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Riot police were allowed early retirement at forty-five, and in recognition that the state would collapse without him, the president had the option of living forever. Imagine that. Living forever with Putin. === A providnitsa was a person of some consequence. Riding on each passenger car, providnitsas collected tickets, fed the stove, tended the samovar, settled disputes, and kept third-class passengers out of first class. === Siberian Express. The train started in Beijing, stopped in Irkutsk, and finished in Moscow. === “He killed more of the enemy than of his own men, but it was close,“ … === “What does a factotum do?” “Well, he does everything. That’s the point. Anything and everything: driver, translator, hunting guide. A factotum can even arrange romantic liaisons. At your command,“ Bolot beamed. === “Is it dangerous to walk across a crocodile? Maybe so, but worth it if there is a pot of gold at the other end,…“