"As for the truth of his word, the Russe for the most part maketh small regard of it, so he may gain by a lie and breach of promise. And it may be said truly that from the great to the small the Russe neither believeth anything that another speaketh, nor speaketh himself anything worthy to be believed."
Sir Giles Fletcher, the English Ambassador to the Court of Feodor, son of Ivan the Terrible.
CHAPTER 1. THE NEW RUSSIANS, THE BASTARDS
RUSSIA, SPRING 1993
SCENE 1. FAMILY OF ONEMoscow is a big city. The Russian capital in size and in population is no smaller than NYC. But New York has boroughs and neighborhoods. Moscow is organized like a Russian matrushka: inside a big wooden doll are hidden smaller ones, sometimes up to a few dozen. This conforms to the Russian idea of centralization and communal unity. Inside the Khrushev's Big Moscow is the Stalin's Moscow; next is the pre-revolution Moscow, and last is the Kremlin -- the ancient Moscow, the real downtown. The city of rulers of Russia. Behind the walls. Ivanoff's office was downtown too. On the Red Square. In fact, through his office windows he could see those Kremlin walls. Ivanoff had guests, or better said, partners. "I want everything to be done as quietly as possible," said Goosev, the head of the St. Petersburg Russian Museum. There were three of them in one room. The head of the Ivanoff Brothers mafia, the head of the State Russian Museum Victor Goosev, and their American friend Vadim Simons. SIMONS: Vadim Simons was a son of the famous Soviet dissident. His mother wasn't a dissident but she was a Soviet lawyer who became a public defendant of many famous Soviet dissidents, and she became famous too and a dissident of some sort. At first she was appointed by the KGB to be a defendant at the public trails. Dissidents supposed to have public trails in order to convince the west that there was a law in the USSR. Nobody, including herself, knew that she will become a celebrity. Somebody had to be an attorney for the accused who were already sentenced before the trail. The KGB picked up the unknown Moscow lawyer, a woman, a Jew, and she went along with the approved by the party scenario... of sentencing a few to seven years in prison. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the show she was supposed to be there saying that they are guilty but the sentence shouldn't be fifteen years, and ten would be enough. And the good Soviet judge out of goodness of a Soviet heart would give them seven years in labor camps. That was the design for the public trails and they went according to the script. At first. But among the Soviet public which wasn't interested in those trails was another group nobody thought about, the western media. The West got very interested in Soviet public trails over Soviet dissidents, and western journalists were seeking interviews and exclusives from her. She was socked and confused to be so important. And even her KGB bosses discovered that she is an important device to channel the information they need directly to ABC, NBC, BBC and others. Iriadna found herself in the limelight meeting American senators and European leaders. She was a symbol of single woman who had so much courage to stand against the system and to defend the condemned. She was more than a dissidents who were heros. She was a super-hero. Her KGB bosses didn't expect such a success. It wasn't clear should Iriadna be rewarded or send to prison. They weren't ready for the mass of the world's attention, party committees and KGB agents couldn't provide the answers for Japanese TV and Green Party from Germany. It was too many of them out there and not enough hands on the Soviet side. Much too often she would say something unauthorized and non-scripted. The best way to resolve the situation was to send her out of Russia. She was expelled. During the ups and downs of her short star performance she lost a husband who retreated because he couldn't figure out what was going to happen next -- will they move to a new apartment or to prison. Iriadna left Russia with her 14 years old son Vadim and ended up in Washington DC. Everything was incredibly good in America - and lectureship at Hopkins University, and big windows of her four bedroom flat, and book offers, but all ended in six months. She was a star in Moscow, now she was in DC. The boy graduated from James Madison University and then went to Washington and Lee University law school. He wasn't a Russian boy. He was an American young professional. He understands Russian, but he read and wrote "American" language. Vadim had everything, except wealth. With Ivanoff he could make more money in one year than he would make working for the Wall Street in ten years. Russian was there to be butchered. He wanted to have the best cuts. Vadim Simon was opening bank accounts, registering companies, buying real estate in New York and Florida. For Ivanoff. He was busy. He was making money. Vadim understood that Ivanoff and his guys were the power brokers in Russia. Mafia held no public offices, but they ran the country. When before Vadim worked for the Hill and several times the American Embassy and the Kremlin couldn't arrange what Ivanoff would do with one single phone call. The fate of Russia wasn't in Yeltzin's hands. The Russian president was himself in somebody's hands. His orders wouldn't go through unless people like Ivanoff would say "yes". They were the power outside of the Kremlin walls. The Russian government was no more than the Queen Mother in her palace. Kremlin had no apparatus to ran the country. Ivanoff had his people in place. He paid, Kremlin had no money to pay... "Nobody will talk," said Mishka Ivanoff. "They'll be around," said Simons, "Politicians are like shit, they never go under water. I have my name to think about it." "Get the icons ready," said Mishka. "We're working on it," answered Goosev. "Who does the work?" "He is a Museum man," said Goosev. "Wife, friends, neighbors?" "Nobody will ever know. Will never notice. Because nobody cares." "What about some of your smart ass art historian..." "Misha, Russia can't afford to have it. Art is expensive. And Russia is a poor country." "What about the master?" asked Simons. "Look at St. Basil 's," said Victor Goosev. St. Basil's Cathedral is on Red Square. Through the big office window they also saw the Kremlin, a medieval castle built by Italian architects for the Russians to become a symbol of Russian style. "Russian artists who painted it were blinded by Ivan the Terrible. He wanted to make sure that no other prince could use their talent." "That's a legend, said Simons. "I don't think that Ivan could know much about what beauty was. Besides, the church is ugly. Cake-like, childish, eclectic. Built to celebrate the victory over the Tatars at Kazan, it looks like an Asian monument. But even so, he shouldn't have blinded them." "He should have killed them," said Ivanoff. GOOSEV: When the old icons were partially destroyed in a flood, Andrey Mogoochy not just restored it but painted and aged it. Nobody could notice the difference. Goosev got an idea. Plan came by itself. Fake masterpieces. Goosev called Ivanoff. The idea was to make money. Dollars, of course. The Russian Museum would send an exhibit of copies of the masterpieces to America for an exhibit-auction. The Museum would make some money. Good idea. The plan was that, instead of copies the real icons would be sent to New York. And the aged copies would go on display at the Museum. And that's how the real money would be made. Lots of it. All that needed was a real master, an artist, Andrey Mogoochy. He had worked for the Museum all his life. His life was about to end but he didn't know it... "It's our business how to switch the two sets and to get the originals out of Russia." Goosev was director of the Russian Museum, he knew what he was doing. Ivanoff was the mafia boss. In Russia. New York had the buyers. Boris Rogov was in New York. IVANOFF: "Jesus is Lord. Okay." Ivanoff's knowledge of Christianity was limited. "He had a mother. That's for sure. She gave birth to a son... She called his father her father." Ivanoff again looked at the Kazan Virgin Mary, the old icon on the big conference table. He had deep thoughts about Christianity, and his ideas were very orthodox. "She slept with her father and she gave birth to a boy who saved the world. Her son's name was Jesus. Christ wasn't his last name, but a nick-name like Lenin or Stalin. They loved their mothers, too. Jesus's mother's name was Mary. She was a virgin and she got pregnant. The daughter. Our heavenly father screwed it up and sent his son to pay for his mistakes. Fathers are bastards, not sons, who are bastards. No, Jesus was Slave." The three men were about to decide the fate of the Russian national treasure. The Russian Museum icons were on the table. "How much would she go for?" asked the head of the Russian Museum, pointing at the icon. "Jesus had no father either," Ivanoff thought about himself and Jesus. "What father would abandon his son? Read again the book; I read the Bible, what's there, if not a search for a father?" "Are we talking six figures?" asked the Russian Museum's man. "That's for sure," said Simons. "Could we do in Europe?" "Too close to home." "America?" "Yes. New York." "I don't have New York," said Ivanoff. "But I can make an offer." "Rogov wouldn't take it," said Simons. "I have an idea," said Michael Ivanoff, Mr. M. M. had much to offer to his father but the icons were his special message to his old man. "Indeed, God died on that cross. What was that? Man's hope for a father. And a new god was born -- man. And every bastard from then on has a Holy Ghost in him. And the earth belonged to those, fatherless, single souls. They inherited evil, and they were evil. They came to pay for fathers' sins and they made everybody around them pay. In their times nothing good could be done without doing evil. It was a century when evil was the only good force and everything good bred only evil. It was a time for the favorite son of God to rule. The one who never forgave the Father -- Lucifer." Ivanoff was silent; he was thinking. There were two dozen icons from the Russian Museum in St.Petersburg which they offered to him to smuggle to New York. Where was an icon of the Christ the Savior? The man with angry eyes, who never smiled? "Father! Every bastard is a traitor. His father, Rogov, was 'a traitor of the country.' Now was his, Mishka's turn to betray Russia. What else could you do when you are born Russian? They were bastards." "How would you take them over there?" asked the Russian Museum guy. "Piece of cake," said Ivanoff. "I have a plan." Mishka's eyes and they were different. His left eye was dark green and his right was dark brown. Jesus was his brother. And, He, Jesus, gave us those dim Russian visions of a society of "brothers." Bastards have brothers and sisters only. That's why everyone could be his brother and sister. From brothers and sisters it's one step to comrades. One big family. Because bastards have no family. Was he an orphan or a bastard of a single mother, Russia? He was a son... Mr. Ivanoff was a bastard and almost forty. Michael Ivanoff was born a year after Stalin's death. He knew no father, and he didn't want to know his mother. He could be called an orphan since he was raised by the state. But this could be said about any Soviet boy. He was a bright boy. Born in Siberia, he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Economics when he was twenty-one. He was a straight A student all his life. A few months after college he was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison. When perestroyka began in 1985, he was free and in his prime. What he did during the next ten years was recorded in hundreds of criminal files of the Ministry of Justice. Michael Ivanoff wasn't a criminal. He was a businessman when business was against the law. Ivanoff conducted his business in an unlawful fashion till Soviet laws got lost with the end of everything Soviet. He knew this time would come, his time. His friend and protegee, Vladimir Zirinovsky, went into the KGB and politics. Ivanoff went for the real power, the money. They, as children of "stagnation," knew that the Soviet Union was a third world country, and such a country should have not only a corrupt government but a few super rich to corrupt this government. Ivanoff was one of them. He was the boss in Russia, and he wanted to be the boss in Russian New York. With Boris Rogov, his father, who never knew his son Michael. ...Ivanoff and Goosev were on their way to America. Goosev first had to stop off in the second capital of Russia, "Leninsburg," as it was called in the latest Russian joke after Leningrad was renamed back to St.Petersburg. GOOSEV: "The state and form of government is plain tyrannical... You shall seldom see a Russe a traveller, except he be with some Ambassador or that he make an escape from his country..." That was true in the years 1588-1590, when the book was written, and it was just as true in 1993, when Dr. Goosev read it. Now when Russians travel without government officials at their side, they have them inside. They, tourists and at the same time always businessmen, are critical of everything aborad no less than of their own Russia. Goosev knew it. This special Russian form of cynicism could be called "the power of negative thinking." Thinking negatively about life prevents you from being hurt because all letdowns are expected. The most popular toast in Russia -- "To the success of our hopeless cause" -- gives an idea about the inner drive of Russian Orthodoxy. The Russian Church took on the negation of this world, with suffering as a main condition of being alive. This interpretation should be understood as an institutionalized disbelief. Such a dichotomy explains Russian extremes, sometimes to the point of paranoia. Russians easily fall in love with any idea because they believe in none. Goosev traveled back to St.Petersburg by the "Red Arrow," the night railroad express. He was alone. He knew this road all too well. He was reading from a book by Sir Giles Fletcher, the English Ambassador to the Court of Feodor, son of Ivan the Terrible. But this time Victor Goosev had the only copy of the first Russian edition of the book. Before he became an administrator, Victor earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Moscow State University. His thesis was on Russian philosophy of the 18th century, and was successfully defended although there were no Russian philosophers in that century to speak of. But Soviet history asked for them, and they were emphasized by Dr. Goosev. "They are kept from traveling so they may learn nothing nor see the fashions of other countries.... It may be doubted which is greater -- the cruelty or the intemperancy in the country..." Goosev kept his thoughts to himself. Of course, he didn't believe this mafia guy Ivanoff. Victor knew that the mobster didn't believe him. That was okay with Victor. And Ivanoff. And Simons. And Russia at large. SCENE 2. THE MASTER The Russian Museum in St. Petersburg never had the fame of the Hermitage. It came into existence later, because of the Hermitage, when Russians realized that they had a museum of European art and didn't have one of their own arts. By that time Russia had had its "Golden Age," which usually comes before the end. The Russian Museum was open inn one of the many St. Petersburg palaces, then, later rebuilt. The Russian Museum always was a younger heir of Western culture. Russia had no time to collect its own art before the era of Russian revolutions. After the "Silver Age" of Russian culture came Red October and the Russian avant garde, constructivism. Futurism named itself not after Russia but after the new ideology from the West -- communism. Everything Russian became not only alien but a threat to the new socialist culture. The Russian Museum was forgotten until the 30s, when Socialist realism became an official aesthetic doctrine. With the patriotic feelings awaken by World War II, called by Russians the Great Patriotic War, the Russian Museum made a comeback. Now it was a shield against the West. In the West were Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagal, not in the Russian Museum. The Russian Museum belonged to the Soviet church. Even Russian icons had no place in this new universe. Most of them were destroyed. The leftovers were put away, till the mid 60s, when the crisis of ideology came, but by that time Russia was a museum in the land of the USSR. Andrey Mogoochy never saw himself an artist. Only a craftsman. He had no formal training and didn't have any "original" works. In fact, he was uneducated and inarticulate. He never studied art and got everything he knew by experience. But as an artist he did it right. He did it right as a Russian. He talked to his icons. And he heard the voices answering him. Christ the Savior and the Russian Madonna were sexless. He had to finish the last two icons. Sometimes Andrey wanted to paint the face of the Father, but no Russian icon had this face. The Father was a Jewish god, and the old Jew wouldn't be right for the Russian Jesus and Mary. The tenderness, the pain... Andrey was almost fifty, and he never had had a woman in his life. Women had it in their eyes -- the tenderness of pain. Like his mother. They had those eyes, as if he were their brother. All of them. And he couldn't do it to his mother or sister. To a child. He did it right. ...Mogoochy painted the copies over the originals. And aged them. For the Russian Museum director, Comrade Victor Goosev. But that was the second set. The first set he did as they asked: one set of copies for the exhibit-auction in NY. He presented the set of non-aged copies for the committee. As usual. They paid. Insurance. They were supposed to receive non-aged copies from him and they did. They signed the act. They left to have a drink. He did the right thing. Mogoochy knew that Russia had entered the Troubled Times. Everyone knew it. The old icons had made it through so many wars and leaders, but this time Russia would lose them. Those who were supposed to save Russian art asked him to make copies and to age them. He never aged copies. Copies are copies. He was a master making copies, but not fakes. They said okay, fine, forget it. He understood that somebody else would age his copies. What for? To sell abroad as the originals? But the world knew that the originals were in the Russian Museum, in Russia. The copes were already made when they asked him to age them. And Andrey said no. And they said, the committee will come to sign the completion of his contract. He understood that they would send the originals abroad and would put on display his aged copies as the originals. That was the plan. Andrey wanted to destroy his work, to burn the copies. But they would find other ways to sell the art and to make money. That's why he said, okay, fine, I'll age them. Give me some time. The committee wrote an act of job completion and left. And Andrey aged the copies. And he did something else. He painted the originals over as the second set of copies and aged them two. He thought that if they would discover that the fakes were in the Museum, they would leave them at the Museum -- and the fakes would save the real ones underneath them. Till there would be better times for Russia. When Russia didn't have to go on sale. Once many layers of paint saved the early masterpieces, and all his life he was taking them off to reveal the hidden treasure. Now he would save them again by hiding the pictures the way they'd survived through the centuries. He worked day and night and got two sets of fakes, but under one set's skin was the Russian soul. Andrey was happy. He didn't know that those people would send other people to kill him. And they did. He was dead in his apartment on Vasilyevsky Island. Would he ever know about the fate of the Russian treasure? The master was dead. He had been dead for ten minutes already. SCENE 3. DESTINY AND RUSSIAN JUSTICE He killed the boy Boris and gave birth to Rogov the man. Now A.A. -- Andrey Andreevich -- had to answer to God. Or at least to His messenger. Here, in front of him was the devil -- Michael Ivanoff. "You know the man, don't you?" Ivanoff had many photos of Rogov on the table -- from the time of the war till the present. He looked at the old, sick former KGB general. A.A. was bold after chemotherapy, he got pale, and he lied. "No," said A.A. "I don't know him." Ivanoff knew that the general would lie, but the general was too old to lie. "Do you know who I am?" Ivanoff pressed his cigarette against the old man's hand. Ivanoff had come with his men, and the gangsters were all over the summer house. One of the big boys came closer to the general in his pajamas and took him by the ear as if the old man were a schoolboy. "Yes, I know him," said the general. "You were his case officer in 1946." "Yes, in 1946." "You broke his life. He was a war hero, almost a boy, and you made him a criminal. Why?" "No, I didn't. I had many cases like that. Such were the times..." "Cut the crap! You talk, or I'll make you talk!" "Cut the crap," also advised the big boy, softly. "I don't remember the details..." Ivanoff did something that A.A. never did to his prisoners. The man spit on his face. "I have no time and no patience for you. Talk!" "I am an old man..." "But still alive. This is your disadvantage. Before you die, you'll suffer. Why did you crush Rogov?" A.A. looked at the family photo on the table and whispered, "Because my wife was his sister. It could come out," A.A. was trembling. "It was 1946." "Rogov is her brother," Ivanoff took the family photo from the table. Andrey Andreevich, Veronica, their daughter and her husband. "Rogov was your relative." "She doesn't know it," said A.A. "Call the madam in," ordered Ivanoff. A.A. was sweating, his paper-dry scalp was red. All his life he had been on the opposite side of the interrogation desk. He was the one who made them sweat. Now it was another country, he was in the other Russia. "Andrey..." Veronica was almost dragged to the table by the big boy. She knew that it was a bad day. "Shut up!" said Ivanoff. "Do you know the man on those photographs?" She recognized the face, Ivanoff could see it. Even A.A. saw it. How could she recognize this man she never saw in her life? But she recognized him in another photo, and Ivanoff pushed Rogov's 1968 picture to her. "Do you know the man?" "No," she said, looking at A.A. "You do," said Ivanoff. "Who is this man?" "Andrey, do I have to answer this man's questions?" "Yes," said A.A. "They came to kill us." "No," said Ivanoff. "I want this man. And want you to help me." "Veronica," said the general. "Forgive me. This man is your..." "Shut up!" Ivanoff slapped A.A. on the face. "You talk when I say talk. Do you, old bitch, know him?!" "Yes." Only now did Veronica understand how serious was this visit. "Who is he?" "He is the father of my daughter." "Veronica! Why do you make things up?" cried A.A. "What are you saying? He was your brother, he is..." "My brother?" "What was in Rogov's file? You, bastard, will restore it. Page by page!" But they were not listening. They both had fainted. They were old people, after all. He didn't kill them not to disappoint his new half-sister. "Nobody haven't heard what was said here," he told his guys. "Nobody ever saw them." Mishka collected materials on Rogov. He knew more about Rogov than Rogov knew about his own life. Ivanoff also was a lucky guy. He always was lucky. He got him. He got Rogov in a way even he couldn't dream of. Finally, M. knew something Rogov himself didn't know. Son should know his father's life. Now he knew everything about Rogov. His father's life was complete. The son was ready to met his father. "You're the devil!" said Roman Ivanoff. "I wish," said Michael Ivanoff. And both brothers had a good laugh. Roman had two golden teeth and didn't look like his brother at all. They were borne by a woman who had no idea who was Michael's or Roman's father. Since she knew no real husband, she invented the best one she could. Everybody in Western Siberia knew about Boris Rogov, the legend of labor camp culture. Mishka believed that Rogov was his father. His younger brother, Roman, didn't care. He had his father -- his older brother, Michael Ivanoff. Tolstoy said that all happy families are happy the same way. This became obvious a century later when there were no families left, only mother-country and father-state. One big happy Soviet family had many sons, good and bad. The Ivanoffs were bad sons. Only after the fall of communism they became good. They, the criminals, were recognized as the New Russians. Misha/Mishka/Michael Ivanoff was active, like the devil. A passive demon is not a devil at all. With the iron curtain Russia was big, but the New Russia was too small for the devil Ivanoff. Russia was relocating to America, and Ivanoff also was on the move. The mafia was moving to America. For Russians, "America" always meant New York. New York City, of course. New York for Russians starts with Brooklyn and Brooklyn already had a Russian boss -- Rogov-Wolf. Ivanoff knew about Boris Wolf, and he had to take the old man out to make room for "new turks" from the New Russia. For himself. And Mishka had his secrets. SCENE 4. PICTURES OF KILLERS "He was a Jew." "Who cares?" "I'm telling you. I can tell it right away. He was." "And?" "I didn't like him." "So?" "Forget it," said the youngest. "You talk too much," the older guy took a pack of Malboro. "I want to make sure that he was our man..." "You knew he is the man." "I want to be sure." "All right," the old guy turned on the radio. "I got it." There was silence in the car. They were waiting. There was a fire on the top floor of the building across the street. "Who was he?" the boy asked again. "How the hell would I know?" "Looked like an artist or something." "All the same to me." They were silent again for a minute or two. Fire trucks would come too late, the whole window at the corner was full of smoke. "What?" said the Malboro man. "Nothing." "I don't want to know," he turned the radio down a little. "All right? Do you want to stay alive?" "What kind of question is that?" "Do you plan to work with me? Don't ask questions. Understand?" "Yes. I mean, he had nothing," explained the first, "You know what I mean..." "No." "Fuck you!" "Listen, you get paid to do your job. Not to think, man. All I know -- the address, the name, the way. They say, take this one out, I say, `How much?' I don't know him, all right? What difference does it make to me? "Why?" "What for?" Who needs all those questions?" "The guy didn't even know what was going on. He had no clue, man." "The better for him. I myself would like to end this way. Like an accident, like a heart attack. One stroke and you are gone." "I liked the paintings. I thought to grab one or two." "You're not supposed to. They said, `Burn it.' So, you burn them." "Good pictures. Like real icons. I don't like this modern stuff. His, I liked. Almost the stuff like in museum or something." They were watching the fire. It was 1 a.m. "You never know. Maybe, the guy did something. How would I know?" the older guy looked at his watch. "They said, `Hit him.' Fine, no problem. I don't know, I do what I am told to do. That's what I do. No questions asked. I don't have enough brains to understand all that stuff." "I liked the one with the child. You know, madonna, the Virgin Mary. I'm not religious or anything. But this one I liked." "You didn't take anything, did you?" "What? Am I stupid? You said what to do and not to do. I'm like in the army, man. Yes, sir." "Good. Clean case. We can leave know. The fire trucks are coming." "It was an easy one. He didn't put any fight. He had no idea, man. He died like a baby." "Good for him. God will take care of him." "Sure. Who else?" They went silent. The radio station "Europe Plus" played American rock. "One day you'll come asking my name, and you'll kill me." "I know your name. I don't have to ask your name," said his friend. They smoked. It was early morning. Good morning. White nights have no starts, no moon or sun. That's how the light looks like when there's no stars, moon or sun. White nights. When day and night weren't created yet. White nights have no mornings. They are the long dreamy mornings. Why and how do we die? We don't do it. It's not our will. Even the killing of oneself is an act of living. Death isn't an act. The street was full of people, the whole top floor was on fire. The killers drove away. St. Petersburg artist Andrey Mogoochy died in his studio on Vasilyevsky Island on May 12, 1993. The cause of his death was a domestic fire. Mr. Mogoochy worked for the Russian Museum. All his life. It was his life. SCENE 5. HALF-SISTER "What does she do?" "Act or sing." "What about her husband?" "Art critic." "Interesting. Hire him for the icons deal," said Ivanoff. Mishka met her, his newly discovered sister. Ivanoff met with both of them; Tatyana and Victor. They were young and talented, a couple, wife and husband who looked like two friends, like sister and brother. They met after her show. She played young Catherine the Great in a new Moscow musical. She was Rogov's daughter. And she was good. He would bring the family together. His father would have a son and a daughter. Mishka never had a sister. She was the first woman he ever trusted. The three brothers -- Michael, Roman, and their brother-idiot, Ivan -- had no wives. Many times Mishka watched the movie "The Godfather," and he wanted to have a family. The mafia was an extended family with uncles, aunts, cousins. Italians were lucky: they didn't experience communism, only a family like fascism. Mishka wanted a big family, he wanted his father to select a wife for him. For his brothers. He wanted to rebel against his father and to be punished by his father. His father, Rogov, was in New York and knew nothing about his son and his dreams. Russia has many gifts for you, Mr. Wolf. He would take them to New York. This part was easy to arrange. She was an actress, her husband an art critic. First, he would tell her how great Rogov is and she would be proud of such a father the way he is. He wanted her to be amazed by Rogov's life before she should learn that she is a daughter of this great man. The real hero. Not all the fakes of the Soviet history without a drop of personal bravery and courage. She will have booth of them at once -- father and brother. M. wasn't crazy. The life around him was crazy. And everybody got used to that madness. Crazy was normal. Ivanoff was set to go to New York, to take over Russian New York, and to meet the king of Brooklyn, his hero and father, Rogov-Wolf. He had many projects for NYC. "The Russian Museum" was one of them. He liked it. It was clever. It was something he could remember and recall. It was something they'd remember him for. Ivanoff was ready for America, big Russia was too small for the Devil M. "I want you to work for me," M. said to Victor. "Vadim Simons will work the details with you." Victor had light and soft hear, almost like a boy. "You'll go to New York," said M. "With your wife." "When?" asked Victor. "Soon," said Ivanoff. "Very soon. With the exhibit of the icons from the Russian Museum. Let America see what Russia has." "Michael, why us?" Tata asked. "You were recommended," he answered. "I would like to open a cultural center in New York." "Some sort of a cultural embassy in the U.S.A. It's about time," said Vadim Simons. "Absolutely," her eyes were light. "Vadim, I told you, they would come, the new Russians, the businessmen who will support Russian culture." "The originals from the Russian Museum collection?" asked Victor. "No, no, the copies. We need to raise money for a real exhibit," said Vadim Simons. "Tatyana, you sing, the Russian romances, folk songs, do you?" "She doesn't have a big voice..." "Money will make it big." She had a habit of slightly raising her eyebrows as if she were asking, -- "Really? Is it so?" Tata looked at Ivanoff and raised her eyebrows. Mishka did it too -- the right eyebrow -- and laughed.. SCENE 6. FATALISM The Russian Museum was closed. Everything in Russia was under some sort of renovation The next day after the master's death, was a working day. In the morning, which in Russia is defined not by the clock but by the boss's appearance, they were packing the icons. They came to take them, and to pack them. Ordinary Russian guys, workers. There were the two sets of icons. The originals, after the restoration, were supposed to go back on display. Officially, according to the papers. The copies had to be shipped to New York. The originals had stamps and numbers on the back. The copies had to be stamped as the originals, and the originals should have the glued on labels certifying that they were copies. Goosev came down to check on the shipment's preparation himself. He was upset. Victor Goosev was an educated bureaucrat, and the murder of the master wasn't his style. Those new secret rulers of Russia were bandits, and he, doctor of philosophy, had to deal with them. Goosev looked at the icons for the last time; yes, Andrey was a true master. Goosev himself couldn't tell the difference between the originals and the copies. "Close it," he ordered and left. "Hey, this goes upstairs, and that one -- in the box." "Look the same to me. Whatever you say, Pasha boy. Whatever you say!" The big, heavy cargo boxes had letters in two languages: "Russian Museum. Handle with extreme care! Fragile! Top." "Pasha, did you hear that Andrey died? Got burned alive in his room!" "All of you drunks will end up the same way." "He didn't drink, Pasha. I never saw him drunk." "No good, too. Maybe got a drink without a habit and got drunk. You have to know how to drink." "That's very true, Pavel." "Very true. It's not even ten in the morning and you've already got it." "A small one, Pavel." "Did I tell you? Don't take anything till lunch time. Don't you have character? Don't you think I want to take it? But I wait. There's another hour I have to suffer through." "Why do you have to?" "Because I am a man, that's why!" "They say there was nothing left of Andrey, not even a skeleton." "Big master he was. A saint." "What are you saying, man?" "I'm saying it." "No, I don't believe it!" "It's your problem." "I don't believe in God. Do you?" "It's your business what you believe in, not mine. The fucking freedom now."
They moved the icons. The face of Russia was hidden under layers of paint. Only under the cover of her own face could Russia have her true face. The copy of the face in place of the face.
The Russian calamities caused by the Tartars or the Germans could be matched only by the Russians themselves. Russia always was her own worst enemy. Every advance she had made, Russia had turned into a disaster. With consistency and ingenuity. The size of the country, the riches, the people. With Asian malice and European sophistication, Russia tried to destroy herself as if she were a burden to herself. As if she were too big to be a part of Europe, and too young to belong to the Orient. Too vast to be a country, and, bridging two continents, not entitled to be a continent of her own....
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