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Tragic Magic: Moscow City Contract Written With Disappearing Ink, Deputy Alleges


When the flame from a lighter was placed near the contract, all of the numbers except the first seemed to disappear.

A deputy in a local Moscow council said a city contract to replace an elevator in an apartment building was written with disappearing ink, potentially allowing the company to inflate the price.

Elena Selkova, a member of the Council of Deputies for Moscow's Cheryomushki district, posted a video on Facebook on July 9 of a contract for 2,659,995 rubles ($37,500) to replace the elevator in a 12-story apartment complex built in her neighborhood.

When she placed the flame from a cigarette lighter near the contract, all the numbers except the first seemed to disappear. That, she said, would enable the company to increase the bill footed by taxpayers by nearly $5,000.

The contract was to be approved at a meeting of a local commission that includes members of the Council of Deputies.

Selkova said the contract was signed by all the other commission members except her before the meeting even began.

The deputy said the incident underscores the importance of independent members in city government.

The Moscow Election Commission last year banned several independent politicians from running for seats in the city parliament on claims that they submitted too many false signatures of support.

Their exclusion, which the politicians considered politically motivated to protect the ruling United Russia party, sparked the largest series of street protests in Moscow in seven years.

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