiciously like cannabis (whose relation to mobile phones I have yet to determine), and a heavily made-up brunette in a low-necked dress thrown back passionately in a tango with a hot Latino guy. The girls, the macho Latino and the suspicious plant wink libidinously at me from the billboards, as if inviting me to leave my computer and join the party.

A week ago, this libertine company was joined by Tsar Peter the Great, reformer Pyotr Stolypin and poet Alexander Pushkin. Their homes are on smaller and more modest triangular posts, planted between the billboards and the chestnut trees in a green patch between the two sides of a busy road. The three great men have been summoned from history so that the Interior Minister-led political party (Unified Russia) can cajole me into voting for it in the coming elections, scheduled for the first Sunday in December.

As the vote approaches, advertisement rates soar, incited by political parties impatient to spend their electoral budgets. However, some bidders for a comfy Duma seat are resorting to much bolder and more effective means than billboards to deliver their message to the inert (yet gullible) electorate.

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