‘Julia, do you have a pet?’ Yuri Kotler asked me the other day. Kotler is a young member of the ruling United Russia party and was once an advisor to Boris Gryzlov, former speaker of the Duma. I had asked him how the slowly mounting protests were perceived in the Kremlin. Yes, I said, I do have a pet. A cat. ‘Well, imagine if your cat came to you and started talking,’ Kotler explained. ‘First of all, it’s a cat, and it’s talking. Are you sure it’s talking? You have to make sure. Second, all these years, the government fed it, gave it water, petted it, and now it’s talking and asking for something. It’s a shock. We have to get used to it.’
—Julia Ioffe on opposition protests in Russia.
…Ivan focused his attention on the cat and saw this strange cat go up to the footboard of an ‘A’ tram waiting at a stop, brazenly elbow aside a woman, who screamed, grab hold of the handrail, and even make an attempt to shove a ten-kopeck piece into the conductress’s hand through the window, open on account of the stuffiness.
Ivan was so struck by this cat’s behavior that he froze motionless by the grocery store on the corner, and here he was struck for a second time, but much more strongly, by the conductress’s behavior. As soon as she saw the cat getting into the tram-car, she shouted with a malice that even made her shake:
‘No cats allowed! Nobody with cats allowed! Scat! Get off, or I’ll call the police!’
Neither the conductress nor the passengers were struck by the essence of the matter: not just that a cat was boarding a tram-car, which would have been good enough, but that he was going to pay!
—Mikhail Bulgakov, “The Master and Margarita”