17 September 2007

My Neighbor the Oligarch

I have yet to see the oligarch but I know he exists. His home construction, eight houses down the street from us, is not yet finished. I do know he visits periodically. On my way home I sometimes see his black and grey Rolls Royce parked in front of the site looking incredibly clean on the yellow dirt and construction trash. The Oligarch's Rolls is never alone. Oligarch cars travel in packs. The supporting collection of Sport Utility Vehicles, a Mercedes, a Lexus and a Toyota Prado, also park in front of the construction site. The malnourished looking drivers stand in a little circle of Pryluky tobacco smoke nervously gesturing to one another and glancing at the site entrance lest one of the bosses exit. What are these extra vehicles for I wonder. Security personnel? Friends? Part of the his entourage?

We have some big houses in our neighborhood, but generally people keep to themselves, park their cars inside their two meter walls and mind their own business. The road we live on was peaceful until Rolls Royce Oligarch started visiting. The road is lined with houses on one side and a national park forest zapovidnyk on the other side. In the evenings people stroll on the road. When I turn the corner I typically see a pair of mothers each pushing a baby carriage with one hand and holding a plastic liter bottle of Chernihivske in the other. I see men walking dogs and old women, in their year-around snow boots, walking cows home from the pasture. If I'm returning from work late in the evening less people are walking and more are congregating in small groups at the intersections which have at least a single light post working. Teenagers laugh and play music on their mobile phones and old ladies with their hair covered in scarves gossip.

A few weeks back everything changed on our street. Actually, the street itself changed. In the span of five days the Rolls Royce Oligarch built a second road, 10 meters to the left of our current road and parallel to it. He cut out a piece of the Zapovidnyk and laid a road down in five days flat. I am sure all the permits for cutting into the National Park were secured legally and transparently. Not. Witnessing the daily progress led me to conclude that things can get built insanely quickly here in Kyiv. The mohorytch's (sp?) that he (or his people) organized almost nightly during the construction, right there outside, by his new road, must have been part of the permitting process. All this construction of course begs the question: why did he build this second road immediately parallel to the first road? My question was answered in the next few days when workers started building a wall from the existing front wall of the Oligarch's house, across the old road and turning a corner at the border with the new road. The Oligarch was unhappy with the size of his front yard and decided to expand it to encompass the area of the street that passes in front of his current fence. To accomplish this he needed the second road so that others could still get by. So now all the neighbors have two roads in front of their houses. One that stretches across the front of all the houses on the street (the new one), and the old one that also stretches in front of all the houses on the street EXCEPT one Rolls Royce Oligarch house.


Steven said...

This is very funny, Petro. I look forward to more blog entries about the Oligarch. Any idea who he is or what he does?

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