Saturday, January 20, 2007

Conversation

From: Natalya Mozgovaya, Conversation with Marina Litvinenko - 1 (my translation):

“Almost a month has passed since the moment when Sasha died, but the bitterness of the loss is only coming now,” says Marina Litvinenko. Tears fill her eyes, trickle down her cheeks, and she automatically brings to her face a handkerchief that is already soaked through. “It’s all right, this will happen from time to time… Apparently, there’s some kind of moment of inertia - you still feel the person, you live on feelings from the past, but now it’s going further and further away, and you gradually start to realize this. I think it hasn’t yet started for me, this most terrible moment, it’s only beginning to approach. Even when I saw him on the day he died - I didn’t yet feel that he wasn’t there any more. Sasha always said of our relationship: ‘Marina, I love you more than you love me.’ It was a joke, of course, but it’s only now, with the passage of time, that I realize how much I loved him.”

Marina first met Alexander Litvinenko in 1993. She was a dance instructor, and he was a detective. They were both 31 - she had a divorce behind her, while he was still married, with two children.

“It wasn’t love at first sight,” she smiles with embarrassment. “We weren’t young any more - Sasha had a marriage which had already more or less come to nothing, and I had a marriage which had ended 4 years before that; so there weren’t any particular illusions in that sense. He came to my place on my birthday with some friends of mine. They were also working in dance, and he helped them to clear up an unpleasant episode. They’d gone to Sri Lanka to appear in a show, and their impresario had 'conned' them. But when my friends found their own contacts, earned some money and came back, the people who had sent them there suddenly began demanding money from them, it was real extortion. At the time, Sasha was involved in fighting organized crime, foul play, extortion. My friends were very scared, they were afraid to go out after one of them had an encounter on the stairs and was very badly beaten, and was told: 'Next time we’ll just break your legs, and you won’t be able to dance any more.' When they brought Sasha to me on my birthday, they warned me: 'We’ve got an FSB man with us (maybe it wasn’t the FSB yet then, but the FSK, after the break-up of the KGB the name changed several times), Marina, he’s an unusual type, so cheerful, he has this sense of humour, he’s not at all like someone from the law enforcement agencies.' Well, we all have some stereotyped images of what ‘Chekists’ look like, and I had some too. And when I saw Sasha, there really was something that didn’t seem right, somehow - he was like a little boy, easy to get along with, on my first impression.

“It’s true that later on, when we got to know each other better, I saw his hardness, especially in serious situations, when he started to do his work or take decisions. But that was later, when his 10-year-old marriage had broken down - and he’d started to court me, very quietly and unnoticeably. At some point he just wrapped me in his attention, and I felt so comfortable and secure that I probably realized it was serious. He was a very emotional person. For example, when he gave me presents, he couldn’t wait, he would bring them a month, two months before the occasion. He’d say: ‘Marina, this is a present for you for March 8 [International Women’s Day, tr.]’, and it was only the end of January. And he’d bring me flowers. Perhaps not as often as I’d have liked, but when I really wanted them I could buy them for myself, and I’d tell Sasha: “I want to say a big thank you for giving me the chance to buy myself these flowers.” I realized that he simply didn’t have the time. But when he did it himself, it was twice as precious.”

(to be continued)

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