Pantalogue (January 2004) says the Eurasia Research Group has accumulated enough information on Putin to write a profile of his character. It will be continued in the next issue. He comes across as a serious, decent, intelligent person. Before the 2000 election he was intrviewed by N. Gevorkian, A. Kolesnikov an N. Timakova for the publication From the First Person (Moscow, 2000). He said his grandfather was a personal cook for Lenin and later for Stalin. His father, also Vladimir, served on a submarine, and when World War II broke out, , he was assigned to the NKVD (KGB) annihilation battalion (!). Putin is an avid karate player, and believes sports must involve sweat, blood [?] and hard work. Putin studied law, and after graduation was assigned to a counterintelligence unit. His colleagues were interested only in their orders, but he insisted that they must obey the law.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin received a position at the St.Petersburg City Hall. He decorated his office with a portrait of Peter I, and later he defended monarchy as a system in which the monarch can think about his country and not worry about the next election. He cited the example of King Juan Carlos of Spain. Putin's wife Ludmila said he never spoke to her about politics. She sounded desperately eager to please him. He had a press conference for the French media, and expressed great bitterness about the Chechen rebels. He recalled the Code of Building Communism and proposed writing a similar code in which the first item will be moral values. More information about Putin can be found in Oleg Blotsky, Vladimir Putin, the Path to Power. (Moscow, 2002). His decision to leave the KGB was difficult. Also interesting is Oleg Blotsky, Vladimir Putin,the History of his Life (Moiscow, 2002)..

Russia is a Eurasian country, but Putin said that it belongs in Europe. He alluded to his difficulties with NATO, and said that NATO did not accept Russia it would look for alliances elsewhere, presumably China. This was the most significant item in the article.
(to be continued).

Respect for Professors

Russia is the place where professors are respected. Randy Black reports: "To avoid the wrath of my professors, I learned to sleep with my eyes open at Texas Tech. Across Russia, the students, from first grade through grad school stand when the teacher/lecturer/professor enters, and they don't sit until told to do so. The teacher then closes the door to the classroom, and anyone arriving late knocks politely and ask permission to enter. Really!"

Russians and Communism

A curious psychological phenomenon is that people who emigrate develop a rosy picture of the land where they grew up. Poor Spaniards from Galicia would emigrate to Spanish America, make money, and then return to their village, build a nice house and spend the rest of their days there. Sometimes they were disillusioned. Once in France I lived with a family or Italian origin. They said things were much better in Italy, of which they had formed an idealized picture. Randy Black reports: "My 42-year-old Russian wife, the daughter of a Soviet Army Colonel and a meat factory secretary mother, says that generally, her life was much better before the "US broke the USSR." She likes to point out that there was economic stability in the sense that there was no inflation. She says that there were no goods on the shelves of the shops from the early 80s on, but at least inflation was not a factor. We were all poor, but at least we were all equally poor. There were no goods on which inflation could have a negative effect, thus, no problem. She says that, year in and out, as a teacher in an art school for talented and gifted kids, 6-16, she had "nice vacations in various resorts and cities throughout the USSR, paid for by the State." Today, it's not the same she says, because the US "broke us." (She spent summers in Yalta, Berlin, Moscow, some of the historical cities, at state expense, her only "duty" being to take long walks, enjoy nature, sit under a tree and paint watercolors, or perhaps to take a course or two locally.)

I've read the "official theories" about the USSR, and Khrushchev offers his views on the matter in his book, which I recently completed. NOT an easy read, by the way. The tapes on which the autobiography was based, according to the publisher, were smuggled out of the USSR with the help of, of all persons, Beria. 3500 hours of Mr. K's dication or something along that number.My wife likes to point out that she knew few members of the Party, only the director of her school among the three dozen teachers. She also points out that, despite the West's ideas that Jews were persecuted throughout the history of USSR, in Omsk the Mayor, the heads of the school administration, the director of the symphony and the drama theater, and other local leaders were Jewish, . Not at all anti-Semitic, she is skeptical about the US's continued practice of giving Russian Jews a free ticket to the US, more or less, ahead of non-Jewish applicants for immigration".

RH: I am a little puzzled by the reference to Beria, who was executed in 1953. Khrushchev lived until 1971. He had been forced out of office in 1964. .Khrushchev Remembers, translated by Strobe Talbott, was published in two volumes in 1970-74. Up to what year do Khrushchev's memoirs go?

I questioned Randy Black's statement that Beria arranged for the tapes of Khrushchev9's memoirs ro be smuggled out ot Russia. Randy replied: "I am absolutely certain that in Khrushchev's autobiography, he states that a KGB type, I thought it was the head guy, helped smuggle his tapes out of the USSR AFTER Mr. K was deposed. I note that Andropov is a likely candidate as the dates fit, but Bulganin also rings a bell. Bulganin of course was not head of KGB, but was the head of one branch of the military, and Mr. K's protege fat some point in his past, but there was irony in the fact that the State Security person was the perpetrator. Mr. K even states that he had a copy of the tapes, and which came in handy, as the State searched and seized his originals when they found out he was dictating them. There is a story that the publisher needed authentication of the tapes and told, via an intermediary, that Mr. K should be photographed at some public appearance, wearing a certain type or color hat to verify that he approved of the arrangement".

RH: I have done some research on this, but have not found a definitive answer. Does Cameron Sawyer know?



Ronald Hilton -