My first love of sports came from my father, who loved to play soccer, he
played for the Soviet Army. I myself, played for Black Sea Navy team. When I
finished my time in the service I went to work for the Moscow Central Youth
Komsomol and, there, they gave me the higher position of coordinating all
youth-oriented sports in the city of Moscow. |
That is where I met many young athletes and hockey players including, Pavel
Bure who was sixteen at the time, and captain of his team. He was the star
scoring the most goals of all the rising young stars in the country. So sports
for me is not only an interest but is my professional career, and today there
is nothing like it left in Russia, something that can represent the entire
country. The role of sports especially for the likes of the young phenoms like
Pavel helps to raise the hopes of the nation, and raises the spirit of the
nation, because the spirit of the nation today is very, very low.
Pavel [Bure] is special, but how many of the other Russian hockey players do
you know and talk to and care about as much as Pavel?
Pavel in my opinion is not only a great hockey player but a world-class
sportsman, hockey player. For Russia, he is more than a sportsman, he is a
symbol for the New Russia. . . As far as other hockey players I know, I have
known many famous players during my lengthy hockey career. . .
There is a legend that you once saved Alexander Mogilny, is that
I knew him from the days of the hockey federation school. . . As far as saving
Alexander Mogilny's life, no, that really never happened, but if I have helped
him on any other career way then I'm very glad. . .
But the story I heard was that when he defected to the West he was sentenced
to death and it was the intervention of important people like you that got the
Yes, that's true. But don't forget that this was not an ordinary matter, it
was like desertion, running away and that, being from the military, he would
have to answer to the appropriate charges. This did occur, but I don't want to
get into too many details or names. It was a different time back then, it was
also a stormy time, when Gorbachev was in power and we looked at the good and
the bad objectives of the situation. And so to Gorbachev I sent a letter
asserting that in order [to prevent further defections to the NHL] that it
would be better to do this legally and properly. Pavel Bure was in fact the
first, he did not defect, but left legally with a contract. Pavel Bure and
Slava Fetisov -- they were the first who really opened the door for the rest of
the hockey players. . .
How would you describe the 21st Century Association?
The 21st Century Association was one of the first products of
Perestroika under Gorbachev. We were one of the first free organizations that
existed at that time. It was the first organization that was not under
government control. . . With the blessing of the government, I was given this
project as an experiment. We dealt with all aspects of Culture, Sport, Tourism
and Youth. All these areas for me were very close to my own professional
career involvement. . . From day one it was a non-profit organization. . .
Today the 21st Century is a corporation, a conglomerate holding
company that is now building some three million square meters of apartment
buildings in Moscow.
What can you say of the controversy surrounding the 21st Century
Association? Is it a front for illegal activities and organized crime?
You must understand that the 21st Century Association started under
the political upheaval period under Gorbachev. There was a reform movement
which I brought up and there was a more Conservative movement under the KGB.
The KGB could not formally repress our reform ideas . . . They spread rumors to
which I didn't take any notice. Today I am a professional politician who is not
out to put things into people's minds or to put something over on them. Today
I will be going to court to explain in judicial language to disprove and
refute these rumors and to have everything put into its right place. These
rumors are not a serious matter, they spread unfounded rumors of dirty dealings
in regards to the 21st Century Association.
Hasn't Pavel Bure's name been linked to these Association rumors?
I must say that Pavel Bure's name is clean, if there was any blemish on our
organizations name we could never have been able to accomplish what we did. We
even asked Pavel himself to go directly to the ministries involved, the ones
that control immigration cultural affairs and to ask the question to leave
properly and he did that. . . These rumors of wrongdoing are nonsense and why
they keep persisting, I do not understand. This is all politics. Today from
all this I am sure our people, our nation knows perfectly well what the
21st Century Association is, who Anzor is, and these other people,
well, they just talk about their own ideas and stories. We have no association
Today because of the reputation of the 21st Century Association,
you are excluded from the United States, what can you do to recover from
Well, you know this is just more than a misunderstanding. I believe that the
American authorities that are responsible for entry visas, that they today are
sorry in their dealings with me by not giving me a visa. I am a person who was
one of the first propagandists for an open society here, one who helped in the
integration with other Western countries and with Europe. . .
Four years ago I wrote to President Clinton in which I expressed my opinions
in this very matter, and I think that four years has been plenty of time for
this to be resolved. . . Today my friend Pavel Bure is living and playing in
America, and for people to say bad things about my friends and about rumors of
my friends saying bad things about me is not only impolite, untruthful and
improper, but it does nothing to help everyone in the sphere of world
Whom do you blame for this bad reputation and rumors?
I can't even tell you whom for sure or even what country. Let me explain. In
my opinion what happened was that information was sent by our agencies (KGB)
to the American agencies (CIA etc.) -- information and agencies trying to get
the better of one another. If there was no secret information, then there
would be no need for these agencies. It's a front to show fictitious stories
and numbers in order to try and impress each other's governments. . .
So, who is to blame: America? Russia? Who knows. . . What information or
reasons does the FBI have to classify me as an undesirable for entry into their
country? If there is any information, I am willing at anytime to answer any
questions. Every person should have the right to know. If this is because of
the accusation in Puerto Rico, consorting with criminal elements, then there is
nothing really to say. I myself know where I went and what I did. If I have
any links to criminal elements, then I would not be sitting in this office
today, an office, which is only 100 meters from the Kremlin, the President of
our country. All these windows and doors are always under scrutiny. If I am
not involved in any wrongdoing for my own country, then how am I involved in
wrongdoing for another country? . . . I would like to ask the Americans-- why a
person who can help both our countries is being blacklisted? Time heals
Thank you very much for making your opinion so strongly.
You're welcome, this is the first time that I have had to voice my opinions in
an interview on this situation. I have read about these rumors and mistakes
but did not really take them seriously. . .
Do you think that you'll be the President of Russia someday?
Yes, possibly. I am a member of a political club that will put forth a
candidate for the Presidency of Russia. Today we have a large group of some
131 different people. The Presidential campaign is not yet under way. Yeltsin
still has a full one year term left. I feel I don't have to criticize today's
President. Let us see what the future brings.
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