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Monument to Payola Sought

Published: May 15, 2013 (Issue # 1759)


A St. Petersburg businessman has invested money into funding a competition to find the best monument commemorating bribes. Boris Lipner, owner of the local chain of orthopedic stores Kladovaya Zdorovya, is the driving force and the wallet behind the nationwide sculpture contest to create a monument titled Greyhound Puppy.

The title is an allusion to the famous phrase from Nikolai Gogols legendary play, The Inspector General, in which the writer uses the expression to take bribes in the form of greyhound puppies. The phrase has since become a symbol of bribe taking and has been widely used in Russia ever since.

The contest finalists projects went on public display on May 14 at the St. Petersburg Museum for Urban Sculpture at 179/2, Nevsky Prospect, where they will be exhibited for two weeks. It will also be possible to visit the exhibition during the Night of Museums that begins in the evening of May 18 and runs through the early hours of May 19.

Winners of the competition will be selected on May 28. Once the best project has been selected, the competition organizers will contact City Halls town planning and architecture committee for permission to install the monument. No potential location has been suggested as of yet but Lipner believes that a quiet park or green courtyard would be suitable. His opinion is shared by the majority of jury members, while political opposition and more critically-minded locals would be thrilled to see such a monument in the vicinity of a local or state government building, from Smolny to the Prosecutors Office to the local police headquarters.

The competition began in June of last year and sparked significant interest among artists, professionals and amateurs alike. More than 400 designs have been submitted, many from far beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. Artists from across Russia, from Irkutsk to Volgograd to Petrozavodsk, presented their designs, along with contestants from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

A total of 18 finalists have been selected, whose works are being showcased at the City Sculpture Museum. The jury features art historians from the citys leading galleries, including the State Russian Museum and the State Hermitage Museum. The author of the winning design will receive a prize of 150,000 rubles ($4,785) from Lipner.

The bribery monument initiative is not the first quirky anti-corruption project to come from St. Petersburg residents. Every year, the local branch of the Democratic Party Yabloko awards the Golden Toilet Brush prize for the most absurd use of state funds by a government official or organization.

The award was founded in 2008 and owes its name to ex-governor Valentina Matviyenkos infamous renovation of her office at Smolny, which altogether cost a handsome 32 million rubles ($102 million). On official documentation listing the expenses, 12,794 rubles ($408) was listed as having been spent on new toilet brushes, causing critics to speculate whether those items were indeed made of gold. A standard plastic toilet brush can generally be purchased for less than 100 rubles ($3.19).

To select the nominees each year, Yabloko politicians scrutinize websites listing state spending, awarding the most egregious the sobering prize of a gold-painted, white plastic toilet brush.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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