Saturday, January 27, 2007

Conversation - VII

Continued

Did your husband have his papers with him?

“No, a passport had been made for him. We’d landed in London, and 15 minutes later Sasha approached a policeman and told him that he wanted to apply for political asylum. Alik [Goldfarb] suffered very badly as a result of this - for several months he was persona non grata for having helped illegal immigrants. We felt so embarrassed in his presence. Even now when he flies to America, he has to answer supplementary questions at passport control - there must be a mark next to his name… “

“On November 1 2000 our new life in England began. We had to wait until May for our case to be decided, and when the decision to give Sasha and his family political asylum came through, that brought some stability, for before that there were constant attempts to extradite him, and he kept being called in for questioning. At the [Russian] embassy they knew where we lived in London. Not that that we were in hiding - but when mother came to visit me for the first time, on her return home she was held for five hours at the customs in Sheremetevo Airport, they subjected her to a humiliating search, undressed her completely, trying to find something, mocked her for five hours. And when they found a piece of paper with our address on it in her purse, they were so happy. Then people were sent from the embassy to that address to serve us with a court summons.

“But, no matter how strange it may seem, we felt very happy in England right from the outset. I personally never felt I was in danger, although Sasha would sometimes tell me not to let Tolya go out on his own. It wasn’t any kind of harsh punishment. He had no desire to change his appearance or keep a bodyguard. Sasha always used to say how safe he felt in London, though he realized he had not been pardoned, and that they would use any chance to try to get hold of him. He thought they wouldn’t dare to eliminate him in London, though he did see himself as a target for them. He was more worried for the safety of Berezovsky and Zakayev.”

What did you live on?

“Initially, Sasha got a grant for the book (Blowing Up Russia, N.M.). He was no businessman. He would say: ‘Marina, what sort of businessman am I? I’m an operative. I can create a security agency,’ - that was what he was trying to do in the last two years of his life. As for me, until I knew English I stayed at home. It’s only in the last year that I’ve started to give lessons to children and adults. But of course, it was Sasha who took care of the basic part of the family budget. He was very punctilious about things related to providing for his family. He was always trying to think ahead, to make sure he had work so there would be a guarantee of a year or two.”

Was he financially dependent on Berezovsky?

“He made a specific point of trying to find some sort of independent sources of income. So they remained great friends, and no one could ever understand that friendship of theirs.”

(to be continued)

See also: Conversation
Conversation - II
Conversation - III
Conversation - IV
Conversation - V
Conversation - VI
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