I was born during the “thaw period” of the Khrushchev era and
I studied during the Brezhnev years. While I was doing my compulsory service
in the Soviet army, the Brezhnev era ended and the presiding secretaries
of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union rapidly
succeeded one another. My professional life began during the turbulent
era of Gorbachev’s rule and the “little brothers” divided
the country among themselves and murdered one another. No one in the USSR
had the faintest idea what life really looked like in other countries because
we were surrounded by enemies. At least, that’s
what the propagandists were preaching to us Soviet citizens. And the people
in foreign countries believed that every Russian was an evil Communist.
They were so terribly afraid of us that they didn’t want to have
anything to do with us at all. The few who gave us the chance to get to
know them suddenly realized that we’re all rather similar, even basically
identical. Perhaps I succeeded earlier than others in realizing that the
people who lived behind the so-called “Iron Curtain” weren’t
enemies, but were entirely ordinary human beings with their problems, their
joys and their everyday cares and worries.
I learned two languages and
could freely explore the “enemy” countries. The essential point
was that I could personally make it clear to my friends that our lives
in Russia contain everything that people in the West have. Our lifestyle
was anything but beautiful in those days, but except for that difference,
things here were basically the same as they are everywhere else on Earth.
We Russians too have our history, our heroes, our ambitions and our sins.
I have worked as a translator, travel guide, teacher, salesman, webmaster,
business director and taxi driver. Today I sell expensive cars. I love
art, travel and history. And thus everything has merged to become a unified
whole, while the pace of life has become progressively more hectic. During
this relatively brief phase of our nation’s history, we’ve
scarcely noticed that Moscow has become a truly cosmopolitan metropolis – the
planet’s most costly one, in fact. And our president enjoys high
esteem throughout the world. But as far as the perennial truths are concerned,
nothing has changed: the same worries, problems and joys have remained
My greatest joys are my friends and my family.
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