tv [untitled] August 20, 2011 11:30am-12:00pm EDT
she's still very. dynamic. friends. at seven thirty pm in los these are the top stories on our team the tensions rise in the middle east as a mob calls all to cease fire with israel in response to days of deadly airstrikes on gaza israeli activists are preparing a peace demonstration across the country to protest against government policy and demand more focus on domestic problems. it's been another turbulent week for the world's markets and fears moment of the u.s. and europe are on the brink of another devastating downturn investor panic up a bleak economic outlook has prompted a mensa long pause shares. and it's all about the months to get out of the
international air show near moscow where gravity defying action and lucrative deal making are picking up pace multibillion dollar contracts and the maiden public 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 a win 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 you can hear from him next here on r.t. .
hello again and welcome to spotlight the m.t.v. show on r.t. i'll go now then play my guest is no one matthew 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 russian today how when is the guest of spotlight to tell us about the fascinating story of his parents'. newsbeat bureau chief in moscow when nothing else has been wrong going 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 market in a welsh father he became a journalist and arrived in moscow plunging to work and break away on his own instead and 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 died at the hands of stalin cyclical leagues and we became fascinated by russia and says despite his relatives having she escaped from this country they still carry something of it inside themselves kids playing on his dramatic family story on matthews joins us today on spotlight. it's in the show thank you very much for being with. a yeah i want to well first of all you. spent quite a while and russia you speak fluent russian you have. from russian family in the sense of the you consider yourself to be russian at least half russian or you prefer to observe as a foreigner and i think from a distance well i'm not sure what i what i 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 i'm still a front 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 to a foreigner albeit a foreigner with my 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 i'm trying to explain to the reader so it's not a russian book about russia it's a it's a foreigner's book about a so in your book here here you take a view of a foreigner but. and insert yourself you always consider yourself to be a londoner rather in their world russian is something something from a book here for you this is early because actually i now know my wife is russian and i'll go for my children and our three quarters. now i mean i should probably
feel more at home and most of my doing underground and i certainly find it more interesting to to live in moscow than i do to spend time in one of the restaurants are surely better tasting. but this is the other thing but there's a great letter which russian great russian per million wrote from paris after the revolution she spent some years in paris and she writes to her friend are not one of those he remains in in leningrad the she can't bear this the she she misses the the v. to talk a little when the little when in russia all the people in russia. are subjected to be sort of seismic events of history and. so i was thought even before i lived in russia that there was some. in a 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 when it was in russian it was published under the name and i mean anti soviet novel which is that we were we shock always can be translated as an anti so 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. you when you first hear it your presumption is more that it's the that it's it's not literally about the children because of style and it's with on what you. but more about you know that a generation who is stalin's children and in russian i think the tendency is more to presume but it's literally about stalin's children so there's a technical issue that i didn't want to you know the fool people into thinking it was a book literally about stalin's children but also there's a more important aspect to this and that actually unfortunately tragically the
story which makes up the first half of the book is of the life and death of my grandfather a party who was executed. who was executed mostly thirty seven and his children my mother were raised by the soviet state but 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 and certainly some of which is a list of this is the second i which is the ramon six story of my my father a welshman. and his fiance and how they struggled for six years to. so to get married and have a question about their russian version the 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 present but if they. carry a hammer and sickle you're scaring an axe. whose idea. actually it was it was just a joke. is just a joke it's actually from a series of very funny photographs that were taken my mother who is very young and she was a librarian and it's her. fooling around. pretending to be the work and the presence of the actual picture i mean it's a picket is a shock today it's a real political i was mistaken like many years ago i think and. that was you watch far then it was just the suv you got there was just just playing around you know just. so they said they had no idea how much north. in the library i don't know but they promised me and they just sort of it was a series of sort of funny for ok well they're sort of kidding would have been considered anti-semitism stems and you know very much so. now.
tell me about the book tell me about the book first of all the critics already said they're there too many cliches able to be clichés about russia that they're going to go like you're a journalist specialist in this country and part russian should have no no this country better then she was a cliché why 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's there's a great phrase from travis cloke that everybody hates a tourist and especially one who thinks it's all such a laugh. those who work in the tourist industry and i suspect there would have been but in a more found sense i mean indeed i mean the whole idea of
a sort of you know rather spoiled young journalist coming to moscow and. having this feast in a time of famine you know how to enjoy being in sort of. descending into also the moscow underworld which i describe because i was a young city reporter the moscow times point and i can see how people would be would be offended that i was sort of enjoying all this sort of move on the world 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 to very nasty underbelly i'm not going to 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 about sort of a narc it wild dark last place that it was in the ninety's happening
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 incoming dead and the k.g.b. not your first and then there are the f.s.b. and there are a way you actually let the story of your grandfather born is good because it was was a party a party apparatchik and he was very well to do and then he disappeared. and he was he was actually prosecuted right 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 well actually. for the historical purposes i was very fortunate in said in surprise that he was good although 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. largely because of the he still likes to keith it's secrets and because it and the the people in power in the kremlin preferred to close that hole in the stories of her private parts of the k.g.b. our hands they that were kept by the by the year the ukrainian bureau link you still there and unlike in russia in crane is actually close to tional right for relatives to to get the documents so fortunately it didn't require really any groups 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 it and in a terrifying document you have you know you just walk into the building you give yourself a pass on any any given if any of the files are going to fight over there's ready
to be you know what you can get a copy let some technical issue. something positive but the most interesting detail is that. eve the ukrainian be the successor of the k.g.b. also wanted to protect its own 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 in defense of this file and. as you know old russian script is really hard to read so it is like 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 investigation of nine hundred fifty six when all of that 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 been selves by nine hundred thirty nine been shot and so the pudge consumed and nobody
life was in there but it did because there were they didn't want people to know about it why did they give you the tape just kept because it's all it's all it's a little town 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 the break so there you go stay with us we'll continue in less than a. warning when the. live ballet. while the streets of. the turning point in russia. was a justified wrong word. since the battle for
democracy. monarchy. walking back to spotlight just a reminder that my guest in the studio today is owen matthews a british journalist and author of a book called stamina children recently recently it was published in russian here in this country. and he just told us about your grand grand for the boris because. it was a pretty a pariah chicken the soviet times very well to do member of the press so he'd
nomenklatura and later he was persecuted why what was the reason why they should world several answers to the question of the immediate reason was that. stalin was at that point confirming themself as establishing himself in power and there was still. a large number of. people who didn't necessarily support starless in theory of the great repression the great the great purge and so basically almost all of the leadership of the ukrainian party had supported simply cuter of him as a challenger who was murdered in one of the people that in grant sr 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 it's and puts this question alexander solzhenitsyn puts this question most part
of my overcoat he says he asks where does this wolf try. i come from way to become from the it came from among us because the line that divides good from evil is 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 i actually mean 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 with the exact same philosophy they build the personal revolution in the enemies of it in the bodies of the people they considered to be or have been told were enemies of the people and the only thing that was different was their probably their attitude to stellan some of them love them. some of them less we were going to be as low
just died several years but not a hundred is a person to to murder because it's very it's very clear but you know. when you quoted this this phrase from soldier notes and i think it's true not only about this country but any country about the great inquisition you can say the same thing about it hellions this line that goes through the heart of the people here but not not not not and not many countries have practiced also genocide on the scale of russia's cambodia right right here right well no. some countries in europe practice that but it's it's not something that not all total aside not of own people even that even who were nazis kill people who they consider to be. germany. germany was pretty popular. ok ok but let's go on with your grandmother and your grandmother. who disappeared too and
you were able also to find her trace. but that wasn't in the in the archives in the in the same secret service i know where she she she was sent to go to the gulag where wish where she year she spent nearly fifteen years sent to the gulag because of what her husband did. because it has a wife. as well as the wife an enemy of the people. in the she she survived and she she came back to moscow to live with her with her daughters but unfortunately she went to an insane time. in the in the gulag and i met her i remember it slightly very clearly in when i was five she came to england once to meet her daughter who would by the time married a young britain and everybody should and she. and i i met i was a child. my my portrait of her was really composed of the memories of her daughters
primarily my aunts and my mother you know where your great grandparents were going . into it into my grandparents. my grandfather was buried in his hands and months growing of which there are hundreds around russia if i one was just on earth you know but it was constantly. if you will know now before we start talking about your father and your mother the second point of the book this empty soviet romance well i should say that in the society as the u.s.s.r. traveling abroad or even communicate yes your mother with foreigners was virtually unheard of any contact with somebody from abroad could mean big problems spotlighting going to media reports and. one 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 as
a nation with their ideas of socialism brought an estimated twenty thousand americans and canadians to the u.s.s.r. between one thousand twenty and nine hundred twenty five many of them found though are here the luckiest were disillusioned by the regime quickly enough to go home before the stalin's repressions of the 1930's many of those who stayed. 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 rule it was difficult to break the law since or a few soviets were allowed to go abroad after it was a bore wished on stalin's death things didn't become any simpler for those russians but firm in love with foreigners foreigners were in the course supervision by the k.g.b. even the rived in russia their loved ones who were regarded as potential spies and suspicion was enough for a person to lose their job and exulted to among true germans it was not until the
one 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 we teach get out of the country relatives in france were stigmatized in the soviet union has not been fooled to the regime the real freedom in their in somebody from abroad he won that with the collapse of the u.s.s.r. . so we just saw how difficult it was in the k.t. foreigners how did your father who came to russia in the sixty's manage to meet his fish or if your mother well to fall in love with her well to get real close to that and what he was actually one of the very first generation of postgraduate students there with the work they were allowed to study it was part of the. as part of an academic exchange and that was in fact thanks to paul short because already and after the death of stalin and the thaw first it was the festival of euthanizing
fifty seven second with us were the first time my father came to russia along with several well you know us part of that is that he was the first he did not meet your mother no no he didn't need so much i'm not a child of the. but the i was born in fifty seven. but actually it means that and that also doesn't make me because i was bored during the festival . so. and i think there was enormous the importance of turning point for soviet society in fact and by the time my. but my father my father came to moscow several times for caesar research in the british embassy briefly and in ninety fifty eight and then again as a as an academic and i see sixty three and then it was actually it was dangerous for people with something to lose so we foreigners because you could get in trouble with your job but my mother was a pup when 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 little bit of instinctively they how they made some i said what are they met through mutual friends how my father knew from the first how i see and the connection was the bolshoi theater. there was sort of below too much so much of my mother loved the ballet and under some mutual friend of the ballet and he said and introduce it to but in fact even when they were introduced. their mutual friend called for you to go it's a didn't didn't introduce him was as an englishman and he said he said he and the stone you know why because it was sort of so as not to frighten her son but if he does speak russian and i thought of this because her husband says he's been broken russian we could which could sound like a lot like it but it is it is credit better than broken you know it's he said he writes a russian was better than me with an accent tell you what it's for success so this
is why your mother could have taken him from someone from the baltic snow before so and they and they meant. and they fell in love and if i had a naive leader it seems to us that they believe that they could get married and they and then 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 what they wanted why they thought he would be important or interesting but when he finally had it got to said. fiance billy 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 you know i mean 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 and that the moral courage to do that but he he told him to get lost and he. he was kicked out of the country made persona non grata and here's what he was
deported and what was the reason reason like for dating a russian gallow no no no they actually set him up they persuaded a. fellow graduate student to accuse him of big economic speculation by selling jewelry jeans or going to something and it was a really really nasty story i mean in the open to throw this guy out of university and it was it was a sort of typical sort of gnostic k.g.b. story so basically they set him up i mean very obviously it would have been even conceal that it was the use of the new mum should have been very brave after there to. continue keeping in touch with him and entertain trying to meet him and trying to get to go to england and all that 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 and it's it's to just a softer hue cuban missile crisis and these two young people who've 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 we're going to fight to be together and in that decision i would think partly it's naive but it's also you insanely brave and it would be crazy if it weren't for that would be 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 just magnificent it's incredibly moving it's beautiful. but the letters get the thought through some of them are read douglas but they corresponded freely ok well thank you very much for this interview i hope they they read of all that and more from reading a book thank you and just reminding that made yesterday it was the way he was journalist and author of a book called stella and children and that's it for now from i was here a lot like did. until say an artsy take it think it.