Контент 18+ (лексика, описание жестокости)
My friend Pavel, seasoned executive and successful businessman who recently lost his job because he openly supported the opposition leader, comes from an interesting family with a colorful but sad history. And, like everybody else in Russia, he can list past family members who were murdered by Stalin.
Pavel Mebert was born in the late 1960s -- about the time when the American astronauts either walked on the moon or took a stroll somewhere in the Arizona desert. It was also the year when the very first toilet paper-making factory opened in Russia. Using raw material supplied from abroad, this machinery produced 35,000 rolls of toilet paper the very first year. Not enough to accommodate 241,720,000 people (the population of the Soviet Union at the time), but at least it was a start to the modern era. Of course, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian people were often left not only without toilet paper again, but also without dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, and shampoo.
One part of Pavel's family dates back to the period of Peter the Great, that is, the beginning of the 18th century. At that time, Peter was trying to attract Europeans with opportunities to apply their knowledge and trade here, toward the goal of modernizing his country.. He wanted to put Russian political, economic, and technological skills (though the term wouldn't have been familiar then) on par with those of the Europeans. Pavel's 'ancestors' happened to be in the wine-making business. Peter the Great himself was partial to a glass of wine, and so was Katherine the Great later on.
So the wine trade flourished. Gustaf Mebert (Mebert was the name of one side of Pavel's people ) worked for a company that bought grapes from the Caucasus and then relied on his own brand of science and magic to produce Mosel wines in Russia. The Meberts were approved suppliers of the Romanov Imperial House. All was well.
Until 1917. Then along came a spider. Or, rather, the Bolsheviks -- who considered wine to be the beverage of the bourgeoisie. So, of course, the winery and shops were closed down. In fact, a great deal of Russian culture and heritage was steamrollered by these fabulous idealists and utopians --the Bolsheviks.
But before we see all the worst that was still to come, let's backtrack a little.
The other side of Pavel's family comes from Russian provincial nobility. His grandfather was born in 1890s. In 1914 he graduated from a prominent Pavlovskoe military academy and went to the battlefield of the WWI. He was wounded twice and awarded two highly ranked medals (орден) of St. Ann and St. Stanislav for bravery and courage. In 1918 he was faced with a crucial choice either to immigrate with the rest of the White army or to join the Red army and to serve his Motherland. Like hundreds of other former officers of the Russian tsarist army, he decided to stay and to devote his skills and talent to Russia. Quickly he grew to the rank of general, and worked as a military attaché in Japan. But he was arrested and shot by Stalin's death squad in 1937.
Between the years 1937-41, Josef Stalin eliminated 80% of all Russian military officers. In so doing, he robbed the Soviet Union of any realistic possibility of resisting a German invasion without massive loss of life (http://tverdiznak.livejournal.com2919241.html
). Stalin, who had privately sneered at Lenin and merely outsmarted the charismatic Trotsky, was himself outsmarted by Hitler. In all the machinations leading up to 1939, the Russians were nowhere near as innocent as revisionist Soviet history liked to pretend.
In 1941, when the Nazi Germany invaded Russia, Pavel's great grandfather Gustav Mebert and all his family were arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Russia simply because of his German last name. Gustav, who had been loyal to Russia all his life, became gravely ill in the freezing Kazakhstan winter, and pleaded with the NKVD (KGB at the time) to be released and allowed to crop grapes and make wine for the Soviet people. They laughed out loud at him. Gustav Mebert died in one of those austere GULAG camps between 1942 and 1943. Pavel has no idea where his grave is.
His grandmother with Pavel’s 10-year-old father had to urgently abandon Moscow. That was a wise move because otherwise she could have spent 20 years in one of the concentration camps and his father would have been raised in an orphanage. So, she took Pavel's father to a remote village in the faraway Volga regions where they spent the next 7 years in very harsh conditions. Every morning they walked 8 kilometers to a nearest school where his grandmother, who had received her education in St. Petersburg and knew six foreign languages, was a teacher and his father was a pupil. And every night they walked 8 kilometers back. In summer's burning heat, fall's drizzling rains, winter's freezing cold and spring's slippery mud. The house where they lived was so badly heated that in the winter when temperatures fell below -25C the water in a bucket inside the house got frozen.
Pavel, in spite of everything, declares that his childhood was a happy one.
He later spent two years in the military. After the Soviet Union fell apart, he found his way to the United States, where he had been invited to do an internship. He was admitted a prestigious university and enrolled in the School of Business, from which he graduated with an MBA degree in 1996. He was thus one of the first ex-Soviets to receive higher education in the USA (and later on, one of the first to return to Russia.) He lived and worked in the American Midwest for several years, met his Russian wife and moved to San Diego, California. His life was successful in every possible sense of the word. He could have passed the rest of his days in opulent and leisurely fashion in sunny California.
Then Vladimir Putin became President in 2000, and both Pavel and his wife were so inspired by what they regarded as momentous possibilities for a bright future for Russia, they made the decision to come back home. For a number of years that decision -- at least from the standpoint of Pavel's business career -- must have seemed like the right one. He worked as a strategic consultant for McKinsey & Co. and became a Vice-President at British Petroleum. Recently, he served as a partner with the investment branch of Sberbank.
But like so many bright beginnings, New Year's resolutions, and 're-sets', the dark clouds and black birds started hovering at the edge of the horizon and gradually to fill the sky. In 2014, oil prices went to hell and his company hovered on the edge of bankruptcy. Sanctions further damaged the economy, and he made a decision to accept a job whose shareholders are among Russia's wealthiest oligarchs.
At some point Pavel simply forgot who was putting the butter on his bread. Not a good idea in this country, but next we will look at why. In retrospect, the demotion (hopefully not the destruction) of Pavel -- and others like him -- is, if not completely inevitable -- always an occupational hazard for men and women of exceptional talent and vision in Russian Federation.
===Eric Richard Leroy===
Мнение владельца блога и автора может не совпадать. Владелец блога не несет ответственности за мнение, высказанное в данной статье и готов удалить её в случае предъявления обоснованных требований.