Two Journalists in Kazan, Ten Years Later
On our original trip to Russia in 1995, Gary and I turned to journalist Vladimir Muzychenko for help in finding a local family to cover in Kazan. "Call me Bob," he'd barked, sticking out a meaty hand in greeting. He'd then proceeded to tear up the phone lines, making call after call and shouting into the receiver until he'd found a story for us.
Ten years later, David and I walked into Vladimir's office at the Kazanskiye Vedomosti newspaper to find he hasn't changed a bit -- though he did want us to note one difference. "I've lost weight!" he exclaimed, his opening volley of rapid-fire comments, only about half of which I understood. His desk is still strewn with papers, he still works the phones like a madman, and he still introduces himself to visitors as "Bob."
Vladimir's take on the situation in Tatarstan wasn't quite as rosy as those of others we've talked to. For one thing, he didn't like the fact that there are two official languages here -- Russian and Tatar, which his young son has to study in school. "Where do you live?" he asked me. "Washington? Are there two official languages there? Is there any state in America where there are two official languages? Russians don't like this -- certain forces here pushed this agenda, but we don't want it.
"Who needs the Tatar language?" he went on. "Isn't it better to learn English or French, a language that can actually help you in the world?" Vladimir's conversation is punctuated by bursts of boyish laughter. One of his favorite gestures, which he often uses to explain the cause of a given situation, is to rub the fingers of one hand together while saying in English, "Money, money!"
Later in the day, David and I went to see Mila Aituganova, another journalist I'd met 10 years ago. Then, she was a program editor at the government radio station, trying to finish up her doctorate in history. Now, she's a bigwig at a new private satellite TV and radio company, Noviy Vek, which broadcasts in Tatar and Russian.
We met with her at her spacious office, complete with plush executive chair, big desk and assistants bringing in coffee. Noviy Vek, she told us, was founded five years ago "to unite those who are interested in Tatar culture, all over the world." The company includes a TV station, radio station, newspaper and website, and plans are in the works to put broadcasts on the Internet.
Following up on our theme from yesterday, we asked Mila her thoughts about Chechens and their ongoing battle with the Russians. "War is profitable," she said simply. "The longer it goes on, the more profitable it is for certain people. The nationalism question has been built up by the Russian press, but it's a falsely created enmity."
I asked what she meant by that. "The Chechens don't like being painted this way," she said. "They don't want war either. When a terrorist act happens in Moscow, the Russians say, 'Aha, it's the Chechens.' But you can't blame it on all the Chechen people. An entire nationality is not terrorist."
Tomorrow: Solving the mystery of why Kazan celebrated its 1000-year anniversary this year -- just 28 years after its 800th anniversary.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: oleg | October 26, 2005 04:57 PM
Posted by: Artem K. Khamzin | October 26, 2005 07:57 PM
Posted by: Artem K. Khamzin | October 26, 2005 07:59 PM
Posted by: oleg | October 26, 2005 09:56 PM
Posted by: oleg | October 26, 2005 10:09 PM
Posted by: Lisa Dickey | October 27, 2005 12:49 AM
Posted by: Artem K. Khamzin | October 27, 2005 01:08 AM
Posted by: Igor | October 27, 2005 06:00 AM
Posted by: oleg | October 27, 2005 11:58 AM
Posted by: David Clark | October 27, 2005 12:28 PM
Posted by: Liliya | October 27, 2005 11:17 PM
Posted by: Tatar | November 7, 2005 10:51 AM
Posted by: Lisa Dickey | November 7, 2005 12:09 PM
Posted by: Tatar | November 8, 2005 02:54 AM