Ways to Go

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Ways to Go

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

Ways to Go
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 14 1998 9:54 PM

Gessen and Quinn-Judge

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Paul,

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I'm glad you emerged unharmed your brush with Dzhibrailov and his thugs. One of the things I've worried about since moving back here is dying an undignified death. A few years back a friend of mine, an American journalist, fell through the ice while trying to pull her German Shepherd from a pond. She claims that the thought that ran through her mind was, "Masha is in Chechnya, and I'm going to drown in a doggie pond." Fortunately, she didn't. As history-as-farce would have it, a few months ago I ended up in the same pond when my elderly mutt discovered she couldn't climb up the vertical granite banks. I thought, of course, "I could have gotten shot in Kosovo, and here I go into this filthy pond." On the other hand, you could have boasted that it was Umar himself, not just some anonymous mafioso, that broke your bones.

One person who has blown all his chances for a dignified exit is the Russian president. TASSreported today that the prime minister told parliament members that he'd seen the president and "He said to say hi to everybody." Interfax reported it a bit differently: "Primakov passed on greetings from the president and said, 'He is working in the Kremlin.'" That seems to be the extent of the defense the prime minister is mounting on the president's behalf. Judging from today's wire reports, Primakov's strongest argument to parliament members who are demanding Yeltsin's resignation was, "Let's not rock the boat. Imagine if we had an election now, when the country is in this state, what good would that do?" That's what I call a show of loyalty.

My favorite news item today, though, is Andrei Brezhnev's announcement that he is launching a movement to bring back the period when his grandfather reined. In the true spirit of Stagnation, this movement to bring back the Stagnation Era is initiated just as we are getting there anyway.

As for General Fillip Bobkov, I'm sure his employment status is a state secret. But I have learned that the "undisclosed" European country where Gusinski is living isn't in Europe at all. That sly banker. But wait, does my knowing this mean that Bobkov is no longer doing his job?

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.