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tv   [untitled]    August 20, 2011 11:31am-12:01pm EDT

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the flight of russia's latest stealth fighter jet are just some of the highlights. also we marked twenty years to the day when moscow was placed under military curfew during an attempt to overthrow mikhail gorbachev who faced fierce resistance and failed to topple the government but nonetheless changed the course of history for the soviet union. now in spotlight we meet newsweek's moscow bureau chief when matthews he first came to the russian capital to find out the truth about his grandfather who died in stalin's prison camps but he quickly became fascinated by the country and its people you can hear from him next here on r.t. . hello again and welcome to spotlight the end of the show on r.t. algor not claim my guest is the one math years the book he dedicated to his family
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called style and children three generations of love and war has become a bestseller and britain and was translated into several languages recently it was published in russia today is the guest of spotlight to tell us about the fascinating story of his parents. in newsweek bureau chief in moscow where matthews has been roaming around the world searching for great stories but he found his best story in moscow trying to track his family tree born in london to a russian modern welsh father he became a journalist and arrived in moscow to plunge into work and break away on his own instead he stumbled upon his roots and started searching for more he dug through the k.g.b. archives until he found a tragic story of his grandfather who died at the hands of stalin cyclical leagues and will became fascinated by russia and says despite his relatives having to escape from this country they still carry something
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a bit inside themselves to explain more on his dramatic family story on matthew's joins us today on spotlight. welcome to the show thank you very much for being with us. i want to go first of all you. spent quite a while in russia you speak fluent russian you have you're from the russian family in a sense so they you consider yourself. to be russian at least half russian or you prefer to observe as a foreigner in life from a distance well i'm not sure what i would prefer but the fact is that i was born and raised in london so although i was spoke russian with my mother and indeed i do speak excellent russian but i can't count that as my team and it's because my mother told me from childhood and although it turns out that i have now spent actually pretty much half my adult life in russia i'm still a foreigner here i'm still a foreigner and one of the things that i think
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a lot of russians why i was slightly nervous about this book appearing in russian is that above all it's a journey of of someone a foreigner albeit a foreigner with white close ties and with. the russian language it's a foreigners journey into russia trying to explain so i'm trying to explain to for myself and trying to explain for the reader so it's not a russian book about russia it's a foreigner's book about so in your book here you take a view of a foreigner but. and inside yourself you always consider yourself to be a londoner rather and that russian world russian is something something from a book here for you this is early because actually i'm now my my wife is russian and now i'm there for my children and our three quarters so now i mean i should probably feel more at home in moscow doing london and i certainly find it more interesting to live in moscow than i do to spend time in one of the restaurants or surely better them tasting. but this is the way that i think there's
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a great letter from. russia great recent per million to over wrote from paris because she got the revolution she spent some years in paris and she writes to her friend on the mouth of a whose remains in in leningrad the she can't bear this the she she misses the the visitor or the little one the little wind in russia. all the people in russia are. subjected to these sort of seismic events of history and. so i always thought even before i lived in russia that there was something more real and if you do have this feeling for this that arkan's that then please tell me was it your idea to change the name the time of your novel when it but because in russian it was published under a name quite a nice name anti soviet novel which is that we were we should always can be
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translated as and i said we'd romance exactly so so you think it's justified well here's here's the thing. i think the title in english style instilled in. it when you first hear it your presumption is more that it's the that it's not literally about the children of joseph stalin the research on them but you. but more about you know the generation who are stalin's children and in russian i think the tendency is more to presume that it's literally about stalin's children so there's a technical issue that i didn't want to see the fool people into into thinking it was a book literally about stalin's children but also there's a more important aspect to this another is that that actually unfortunately tragically the story which makes up the first half of the book is of the the life and death of my grandfather a party who was executed in moresby because he was executed in one hundred thirty
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seven and his children and my mother. were raised by the soviet state that part is actually much more familiar tragically to millions of russian families so i wanted a little bit to sort of change the emphasis of the book for the for the russian reader to a story which is less familiar and less usual in the lives of. the second which is the sort of romantic story of my my father a welshman and and his. fiance and how they struggle for six years to to get married and have a question about their russian versions of russian translation the russian titian of the book the picture and the car cover shows your parents like resembling the famous statue of a worker and a peasant but if they if there's an estate you carry a hammer and sickle you are scary an x. . whose idea. it was it was just a joke it's
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a little odd is it just a joke that it's actually from a series of very funny photographs that were taken of my mother was very young and she was a librarian and it's her. fooling around. to pretend to be the work and the president of minnesota the actual picture i mean it's like something it is it was a shock to the it's a real but a growing take unlike many years you have taken money. that was your words far that it was just you got there was just just playing around. so they had neither am i nor. why it happened in the library i don't know but those numbers they and they just sort of a series of sort of funny photographs ok well this sort of kidding would have been considered in time so we did stand up and you know i very much. like it now. tell me about the book tell me about the book first of all the critics already said that there are too many cliches about to many cliches about russia and that they're
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like you're a journalist a specialist in this country and half russian should have known no this country better then to use the cliche what it what did you get the i think what's what they describe as cliches is actually. particularly i think what people might take objection to is that my. my journey into russia in the one nine hundred ninety s. when i arrived as a young journalist. there is there's a great phrase from jarvis cocker everybody hates a tourist and especially one who thinks it's all such a laugh. at those who work in the tourist industry and i suspect it a bit but it in a more found sense. indeed the whole idea of a sort of rather spoiled young journalist coming to moscow and. having this feast in the time of famine you know how i have enjoyed being in sort of. descending into
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all this of the moscow underworld which i describe because i was a young city reporter the moscow times at that point i can see how people would be would be offended that i was sort of enjoying all this sort of. underworld of moscow while the people were suffering but actually i think that i also balance that because i actually sort of saw a lot of the been a very nasty underbelly and it affected me very deeply the homeless children and and prisons and so on and i think part of the criticism is because people don't like to be reminded of that world because it was a very nightmarish last time and i don't i certainly make it clear i hope that russia has changed since then russia is no longer that sort of a market wild dark last place that it was in the ninety's happily. a human chain. grandfather and this and this is where your book started as far as and they said you found you found the archives of the end of a dead now and the k.g.b.
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now the first and then there are the f.s.b. and their archives away you actually look at the story of your grandfather boris because who was who was a party a party apparatus can and he was very well to do and then he disappeared and he was he was actually prosecuted by but by the k.g.b. so how come you found them you just you don't just walk into the into the k.g.b. building like actually the for the historical purposes i was very fortunate in so far as that he was that all how all this happened in ukraine. in russia even today the f.s.b. archives are closed there was a brief period of slight liberalization in the early one nine hundred ninety s. but basically i could not have written a book had my grandfather be short of russian the largely because the f.s.b. still likes to keith its secrets in the closet and to the people in power in the
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kremlin prefer to close the hole it was told not to fly was part of the k.g.b. only cards they were kept by the by the year the ukrainian bureau you know the link you still there and unlike in russia in ukraine there's actually calls to tional rights for relatives to get the documents so fortunately it didn't require really any any integrates of technical difficulties i just wrote to them and sure enough i got a you know a letter back saying you know your your your copas is here and you can you can you can view it and it's indeed and in terrifying documents they have you know you just walk into the building you get yourself a pass and then they and they give you the first of the files and they're going to find or there's a very nice little copy of what you can get a copy there's some technical issue. something positive comfortable but the most interesting detail is that. eve the ukrainian s.b.u. the successor of the k.g.b.
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also wanted to protect it because there was a part of the file that was closed to me taped together and i was sitting with a young officer for the two days leaf into this file and. as you know old russian script was very hard to read seriously helping me to read it and this part of the file was taped. take together and he eventually succumbed also to curiosity and taped it and we looked through it together and it was the part of the file that was . part of the rehabilitation of vesta geisha in one thousand fifty six when all of the when he was rehabilitated when he was proved to be innocent and all of those all of the investigators that had been involved in the case had themselves by nine hundred thirty nine been shot so the pudge consumed a ton and there's nobody left when they did because there were they didn't want people to know that. but why did they give you the tape just kept still because it's all it's all the time together. says that he is a journalist
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a true gentleman says we here and author of a book called stolen children spotlight of all the back shortly right after the break so stay with us we'll continue in less than a minute. while the screen. turning point in russia. was justified wrong with. the battle for democracy. monarchy.
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welcome back to spotlight an album of in jest a reminder that my guest in the studio today is oh and nephews a british journalist and author of a book called stamina children recently recently it was published in russian here in this country. and you just told us about your grand grand for the bar is a bit of. was a party apparatchik in the soviet times a very well to do member of the soviet nomenklatura and later he was persecuted why what was the reason why did they shoot him world there's several answers to that question the immediate reason was that. stalin was at that point
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confirming himself as establishing himself in power and there was still. a large number of. people who didn't necessarily support star lives in fear of the great repression the great the great purge and so basically almost all of the leadership of the ukrainian party had supported sygate cute of who was a challenger in one who was murdered in one of the devil that in dr st exactly so it was briefly in an internal power power struggle within the party and stalin was eliminated as enemies but for me i think the more important question is how did this happen and in its inputs this question alexander solzhenitsyn puts this question much better than i ever could he says he asks where does this wolf try. come from where did it come from the it came from among us because the line that divides good from evil goes through the heart of every man and who wants to cut out
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a piece of his own heart so this this this paradox of this incredible horror could be unleashed by russian men doing what they thought was right actually made poses a very complex moral question because my grandfather keith built his personal revolution in bricks and mortar he was very active in building one of the great giant factories of the first five year plan but the men who killed him shared the exact same philosophy they build the postal revolution in the enemies of the bodies of the people they considered to be or have been told were enemies of the people the only thing that was different was their probably their personal attitude to stellan some of them love them more some of us and some of them less we want to be going to years later just died well i think there's a bit deeper than that though and that is their personal attitude to murder because it's very it's very early but you know. when you quoted this this phrase from
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soldier notes and i think it's true not only about about this country but any country about the great inquisition you can say the same thing about it delhi and this line that goes through the heart of the people here but not not not not in that not many countries have practiced auto genocide on the scale of russians cambodia right right you know right well. some countries in europe practiced had but it said it's not subject now but not the auto genocide not of the people even that even who they were nazis killed people who they consider to be. germany germany was pretty popular. ok ok well let's go to be able to hear your grandmother your grandmother. disappeared too and you were able also to find her trace. there but that wasn't in the in the archives in the in the same secret service or was it no was she she she was sent to the gulag where wish where
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she she spent nearly fifty years sent to the gulag because of what her husband did you are the big b. because it has a wife. as the wife of the enemy of the people and. in the she she survived and she she came back to moscow and lived with her with her daughters but unfortunately she went in with them in the in the gulag and i met her . i remember it slightly but very clearly when i was five she came to england once to meet her daughter who would by that time married to a young britain and emigrated and she says and i i met her as a child but my my portrait of her was really composed of the memories of her daughters primarily my aunt and my mother you know where your great grandparents were buried. my grandparents.
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my grandfather was buried in unmarked grave of which there are hundreds around russia if i one was just on earth nobody must of recently. if you will know now before we start talking about your father and your mother the second part of the book this empty soviet romance well i should say that in a closed society as the us is travelling abroad or even communicate guess your mother with foreigners was virtually unheard of any contact with somebody from abroad could mean big problems spotlight you know the media reports and it. the nine hundred twenty s. so young idealists from around the world coming to russia to take part in creating would be believed to be a better society fascination with the ideas of socialism brought an estimated twenty thousand americans and canadians to the u.s.s.r. between one nine hundred twenty and one nine hundred twenty five many of them found their law here the luckiest who were disillusioned by the regime quickly enough to
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go home before the stalin's repressions of the 1930's many of those who stayed were eventually sent to the gulags russian families of the foreigners couldn't escape the same fate in one thousand nine hundred eighty seven cross border marriages were completely prohibited by soviet law it was difficult to break the law since or a few soviets who were allowed to go abroad after it was a bore wished on stalin's death things didn't become any simpler for those russians who fell in love with foreigners the foreigners were in the course supervision by the k.g.b. when they arrived in russia their loved ones who were regarded as potential spies the suspicion was enough for a person to lose their job and be exulted to ramon tree germans it was not until one thousand nine hundred seventy s. that immigration was allowed russians had to realize that once they married a foreigner and went abroad it was in most of the cases one way ticket out of the country relatives in france was stigmatized in the soviet union as not being fooled
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to the regime the real freedom in their in somebody from abroad came on there with the coup apps of the u.s.s.r. . so we just saw how difficult it was to communicate to foreigners how did your father came to russia in the sixties managed to meet his fish or if you're living well to fall in love with i want to become a real close that what he was actually one of the very first generation of postgraduate students there were that there were that were allowed to study at moscow university as part of the. as part of an academic exchange and that was in part thanks to chris short because already after the death of stalin and the thaw first it was the festival of youth and nine hundred seventy seven with the first time my father came to russia along with several that he was part of that he was a he was the first he did not meet your mother no no he didn't leave so i'm not a child of the french. but the i was born in fifty seven. but actually
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it means that end of that also doesn't make me. because i was what you during the festival. and i think there was enormous the importance of a turning point for soviet society in fact and by the time my. but my father my father came to moscow several times firstly as a researcher in the british embassy briefly in ninety fifty eight and then again as a. as an academic in one hundred sixty three and then it was actually it was dangerous for people with something to lose to meet foreigners because you could get in trouble with your job but my mother was a point of working as a young librarian so actually she and the university actually the institute of marxism and leninism. how do you how how did he a young british guy go to the market is a. they how they met somewhere somebody they met through
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a mutual friend my father knew from the first and how i see the connection was the bolshoi theater and. there was a brother to march so my mother loved the ballet and this mutual friend of the ballet and he said and introduce each other but in fact even when they were introduced. their mutual friend called for you to go it's an didn't didn't introduce him as as an englishman you said he said he and the stone you know why because it was sort of so as not to frighten her so no more home but if you do speak russian my father speak on her and say he's broken russian we could which could sound like a lot like it but he said to his credit better than broken it's he said the rights of russian much better than me if it was an accent anyway so this is why your mother could have taken him from someone from the baltic before so and they and they met and and they fell in love and if i had even though it seems to us that they believe that they could get married and they and the they registered to get
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married to that point. the k.g.b. intervened. they had been trying to. recruit my father for some for some years i'm not quite sure what they wanted why they thought he would be important or interesting but when he finally had got a sober. fiance they they had something on him and they gave him they offered him a deal an offer which they thought he couldn't refuse which was either either you work for us or you don't marry your fiance and he took a very brave decision i'm not sure i could have had this the moral courage to do that but he. he told them to get lost and he. he was kicked out of the country made persona non-grata years before he was deported and then what was the reason the official reason like for dating a russian gallow was no no they actually set him up there they persuaded a. fellow graduate student to accuse him of economic speculation by selling
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joomla jeans or going home or something and it was a really really nasty story i mean the government of the throw this guy out of university and it was it was a sort of typical sort of nasty k.g.b. story so basically the they set him up i mean very obviously in the didn't even conceal that it was the it was and then you mum should have been very brave after that because she continued keeping in touch with him and and trying to meet him and trying to to get to go to england and then i mean this was pretty brave indeed and that's what makes the whole story so extraordinary because to us it seems almost incredible it's nine hundred sixty three it's the height of the cold war it's to just after the huge cuban missile crisis and these two young people who have been separated very forceful forcibly by the soviet state decide that they're not going to take that for an answer they're not going to take no for an answer they're going to fight to be together and in that decision then we think partly it's naive but
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it's also insanely brave and it would be crazy if it weren't for the fact that they eventually succeeded six years later because in fact the. one of the oddest things about the whole story and something that surprised many western readers was that they were allowed to correspond they wrote to each other every day and the correspondence is magnificent it's incredibly moving it's beautiful. but the letters get the got through some of them were read down but they corresponded freely ok well thank you very much for this interview i hope they the readers of all that and more from reading your book thank you and just to remind you that made yesterday was when i met he was journalist and author of a book called stallions children and that's it now from ours here spotlight will do the. more until then stay on target and take it thank you.
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top stories on our t.v. tensions rise in the middle east as some ask cools off and cease fire with israel following days of deadly air strikes on gaza. while here in israel demonstrators say they're going ahead with a protest despite what they believe if they government became to use the conflict as a method of diverting attention away from internal problems join me here in a few moments and i'll bring you more. also has been another turbulent week for the world's markets as fears of mounting to the u.s. and europe from the brink of a devastating downturn. we continue our coverage marking the twentieth anniversary of the attempted coup against mikhail gorbachev which changed the course of history for the soviet union. and they've sold about maxing it out of the internationalist show to moscow with gravity defying out should on lucrative deal making more road.


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