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FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK...

By David Levy

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A chapter from  David Levy's work in progress "From Chaguanas to Jerusalem: Tribal Conflict in the Global Mosaic"

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Image source: Freaking News

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Saturday, 25 October. In the hotel lobby Matt Damon was organizing a tour with members of a stunt crew. The actor was in Moscow to shoot scenes for The Bourne Supremacy. Jeannie picked him out. It was, she said, the smile. Not very tall, wearing a black North Face down jacket and cap, he looked like an ordinary American kid. A large sour-faced Russian bodyguard in a black leather jacket was positioned close by. "We're going to Red Square. Cool." said Matt, leading the gang out of the hotel into a waiting white van. Matt was staying at the hotel along with the second unit stunt crew. The wife of a member of the crew told us they'd been there for months. I could only imagine the bill. The film's American audiences would have no idea that all those cars with the small blue dome lights chasing Matt all over Moscow were more than pals, more likely, very tight buddies of the czar.

Later that evening the private plane of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, was on a re-fueling stop in Novosibirsk when it was suddenly surrounded by military vehicles. Khodorkovsky was seized by armed men in masks. We watched it on the TV set in our hotel room. Denied bail, the Russian billionaire sat for many months in a small jail cell dining on convict fish soup. He would be charged with fraud and tax evasion.

Khodorkovsky, an ex-oligarch, is among those men who grew fantastically wealthy in the Yeltsin era. Through a series of complex financial manipulations of borderline legality, he was able to buy his way into a dominant position in the Russian oil business worth billions. He headed Yukos, Russia's largest oil company, fourth largest in the world, a position from which he resigned following his arrest. Had he been attempting to leverage his clout to forestall a new round of state oil industry taxes? Was Khodorkovsky's real crime simply launching a political challenge to the Putin regime? In the days leading up to his arrest there were threats of arrests of Yukos executives, allusions to tax arrears, to cheating and stealing and prison time for Khodorkovsky.

Was this just Russian politics, Putin taking the knout to a high-profile political foe? Why had Khodorkovsky made no attempt to flee? A business associate, Platon Lebedev, had been jailed in July. Did Khodorkovsky not see the writing on the wall?

In The Wall Street Journal-Europe, David Ignatius observed that the oil oligarchs were beginning to understand that crime didn't pay enough, that there was even more money to be made by joining the global economy. But the business climate might not have changed all that much. There was the case of a fellow who chained the wife of a one-time business partner to a radiator to collect on a $24,000 debt. The debt paid, the wife was unchained. After a time the creditor was found dead, murdered execution-style. The rule of Russian business thumb: when working with a partner one needs to build the business in such a way that your partner will find it unprofitable to kill you.

When Boris Yeltsin was in and out of hospital, staggering around hammered, pinching secretaries's toocheses in plain view of TV cameras, the Yeltsin "family" became convinced that his deteriorating condition threatened family interests. Boris Berezovsky's choice to replace Yeltsin and protect those interests was KGB man Vladimir Putin, mistakenly judged a willing puppet. Berezovsky, now a fierce Putin adversary, lives in exile in Surrey, outside of London, drinking thousand-dollar cognacs and consumed, one hears, with regret and a hatred that eats away at him like a cancer.

Putin attended Paul McCartney's May 2003 Moscow concert, his late arrival surprising many in attendance. The Putin military strut, left arm in full motion, the right at relative rest.

 

We finally decide not to go out to Toshino, mostly out of fear of Moscow traffic. Then too, I hadn't been able to make contact with anyone who knew anything much about the heavy metal concert.

Back home, I got in touch with Sasha, a Chechen banker from Grozny, a different Sasha, to tell him about my trip. Sasha had helped me with some contacts. Chechens, Sasha said over coffee, are proud of their untrustworthiness. What did Sasha make of the Khodorkovsky business? He himself, he said, had been investigated. $2 million in cash had been seized from his Moscow apartment. It happened as he was planning to emigrate to Canada. Someone in the embassy tipped off Interpol who then informed Russian authorities. Russians, he said disdainfully, create problems and then solve them.

A month later, a female suicide bomber pulled up in a big black Benz outside the five-star National Hotel down the street from the Metropol. Metropol guests would have heard the explosion. A report claimed the Benz had pretty much disappeared in the blast. The Russian foreign ministry denied Chechen involvement; the incident, they said, was the work of international terrorists, perhaps a settling of accounts in a business dispute.

Postscript

The hero of Ilya Kabakov's 1985 installation The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment ".didn't want to wait until the whole of the rest of the society was ready for utopia; he wanted to head off for utopia there and then - flying out into cosmic space where he would no longer be tied to a particular place, a particular topos, but would be in an ou-topos, a 'not-place', weightless, floating free in the cosmic infinitude. So he built an apparatus that was capable of catapulting him straight from his bed into outer space. And the experiment evidently worked - all we see is the room the man used to occupy. The walls of the room are plastered with Soviet posters designed to communicate a sense of historical optimism. Inside the room we see the bed and the remains of the apparatus, along with some technical drawings showing how the apparatus functioned. A section of the ceiling directly above the bed has been destroyed. It was through this hole that the man shot out into space. Visitors cannot enter the room, but they can look into it from a small vestibule outside. On the walls of the vestibule there are texts describing this event from the point of view of the man's neighbours and acquaintances.. in his installation Kabakov uses images of Red Square and other symbols of the communist, Soviet utopia in order to tell the story of the individual, private fate of the hero of the installation. The great utopian narrative describing how all of humanity would one day be collectively propelled out of the gravitational pull of oppression and misery and into the cosmos of a new, free, weightless life..." Boris Groys

 

A fellow we met in the Metropol bar told us there was a rumor that the siloviki, ex-army and KGB goons, blew up a couple of apartment buildings in Moscow in 1999 and blamed it on the Chechens. The bombings were used to justify the second Chechen war and assure a Putin presidential election victory the following year. Asked about the rumor in a meeting with journalists, Putin called the suggestion "totally insane".

In 2004, the notion of FSB involvement in the apartment bombings re-surfaced in a film with the title Disbelief directed by Andrei Nekrasov. Berezovsky had backed a shorter film alleging an FSB hand in the bombing called The Assassination of Russia, based on a book by one-time KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, The FSB Blow Up Russia.

watch "DISBELIEF" here:

 

A tale of unknowables, Disbelief makes the point that the assumption following the explosions was that they were gas explosions. Suspicion about the involvement of the FSB surfaced when officials began blaming the explosions on Chechen terrorists.

Tatyana Morozova, whose mother had occupied an apartment in one of the nine-story buildings destroyed by the blast, lived in Milwaukee, was married, had a child. Now her mother along with149 others was dead. She learned of the tragedy in a CNN-assisted phone call from Alyona, a sister. The Russian government claim that the bombing was the work of Chechens was dismissed as a cover-up. In the words of a Morozova uncle who lived in the Urals: "There are bigger fish involved." A Chechen living in Moscow named Timur Dakhkilgov was arrested for the bombing, jailed, beaten and later released.

Mikhail Trepashkin, a lawyer and former KGB employee, was engaged by the sisters and given power of attorney to investigate. On October 22, 2003, three days before the arrest of Khodorkovsky, Trepashkin was himself arrested. Held in the same jail that holds Khodorkovsky, Trepashkin was charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, possessing state secrets, and the communication of those secrets to British intelligence.

David Satter, a Wall Street Journal reporter who appears in the film speaking at a Hudson Institute public lecture, described the discovery of a bomb found in an apartment building in Ryazan, 200 kms southeast of Moscow, placed there by FSB agents who were apprehended by Ryazan police. The bomb contained the military explosive hexogen manufactured in a factory guarded by the FSB. A TV channel that broadcast a report on the Ryazan affair was shut down.

At a press conference Satter said it was highly unlikely that without a war, the Yeltsin era oligarchy and the oligarchic system could have survived the 2000 election.

A Russian journalist I met said he didn't think the Putin people were directly responsible, that perhaps it was the work of a rogue element within the government. Among the suspicions that floated about unconfirmed was that Russian security knew the Chechens were planning the incident but did nothing to stop it. On the other hand, Trepashkin is, as he put it, "a Berezovsky guy." Aside from the 1998 debt default, the situation had become very difficult. A parliamentary election was scheduled for the coming winter, 1999, a presidential election a year later. There were at the time two strong contending groups in Russian political and business life he referred to as clans: the Kremlin clan, meaning the Yeltsin "family" who were prepared to do anything - he emphasized the word - to hold on to power. To lose power meant they could all be jailed or exiled, in other words left with less than nothing. The opposing clan was led by Yuri Lushkov, the mayor of Moscow and included Yevgeny Primakov, a former prime minister, fired by Yeltsin in May of that year. Have you, he asked me, seen the film Wag the Dog? That was the situation. The Yeltsin clan needed a virtual war to distract the electorate. Were the apartment bombings the work of an administration desperate to protect the Yeltsin family? "We have no evidence, we can't say that."

How to explain the arrests of Khodorkovsky and Trepashkin coming within a few days of each other? The only link, the journalist thought, was a regime intent on silencing the voices of opposition. "They don't care what is said abroad. Khodorkovsky and Trepashkin are being held in the same jail, one with a notorious reputation in Russia, where people the regime wanted to silence have always been held. It doesn't look like Trepashkin will get out of jail soon. The likelihood is that he will be kept under lock and key for a long time." The Russian president, he said, has played his cards very cleverly, claiming that the war in Chechnya is part of the war against international terrorism. A more powerful Putin has emerged with the FSB as his power base.

Is there any truth to the claim of Al Qaeda involvement on the Chechen side? There may, he said, be limited financial backing, between five and ten percent. The rest comes from corruption, theft, kickbacks. Money transferred from Moscow for re-construction projects in Chechnya winds up in Chechen hands.

In May 2005, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to eight years in prison and a multi-million ruble fine. Asked for her thoughts, a woman passing the courthouse where the sentence was read said: "So he stole the oil from them, now they stole it back."

The death of Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006 occurred a month and a half after the assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. A post-mortem proved his body contained fatal amounts of polonium 210, a nuclear substance, that killed him slowly and extremely painfully. With the Chechen opposition apparently crushed and Khodorkovsky in a Siberian prison the war against the foes of Putinopia had moved on. In 2007, Andrei Nekrasov, now living in London, a Litvinenko friend and pallbearer, agreed to talk to me about these things by telephone from London.

DL: I saw Disbelief a year or so ago. It has since occurred to me that it is a film much like the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.

AN: That's interesting.

DL: In the film Tatyana Morozova says: "I could not believe people would do this to people." Which seems to be where the title of the film comes from. On the other hand, the film includes an encounter with clearly disingenuous FSB officials about a related incident, and in light of the recent murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko, and the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Mikhail Trepashkin, suggests that what is in fact at issue is not an isolated apartment bombing but a condition. Disbelief seems less a film about individuals than about the terrible circumstance they find themselves in.

AN: You call it a condition, Tarkovsky would have said it is about a certain kind of reality where individuals may not be the main subject, a higher reality. He would very often say that he felt himself a medium, somebody who reacts, who listens, who doesn't act as a main protagonist of his own will, but who is a listener, trying to transmit something, to understand the meaning of what's going on instead of acting willfully. He saw his heroes, his protagonists not as pawns but as figures placed almost in a Greek tragedy, subject to certain forces and circumstances.

DL: It sounds like you are describing Disbelief .

AN: Yes, it's very relevant.

DL: You know people I met in China fifteen or so years ago, the late film director Zhang Nuanxin and her husband, the literary critic Li Tuo, regarded Tarkovsky's films as a model for their work. They were looking to free the Chinese cinema from the Maoism of low angles, clean uniforms, and perfect teeth, as well as the influence of Hollywood.The Cambodian director Rithy Panh told me that he was inspired to become a filmmaker by a screening of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev in Paris.

AN: Tarkovsky was certainly interested in Asia, in the traditions of Japan and China, he was obsessed with that. He felt a strong empathy.I think he would have been interested in learning about the interest of Chinese and Cambodian cinema people in his work.

DL: Though not perhaps in their politics.

AN: Politics was not part of the Russian tradition of his generation. It certainly was in the nineteenth century and after the revolution. But the post WW2 generation was very inward looking, preoccupied with, as you rightly put it, a condition that made it impossible to really act in what people think of as a fully democratic way. There is of course the superficial attitude to democracy, the American pursuit of happiness, their right to act accordingly in defense of that right.The Russian states did not allow this social behaviour.I myself strongly felt as I was growing up in the 1970s the surge for the spiritual.for the individual, in a non-materialistic sense.this surge of inner freedom, the inner space of individual freedom has a lot to do with the way we understood religion and spirituality. It wasn't an attraction to the institutionalized aspect of religion. We felt that everything to do with the state was highly structured and powerful and real and allowed little freedom, very little room for the exploitation of self.But while the state did not allow that freedom religion did. Tarkovsky was actually quite shocked when he ended up in the west in the last years of his life. Germany, France, Italy. He never went back. It was a very painful process. He asked for political asylum at the 1984 Berlin film festival.Mind you, he didn't like being described as a political refugee.He realized that in the west, religion was rather structured and was not a source of inner freedom, that in the west it was the other way round; the state allowed quite a bit of freedom but religion did not. In Russia the state was oppressive, intrusive, even attempting to control one's thoughts with thought police, whereas the Russian orthodox church was not eager to dictate or intrude on individual freedom. It was a constant in his dialogue with his western counterparts. I was there during the last year of his life.I understood because I spoke English, French. I could understand what Europeans meant by religion being conservative and oppressive, they weren't really talking about the same thing.Tarkovsky knew he had a huge following in the west, he was able to work in Italy and Sweden, he directed the opera Boris Goudinov in London.He died in France, a traditional home to Russian émigrés. He's buried in the Cimetiere de Sainte Genvieve Des Bois, where other Russians are buried, among them Ivan Bunin and Ivan Mojoukine.

DL: After seeing Disbelief I tried to track you down. I read that you were in Germany, but no one seemed to know where.

AN: I really don't like thinking that I've left Russia, that I am an émigré. Even though I've lived in the west, I've kept my Russian base. A lot of people don't advise me to go back, that it is dangerous, especially after the Politkovskaya and Litvinenko murders.Well, go back just briefly they say, and leave. Get your stuff out. This involves a very painful decision because it is one thing to leave and travel in the west and not be completely cut off.I was happy in the 1990s, I thought a new era had begun, when it would be possible to feel at home in the country of my birth. But we are reverting to the bad old days at the moment, which is a very sad and unwelcome development, not just for me but for a whole group of people.

DL: Was Disbelief ever screened in Russia?

AN: Disbelief was not shown in a theatre or on TV. It is available on DVD in a sort of media samizdat.There is a certain amount of scope, some people would always find it possible to sell the DVDs. You can even download it. The main influence is television. Only five or seven percent of the population has access to the internet, not the way it is in the west.

DL: I thought a key moment in the film occurred during the FSB PR man Alexander Zdanovich's meeting with the residents of a Ryazan apartment building about a foiled FSB bombing attempt and the claim that this was really a training exercise. At a certain point his face goes flat.

AN: You could see it in his eyes, the way the eyes suddenly wander. A very shifty character.

DL: In the case of the 1999 Moscow apartment bombing, why would the building at 19 Gurianova Street, which no longer exists, have been selected as a target?

AN: It was in a non-descript working class district. The circumstantial evidence is that the bombing was done by a rogue element in the FSB. If indeed it was them they needed an absolutely typical Moscow apartment building that all Russians could identify themselves with. The majority of Russians live in those buildings, even if they live in smaller towns or some villages. That's what Soviet civilization did for Russians. Before the revolution, the majority lived in wooden huts, a minority in palaces, in apartments in St Petersburg, grand apartments, in Moscow town-houses. The typical Soviet man lived in this tiny flat, with its tiny kitchen, tiny bathroom, a couple of rooms. He would be provided with plenty of hot water, heating, because Russia is after all an energy giant. He'd have this minimum of private space. But it is all completely anonymous. They are all the same, standardized. An explosion in a building like that would go straight to the nerves and psyche of the typical Russian person.

DL: In a survey done the following February, five months later, 70% of the people surveyed said that it was Chechens! Only 8% blamed Russian authorities.

AN: What Tatyana's uncle said and the Chechen Akhmed Zakayev re-iterated—remember they had never met or ever discussed the incident together—was that it would have been possible for the Chechens at that point to blow up just about any building in Moscow with the exception of the Kremlin. There were a lot of buildings where the military and government officials lived, that were completely unguarded. Everyone knew where those buildings were, where the military, except for the higher ranks, and the wealthier people lived, people the Chechens believed were responsible for the first Chechen war and the atrocities of that war. It made absolutely no sense in terms of revenge for the Chechens to destroy an ordinary apartment building, it could only provoke a Russian reaction. Besides, the Chechen terrorists were famous for bragging about what they did. All their attacks were quite spectacular, like the Nord Ost incident. These things were done for effect, for show, and were brutal like Beslan. The Chechens were never known for doing something and not claiming responsibility. In fact Shamil Basayev who was killed, our number one terrorist, had often claimed responsibility for incidents he had nothing to do with, like Beslan. He said it was him but in fact it was some sort of splinter group. The only attack he said he had nothing to do with whatsoever was the one at 19 Gurianova Street. It was strange and very atypical. The Chechens had absolutely nothing to gain from such an attack. Which is what Zakayev said; they very much feared a second Chechen war.

DL: What has happened to Mikhail Trepashkin, the Morozova lawyer?

AN: We are very, very worried about him. He did nothing. I could vouch for his integrity. I knew him to be pretty straight, an absolutely transparent guy, a person of perfect integrity. Maybe a little obstinate, somebody who can get into trouble for being too honest, not diplomatic enough. He's serving time for nothing.he has terrible asthma.where he sleeps is close to a source of fine dust which is killing him.

DL: Is this being done deliberately?

AN: Well, they have an interest in having him disappear. He's been in for over three years. Once he's out, if he ever gets out, he's going to become one of those like Politkovskaya and Litvinenko, one of those outspoken critics continuing his campaign of criticism. They are not looking forward to it, especially with the elections coming up.

DL: I understand you were a friend as well of Litvinenko.

AN: You know people are now slagging Litvinenko, after the first wave of praise there is now a lot of interest in blacking his reputation. There were claims from a suspicious Russian lady who said she was a journalist but who was hiding the fact that she was working for the government. She claimed Litvinenko told her he had some evidence and was going to use it to blackmail some Russian politicians and business people. Which I don't believe..These are very bad times that are beginning. There is uncertainty as to what Putin is going to do. It's illegal for him to run again. His own policies have deprived public life of a credible figure to replace him. It's a big problem for him, even with the absence of free media and his party being very influential and having all the resources of the state. Those guys in his immediate entourage are mediocre. People just don't like them, even though with his popularity he's supposed to be able to just point at somebody and say: This is my heir, that this would work, but it may not work.

DL: Is Putin popular with the Russian voter?

AN: Yes and no. How can one say somebody's popular when the statistics and the TV channels are controlled? It's like in the last days of the Soviet Union. They ran a referendum six months before the dissolution in December 1991 and 90% said, yes we want the Soviet Union to exist forever. Six months later it was gone because in reality everyone, every individual, every republic was fed up with it. Now it's the same, so it is difficult to judge. Western observers may say, well Putin seems really popular. Where do they get this information? I'd say he probably would have won the last election, but not by a margin of 80%. His actual popularity may be in decline.There is intimidation, the glorification of Putin, like in the old Brezhnev days: the visits of foreign dignitaries, the awards, the ceremonies.

DL: Do you think Khodorkovsky will ever get out of prison alive? He has been transferred from a population of political prisoners to one of thieves and killers, he has suffered at least one physical attack from a fellow inmate...

AN: The release date is too far away.You know, the guys in power are very short term, they are obsessed with money, big money. The Putin people just want to survive the next election, then they'll see. There is another tendency that has accelerated: to get capital out of the country. To buy into western businesses, to buy property, just in case, so if anything goes wrong in Russia they have somewhere to run to.

DL: There are many Russians in London these days.

AN: Moscow on the Thames.

DL: Why London, not Paris or Milan?

AN: It is partly the language. This is a generation that has learned English...

DL: So why not America?

AN: America appears overly regulated.

DL: Manhattan over-regulated?

AN: One of the things Russians find shocking about America is the attitude towards alcohol.Americans appear prudish and overly moralistic, not just with alcohol, with other things.It's a very important cultural point. In its political essence, Russia is very unfree, in fact absolutely despotic. It is a condition best described by the word vlast - absolute totalitarian power, the deification of the physical power of the state. On the other hand, there is a completely lax attitude towards abortion, alcohol, prostitution...Russians who have a little money or a lot of money feel themselves perfectly free. It is in a sense really a completely free and easy sort of place.You can get alcohol 24-hours a day, any time, and its cheap. What Russians take for freedom is irresponsibility. What is not of immediate interest to the state is left unregulated. There is for example a huge demographic problem Russia is facing and nothing is being done about it.The population is in decline.Every Russian woman now has 0.7 children. Population maintenance requires two point something. It could be rectifiable.

DL: The writer Peter Maass cites experts who think Russia with its oil reserves could become a dictatorial rentier state like Angola.

AN: Russia has an enormous number of problems that are just swept under the carpet, not seen or reflected in official statistics. It's a real disaster in the making. Problems are not faced the way they would be by the more or less responsible institutions in the west, because in Russia there are none.the Duma and a lot of the commissions are phony.People use them to launder money, to get into positions to take bribes.The result of all that at one level are the murders of Politkovskaya and Litvinenko.Abortion in Russian is like a dental extraction. It is a false freedom, permissiveness of the worst kind. In fact it has nothing to do with freedom.Women get pregnant, men don't bother with contraception. Aids is huge. Not like in Africa because of the macho tradition.It's Russian chaos.The average life expectancy for men is less than 60. Why? Alcoholism, smoking. Illness but not just illness. Accidents, petty crime, murder from brawls, especially in the provinces. It is a very brutal life outside the glamorous centres of St.Petersburg, Moscow and a few other places.

* * *

After a number of attempts I was able to arrange a telephone conversation with Robert Amsterdam, a Khodorkovsky lawyer. Why, I asked him, did his client choose to remain in Russia following the July 2003 arrest of his colleague Platon Lebedev and the arrest of the Morozova lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin only a few days before he himself was seized in Novosibirsk. Didn't he understand the danger? Amsterdam: "Absolutely. But this is a man who doesn't see a life for himself outside Russia. He believed he could get a fair trial. Remember that Russia was a completely different country then. There may have been other calculations he made I wasn't privy to. We discussed the decision. He thought he could remain and fight the charges." Does he have second thoughts? "I can't talk about things he's told me."

The conditions under which Khodorkovsky is being held are severe. There was an incident in which a cellmate attempted to stab him in the eye with a shoemaker's knife while he slept; he awakened suddenly and the knife caught him across the bridge of the nose.

Does Khodorkovsky believe he will get out alive? Amsterdam said it was something he dealt with everyday, "Kodorkovsky is being held by a completely mercenary, merciless group of people." After the murders of Anna Polikovskaya in Moscow and Alexander Litvinenko in London, the shooting of Paul Joyal outside Washington D.C., who'd appeared on NBC's Dateline to accuse the Putin regime of murdering Litvinenko, and the more recent death in questionable circumstances of Moscow journalist Ivan Sofranov who'd published a story about Russian weapons sales to Iran and Syria, does he, given that those judged enemies of the regime living outside Russia can be effectively targeted, feel concern for his own safety. "If you were me would you be concerned?" I would, I said, be very concerned. Odd though how hope endures. Khodorkovsky follows newspaper reports of events, tries to reply to the dozens of letters he receives each week. A lawyer visits regularly. Amsterdam, who is banned from Russia, continues to work on the case in the belief that he may one day succeed in securing his client's freedom.

Following a second trial in December 2010, six years were added to Kodorkovsky's Siberian imprisonment.

In November, 2007 Mikhail Trepashkin was freed following the completion of his four-year prison term. He continues to pursue legal work defending civil rights activists. In March 2010 Trepashkin added his name to an online anti-Putin manifesto.

The Yukos people were reported to be re-grouping in London. They'd be unlikely to run off to Madrid or Paris. London is where their children attend private schools, where they own property, the reverse itinerary of Philby, Maclean, and Burgess. In 1907, Stalin himself sought sanctuary from the Czar's secret police in London's East End.

I have lost touch with my Russian friends. At some point Sergei and the others became suddenly distant, incommunicado. Who was the associate we met a couple of times in London? Didn't seem to be the same person I saw in the photo riding a motorcycle. How heavy a guy could he be if he always showed up on time for our dinner meetings? Did they think I was some kind of clandestine agent? Or, as Jeannie suspected, did they decide I could be of very little further use to them..

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Notes:

C.J.Chivers, "Russian Oil Tycoon Is Slashed in Face in Siberian Prison", The New York Times, 16 April, 2006.

Boris Groys, Ilya Kabakov: The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment, Afterall Books, 2006.

Amy Knight, "The Concealed Battle to Run Russia," The New York Review of Books, 13 January 2011.

Vesselin Nedkov, 57 Hours: a survivor's account of the Moscow hostage drama, Viking Canada, 2003.

David Satter, Darkness at Dawn, Yale University Press, 2003.

For Those About to Rock, Warner Home Video, 1992.

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