Russian police seize Putin, Medvedev painting

Picture the scene: a quiet moment between Russian president Vladimir Putin and his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev. A momentary intersection between two lives made busy–so busy–by the hard work of government. Medvedev has just put his bra back on. He is disheveled. Putin grabs a comb and runs it lazily through his deputy's hair. Medvedev's eyes firmly engage the viewer, but Putin looks oddly to one side. What is he looking at? Perhaps his eye falls upon the Romanov Tercentenary Egg on his desk, adorned with portrait miniatures of the dynasty.

They seem to gaze back at him, no longer lost within Fabergé's gilded relic. Putin once saw their deaths in his mind's eye, over and over, that invigorating minute in Yekaterinburg. Now he hears only their voices, the whispers that wake him. Though both men creep toward the threshold of the golden afternoon, the evening is yet young.

Alas, this delightful set-piece is no more: police raided the gallery and took it away without a word of explanation. [BBC]