In Moscow, we were assigned by Intourist to the prestigious National Hotel, where only guests of the Kremlin — rather than businessmen — normally stayed. We discovered during our visit that there was a secret passage between the hotel and the adjacent Intourist building. Of course, the reason for our accommodation A Rookie in Russia 29 was that there was a British ex-Prime Minister in our party. During our visit we received nothing but courtesy from the Russian authorities but the attitude of the British Embassy in Moscow was ambivalent. We were taken by Intourist to visit a prime piece of real estate.
At that time, Intourist was in charge of all tourist real estate development. The Russian Olympics were coming up and we were invited to consider building a hotel on a site on Olympisky Avenue. After careful deliberation we decided not to take up the invitation. I felt that the foreign investment climate in Russia at that time presented too many problems to take the risk. Having invested in China too early in its evolution from a command economy, I was not eager to make the same strategic mistake in Russia.
In the end, another company built the hotel on Olympisky 30 Dancing with the Bear Avenue. At the National Hotel our room had a radio with three plugs, which we thought was unusual.
Small Business Center
We decided to check out whether they were listening devices through the speakers of the hotel radio. Jack and I met two girls in Red Square who had a car. We had lunch together, listened to music and really appreciated the kindness of these two simple Russians — not at all what we were led to expect from the warnings we had received before we left for Moscow.
Perhaps they were KGB agents, but they were lovely and sincerely hospitable people who wished us good luck, asking only to be sent an English-Russian dictionary, which we did on our return. Along the way, we realized that they were possibly both KGB employees. In this way, A Rookie in Russia 31 foreigners who had bought roubles illegally were detected at the airport when they came to change back their roubles into hard currency. We avoided this trap by distributing lavish hospitality at the National, which provided nightly entertainment in the hotel ballroom.
Our triple value high-denomination roubles stretched a long way in payment of our carousing. We had brought with us over ballpoint pens with a string to put around the neck, which we gave out as souvenirs to doormen, bellboys and other hotel staff.
In the next few days, we noticed that nearly all the staff at the hotel, in restaurants and elsewhere that we visited were wearing them — a clear signal that someone from our group had been there or had accorded a favour. The tactic was successful and Lord Wilson made few appearances outside his suite. The relaxed acceptance of Kim Philby — the most notorious of the British double agents who defected to Russia — as a Moscow citizen was in counterpoint to my MI6 experience at Heathrow on the way out.
Our rapport was immediate and we quickly became friends. After partying all night , we returned to the National Hotel during the curfew at 4. The original lens technology had come from the Czech A Rookie in Russia 33 Republic but they had been unable to introduce sterilization into their technology until the introduction of soft lens polymers.
I was more than impressed and could scarcely believe what we saw. His lifestyle was equally impressive and he had been accorded all the trappings of success. His estate included stabling, with loose boxes for his thoroughbred horses although Federov had lost the use of one of his legs, he still rode. We learnt later that he had his own airplane and that a special ship was being equipped for him as a roving hospital so that he could operate abroad outside the Soviet Union. It could easily have competed with Harrods Food Hall for its diversity.
The lavish helpings of delicious food were helped down by the best vodka that money could buy.
Sign up here for FREE instant access!
The other members of my group were already asleep but I decided to venture forth and accepted the invitation. I was led downstairs to an enormous den in the basement of the house furnished with a wellstocked bar, comfortable couches and a full-size billiard table. One wall was covered by a vast movie screen on which a John Wayne western was being shown. Needless to say, I was particularly 34 Dancing with the Bear struck by a beautiful blonde, with the body of a Raquel Welch in her prime.
Everyone else retired and, without hesitation, she followed me to my room and enquired whether I needed company. We hugged and enjoyed the evening together. The following morning I promised to write to her from London, which I did. I will never forget his sense of humour and the generous Russian hospitality of that memorable visit. He subsequently entered politics and tried to promote his ideas in the Duma the Russian Parliament. He was accorded full honours at his State funeral. To this day there is no news of what happened to his hospital ship project, although the village he built for his personnel in the grounds of his dacha still stands.
By then the atmosphere in business and, indeed, in the streets of Moscow had changed dramatically after more than four years of perestroika policies under Mikhail Gorbachev, now President and an acknowledged world statesmen. A Rookie in Russia 35 Looking back in perspective on that period, it is clear that for Russians the end of the 20th century was a story of lost dreams and lost promises. Prior to Gorbachev, the peoples of Eastern Europe were working out their drab and restricted daily lives while dreaming of breaking free from the political chains of totalitarian regimes.
A world of real opportunities for the individual, a world in which they could explore and be creative. And then came perestroika. For a few years, Russians were ecstatic with their perceived new freedom. After the spring fever of perestroika, could the summer of emerging democracy be far behind?
However, the euphoria was short-lived. All too soon they realized that the fetters that had limited their economic freedom for so many years remained. The political restraints were still there and had never been removed. What they had falsely taken as freedom was coming back to haunt them. All but a few remained chained to a world of economic failure.
What made matters even worse for ordinary Russians was that while before they had been able to dream, now they had lost the ability to perpetuate the dream. With their dreams destroyed, there was no bright sky at the end of their tunnel. Restricted by corruption and political games at all levels of authority and 36 Dancing with the Bear suffering from the result of disastrous economic policies, they now had to face a no-money world too.
They could sense with their own senses and see with their own eyes that the world they had been yearning for existed, but they were still outsiders. That world was out of reach for them. Inevitably, they grew bitter and disillusioned. People without dreams are like birds without wings. But that soon changed. There was little change in the standard of living for most Russians and the dream was starting to fade. Nevertheless, the invitation to take on and improve the Moscow Book Fair as foreign co-managers of the September event was irresistible.
Although the timing was short, the opportunity to step in and assist in the marketing of the primary Book Fair in Eastern Europe would be a vindication of much that we had tried to do through European Bookseller and at the Salon International du Livre I must admit that the prospective irritation factor for the Western publishing establishments, particularly the French, in being upstaged by the person whom they had thought to have squashed in Paris played its part in my decision to accept the challenge.
I signed the contract for the Moscow Book Fair and, with some of my old team, worked hard in London on my end of the deal. A Rookie in Russia 37 We promoted Western involvement at the Book Fair, produced the catalogues and published a special edition of European Bookseller, featuring Russian publishers and their authors. The leading article in the Russian section of the issue was provided by Marat Shishigin, writing on the changing scene of Russian publishing and inviting foreign publishers to Moscow.
All the leading Russian publishing houses were featured in the issue, together with prominent publishers from the Commonwealth of Independent States CIS such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Urals.
In the interval of preparation for Moscow, we continued to move ahead on our other fronts. During its threeday run, nearly 40, visited the Exhibition at the Palace of Culture, which featured more than exhibitors from some of the biggest names in international publishing to the smaller, independent Czech and Slovak publishers.
Dancing with the Bear: A Serial Entrepreneur Goes East - PDF Free Download
Prague is central to that aim. The centrepiece of the Festival was the annual George Theiner Translation Prize, honouring the memory of the distinguished Czech translator and editor. We also took responsibility, on behalf of Western publishers, of managing the logistics for the delivery of books to the Moscow show, which was to be held in the ageing VDNK Exhibition Centre where the Book Fair and other cultural events were held.
Although we had only just over six months to market the Moscow Book Fair and complete all these arrangements, I felt that we had done a good job. During the preparation period, he had undertaken the local liaison with the Moscow Book Fair. The check-in took an astonishing one and a half hours. As I watched the receptionist copy my passport by hand, I assumed that the staff were just being incompetent, but in fact there were two reasons why the process was so slow. By now, I was tired from my journey and rather uneasy at being in a strange country without any of my own staff.
As always in a new hotel room when travelling, I turned on the television and soon dropped off to sleep. On the contrary, the news was bad. Something had happened to the government and the Minister was announcing that the Moscow Book Fair was cancelled. At that moment, there was a knock at the door and, when I opened it, there stood Katya. That was how Katya came into my life. She was an exceptionally beautiful and striking girl — especially her skin — and, as I soon discovered, totally uninhibited.
Before she left, Katya told me directly in her attractive broken English that she would like to get to know me. She gave me her telephone number and told me that the best times to call would be before 8. Assuming wrongly that Katya and I had made love the night before, the babushka gave me a big smile when I left my room — a pleasant change from her normal grim and disapproving expression. It was clear that the conspirators would fail without the support of the army, to which Yeltsin appealed successfully.
Tanks were drawn up in front of and encircling the White House.