That's why it was so difficult, you know, because I went to play in the NHL
right when Soviet Union break down, and it was a very thin line between
[emigrating to North America] legal and illegal . . . They could call it
illegal movement or legal. And you know, in my case they call this legal.
And, obviously, [this helps] a lot mentally to. . . know your country's still
accepting you . . .
Where would the NHL be without the Russians?
Lots of European players doing really well in the NHL. . . I think
nowadays you can't really separate Europeans and North American players in the
NHL, because that's what the NHL is right now: All the players from all over
the world come and play NHL.
What about the state of hockey in the former Soviet Union--Russia today.
How badly has it sort of gone downhill since those days?
It's not best time for Russian hockey these days, because all the talent and
good players wanna play the best league in the world which is NHL . . . If they
could sign a contract with NHL team, obviously they're gonna move away from
Russia. And, it's kind of bad for the Russian hockey, but you cannot really
say just the Russia. It's all over the world, it's the same thing in Sweden
and Finland or even in Germany right now. . .
What do you think about the time when there was a whole pile of money
available to the hockey clubs in Russia--because of the special arrangement for
liquor tax and tobacco tax and exemptions - and the crooks moved in, started
taking the money away?
Well, that's the way it is, you know. What can you say? Hopefully, next time
it's gonna be more honest people. And they actually gonna really care about
hockey, not about themself. . .
Think that you'll live that long to see that kind of a turnaround?
Yes, I think so. I think so . . .
What about "after hockey" for Pavel Bure? I talked to your friend Anzor
Kikalishvili a couple months ago in Moscow. He says you have a political
You know, for now, I just wanna concentrate on hockey, and that's what I love
to do, that's what I've been doing all of my life, and hopefully I can do it
much longer. . . I don't wanna spread out myself, you know, or think about
business . . . And maybe it's not really smart of me, maybe I should think
what, well, what should I do after, and tell the truth, I don't know . . .
There's been controversy about your business arrangement with Anzor. Can you
tell me--what is that? What is your position in his company, 21st
There's no position at all. And I think I said this to everybody like two or
three years ago. I said I'm gonna play hockey for now. And that's what I've
been doing. . . I can't spread out myself, you know. . .
But people keep asking you and you don't answer it. Are you an executive
officer of the company?
You have nothing to do with it?
No, that's what I'm trying to explain you, that's what I said two, three years
ago. I said I wanna concentrate on the hockey, and I am a hockey player.
So I guess you are a star, a friend of Anzor's, and therefore, you know, you
lend your name to his enterprises, and his projects. Business, politics--
Well there's no projects at all, that's the most important. And yes, always
been saying, he is my friend, and I really like him as a man. I think he's
really generous. I think he helps people a lot. You know I've seen how many
times he helped poor people, and singers and actors . . . I know all those
rumors about him, but it's rumors . . . I have so many rumors about myself
[also]. . .
. . . and trust me, I have so many rumors which doesn't make sense at all. And
I just said to myself I'm gonna judge people how they're treating me, how
they're treating other people when I'm around them . . . A person does
something bad, it's not a good person. But unless they're proven. . .
What is the source of all this? For the last couple of years, nobody can
talk about Pavel, or to Pavel, without -- you talk about hockey for a little
while, then you talk about Anzor and you talk about 21st Century. What started
What started? I don't know. I don't know what started. I think it even
started before I even met [Anzor]. When I was playing Vancouver and one day I
got like twenty phone calls from all over the world and people were asking, Are
you alright? And I'm just like, Yeah, I'm okay. And they said, Well, it's like
everywhere your car got blown up. You know, I was like, which car? . . . The
story goes, I went out in Vancouver and asked my friend to bring my car from
the parking lot and I give him the key. So he went there to the parking lot,
start the car, and the car blew up. And I just got lucky because I didn't
actually went to the parking lot myself. And, after that, I think [such
rumors] just, you know, start to build up and I guess 'til now it's still
going. But you know it doesn't bother me at all because I know myself, I
didn't do anything wrong and I don't have intention to do anything wrong . . .
The rumor is that the mafia blew up your car?
Right. I remember this particular article, like on the front page of the
newspaper like -- BURE TARGET OF RUSSIAN MAFIA. It's like huge letters on
front page: 'Read the last page.' So you turn to the last page and there was
like little article about some guy, I think it was Zhitnik, had some
problem in Kiev. But there was nothing even about me. But, there's like, you
know, people get on the front page and they remember those big letters what it
said . . . I don't know what to answer. Like if I'm gonna deny it like
royally, you know, I'm gonna go on TV all the time or newspaper: No, it's not
true. People are gonna say: Yes, it is true. It's kind of a strange
situation because no matter what you do, you got no-win situation. . .
The FBI has asked you about this?
FBI never asked. . . They can ask me any kind of questions, but I got no
answers, you know. . . When this all started -- I know lots of people in
Moscow-- and I asked the Internal Minister and chief of -- it used to be KGB -- and I asked them, I said, you know, it's some people accusing
me, can you give me like piece of paper which says I'm not a mafia, I'm not a
gangster? It's like, Well, we don't give those kind of papers. . .
There's been a suggestion that Russian hockey players are in danger of
things like extortion and pressures --
Ah, yeah, well, you know, it just make me laugh. For you to understand, you
have to born in Soviet Union, in Russia, to understand whole society, whole
mentality of the people -- which you never will. I can explain you, but it
never would make sense to you.
Well, try. I've been there four or five times. . . Tell me about the
krysha, tell me what you understand by the notion of krysha, which is part of
the mentality that you're talking about.
Krysha. The roof.
Protection from who?
That's the point.
I can't really explain that, because I don't have a roof. I don't need a roof,
you know, so I don't have it. . . You can't really explain it. It's total
different society, it's total different mentality, and it's like black and
white, you have to be there and you have to be born there. . . After you live
for so many years you start to understand. . . So, I don't think anybody can
judge what's wrong in Russia or what's good in Russia. You can't judge, that's
the way it is. . . If you take whole [Russian] history, like five, ten
centuries ago: Today you're President, tomorrow you're criminal. Day after,
you're President again. It's just total different society. . .
But, you know, people in law enforcement circles are looking at you
critically. And people like Slava Fetisov, you know--you guys are famous and
you're respectable and you're very great athletes. But they're looking at you
very skeptically because of some of the friendships you have. What can you say
I can tell you one thing: I choose my friends. . . People can say whatever
they want about that person, and I'm gonna ignore it because I'm judging people
how they're treating me. And I think I would be a really bad friend, if I
would have a friend and somebody would say something bad about him and I would
believe the rumors, you know -- I can't be friends with you because somebody's
saying something bad about you. I think that I would be traitor.
What if it threatened your visa? What if it threatened your status in the
Well we'll deal with it, I don't know . . . I don't think it's gonna happen --
oh, actually, it could. But I'll deal with it, I don't know. . .
Has the league ever spoken to you about your friendship with a
Uh, yeah, was long time ago, yeah was probably five years ago I had a talk
[with] General Manager and President that time in Vancouver. . . He called me
up and he said it's no good here to hang around with [Anzori], and I just told
him exactly what I said to you. I said, you know, I can't betray my friends
just because of the rumors . . . If you can prove it, and, obviously, if I
would know for sure he had do something bad, I'm not gonna hang around with
Anzor Kikalishvili is very concerned that the police say that they are
inquiring about you, that they talk to you about your association. What do you
tell Anzori to reassure him?
. . . Actually the police doesn't ask me any questions. . . Most of the time
it's the media obviously. I understand that you don't ask for yourself, you're
asking for the people, for fans. And I understand I'm talking through you to
the fans. . . I think you should support your friends when they going through
the hard time. And you have to get behind them, if you think and you believe
they innocent. That's my answer.
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