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Feature Story April 22, 2004
 
Lord of the Swine
Censorship in Russia: Revenge of the Disenfranchised By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 7
 
Those years are best personified by the elitny "Moscow Charter of Journalists" club to which she belonged. What made that club's members so elite was first and foremost their Westernness, and secondly, the club founder's address, Tverskaya 4, the apartment of Tregubova's "closest friend," Maria Slonim. (Tregubova herself lives in elitny Pushkin Square, as she notes time and again in the book.) Slonim worked for BBC radio. But more importantly, Slomin was an English citizen emigre who had become officially "Lady Fillmore" before returning to Russia in the 90's. The first members of the club mentioned by Tregubova are Volodya Korsunskii

from German state radio, Alik Bachan from Voice of America, Leva Bruni from Radio France, and later, we learn, some regular Russians who work for the Russian press, such as Alexei Venediktov from Ekho Moskvy. A journalist who is far, far more influential and important then and now than the aforementioned Westernized Russians.

Not only were the members of the Charter club elitny, but so were its guests. In fact, Tregubova wants the readers to know that it was at this club that the two elites of the Yeltsin era -- the intelligentsia on the one hand, and the political-financial elite on the other hand -- met. Young reformers, members of the Family and leading oligarchs like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky all paid their respects with visits.

"The leading Russian politicians considered it prestigious to get an invitation to our journalistic 'Free-Mason's lodge.' If you please, only Chernomyrdin, while he was still prime minister, turned down our invitation: his bodyguards explained that for security reasons they'd need two elevators and we had only one."

Nothing of substance is ever mentioned in the book about what was discussed at these meetings, though we can assume it had something to do with the fate and future of Mother Russia. Rather, as presented by Tregubova, the club's function is to concretize and promote the group of journalists' eliteness. It is elite not because it is solving Russia's massive problems, but rather, because of its exclusiveness; like Zima or First, it is elite because of the strict feis kontrol, and the elitny visitors, not due to its accomplishments. What a difference between the Yeltsin-era intelligentsia, whose claim to the elite is its exclusivity-for-eksklusivity's-sake, from the intelligentsia of all other Russian eras, whose elite status was won through risk and martyrdom in opposition to the State and injustice! Injustice? In Tregubova's eyes, there was no injustice in Yeltsin's Russia, at least not until Vladimir Putin's Kremlin denied her access to the press pool events.

Along with being a member of this elitny club, Tregubova's status as a young member of the Kremlin press pool also allows her to list all of the elitny Western European capitals she traveled to as a member of the press pool. Stockholm. Cologne. Paris. London (where she hails a cab at Heathrow, escapes from the press pool and president, and goes shopping). Rome (where, she tells us, she shops for a dress on the "famous shopping street Via Nationale," using the Latin spelling for the street, before meeting with President Yeltsin at the airport). That Girl indeed.

And her friends are elitny. Boris Nemtsov is often cited as a close friend. To drive the point home, she quotes Nemtsov speaking in his trademark mat'. When she tells Borya how much she loves Rome, he agrees, calling it the "samii razpizdyaiskii gorod" -- literally, the most cunt-smeared city, or in other words, the coolest city around. Once, he speeds her to the airport in his Western jeep: "Fortunately they drove us not in a Volga (which Nemtsov had maniacally continued to drive in those days, when he tried to be true to his populist promise to 're-sit all the bureaucrats in Volgas'), but rather in Nemtsov's personal jeep. And thanks to that, we made it to the airport in time."

Chubais is another close friend who, like Nemstov, works to help Tregubova gain access while listening to her complaints about how hard life is. Unlike Nemtsov, Chubais is rather urbane, though sufficiently snobby to impress Tregubova. To emphasize their closeness, Tregubova relates an intimate confession she makes to Chubais, during a difficult moment in her life, about her love of Jerusalem, which he shares. She says to him:


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Ames
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Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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