Friday, February 22, 2008

A [Literal and Figurative] Sign That the Revolution May Be Over For Good

It's an ad from the Moscow metro for ArbatPrestige cosmetics and accessories stores, and says "Great October Price Revolution."

PS The owner of the ArbatPrestige (Arbat is a nice area here surrounding the charming Old Arbat and busy New Arbat streets) chain may have been adhering to free market principles a little too well; he was just arrested for tax evasion. I believe he did it (almost everyone does), but I wonder whom he upset to be arrested now? Maybe someone wanted his stores' real estate?

Update: It turns out that Semyon Mogilevich and Arbat Prestige are not the victims of a real estate raid or some other, more prosaic, type of conflict. That may be part of why he was targeted for prosecution now, but Mr. Mogilevich's history is not that of an honest businessman. He is wawnted by the FBI for racketeering, fraud and money laundering and is also accused of running drug, prostitution, smuggling and stolen art operations. He hasn't been on the run or in hiding - he's been operating quite openly here in Moscow, but now something happened so that he could be arrested. According to the Economist, he is also tied to a company that trades gas between Russian and Ukraine, a very sensitive issue, and one which makes the issue that much more complicated. Shortly after Mr. Mogilevich's arrest Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko came to Moscow to discuss just that, with little real progress.

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