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The Case in the Square

Author: Maria Antonova

Jan/Feb 2014
Social Issues
Page 16   ( 1 pages)

Summary: The giant trunk appeared out of nowhere, a huge box that looked like a Versace suitcase left behind by a giant alien. To this day, its appearance and disappearance are a mystery.


The giant trunk appeared out of nowhere.

It sat in the middle of Red Square, blocking views of St. Basil’s Cathedral and looking a bit like the stylish younger brother of the Lenin Mausoleum.

It caused a storm of controversy, with non-stop television coverage and denials by all manner of responsible officials that they were in any way, well, responsible.

It could have been an episode from a story by Ilf and Petrov or Gogol.

In the end, the giant box vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

The trunk, apparently a joint idea of the GUM Department Store (located opposite the Kremlin) and the Louis Vuitton brand, was supposed to be a pavilion for a nonprofit exhibit.

That it was nine meters high and thirty meters long, plus its peculiar placement – on Red Square next to the History Museum – meant that it effectively blocked the vista across the square from its main entrance through the Iversky Gates. Instead of the familiar postcard view of St. Basil’s, all tourists could see was a very large Louis Vuitton trunk, an incongruous structure that looked as if it had dropped off a baggage carousel from a parallel universe full of giant rich people.

Strangely, the scandal only hit after the trunk had been sitting quietly on the square for ten days. Communists condemned the “lawlessness” of putting things on Red Square and prepared a new bill that would ban such stunts in “sacred” places. (That’s right, Communist Party Duma members called Red Square “sacred.”)

Preservationists, meanwhile, were horrified that such a bizarre object could be allowed to dominate Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bloggers quipped that it might serve as a hint for Putin to pack his bags and wondered if the bribe that made the installation possible was big enough to fill the trunk.

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