tv [untitled] August 20, 2011 7:31am-8:01am EDT
we meet newsweek's moscow bureau chief matthews who 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 that's next. hello again and welcome to spotlight the end of the show on r.t. prime algor no ventilation my guest is matthew years the book he dedicated to his family called stolen 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. the newsweek bureau chief in moscow and when
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 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. and well first of all hugh hewitt spent quite a while in russia you speak fluent russian you have. from russian family in
a sense so they consider yourself. to be russian at least half russian or you prefer to observe like 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 cheap minutes 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 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 quite close ties with with the russian language it's a foreigners journey into russia trying to explain so i'm trying to explain sort of for myself and try to explain for the reader so it's not a russian book about russia it's a it's
a foreigner's book about ok 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 and therefore my children are three quarters so no i mean i should probably feel more at home in moscow and i do in london and i certainly find it more interesting to live in moscow than i do to spend time in one of the restaurants are really better tasting. but this is the way that i think there's a great letter from. russia great russian per million to over wrote from paris because she after the revolution she spent some years in paris and she writes to her friend of a who's he 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 you know more real if you do have this feeling for this that arc and stuff there 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 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 jews of starland with london with you. but 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 you know of 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 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 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 which is a list. of the second which is the sort of romantic story of my my father
a welshman and and his. fiance and how they struggled for six years to to get married and have a question about the russian version of russian translation the russian version 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 really hard is it just a joke that it's actually from a series of very funny photographs that were taken of my mother who is very young and she was a librarian and it's her. fooling around. pretending to be the work and the president of minnesota the actual picture i mean it's like super good is that it was a shock today it's a real photograph taken like many years ago had taken money. that was your words
far that it was just it was just just playing around you know just living so they had neither am i nor. why it happened in the library i don't know but the numbers they found and they just sort of you know it was a series of sort of funny photographs and ok well this sort of kidding would have been considered anti-semitism stems 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 nobody cliches about russia and that they're like you're a journalist a specialist in this country and half russian should have no 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 that tourist industry and i suspect it a bit but it in a more found sense i mean indeed i mean 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 have enjoyed being in sort of. descending into 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
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 dog the 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 i understand you found you found the archives of the end of a dead now and the k.g.b. now they are first and then there are the f.s.b. and their archives away you actually like the story of your grandfather boris because who was who was a party a party apparatchik and then he was very well to do and then he disappeared and he was he was actually prosecuted by and 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 looking for our lives well 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 shot in russia the largely because the f.s.b. still likes to keith its secrets in the closet and the the people in power in the kremlin prefer to close the whole story why i 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 i'm like in russia in ukraine there's actually calls to tional rights for relatives to to 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 letter back saying you know your your your copus is here and you can you can you can view it and it's indeed and in a terrifying document you have you know you just walk into the building you give yourself a pass and then they and they give you the first of the files and then go find over there's very little copy you know what you can photocopy there's some technical issue. something positive for it comfortable but the most interesting detail is that. he the ukrainian s.b.u. the success of the k.g.b. 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 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. taped 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 rest a geisha nine hundred 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 turn and there's nobody left in the neighborhood because they didn't want people to know that. but why did they give you the tape just kept because it's all it's all there together. says that he is a journalist a true gentleman says we here and author of a book called stolen children spotlight will be back shortly right after a break so stay with us we'll continue in less than.
back to spotlight our now than just a reminder that my guest in the studio today is one matthews a british journalist and author of a book called stamina children recently recently it was published in russian in this country. and you just told us about your grand grand for the bar is a bit of. was a party a paracho can serve in times of very well to do member of the soviet nomenklatura and later he was persecuted why what was the reason why did they shoot at world several answers to that question the immediate reason was that. stalin was at that point confirming himself establishing himself in power and there
was still. a large number of. people who didn't necessarily support starless in fear of the great repression the great the great and so basically almost all of the leadership of the ukrainian party had supported sergei cute of who was a challenger in one who was murdered in one of the devil that in syria exactly so it was briefly. an internal power. struggle within the party and stalin was eliminating his 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 tribe 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 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 key field 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 had been told were enemies of the people the only thing that was different was their probably their attitude to style and some of them love them more those sorts of those some of those some of them less they were going to years later just died well i think goes a bit deeper than that though and it's their personal attitude to murder because it's very it's very clear that you know. when you quoted this this phrase from soldier notes and i think it's true they're 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 you know but not not not not and not many countries have practiced auto genocide on the scale of russians cambodia right right here right well. some countries in europe practiced ahead but it said it's not subject to that but not that not all to genocide not of people even that even if there were nazis killed people who they could. to be. germany germany was pretty popular. ok ok. let's go on with your book here you know 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 she she spent nearly fifty years sent to the gulag because of what her husband did
you know or. because it has a wife. as the as the wife of an 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 in. 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. 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. my grandfather was buried in unmarked grave of which there are hundreds around
russia if i one was just going to bust off 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 yes your mother with foreigners was virtually unheard of any contact with somebody from abroad could mean big problems spotlights 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 nineteen twenty five many of them found their law here the luckiest who were disillusioned by the regime quickly enough to go home before the stalin's repressions of the 1930's many of those who stayed there
eventually sent to the gulags russian families of the foreigners couldn't escape the same fate in one nine hundred forty 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 key 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 true germans it was not until the nineteen seventies 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 to get out of the country relatives in france were stigmatized in the soviet union as not being fooled to the regime the real freedom in their in somebody from abroad came on that
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 ok me to russia in the sixty's managed to meet his fish or if you're living well to fall in love with i want to become a real close what he was actually one of the very first generation of postgraduate students to work that were allowed to study at moscow university as part of the. as part of an academic exchange and that was in fact thanks to call short because already and after the death of stalin and the thaw first it was the festival of youth from nine hundred fifty seven. 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 you monday no no he didn't meet so my i'm not a child of the future. but the i was born in fifty seven. but actually it means that and that also doesn't make me. because i was what you during the
festival. and i think there was enormous the importance of turning point for soviet society in fact and by the time my. but my 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 one hundred sixty three and then it was actually it was dangerous for people with something to lose to meet with 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 the how how did he a young british guy go to the market is a. they how they met somewhere somehow they met through a mutual friend my father knew from the first and how i see the connection was the bolshoi theater and. there were sort of by letter march so my mother loved the
ballet and this mutual friend of the ballet and he said and then did you see 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 a 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 son but if you do speak russian my father it's because he's been broken russian we could which could sound like a lot like it but. it is credit better than broken i think it's he said the rights of russians much better than me yes it was an accident 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 they they they registered to get married but about 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 b. 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 leg for dating a russian galloway no no they actually set him up there they persuaded a. fellow graduate student to accuse him of economic speculation by selling joomla jeans or going home or something yeah and it was
a really really nasty story i mean the government of the road to throw this guy out of university and it was it was a sort of typical sort of nasty k.g.b. story so they're basically they set him up i mean very obviously ever they 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 enter and try to meet him and in turn to to get to go to england and all that i mean this was really 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 that the height of the cold war it's to just after the 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 the decision that we think is partly it's naive but 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 it 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 close but they corresponded freely ok well thank you very much for this interview i hope they their readers will learn more from reading a book thank you and just to remind you that my guest today was how when i met he was journalist and author of a book called stallions children and that's it for now from all of us here spotlight will do that and more until then stay on r.t. and take a thank you. tensions
rise in the middle east as how mouse calls off its cease fire with israel following days of deadly airstrikes on gaza. while here in israel people believe the government is using the conflict to divert attention away from domestic problems and prevent the recognition of a palestinian state at the united nations i'll bring you more in just a few moments. in other news it's been another turbulent week for the world's markets as fears are mounting that the u.s. and europe are on the brink of another devastating downturn and. also we continue our coverage marking the twentieth anniversary of the attempted coup against me. to change the course of the soviet union. and it's all about maxing it out at the international air show near moscow where gravity defying action on the lucrative do