Traffic and the FSB

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Traffic and the FSB

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Traffic and the FSB
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 14 1998 10:47 AM

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

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Just back from one of those cute Moscow experiences. I was crossing a fairly large road, and had stopped in the center lane, when some jerk and his bodyguards came along. A Mercedes bracketed by Chevy Suburbans. They decided they wanted the middle lane, too: The first Chevy accelerated and blasted me with his horn, the second Chevy driver flicked his wheel at me. I presume he planned to scare me rather than hit me. I think, though I'm not sure, that it was Umar Dzhabrailov (a Moscow businessman with a lot of well armed enemies). The security was distinctly upmarket: camouflage uniforms, presumably body armor, and Uzis or something sticking up against the windows. They are such shits.

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I agree on the FSB. My feeling is that the only thing that has happened to them and the rest of the organs since the end of the Soviet Union is that their freedom to maneuver has been reduced. Their world view and their methods have not changed. These days, of course, they do not have to threaten an offender with the gulags: A few years in a prison system beset by a terrifying TB epidemic is horrendous enough.

Back to the organs for a moment. Do you think that Gusinski's analytical group is getting its pay? Are they still run by General Filipp Bobkov (KGB retiree)? I remember Chubais always assumed that they were the main ones bugging his phones.

You see that Boris Nikolayevich dragged himself into the Kremlin today, to show that he is still in working order. (One of the photographers who was with him in Uzbekistan said that he seemed at times to be slipping into his dotage). The ORT network has just shown a rather pathetic display: Yeltsin's jolly chat with Primakov and a couple of ministers. Even this effort to boost Yeltsin's image backfired: The TV showed Primakov informing Yeltsin that Jacques Chirac had called him, the prime minister, to talk about things yesterday. Further proof that Yeltsin is out of it. Cheers.

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.