Laikas and Pagers

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Laikas and Pagers

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Laikas and Pagers
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 13 1998 9:48 AM

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

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So much for early morning papers--they arrived two hours after breakfast, and I was reduced to reading them as I walked a diarrheic dog round the block (never feed a Laika fish--he went even off his favorite dish, dachshunds).

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When they did come, though, the papers were a wonderful illustration of the theater of the absurd that you were talking about--Maslyukov running the economy or Kiriyenko protecting people's savings. Komsomolskaya Pravda, whose journalists normally seem to write under the influence of controlled substances, announced that the U.S. was seriously considering buying Siberia. The price: $1-3 trillion. Their source seems to be the Boston Globe, a venerable former employer of mine. I wonder, somehow. Perhaps Clinton could be appointed Governor-General of Siberia and set up in a comfortable little palace in Irkutsk, where he could busy himself with good works like the Decembrists who were sent there after the 1825 rebellion. Of course the Decembrists' wives followed them there voluntarily. I wonder about Hillary.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta (funded and guided by Boris Berezovsky) has another multi-part proposal by its editor, Vasily Tretyakov, to depose Yeltsin. (Our U.S. readers should be aware that he does these every couple of weeks, and insists on having them printed in extra small type, which gives them a bizarrely conspiratorial air.) This time he wants Yeltsin to hand over his main powers to Primakov. Then Primakov will "strengthen" his government by bringing in Viktor Chernomyrdin. The concept that a buffoon like Chernomyrdin could strengthen any government is in itself absurd. It's even sillier that Tretyakov expects people to believe that his idea sprang virgin from his brain. Berezovsky, after all spent weeks (and probably a lot of money) trying to get Chernomyrdin appointed prime minister to replace Kiriyenko. Finally there is Albert Makashov, the despicable former general, former leader of the 1993 rebellion, and now amazingly a member of the Duma. It looks as if Makashov might actually be prosecuted for allegedly saying during a rally earlier this month that "all yids" belong in the grave. Whether he will actually be punished in any way, of course is another matter. Moscow News offers some small consolation: it says that Makashov has been complaining that Jews have been making menacing phone calls to him. I wonder how he recognizes a Jewish voice.

Now to important things: I used to have a pager that told me things like the exchange rate, but I gave it up. It used to promise rush hour traffic reports, but always seemed to have missed the jam I was sitting in when I checked the pager. Now I look out the window for both traffic and currency updates.

Masha Gessen is chief of reporting at the Russian newsmagazine Itogi and author of Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism. Paul Quinn-Judge is Time's Moscow bureau chief.