Mad monk's member features big in Russian erotica museum
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AFP) - In a more innocent age, it was said that Gregory Efimovich Rasputin's legendary power over women was due to his piercing eyes.
But a new museum of erotica here suggests that the mad monk's charm may instead have been, ahem, concealed beneath his cassock.
Measuring 28.5 centimeters (about 11 inches) -- allowing for shrinkage caused by pickling -- Rasputin's penis displayed in a tall glass bottle is, to put it delicately, a big attraction at the museum.
Director Igor Knyazkin said he bought the object from a French antiquitarian for 8,000 dollars (6,600 euros), along with several of Rasputin's hand-written letters.
It was not known if he had a certificate of authenticity for such a remarkable piece.
Reputed both for his mysticism and his debauchery, Rasputin was a powerful influence at the court of the Romanov Tsars.
Concerned about his unusual hold over the Empress Alexandra, a group of aristocrats decided to kill him to save Russia.
They lured him to an assignation in 1916, fed him drugged cakes, shot him and finally killed him by wrapping him in a carpet and throwing him into the frozen Neva river.
The aura of sexual power and mysticism lives on. Some Russians think just by staring at the object, they can cure sexual impotence.
One visitor asked Knyazkin if this is true.
"Without a shadow of doubt," he replied with a smile.
Knyazkin, 37, a urologist and sexologist, set up the museum in the clinic he runs, partly with the aim of helping his patients overcome impotence. The atmosphere of the museum makes patients "more optimistic and relaxed," he said.
"The aim of the doctor is to free his patient from anxiety and fears. Men who come here are ill at ease because of their problems, and our light and happy atmosphere reassures them."
Only part of Knyazkin's collection of 12,000 erotic objects is displayed in the clinic, which is staffed by buxom nurses wearing short white blouses and high heels.
"I keep the valuable stuff at home," he said.
Nevertheless, the museum still contains an impressive collection of ceramic phalluses and bawdy drawings.
Many of the exhibits come from his patients, said the doctor, rattling off the names of several members of Russian high society.
Jailbreak duo escape punishment
The pair handed themselves in to staff at Gloucester Prison
Two men who fled an open prison and knocked on the door of another jail asking for a stricter regime will not serve extra time.
Audie Carr, of Hereford, and Benjamin Clarke, from Gloucester, claimed Leyhill Open Prison in Gloucestershire was "rife with drugs".
They asked Gloucester Prison staff if they could serve their sentences there.
Charges of escape from lawful custody against the pair were dropped at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC agreed it was not in the public interest to prosecute the duo.
Carr, 29, and Clarke, 23, fled Leyhill after requests to be transferred were declined.
Giles Nelson, defending, said both had beaten drug habits after rehabilitation programmes at Gloucester Prison.
"They were off drugs and concerned about what was happening to them at Leyhill," he said.
The pair were at large for 17 hours, having missed a roll call at 2030 BST on 9 March.
They walked through the night and turned up at Gloucester Prison around 1250 BST the next day.
Adrian Foster, prosecuting, said he wished to discontinue the matter as there had been no violence or threats made in the escape.
They were off drugs and concerned about what was happening to them at Leyhill
Giles Nelson, defending
When he fled Leyhill, Clarke was serving an 18-month jail term imposed at Gloucester Crown Court on 1 March for two offences of burglary and theft.
Carr began a five-month sentence on 8 April for assault, resisting arrest and possession of an offensive weapon. He was sentenced at Hereford Magistrates' Court.
They are to stay at the Gloucester jail until their release later this year. Carr is due for release on 5 August and Clarke on 1 October.
In a statement issued after the hearing, a Prison Service spokesperson said there were drug rehabilitation programmes at Leyhill.
"Any prisoners found in possession of or using illegal drugs are immediately stopped from going out on licence and, in some cases, returned to open conditions," the spokesperson added.