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VIP pimps killed Russian model Ruslana in New York? Part Two

KP journalist traveled to New York to find out if Ruslana Korshunova’s death was suicide or murder

Why don’t the police think it’s murder?

All Ruslana’s friends and acquaintances say she didn’t have any enemies. They also describe her as a kind and caring person. Of course, people probably envied her as she had made a wonderful career for herself. But it’s unlikely she was killed as a result — especially in such a professional manner without leaving any evidence behind. Regardless, her mother and friends say a more detailed investigation must be conducted. Not all the pieces of the puzzle in the official version fit together.

Ruslana’s apartment rests behind a white door. Inside things are slightly disarranged. Her mother recently came and packed up everything that would remind her of her daughter. There is a plush Cheburashka on the sofa. The doors to the wardrobe are propped open and dresses are poking out.

Her balcony: A key piece of the puzzle

“Ruslana was afraid of heights,” said her ex-boyfriend Artem Perchenok. “She even smoked standing on the threshold to the balcony. But she’d never actually go outside. Look here.” He pointed to cigarette butts lying on the ground. “These are a man’s cigarettes. Ruslana only smoked thin, lady’s cigarettes. Why didn’t the police pay attention to this?”

To the right, I saw the fence between Ruslana’s balcony and the neighboring building that is under construction. Here is the hole that she allegedly climbed through onto the construction site, according to the police. I’m a man and it’s very difficult for me to climb through. It’s possible, but difficult physically (see photo). In addition, one actually has to jump from her balcony to the construction site. The distance is about one meter. One would have to have a real desire and reason to struggle through the fence and leap to the next building.

“I think it’s possible Ruslana was pulled over there and thrown off,” said Artem. “I can’t believe she just wanted to say goodbye when she came to see me the day before she died. Why didn’t the police interrogate me? They didn’t interrogate Mark either, Ruslana’s boyfriend, and he was the last person to speak with her!?”

I learned later how the New York Police Department is structured and why they decided straight off why Ruslana had committed suicide. First Ruslana wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Second the police weighed the evidence about a possible suicide and murder. They understood the case wouldn’t get far, so why should they start to begin with? I was bit upset by the news, but this is what I was told by people who were born in the U.S. and know the system. The myth about the wonderful U.S. police soon faded away.

Version 5: Criminal motives

Ruslana’s death in many ways look like a suicide. But who would want to kill her? Her ex-boyfriend Artem would be a suspect. Maybe he was jealous? But I saw the way he talked about her, and it’s clear he still loves her. He also has an alibi. He was at home with his parents the whole day. Another version is her last boyfriend Mark Kaminskiy killed her. He’s a rather closed person and has had problems with the police.

“I swear I saw copies of the police records,” said Ruslana’s close friend. He doubts the official version and has his own connections in the New York Police Department. “Kaminskiy’s ex-wife issued a restraining order against him in 2001. He was arrested for illegally possessing a firearm and marijuana in 2003 and 2005.”

Officially, the New York Police Department hasn’t confirmed the information.

Mark actively promotes his hardcore lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Given the circumstances, this leaves plenty of room for the imagination. Maybe Ruslana lent him money and then he couldn’t repay her? But the concierge says no one went to see Ruslana before she jumped off the building. And it’s impossible to enter through the backdoor unnoticed. The intruder would have to walk by the concierge either way.

Today Kaminskiy says he sells elite automobiles in Brooklyn. But none of the high-end dealers know him in this area of the city. And he refuses to speak with journalists.

“Komsomolskaya Pravda? If you print even one word about us we’ll sue!” said Mark’s friend. He’s unshaven with baggy pants. There are plenty of criminals that look just like him at the bazaars in Moscow. Mark is standing nearby. He looks shaken and is nervously smoking a cigarette. They came to Ruslana’s farewell ceremony in New York. Mark spits, turns around and walks away.

Version 6: Mafia?

“I know you’re investigating the story,” I heard after receiving an unexpected call from Moscow several days later. “Call me Maksim. I’ve been in the modelling business for a long time. And my wife is also a model. This is just to let you know that I know my way around the business.” I listened silently.

Maksym continued: “Kaminskiy is the right-hand man of Petr Listerman, a matchmaker who sets up wealthy men with models. Petr has a show on MUZ TV called ‘Beauties and the Beast.’ In one episode he and Kaminskiy went to Milan to find young models.”

“You think Ruslana may have fallen under the influence of these dubious characters?” I asked.

“I’m not saying anything,” Maksym said. “But here are some facts for you. Several years ago I held a casting session at a Moscow club. Kaminskiy stood in the doorway. Listernman called me that evening and demanded I give him one of the models who had gone to the club. He said we could make big money if we delivered her to the bed of an oligarch during his trip to Kurshevel. And there was real pressure — with threats and promises to earn unheard of cash.”

“You think this could have happened with Ruslana?” I asked.

“I’m not saying anything. But if some rich man paid for Ruslana, then Listerman would have been on her like a bulldog. They give a lot of money for that. I’d guess the starting price would be around one million dollars. Mark is a professional pimp. He’s the macho who works in the girls and does the pre-sale preparation.”

Version 7: Depression?

Now let’s think about how the events could have unfolded based on what we have learned about Kaminskiy.

Ruslana was a deeply generous, impressionable person — like a child.

“She would cry for any, even trivial reason,” Artem’s parents told me. “She took everything so personally.”

Not long before, Ruslana had broken up with Artem. And she couldn’t go to see his parents, who were like her second family, to cry on their shoulders. Remember, Ruslana wound up in the modelling business in New York at 15 years old with few friends and her mother in far-way Almaty.

Shortly after their break-up, Mark appeared. Could he have made her fall in love with him and then started pressuring her? She may have understood the real reason behind Kaminskiy’s courting before her death. Ruslana left a message on his Odnoklassniki.ru page that said: “You’re an animal. You scare me.” It’s clear something was going on.

That’s the only way I can explain why Ruslana went to see Artem the night before she died. She wanted to see her family and felt drawn to their warmth. Her break-up with Artem also seemed idiotic. She loved him, too.

A key piece of the puzzle is Mark’s call to Ruslana shortly before she committed suicide. It’s unclear what they talked about. Mark says they agreed to go to a party later that evening. But they could have talked about anything. Maybe he began pressuring her about offering sex services for big money? Why not? It’s obvious something shattered deep inside her after the conversation, and there was only one way to remedy the situation.

What condition do you have to be in to climb through a balcony and jump to a neighboring building despite a fear of heights? Maybe she was taking drugs? It’s feasible Mark could have gotten her on addicted. But Ruslana’s friends say she didn’t even drink. She couldn’t handle even small volumes a alcohol, they say. In that case, her weak physiology would have led to a seriously misconstrued perception of reality should she have taken drugs, said Moscow-based narcology expert Pavel Kuchuk.

But again this is just another a version. A complete analysis of Ruslana’s blood at the moment of her death will only be ready in mid-September. READ MORE

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Attention: Sex bombs!

Hypersexual women — Who are they?

Most people consider sexual promiscuity to be a characteristic typical of males. Many men change their women like gloves, or maintain numerous lovers at the same time. They are often referred to as players, or womanizers. But what’s the name for women who have a full sex life? Who are they? How do they make a living? What are their goals?

You probably know at least one woman who changes her sexual partners on a regular basis. She doesn’t want to get married and holds the joy of sex in higher esteem than the dream of having a family. Many such women are successful and live comfortably.

Should ladies forget their age-old dream of one prince for all eternity? There are so many fish in the sea… Is polygamy only a male trait?

Where it all starts…

Let’s begin with how these female sexual giants are born.

“Fear is often the root cause of such behavior,” said Tatyana Danilova, a psychologist and communicative skills trainer. “Normal women who want a monogamous lifestyle may find themselves traveling this heavy road. And their fears are to blame.”

The most typical fears:

1. Fear of age

The woman is over 30 and decides she needs to make up for lost time. She usually has a successful career and has achieved everything she’s dreamed of. So she decides to cut loose while she’s still pleased with her reflection in the mirror.

2. Fear of loneliness

The woman may be young, but wants to find a partner. Her main testing tool is her bed.

3. Fear of belonging to one man

The woman got burned in a previous relationship. She may have given herself to one man who she loved but received little in return. So she tries to make up for the lost time. She goes with many other men who usually take more than they give.

4. Fear of strong feelings

The woman has an active sexual life. She judges men by their ability in bed. She throws off feelings of attachment in the blink of an eye. She also fears serious relationships. By changing sexual partners, she thinks she’s protecting herself.

Men also become examples for their women. Difficult divorces or betrayals can force women to try their partners’ polygamous ways. Why can he sleep around and I can’t, they ask? So the women go about proving they can.

Picking the plumpies

Is it really possible, though, that female sexuality hinges on a series of psychological factors and fears?

KP journalist Anna Kukartseva tried to get to the bottom of the issue and came to a startling conclusion.

“Female sexuality often depends on her personal psychological preferences, but also on hormonal changes,” said gynecologist Aleksandr Zakharov. “Certain sexual flashes occur in the periods of sexual maturity (18-25) and sexual formation (33-38). In the latter period, the female organism is most satiated with estrogen — female hormones. Some women always have a surplus of estrogen. They can often be noticed by their outer appearance. They are traditionally plump, healthy and happy. Thin women often have increased male hormone, androgen.”

Test in bed

“The more artistic a person’s profession, the more sexually hungry he is. Not all sexual giants are geniuses. but many geniuses are sexual giants,” wrote Mikhail Veller in his collection of short stories, “On Love.” He says sex and art are the same.

“Yekaterina the Great,” Veller wrote, “sent her potential lovers for testing to a trial dame to see how good they were in bed. The empress led an active sexual life until her death. But this didn’t affect her ability to change the country far and wide.” He adds that strong energy manifests itself in different ways. The stronger the energy, he says, the directer its biological manifestation. So an impotent person can’t be a powerful.

She was with this one, and that one…

But according to German psychiatrist Burt Hellinger’s theory, sexual relations actually deplete a person’s energy. Men and women who have numerous romantic relationships give pieces of themselves away to whoever they sleep with. At some point, the individuals simply lose the ability to love.

Enough! Time to settle down!

Sooner or later, time also becomes a factor. It’s easy to be promiscuous when you’re young, beautiful and sexual. But then what? And having to maintain a beautiful outward appearance is only half the story. Some women just get tired of the lifestyle. Others feel immoral.

Natalya Tolstaya, Psychologist and Author:

“Promiscuous women go to see psychologists and say they have forgotten how to love. Their first major crisis occurs when they decide to stay with one man. But at the same time they wonder if they should tell him the truth about their past. But if you take a closer look at the situation, you have to ask why she started leading this wayward lifestyle to begin with? The answer is she was bored. She always wanted a festival around her. But family life isn’t always a holiday. With time, these women become matrons or perfect embodiments of morality. Some thank their husbands the rest of their lives for clearing their reputation. Others lead self-denigrating lifestyles and become religious. However, these women are said to become wonderful parents and wives. They have a great deal of experience and value what they have.” READ MORE

Russian and Austrian sex maniacs share shocking similarities. Part 2

In our previous installment, KP learned that the Austrian and Russian maniacs who hid their sex slaves in homemade bunkers share shocking similarities. One key characteristic is that psychiatrists consider them to be completely sane. If this is the case, then how can society protect potential victims? How can maniacs be found before they build their underground prisons?

After Viktor Mokhov’s arrest, Skopin residents broke all the windows of his home. His mother, Alisa Valentinovna, boarded them up and locked herself in the darkness, just as her son had done to the girls from Ryzansk. Mokhov received 17 years in prison for his crimes.

“They give you less for murder!” Mokhov writes in his letters. Instead of compensating for the damage caused to his former sex slaves, Mokhov lovingly sends his monthly pension checks to his mother. He asks her to write to the president and sends her ready made texts: “Honorable president! I sincerely request your help in re-examining my son’s case. His sentence is illegal. The accusations are built on the victims’ testimonies without any evidence. My son was always involved in socially useful work and has a 37-year work history.”

“Nonsense!” Valentinovna said. “He doesn’t really think I’ll write that, does he?” she asked. Valentinovna can’t explain what happened to her son shortly before retirement. He had once been such a quiet, modest boy who didn’t drink or smoke. There seems to be only one explanation, as banal as it may seem. Mokhov got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

It’s a complicated story. Mokhov had a girlfriend named Inka, who was sent to prison for killing her lover. He waited for her faithfully. But when Inka was released from prison, she left Mokhov for her lesbian girlfriend Lena. It was Lena who helped Mokhov poison the two girls and lure them into his vault as a form of compensation. Lena was later sentenced to 5 years for her crimes. She’ll be released soon. Sadly, no one will meet her. Last month Inka got drunk and drowned in a cesspool. So it seems life isn’t boring in Skopin. I guess that’s why the cafe menus often start with the price of broken dishes and seats.

“Man is an animal by nature. Dissatisfaction is the foundation of his behavior,” said Dmitriy Plotkin, former special affairs investigator at the Ryazansk Regional Prosecutor’s Office, who took part in the case. “When the beard starts to gray, some people see they lived their entire lives with little to no sexual development. So Mokhov went out and dug a hole three years just to sleep with a woman! One wise quote like we found at Mokhov’s place is enough to trigger the crime: ‘If an elderly creature reproduces with a young one, then the former will grow younger.'”

Only two questions remain. How many men have a similar dream? And how many bunkers are already filled with prisoners?

They and It

Freud referred to the animal that controls a man’s decisions and forces him to hunt for prey as the “It.” Modern society takes this issue all too lightly. And this is unfortunate. Many scholars attribute the gruesome path taken by Hitler’s Third Reich to his sexual problems.

Most “wardens” of home prisons, including Fritzl, Komin, the Belgian rapist and killer Dyutru and the French Furnire, have served time for rape. What they did later — digging bunkers and forcing girls inside — is a repeat manifestation of this “It.”

Many parents lose their children because no one keeps an eye on sexual offenders after they are released from prison. Although Fritzl served time in 1967 for raping a nurse, Austrian archives only store information on sex offenders for 5 years. Thus, he faced little difficulty in becoming the father and grandfather to his daughter’s children. No one was regularly checking up on him. After Fritzl was released from prison, he had three children in his official family and 7 kids in his unofficial one.

Police have put together psychological portraits of potential rapists who are prone to keeping sex slaves. But hundreds of thousands of men fall into the category — 40 and older, technical education, sexual problems, authoritarian mother, fights in childhood, greed and exceptional professional characteristics.

Who can help weed out the perpetrators?

If rapists can’t be castrated, then we need to look for the bunkers that they’ve built. What advice should be given to those searching for these bunkers? I headed back to Ryzan to talk with Katya, who escaped four years ago. She once offered her advice to people in similar situations in KP (March 2004). I thought that she may have some insight.

Witnesses must have suspected something was going in in the cases of Mokhov, Fritzl, Komin and Priklopil. So who can the police rely on for reliable information? I asked Katya.

The neighbors? Katya says that this is unlikely.

Mokhov’s neighbors must have seen him climbing into his vault from his garage. But they kept silent.

Komin’s neighbors once asked him what he was digging. But they were satisfied with the answer: “Growing cucumbers.”

Maybe family members? That’s doubtful.

All Skopin residents are sure that Mokhov’s mother knew what was going on. And Valentinovna herself doesn’t hide this fact.

“Who’s in there?” Valentinovna once asked her son. “Just a refugee,” he answered and she calmed down.

Theoretically, Rosemary should have suspected her husband was up to something. She would have found the basement lair if she had checked the water or electric meter just once in 24 years. But her husband insisted that he would look after the electricity and heating as is customary in many small towns. So she never asked any questions.

How about local shop owners? Probably not.

Fritzl drove hundreds of kilometers to large supermarkets to avoid suspicion when purchasing children’s underwear and women’s hygienic goods.

How about the police then? That’s also not a fail-safe option.

Kampush’s lawyer said that the police conducted the most wide-scale searches in Austria’s history.

Russian police also searched for Lena and Katya in the Rzyansk region, but for some reason skipped over Skopin entirely.

The police did not react at all to Elizabeth’s disappearance in 1984. Instead they took Fritzl’s word that she had run off and joined a sect.

Tatyana Melnikova was held captive by a maniac in Vyatskie Polyany. She died in poverty before receiving any assistance from the state.

“We would have found these criminals more quickly back in the Soviet days,” said a retired Ryzansk police officer who I bumped into in Rzyansk. In the Soviet days, he said, someone would have told the police that Mokhov kept a prostitute in his cellar for one week and let her go long before he captured Katya and Lena.

Desensitized from the horror

The Russian and Austrian stories are similar. But they have different endings. Austrian citizens donated so much money to the Natasha Kampush Fund that she began sharing the money with other victims. She could even buy an apartment with all the money she received for interviews. The situation is more complicated for Fritzl’s family, but Austria certainly won’t leave them impoverished either. At the moment they are receiving state-sponsored medical treatment.

What about Russia?

In spring 2004, KP published Lena’s and Katya’s bank details and wrote: “Readers! We need your help! These girls have returned home to see the light of day, but not life itself. They need time and money to heal. Please help them forget the awful nightmare they were forced to live through.”

Four years later, I called them to find out if they had received much money as a result of the ad. Only 1,000 rubles a piece.

“So many horrible things are happening in Russia that people have become desensitized,” Lena said laughingly.

But money isn’t the only important thing. Everything turned out just fine for Katya and Lena. They both rehabilitated and got married. Of course, instead of receiving help from the state, they ended up having to prolong their torment by undergoing medical examinations and driving up to 150 kilometers a day to attend 18 court proceedings shortly after their escape.

Eventually Lena received a diploma as a guide and translator without attending any courses. She studied English while imprisoned to keep from going mad. Katya became a wonderful artist during her 3.5 years of captivity. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to enroll at the professional art school as they required her to attend paid courses. So Katya stopped drawing and writing poetry.

After publishing one of her poems four years ago, KP was sure publishing houses would be knocking at her door. Strange. How could they have passed up such a story? A young girl who wrote 321 poems as a sex slave in captivity?!

Today, Katya is trying to write again. But this time she’s writing prose. READ MORE

Russian and Austrian sex maniacs share shocking similarities. Part 1

Such coincidences usually only happen in the movies. All these Russian and Austrian sex maniacs were electricians who built nearly identical bunkers for their victims. What’s the root cause behind the growing trend in sex slavery?

One cannot help but wonder how the drama went unnoticed for so long.

Just imagine the small town of Amstetten, Austria. On a quiet road rests a light blue home with ornate paintings decorating the rooms inside. Here lived Joseph Fritzl, 73 years old, his wife Rosemary and their many children.

But beneath the property’s loving facade lies a concrete labyrinth that once housed Fritzl’s numerous victims.

Newspapers worldwide recently reported how Fritzl held his daughter Elizabeth captive in his basement for 24 years. Each year she bore him more children. Fritzl brought the three loudest infants upstairs. He told his wife that their daughter had joined a religious sect and left the newborns on their doorstep in the night. In the evenings, Fritzl went downstairs via a secret passage in the garage to see the other children. One died in infancy and Fritzl burned the child’s body in the same gas furnace where Rosemary baked biscuits on holidays.

Given the recent trend in such crimes, the main shock factor of Fritzl’s story is how long Elizabeth was held captive. Austria witnessed a similar crime only several years ago. Natasha Kampush, who was then 18, ran away from her captor Wolfgang Priklopil after 8 years of confinement. Russia wasn’t shocked at the crime itself either. In 2004, Lena and Katya, two girls from Rzyansk, were freed from a vault beneath a garage owned by Viktor Mokhov, a factory worker in Skopin. Back then, their story was beyond comprehension. But today, they seem lucky. Three and a half years of abuse is insignificant compared to Elizabeth’s quarter-century of captivity.

Despite several differences, the horrible tales of captivity are nearly identical. The Austrian bunker was in fact much more comfortable than its Russian analogue at 55 square meters with two rooms, a kitchen, a tiled shower and a washing machine. (The Russian bunker was primitive — a 5-square-meter hovel with an electric oven and bucket instead of a toilet.) But Amstetten and Skopin both have a population of 25,000 and seem peaceful rural towns to outsiders. What else ties together the fate of Mokhov, an unmarried Russian who lived with his mother and had no personal life, and Fritzl, an Austrian family man and father to numerous children living near the Alps?

“He did what many people think about doing…”

It would be wrong to say that Skopin and Amstetten are backwards in some way. News reports about similar incidents in France, Belgium, Hungary and Italy have hit kiosks in recent weeks. What unites these criminals who imprison and sexually abuse their victims?

Psychologists say that they crave absolute power. This forces them to build a world that they alone can rule. With one press of a button, Mokhov was able to cut off the ventilation in the small bunker if his victims refused to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Meanwhile, psychologists called Fritzl an egoist after stating that he liked to feel like God. But such an illness falls outside the realm of psychiatric pathologies. Fritzl is more a victim of psychological licentiousness than anything else.

“Fritzl did what many people think about doing,” Director of the Sigmund Freud Fund Inga Shultz-Strasser told KP.

But thinking is not doing. Fortunately, few people manifest their sexual fetishes by oppressing others.

Mokhov learned how to build bunkers while watching a documentary film about the criminal Aleksandr Komin. Ten years ago, Komin built a vault where he forcibly kept two slaves. He tattooed the word “SLAVE” on their foreheads and made them stitch robes for his makeshift enterprise. After Mokhov was captured, he confessed that he plagiarized Komin. When Mokhov saw him describing how he built the cell on television, he said to himself: “I can do better than that!”

Nightmare on Fritzl’s Street

“We just live far too well. And we’re all going mad from the fat,” said the salesgirl at the flower shop near Fritzl’s home when I asked her if Amstetten was to blame for what happened.

No journalist would have ever stepped foot in the tranquil Amstetten if it wasn’t for Fritzl. The town is boring and clean, and the people are beaming and bursting at the seams like overfed tomatoes. Many are willing to give their two cents about the incidents.

“I won’t tell you if Fritzl was my client,” said a hairdresser in the neighboring building. “Because that would be unethical. And also because my uncle raped me when I was 13 years old.”

“When I rented an apartment from Fritzl, I often heard strange sounds coming from the cellar,” Elizabeth’s schoolmate Alfred Dubanovskiy told journalists.

But it isn’t easy to get an inside look into how the investigation is unfolding. The police monitor Fritzl’s home 24/7. When people get too close to the property, the police run over and say that they can’t proceed any further and have been told not to comment on the incident. Trying to interrogate the neighbors to get details is also pointless. Austrians don’t like poking their noses in others’ affairs.

Interestingly, it seems that no one knew anything about Fritzl’s crime during Elizabeth’s captivity. This includes the whole Fritzl family (6 children besides Elizabeth) and all the tenants living in their home. One reason why is that they used the front door of the premises to enter and leave the house. Fritzl, however, pulled his vehicle into the covered garage where he had access to a secret, locked entrance to the basement. As a result, no one saw him taking the washing machine downstairs or regularly bringing up garbage.

Viktor Mokhov wasn’t at all concerned with the design. His prisoners had to decorate the walls themselves with gouache.

But there are doubts about the involvement of Fritzl’s wife. Did Rosemary really not know what was going on all that time? Oddly enough the entire street says, “No.”

“She’s such a kind, generous woman!” they say. “She takes her kids to study music and play sports. And her husband is a fop. So spic and span… He acted more like a minister than an electrician!”

Fritzl’s neighbors Ingrid and Gertruda, two elderly women, defended Rosemary on camera.

“He was such a tyrant!” they said. “But Rosemary is a good woman who got married at 17!”

The question about what to do with the unfortunate home weighs heavy on the minds of Amstetten residents. The basement can be turned into a museum of horrors, or the past can simply be laid to rest.

“You’ll see. Soon something worse will happen and they’ll forget all about us!” a pharmacist told us near Fritzl’s home.

“This is private property,” said Hermann Hruber, an employee at the local mayor’s office. “The home has an owner. That individual needs to decide what will happen to the property.” So it seems that Fritzl will keep control of the situation even in prison. In Austria, breaching rights to personal property is just as severe an offense as infringing someone’s personal freedom. READ MORE

Sex recruiters hit Russia’s towns. Part 4

KP journalists decided to find out just how strictly the law treats the adult-services industry

Short summary

KP journalists Aleksandr Meshkov and Oleg Rukavitsyn headed to Ivanovo in the thick of Russia to hold a casting session for girls interested in earning money via sex services. One applicant realized a video camera was recording our conversation and she got angry and ran off to get her friends. They came to the apartment and stood outside the front door hoping to destroy the compromising material and smash Meshkov’s and Rukavitsyn’s faces in!

Run, Rabbit, Run!

From behind the door, they threatened to beat us to a pulp. It was dark and we thought the chances they would leave were few. We looked out the window gloomily at the black Audi parked in the yard. Its headlights were off and a thug in a leather jacket stood nearby smoking nervously. We thought we heard someone manning the corridor. And we could smell cigarette smoke from under the door.

We could not sleep. And so we waited until late. When we finally saw the car take off, we opened the window, climbed out and ran. We spent the remainder of the night at an automobile sales lot and hopped on a bus to Moscow in the morning.

Pretty woman

Meshkov tore off the flash drive that had been taped to his groin and shook his hands in victory. Then we sat down to watch the show.

Everything would have been funny if it had not been so sad. The girls were sullen, even though they pretended not to be. And their lives were sad and empty, although to some outsiders they probably seemed full of life, orgasms and tenderness.

We had nearly fulfilled our mission and made a bordello. If we were real pimps, we would have needed only to rent an apartment in the capital and pay a cut to the police for protection.

We hoped that the police would stop us during the initial stages of our investigation when we placed our advertisement in the papers. Almost all the girls knew what services they would have to offer if they ended up working with our company. But the police did nothing.

What’s worse is that we had almost given ourselves away up by taping our advertisements all over the main square. It’s not important where the whole story happened — in Pskov, Bryansk or Uglich… Regardless, we were in Russia.

We did not actually open a bordello afterwards, thank God. But we learned a great deal. There were no women among our applicants with a higher education. They were almost all factory workers — sewers, cooks, janitors and painters, who changed their profession often. One reason why they constantly shifted between jobs was their immense boredom. And the negative influence of fictional stories about oligarchs thirsting for young girls and fairytale blockbusters like “Pretty Woman” and “Glossy” should not be forgotten.

Many poor village girls are tired of dancing around in their thick rubber boots and homemade clothes with drunken slobs at square dances. They long for more fashionable love affairs. And while our country is pretending to wage war against prostitution, the phenomenon is growing and gaining pace like a locomotive. READ MORE

Sex recruiters hit Russia’s towns. Part 3

KP journalists decided to find out just how strictly the law treats the adult-services industry

It’s Candid Camera

Everything start off just fine. We spoke to the girls and pretended to enter their information into the computer. Meshkov briefly inspected their bodies as any army recruitment officer would and wrote “Fit For Use” in their application forms. One day, though, our mobile phone connection suddenly went dead and we had no way to contact the outside world. Our potential applicants could no longer reach us. After cursing our mobile operator, we hurried to the main square and started gluing job advertisements all over with our apartment’s landline. We also approached good-looking women on the street and offered them a contract for VIP work in the capital. Needless to say we were turned away time and again.

We headed home discontented hoping for a miracle. And then it happened. In an hour, several applicants called our landline and the recruitment recommenced.

Ludmila was a colorful, sexy blond in a tempting short skirt with short legs, and short fingers covered in gold. She was confident and even a bit rude. She was also the only intellectual among the applicants. She had read “The Da Vinci Code.” She asked most of the questions.

“What’s the police situation like in Moscow? I saw on TV there are raids everyday. It won’t happen like that. I’ll quit everything, go to the capital and then get caught?!” she said.

“You mean no one gets caught here?” we asked.

“Here? Never!” she said proudly. “We have a lot of policemen among our regular clients.”

“Freebies at the station on Saturdays?” we asked.

“Why free?” she asked insulted. “They pay like everyone else. Hey, what’s that over there? A video camera?” She froze. “Are you taping this?”

“Where?” we asked puzzled, trying unsuccessfully to disguise the camera in a plastic bag. “No, it’s nothing…”

“Do you take me for an idiot?” she said. “I see it! Delete everything you taped!” she added threateningly.

“There’s nothing there!” we said stubbornly.

“Okay,” she said, jumping up from the chair. “If you don’t want to do it the easy way, then we’ll do it the hard way. They’ll delete you in a second then…” And she bolted out the apartment.

A knock in the night

We rushed around the apartment in panic. Victims of our own carelessness, we did not want to be burned at the stake at such a young age. It was a bit aggravating. We had tried so hard to mask the camera. We thought we would have made James Bond proud. We looked for a place to hide the flash drive with the scandalous video. And after a lengthy search, Meshkov decided to tape it to the inside of his groin. Gathering our things, we headed to the metal door that separated us from our freedom. And just when we were about to open it, when we heard a loud knocking.

When the telephone is the enemy

We stopped.

“Open up the door, you jerks, or I’ll bust it down!” someone screamed from under the door. Judging from the noise there were at least three or four guys standing outside. They rang the bell, cursed loudly and tried to pry their way in. We hoped the neighbors would call the police after hearing all the commotion.

We stood still for 10 minutes hoping they would think no one was home. Then we could hear them talking about something. And just when it seemed that they were ready to leave, justice had won and we were saved, the mobile phone in Meshkov’s pocket began to ring. Startled, Meshkov stumbled backwards and loudly knocked over the stool behind him. READ MORE

Sex recruiters hit Russia’s towns. Part 2

KP journalists decided to find out just how strictly the law treats the adult-services industry

Girl from the North

We met a girl from chilly Yakutsk named Katerina. She had a sly look a bit reminiscent of Lenin. She smelled like a perfume stall that had been ransacked by hooligans. She was open, clean and tall with long legs and a C-cup.

I fed Katerina a Snickers, gave her a Martini and started to ask her questions. She answered them all without hesitation — even the most intimate. She had left Yakutsk after a misfortune love affair. She arrived in Ivanovo hoping to enroll at the Textile University. But she failed the entrance examinations and began working as a dishwasher instead. She only made 2,000 rubles per month. And all her money was spent on food and renting a room at the dormitory. Like many young female factory workers, Katerina wanted a full pretty life. She was forced to enter the growing sex-services industry to support herself. Now some days she can spend 3,000 rubles on her loved ones.

One and the same women

Our applicants varied in size and shape. But their personal histories were similar. Nearly all of them were from rural towns and broken families. They all had experience in the sex trade. They started selling their bodies when they had financial difficulty. They were cautious about our proposed move to Moscow.

The 20-year-old Svetlana is a blond from Ryazhsk with big breasts. Some days she earns 2,000-3,000 rubles. She used to work 6 months sewing and made a salary of 10,000 rubles per month. Today, though, she sells her body for 1,600 rubles per hour. She gives her boss half the amount. Girls in good shape handle 4-5 clients per day. Some months Svetlana makes 30,000 rubles, although her clientèle is unsteady.

Spending cash money

“Isn’t that a lot — 5 clients per day?” we asked Svetlana.

“If they aren’t drunk it’s okay. And if they aren’t black,” she said. “And if it’s one at a time and not a whole bunch at once.”

“Does that happen, too?” I asked in disbelief.

“With me it hasn’t,” Svetlana said after a moment. “But my girlfriend had to do 15 at one time. They didn’t even warn her. Bastards.”

We sat smoking despondently.

“What do you buy yourself for 30,000 rubles per month?” I asked.

“I buy sweets and expensive clothing,” she said. “Chanel perfume… I bought a cardigan yesterday for 1,500 rubles.” She touched the transparent top delicately. “I also buy toys for my younger sister,” she added. “I sent her a plush teddy bear Friday. The package weighed three kilograms. She’s 11 years old. I’m planning on buying her a mobile phone soon.”

“Do you have any hobbies? What books do you read? What films do you watch?” I asked.

“My girlfriend and I usually watch ‘Clone.’ And someone stole my book… It was about love. The husband kept cheating on his wife and she cried.”

“That sounds familiar,” I said. “Who is the author? George Sand?”

“Who the hell knows?” she said exhaling loudly. “My hobby is going shopping.”

“But you don’t really like doing this… business?” I asked.

“Well it’s better than sitting behind a piece of machinery all day like an idiot,” she said. “And today everyone’s doing it.”

“How much money do you need to be happy?” I asked.

“$100,000,” she said without a moment’s thought.

“Why?” I asked.

“To buy an apartment and have a child,” she said.

“Without a husband?” I asked.

“What the hell would I need him for? I lived in a common law marriage with one jerk. We only had problems,” she said. “He came home drunk everyday.”

“Okay, well, let’s go have a look at you in all your beauty, so to speak,” Meshkov said like a old gynecologist.

“Should I wash first?” she asked livening up. READ MORE