Завтраки с Ксенией Соколовой

Anton Krasovsky: I’m gay, and I’m a human being just like president Putin

Former editor-in-chief of Kremlin-backed Kontr TV reveals why he came out and left the channel

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Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Ksenia Sokolova: Anton, two weeks ago on the air of Kontr TV Channel you did what they call a coming-out, publicly admitted that you were gay...

Anton Krasovsky: Oh no, it’s not that I said I was gay. I said: «I’m gay, and I’m just the same person as you, my dear audience, as president Putin, as prime minister Medvedev and deputies of our Duma». The word person is not what’s important in the Russian language, and nobody noticed it. But everyone paid attention to the phrase “I'm the same”.

Sokolova: I’ve seen a number of interpretations of your words, but couldn’t find exactly this bit of the show on the internet.

Krasovsky: Right. It had been deleted from everywhere. So my words became apocryphal in a way.

Sokolova: What was the name of that show?

Krasovsky: It was our Friday show Angry Guyzzz, and that time it was titles “As if it was the last time”. I came up with this name, even though I already knew it was really going to be our last time, and not “as if”.

Sokolova: It is a talk-show?

Krasovsky: Not exactly. We – or should I say they now – have this kind of entertainment format for Friday evenings. They invite some freaks who camp around and amuse the audience. On this Friday it was travesty show – the funniest ladyboys of Moscow.

Sokolova: When did you decide you should speak out?

Krasovsky: It happened in the end of the show. I said: “I’m gay, and I’m a person just like you, like president Putin” and all. Then I added that come Monday, I might have to go and pack my things at work, but I still felt that I had to do it. And indeed it was the case.

Sokolova: Was it an unprompted, spur-of-the-moment statement or did you have a flashy phrase up your sleeve?

Krasovsky: I can’t say I’d been preparing for this. But just before the show, i.e. two hours before the fact, I had already known I would do this. I also had had some 300 grams of whisky, a bit of Dutch courage. I realized it while hosting Oboima [The Bullet Clip] show where we were discussing the law banning this so-called gay propaganda which our State Duma was going to adopt. I was feeling very awkward then.

Sokolova: Why?

Krasovsky: Because I felt I like a hypocrite, and hypocrisy is what I hate the most about people. The meaning of this whole story we are discussing now is that throughout my whole life I’ve been struggling with myself. And this – as you call it – coming out is just another battle with myself, with my own hypocrisy, my own lies and my own cowardice.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: What happened after the show?

Krasovsky: It all went on pretty fast. There was a storm of applause from both the audience and the show’s staff, and I rushed to my dressing room and cried for like 20 minutes from all the fucking surprise that the whole thing was.

Sokolova: And what was Sergey Minaev’s, the head of the channel who invited you to work for Kontr TV, making of this?

Krasovsky: Well he invited me to work at some abstract channel, and it was me who came up with the name. This day was his birthday. So all this freak show turned out to be a good present for him. He was sitting in Paris and after it happened he called, I guess, his superiors in the Kremlin. They said: “Well what were you expecting Sergey? We warned you about all those creative people. They are like that, you can’t rely on them”. Assuming apparently that Sergey himself wasn’t that type of person - a writer, but an effective manager.

Sokolova: You can’t disagree with that statement. He always was a good peddler, no matter whatever he was selling.

Krasovsky: He is a good person. One of the few really good people that I’ve met in  almost 40 years of my life.

Sokolova: I have no reason to doubt about that. What happened next?

Krasovsky: Then they immediately blocked all my corporative accounts, my email. Literally immediately, overnight. They deleted not only my face from the website, but also all of my TV shows, as if I’d never really existed. The next day I wrote to Minaev that I was totally shocked. Because it takes them half a day to put up a banner when I ask them to, and here we had such efficiency. One could say they can when  they want to. Now they’ve put everything back, but you couldn’t say why, really.

Sokolova: Did Sergey Minaev call you?

Krasovsky: No, he didn’t call me. Nobody called me. It was a romance of one short text from the company’s CEO, Sergey Komarov. I am sure that this was the text message not from Komarov, but from Minaev himself. Its meaning was I could come and pack my things on Monday. After that, on Sunday, when all of us had calmed down, sobered up and understood that someone had to do the work, we started to think how to keep a straight face, as if nothing had happened, an how to preserve a status quo.  But I didn’t want to preserve anything. I was offered something that I simply could not accept.

Sokolova: Why?

Krasovsky: Because the meaning of what I did was not to come and say dramatically: “My friends! I’m queer”. The thing is that during last few months I started to feel that the air around me was thickening. And amidst this density I felt like the Hedgehog in the fog (famous Russian animated film – TN) , because it was some kind of black, sullen, hopeless and depressing cloud that you don’t know when it’s going to disperse. And it would be pretty weird and sneaky to take money from people who created this atmosphere. The irony of it is that I understand their logic, but I personally can’t accept it. To take their money quietly  while cursing Putin or Volodin in my kitchen – I think it’s rotten. It’s rotten to take someone’s money, and then curse  him for his own money.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: This thickness of the air that you describe defines very precisely the atmosphere during the talk show Oboima about this law on gay propaganda that you were hosting.

Krasovsky: I guess after this show you were surprised to find out how many nice and beautiful people you didn’t even know about there were around you?

Sokolova: No, I don’t have any illusions about the quality of human material. But while watching this show I was feeling very deep and sincere sympathy towards you. It was like you were standing among a moving crowd of demons. I could almost feel their stench.

Krasovsky: Yes, it was pretty much like that. It is always like that! During all these shows I always feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a cloud of hypocrite smoke. And it’s not about these shows – the thing is that when I take, say, a position of chief editor of another state-controlled channel, and at this time it was not just state-controlled, but exactly pro-Kremlin one, I’m trying to play exactly the same game.

Sokolova: What do you mean?

Krasovsky: I think Ksenia Sobchak would understand me. And, I guess, so would Leonid Parfenov. And many others. This is a struggle between your own conformism, love for nice Chablis and some kind of truth that breaks in and you can’t hide from it. There is a moment when you see  everything very clearly and you think sadly to yourself: “God, this Chablis is so yummy”, but then you go on and say out loud things that are expected from you. Do you remember that time when Leonid Parfenov made a speech during the ceremony of the Listyev prize? It was obvious that he didn’t want to do this; he didn’t want to let down Ernst who had been very good to him. But he had to say it, and it was stronger. By the way, when Minaev came back from Paris, he said: “Well, now I have my own Parfenov”. And this is downright truth, because I understood that I was taking Serega with me into the whirlpool of my own battle, and other people, people from the Administration, people who were close and dear to me, that maybe I was letting them down, but I couldn’t resist. I feel very awkward about this.

Sokolova: But you knew yourself and your nature, why did you even start to work for  this channel? It was obviously set up to make propaganda.

Krasovsky: When I accepted the offer, of course I knew that it was a pro-Kremlin project. Even though they had been denying this, in a week it became clear that it was very pro-Kremlin. And of course I had been justifying this to myself along the way. I was thinking like that: well, it’s good that it’s Kremlin-backed, it’s even better, we have resources, we have money, and we would fight idiots and assholes everywhere. But then I started to understand that I was unwillingly turning into a tool of Kremlin propaganda. And the most important word here is not Kremlin, but propaganda. I’ve never wanted to have anything to do with propaganda. In this conflict I represent neither Kremlin, nor the intelligentsia. I really think that Putin and Navalny are both links of the same goddamn chain, and Navalny needs Putin much more than otherwise.

Sokolova: I think the meaning of this game with yourself that you are describing is that you have to try to succeed in life and remain a good person. And in civilized environment it’s totally normal and natural. Now tell me, how do you think, could a journalist in modern Russia become successful, rich or at least well-fixed without doing things for which a good person could feel awkward about?

Krasovsky: I don’t think so. Because the very basic value of journalism is to tell people the truth. And here you either tell the truth or earn money. You can be either journalist or information provider. Peddler of entertaining content.

Sokolova: And where is this frontier?

Krasovsky: The frontier is when your salary is over $10,000. Once you start to get more than that, you’re no longer  a journalist, but a manager. You have to deal with the owner and to abide by his wishes, or you have to go.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: And how do you think where this whole anti-gay hysteria comes from? Why did Duma adopt this law?

Krasovsky: The problem of any power system which has overstayed and does not plan to leave – not dictatorship, not murderous, just a nomenklatura (Brezhnev’s nomenklatura, nomenklatura of Pinochet, Franco, Putin or Alexander II) – is that in  the last days of its existence, when this power can no longer rely on high society, it has starts to rely on the masses. They are ubiquitous, and when you are in power, you justify your existence by telling yourself that you have the majority behind you. You don’t really – but if day after day they show your face on the Channel One, and don’t show anyone else’s faces, then sure, the majority of the people will be there for you. One shouldn’t be a hypocrite about that. By the way, in this context I could bet that if I had under my control three main Russian TV channels, I would have turned homophobic Russia into gay-friendly civil society in a month. I would show them the kids of Ricky Martin, the mayor of London and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 24 hours a day.

Sokolova: And apparently, being aware of the danger of your superhuman charisma, the State Duma hurries up to adopt this anti-gay law.

Krasovsky: I mean the power of television. So, the power starts to rely on the masses, and these masses begin to suck it down. And if earlier you controlled these masses, now these masses control you. And these are not just some masses. These are lumpenized teenagers. I feel that everything is made for them now. I start to think that in “Republic SHKID”, “The Pedagogic Poem” and «Kids» it's not Makarenko, or Priemykhov, who wins, but this 14-year-old jerk. He turns Makarenko and Priemykhov into louts. And we all go through the millstones of their desires, and they desire and require the most abhorrent things. Throughout the history of humanity they’ve always been wanting the most violent things. They’ve wanted bread and circuses, that’s what they wanted, and the more gladiators had died, the more content they were. Our current leadership, I think, satisfies unwillingly their needs. Now they call to beat faggots, then they will call to execute Navalny, to beautify Stalin, to bring back death penalty. Then they will come to the Kremlin and ask – well, who is temporary here? Every day the State Duma passes the law to divert the plebs. Do you remember – during our childhood we had the Lyubers [organized crime gang] and Kazan? Now they rule. And I’m surprised that Putin does not notice he already lost his role of this heroic Priemykhov.

Sokolova: Diverts – that word nails it. Recently this circus has become really funny.

Krasovsky: It doesn’t seem funny to me. I even think that it is very sad. But if you don’t have to deal with it, if you don’t live in it, then yes, it is surely funny. But then suddenly you understand that it is all about you and that tomorrow you will be this gladiator, you start to feel uncomfortable. That’s it.

Sokolova: How do you see your future?

Krasovsky: I don’t see it. Now I wish I could make it till the spring. I don’t understand what I should do. As I’ve said, I don’t want to represent neither side of the conflict, neither side of this rotten system. Because I really think that a notional Alexey Navalny or Sergey Parkhomenko is but a touching boutonniere on the funeral suit of this system. In other words, this system needs Sergey Parkhomenko and Alexey Navalny just as much as they need this system, they are a part of it, and the whole system, this crazy wagon runs hells know where at a furious pace.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: I’ve seen a commentary of Sergey Parkhomenko concerning your departure from Kontr TV. I was shocked by the fact that he was convinced that you and all other people had to share his values and fight for things he wanted to fight for. Why is that?

Krasovsky: I don’t want to fight the regime. I want the regime not to fight with me. All I said at this show, and all I say now, it is not for the regime. Putin is still the person I respect. Parkhomenko – not so much.

Sokolova: But for whom then?

Krasovsky: For the country as a whole. Because the homophobia of our regime is the reflection of the homophobia that plagues our society – from its top to its bottom.

Sokolova: By the way, did the regime resent you?

Krasovsky: It surely did. But not because of the fact that I acknowledged I was gay. To that, the regime could say something like “haha OK, now what”. The regime resented the fact that I said that I was just the same as the president and the prime minister, just the same person as any other.

Sokolova: So, they thought that you had called Putin and Medvedev faggots.

Krasovsky: Absolutely! By the way, in this interpretation of my words one could find the very core of the masculine criminal system existing in our society. Have you read about the teacher named Ilya Kolmanovsky who was fired from the school or something – for the fact that he took part in a protest against the law banning what they call gay propaganda?

Sokolova: Yes, I’ve read about it.

Krasovsky: He was interviewed by Kommersant newspaper about this whole story. The first thing he did was telling was not gay. He emphasized it in the first phrase of the interview. So this man came to protect gays, because to protect gays means being cool in the community of his friends, but in fact he felt embarrassed that he could’ve been confused for a member of this inferior society.

Sokolova: Maybe you’re unfair to this teacher. Maybe he just wanted to be specific.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Krasovsky: To be specific about what? He said what he said. And you know what it means? That he was ashamed to be gay, that he was terrified to be gay, that he would feel awkward to be gay! Krasovsky: Believe me, I know that in our country it is shameful, awkward and awful to be gay. I’m 38 and I still feel ashamed, awkward and frightened. I’m frightened to say what I’m saying now. I still feel awkward in front of my parents, to come home with my boyfriend. Because, let’s say, with any girl I came with my mom could hug and kiss, but Nikita – she wouldn’t even touch him. Because my parents are just like any other people here, just like any other people. And I did what I did not because I did not want to feel embarrassed about myself anymore. I would feel embarrassed till the end. But maybe someone younger than me would say – well fuck you all, I am really just like you.

Sokolova: How did your parents know that you were gay?

Krasovsky: I told them when I turned 30. As you can see I like making people such presents for birthdays. I told my parents on my 30th birthday.  This means I’d been waiting for 30 years before telling them!

Sokolova: And what did they say?

Krasovsky: For two days my mom was very emotional over it. Dad would put on a semblance that he did not notice it, but I think he still hasn’t come to terms with this.

Sokolova: How did you tell it?

Krasovsky: Literally, I used the words of the song of Valentin Strykalo: “Mama, I’m gay”. How can you say it otherwise?

Sokolova: When did you realize you were gay?

Krasovsky: Unlike a lot of young people, I had never been obsessed with my sexuality. I lived in the Soviet Union where there was no gay propaganda. I realized I was gay when I was 20. It was absolutely mature and conscious decision, and it had no connection whatsoever to the social situation I was in. And by the way it was very gay-friendly.

Sokolova: Did your friends and acquaintances know that you were gay?

Krasovsky: I’m the godparent of your kid, did you know?

Sokolova: Sure.

Krasovsky: So then why do you ask? Sure everybody knew. For all of my 38 years, down to recent times, I’ve been living in an entirely comfortable environment, where my sexual orientation has been perceived in an absolutely natural and welcoming way.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: When was the first time you felt uncomfortable?

Krasovsky: When I became the head of Mikhail Prokhorov’s campaign office.

Sokolova: What was that exactly?

Krasovsky: Before I met Prokhorov I had always been surrounded by Moscow’s high society, and it was totally tolerant. All those “intelligent people” we all think we are. I had had no experience of communicating with other people. When I came to Prokhorov, I suddenly began to feel that his staff does not like to be around me… just does not feel OK to be near me, to speak to me.

Sokolova: What kind of staff do you mean?

Krasovsky: Not secretaries. I mean men. I mean employees working for Mikhail Prokhorov. Eventually one female activist put it boldly: «Anton, they are speaking about you, they don’t even say hi to you». And it was very shameful.

Sokolova: Why shameful? You were ashamed of the fact that you were like that? You were ashamed in front of Prokhorof? What do you mean by this shame?

Krasovsky: You’re trying to speak to me like a shrink. What was Ilya Kolmanovsky ashamed of when the first thing he said in his interview was “hey, I’m not like that, I’m totally straight”? He was afraid that people would think that he was not like them, the majority of them. He was ashamed and afraid, because the protest in Putin’s Russia does not presume any sacrifice. Everyone calls Putin a bloody butcher, but nobody can quite recall blood his hands are steeped in, and they are not ready to take risks and make sacrifices. We are OK with going to streets with some little banners, and then enjoy Likes on Facebook and thanks in Café Jean-Jacques.  But once they show you the door, you think – oh, you got me wrong! But I don’t blame Kolmanovsky. I feel sorry for him. I myself lost my job. But I knew I couldn’t get away with this. I was ready to that.

Sokolova: I think you’re unfair. Most of the people are struggling to represent the majority – in any society. And in particular this is how it works in primitive society – being minority means being in danger.

Krasovsky: Exactly! Primitive society – here you have a cult of majority. This is a democracy à la russe – dictatorship of the majority. Anything that does not have to do with the majority, is either bashfully covered up, or bashfully dramatized. For example, how many synonyms do you know for the word ‘thief’? There are very few of them! There is the derogatory ‘crook’. This mean you’ve stolen a little bit, and that is not cool. But if they call you a thief, this means you’re tough, stole a lot, well done. But I can list you a dozen of synonyms to the word ‘gay’: queer, faggot, poof and so on… This means that to steal – like minister Serdyukov did – that’s an honor, that’s laudable. But to be like Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, that’s a shame.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: I think I’ve got some bad news for you. Our country is a primitive society living under the laws of penal colony, prison.

Krasovsky: Penal colony is a primitive society at its best. The prison lives under primitive laws, by the codes of the underworld. Our society is pretty much like that – power, business, all that. For example, I worked for  Kontr TV. Kontr TV is a world I’ve never been familiar with. It is a world of males, world of notional Eduard Bagirovs.

Sokolova: But Eduard Bagirov is also a sort of conventionality - fake, cover. We both know it is very different from reality.

Krasovsky: Sure! This is the world of conventionalities. Earlier I used to live the life of other conventionalities, which were comfortable for me. I was born there and I felt comfortable living there. But then I got into a world that was totally new to me, and was shocked by its uncovered disgust towards anything that is weak and «different». Here I should say that these conventional muzhiks are much more responsive that conventional heroes of Bolotnaya square. I confirm that – I saw it with my own eyes. Sergey never turned his back on somebody who needed help - and not even asked for help, but needed it! He always helped – someone sick, someone poor or miserable. The same with Mikhail Prokhorov – and you know that. Once these people come in contact with grief – they try to do all they can.

Sokolova: Me too, I feel more comfortable with people living under some rules, even if I don’t like these rules, than with peddlers who are ready to sell their own mother, or so-called intelligentsia who are ready to trust anyone – depending on from where the sweet smell comes from. What you’re talking about is mature male behavior.

Krasovsky: Yes. It is in male nature. That’s nice. But somewhere in the nature of these men there has been short-circuiting. They are really frightened to come out for someone who is weaker, “different”, and to be seen as someone weak themselves. Because in the prison the weak one sits near the piss can. And being the one who touches him and protects him - mushiks would definitely try to humiliate you.

Sokolova: Yes that is how it works in prison. In fact the reason of this short-circuiting is very simple; it’s the incertitude of the men. I know this very well because I’m a woman. By the way, I could be next to come out and tell how hard it is to be a woman in Russia.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Krasovsky: To be gay is much more unpleasant.

Sokolova: Yes. I agree with you. Cognition comes through comparison. Anyway, all this ostentatious quasi-manhood comes from deep feeling of their own incapacity and failure as a man. It is very funny but in the context of this senseless shocking of genitals your «coming out» as a gay is totally masculine. And since I know our friends from the power pretty well, I assume that they appreciated your audacity. Speaking with their terms, you refused to sit near the piss can. And now you’re sitting on the berth, like a boss.

Krasovsky: You could put it like that.

Sokolova: They don’t see that often, because a lot of so-called muzhiks sit near the piss can for money and privileges, and keep silence and they are ready to do anything to keep that. But I want to ask you something. Why such sacrifices? You were accepted by their world, your position was pretty high, why couldn’t you just avoid this sensitive subject? For example, not hosting the show about the law on gay propaganda?

Krasovsky: You’re arguing just like one former Kremlin boss who called me and said: “What’s your problem? We appreciate you because you’re smart, and the majority of those you’re talking about, they appreciate dicks, asses or money. Why cast pearls before swine?”» So I have to say that I’m doing this not for people who just want to be fucked in the ass, I’m doing this for someone who maybe now sits and thinks that he has no other choice than to go and hang himself. I’m not going to be a Russian Harvey Milk, no way. But I really understand those kids who discover their homosexuality, and not in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg, I afraid, but somewhere in Nerchinsk or Ust-Kamenogorsk. One can’t imagine something worse than that. You can’t imagine how frightened and ashamed they are. Their only chance is to leave. But sometimes to hang yourself is simpler than to leave. It’s hard to achieve something when you’ve got no talent, no particular brilliance. You’re a fucking welder! And it is just like that – you can’t do anything but weld pipes and you’re gay. And you’re fucked! I actually said some words to let them know – anything is better than suicide. You guys are just like me. Don’t be fucking scared. Yes, the whole world is against you, but we will try to do this world. We should try.

Sokolova: But one can live without showing off his orientation. A lot of people choose to live like that.

Krasovsky: That’s it. I realized that I would definitely not be supported by Russian gays themselves, who take all their rights for granted. They’ve never fought for anything. We’re not in the United States where the civil rights are the result of struggle of several generations. In Russia gays don’t remember Article 121. Good old Yeltsin came and said: we are going to live like in Europe  and abolished this article. And all these people are very afraid of losing this hypocrite, false and very comfortable little world they have thanks to Boris Eltsyn. And I want to say to them: you’re going to lose it. And precisely because you’re going to keep silence till the end.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: Or maybe they aren’t. Many ask: why do sex minorities even have to make such a noise about themselves, why fight for some rights?

Krasovsky: If I am in, say, ER, they won’t let my boyfriend in. We are not related. And there’s the issue of inheritance. Let’s say I have property to bequeath, but I have little  if any desire to leave it to my cousins’ children.

Sokolova: You can simply donate your property to anyone you want.

Krasovsky: What if I die suddenly? Do I have to give everything away in advance? And there’s another thing – it makes no sense at this point to even discuss it – adopting and raising children together. I can’t even think of two men bringing up kids together in this country. A couple of women might try – and I know examples – but men? No way.

Sokolova: If everything is so awful here, why don’t you just leave?

Krasovsky: I’m old. I don’t have anywhere to go. I have elderly parents.

Sokolova: But this reality is tearing you apart. It pains me to look at you.

Krasovsky: It is indeed. But what am I to do there?

Sokolova: I think it’s some kind of typical Russian fatalism on your part. There’s a beautiful definition of Russian blues: ceaseless thinking about things you want and will never have. There’s a vast world before you. It’s yours to take! Nobody’s going to frown at you on Manhattan, whether you’re straight, gay, have Down’s or no legs. Russia is an easy place to make lots of money for your comfortable life there. Why not just try?

Krasovsky: You might be right. But, to be honest, I’ve never wanted to leave. I’ve always had hope.

Sokolova: Hope for what exactly?!

Krasovsky: For the best. Everyone hopes for the best.

Sokolova: Have your dreams ever come true?

Krasovsky: They have. Any sane, career-oriented person it’s a hope for one’s own success. This has indeed come true.

Sokolova: Yet no success undoes the reality that creates discomfort and restricts you.

Krasovsky: You aren’t aware of of reality until it’s too late, unless you have real responsibilities on you, like kids, parents etc. That’s why I’m saying: it’s getting worse.

Sokolova: When did you became aware of it? During Prokhorov’s campaign?

Krasovsky: No. That was my campaign of hope. It was a very important campaign for me, and Mikhail is a focal point of my life. It all started last autumn. I realized that the air around me was becoming thicker, everyone’s air, my own too.

Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov
Photo: Arseniy Neskhodimov

Sokolova: You think it has something to do with the overall worsening of the political situation?

Krasovsky: I wouldn’t call it worsening. It’s the whole situation when the system is forced to not just rely on the lower ranks of the society but to integrate them into itself. Right now the system brings forth the lowest of human desires: hypocrisy, lies, spite, hatred. Not just spite – literally, hatred. The purpose of any political system is to create a comfortable environment. But our current system does not realize that, and will itself be devoured by a hypothetical Igor Kholmanskikh [worker at Uralvagonzavod heavy industry complex, currently the Plenipotential Presidential Representative of the Urals okrug]. Because this notional Kholmanskikh is very active, aggressive and is coming to get us.

Sokolova: Are you serious now?

Krasovsky: Dead serious.

Sokolova: And you are staying here, ready to be devoured?

Krasovsky: I am ready to be devoured right now. That’s exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. What are you suggesting?

Sokolova: Try to be happy, for one. It’s possible. The world is open.

Krasovsky: It might be. But I’ve always thought I could be happy here in Russia. I thought Russia was changing in a way for me to have some purpose here. Not useful in a functional way, but to really be of purpose.  I really was thinking I could see a truly free Russia in my lifetime.

Sokolova: What do you mean by  truly free? The way the Anglosaxon world is free?

Krasovsky: Yes.

Sokolova: Do you expect to live a thousand years?! Don’t you think you’re just making up silly excuses to avoid stating the obvious, that you have to do something to leave the country, to forget the language, to forget this reality like some afwul nightmare?

Krasovsky: Look, I’m not a crook nor do I mingle with such, I can’t be around thieves and I won’t ever be! I can’t fuck with people, I can’t make money and I’ve never really been able to. Still, I’m not comfortable in a strange verbal environment. Not even verbal – I’m not emotionally comfortable around strangers, I can’t build relationships there.  I won’t be comfortable in a notional America, what am I going to do there, whom am I going to be with? Who needs me there when there’s Russia? Which, of course, doesn’t mean I won’t ever leave. If it becomes really dangerous here, I will have to.

Sokolova: You mean it’s not really dangerous now?

Krasovsky: It is simply dangerous right now. I can just sit it out. The problem is that, unlike most people around me, I do believe in God. I know I’ll have to tell Him something. And when that time comes, I don’t want to have a garden full of the most beautiful hydrangeas in Moscow to be the argument in my favor.

Sokolova: Do you think God won’t be content with your beautiful hydrangeas? Do you think he really cares whether you said those words on that little TV show or you didn’t?

Krasovsky: When He asks me whether I was outcast for telling the truth, whether I was gracious and pure of heart, I’d like to be able to say ‘Yes, dear Lord, something like that’.

Sokolova: Do you think it’s an accomplishment?

Krasovsky: Indeed.

Sokolova: Do you think life is some kind of a moral test?

Krasovsky: I’m not sure it’s a test… But  anyway, why life a life only to make yet another million of dollars? I don’t think it’s a great idea. Yes, you’ll live a comfortable life and die of lung cancer after a long agony.

Sokolova: Do you think millions of dollars have anything to do with lung cancer?

Krasovsky: No, I just don’t think it’s wise to believe they never ever do. Whether you strive for comfort or you don’t, you have to be ready for a really unexpected end. Or quite expected. The end is coming in any case. I don’t call upon anybody for anything, I don’t blame anyone at all, I just want to feel like I’ve been a decent person when I’m lying on that last bunk in my life.С