In the Spotlight

Last week, Komsomolskaya Pravda published a cry for help from one of its journalists. She was complaining about her inbox filling up with press releases from stars' PR people who wheel out ridiculous stories about their clients being robbed or having an affair with "It Girl" Ksenia Sobchak whenever there is a hiatus in tabloid interest.

The KP reporter wrote of wading through acres of accounts about Sergei Zverev being robbed every morning. Apparently this high-cheekboned wonder, who was Alla Pugachyova's hairdresser before taking the pop world by storm, is prone to being burgled whenever he has a video coming out.

Looking back through the tabloids, I found a story this month on the web site about Zverev being robbed of his Philippe Patek watch in Novosibirsk. The crime bore a strange resemblance to events in 2006, when pop star Filipp Kirkorov was robbed of his Breguet watch in the same city.

Earlier this year, Zverev was targeted by some pretty odd robbers. Guests stole scissors and shampoo from his salon during a party in September, fans walked off with makeup and a sequined bow tie during a video shoot in June and he was deprived of a suitcase full of G-strings at the Milan airport in May. And the stories that got printed may just be the tip of the press-release iceberg.

All the same, it would be unfair to say Zverev is the only star to use this tactic. This week, singer Nastya Osipova of girl group Blestyashchiye got almost a whole page in Tvoi Den after thieves made off with a diamond-and-emerald bracelet that she said was given to her by tennis player Marat Safin. Pedants might note though that she wasn't wearing the bracelet in the giant photograph, or indeed very much at all.

The reporter picked out other trends, such as fake love affairs between celebrities who need a bit of publicity. She cited R&B singer Timati, who gave Tvoi Den a fake sex video of him and Ksenia Sobchak -- which later turned out to be part of Timati's latest music video.

Another example she gave is pop singer Sergei Lazarev, who is said to be having an affair with television host Lera Kudryavtseva despite his somewhat sexually ambiguous image. Quite coincidentally, they recently started co-presenting a game show where couples win a wedding. Oh, and they're also skating together in the television show "Starry Ice."

These romances are "sewn with white threads," the reporter said, meaning that they're obvious fakes. But the editor of KP seems to disagree, as on Wednesday the paper ran a big story headlined "First Kiss" on Lazarev and Kudryavtseva. The web site even ran a video of them embracing and kissing after a skating performance.

This week's big star story is so unsavory that even the most desperate PR person wouldn't make it up. Rock singer Zemfira went shopping at a late-night supermarket in Moscow and somehow began arguing with a store employee who ended up punching her in the eye, Tvoi Den reported.

The Uzbek employee told Tvoi Den that Zemfira "insulted me and my people." The paper also printed a quote from him saying the singer hit him first.

Zemfira has now gone so far as to print an appropriately rock 'n' roll statement on her official web site saying she was hit in the eye by "an 18-year-old bastard, it doesn't matter what his nationality is." She also posted an audio file from the store's manager saying the employee hit her and not the other way round.

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