It’s no easy feat to stay on the straight and narrow in this day and age. The best of us steal a pen from work, panic about it, pour our heart out to our therapist, and our minister, and then tearfully return the pen to the office manager on Monday.
And in some places, where at least a little corruption is expected, you might go a little further. People will assume you’re hiding much worse theft if you don’t steal at least two pens. It’s not ideal, but no one lives in that world- no one except Gwyneth Paltrow, anyway.
But even in those places, a certain Russian policeman would probably be looked upon as a little bit much. Because he didn’t steal one pen, or two pens, or two dollars. How much did he take? Well, suffice it to say that in his mansion was found a gold toilet.
Meet Alexei Safonov. He’s a colonel in the Russian police, which is a good job. Does it pay lay your naked posterior on precious metals money? It most likely does not. And heaven knows none of us can do without a gold toilet to take our bodily waste in the greatest style possible.
How did he get money like that? Well, when you are responsible for permits issued to transporters of grain, obviously you have a money printing machine. After all, if someone has illicit grain on their hands, or generally is not super psyched about honoring regional laws while transporting – and those are a real downer – bribing the permit guy is a great idea. And again, you have to bribe (or receive bribes) a little to convince people you’re not doing bribes too much.
So yes, Safonov was taking bribes for those grain transporter permits. And yes he led a criminal conspiracy to do so. After all, the logistics of that many bribes of that size really just require it. There’s no law or societal norm against being organized. Although, in crime there is. And bribery is a crime.
But one must think of the societal good this bribery ring did. Each member of it receiving bribes, and then sending those bribes back into the economy, spurring it on- sometimes in the form of bribes, is just a productive part of the circle of life. That’s really what Safonov was, essentially a Simba the lion in the flesh. Unless he was scar. But in any case, we can agree that he was a great individual. A great, corrupt individual.
Sadly, the wild ride of taking bribes to enable grain dealers to move their wares is over for Alexei Safonov. He will remember the good times. He will remember the many friends that he made. But most of all, perhaps, he will remember the gold toilet that he had put into the mansion where he lived when he was not working for the people in the impressive but not ludicrously-well paying job of police colonel.
There always comes a time when the piper must be paid, and for the saintly Safonov that time is now. He and six others have been arrested by Russia's Investigative Committee in the southern region of Stavropol. There is no word as to the exact gold content of the toilet where Safonov is expected to be moving to sometime soon.