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MOSCOW—Russian elite have a long-lasting passion for palaces and kitsch interior designs in the fashion of Marie Antoinette’s Versailles. Villa owners love to show off their own versions of the glamorous and extravagant style of pre-revolutionary France, overloading homes with golden décor, massive crystal lamps, marble floors, and heavy royal staircases. But there is one phenomenon currently inspiring discussions among psychologists, historians, and corruption fighters: The post-Soviet obsession with golden toilets.

As it turns out, one such golden toilet owner is the head of traffic police in the Stavropol region, Colonel Aleksey Safonov, who became the town clown this week after getting arrested on corruption charges, after which photos of his ultra-extravagant house were leaked and shared widely. Known for bragging about fighting corruption at work, Safanov had even spoken in front of cameras about policemen’s temptation to take bribes: “Unfortunately, some police inspectors cannot resist the offer,” he told local…

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