“Next day Sasha was immediately put under surveillance, and a car would constantly follow his. This led to strange episodes, because whenever we went for a long drive – and after all, Sasha knew all these guys – he’d tell them he was going to this place or that, so that the poor fellows wouldn’t have to scour the city looking for him. When we bought a roast chicken, we’d buy two, because we realized the guys were cold and hungry, it was winter, and all this was pure nonsense. The officers were going their job, but they were aware of what they were doing. They may have felt ashamed and embarrassed, but they were being forced to do it. Then the surveillance was removed – and they walked over to us and said: ‘Today is the last day, so have a good Christmas.’ Well, our phone was tapped, obviously, and there were specific restrictions on movement – if we went anywhere, we had to report it.
“But in the summer it was suddenly decided that the trial would be held not in Moscow, but in Naro-Fominsk [about 70 km southwest of Moscow, tr.]. And then Sasha said this wasn’t right – he was afraid that down there they would be able to do anything they liked: there would be no journalists present, there would be no monitoring. He started to be really apprehensive. Just at that time he began to receive hints that the responsibility for his misdeeds would be borne not only by him, but also by his. One of the cops dropped him a hint about how they punished those who went against the system. No one was willing to see that he hadn’t gone against the system, but had rather made an open attempt to clean it up. They said: ‘You had no right to wash that dirty linen in public.’ And when Sasha realized that this could also have a serious impact on us, his wife and child, he began to consider leaving the country.
“He didn’t share his plans with me, and so right until the last moment I didn’t believe that I was leaving Russia forever. First he went away on his own – he said he was going to Nalchik [in southern Russia, tr.] to see his father, to get help with selling the apartment. Then through a friend he told me to buy a mobile phone, so that he could communicate with me. Then he asked me to book a package holiday to any country, and to tell no one that we were going away. I booked a two week tour to Spain, and told my friends I was ill. Apart from mother, no one knew about our departure. Sasha was still suffering so much – we were already sitting in the plane, and he kept asking: ‘Marina, are you on the plane now’ He was very afraid that they wouldn’t let us out of the country.
“My son and I were alone in Spain, and I really did fall ill. We had three days left, and I was getting ready to go home. And then Sasha said: ‘We probably won’t go home.’ But I didn’t understand: how could it be that we wouldn’t go home? I couldn’t do that. He said: ‘If you go to Russia, I’ll follow you. But if I go back, they will put me in prison again, and they may kill me.’ And again I decided to I would stay with Sasha. We agreed to meet in Turkey, didn’t see each other for almost a month. He was really in a bad state, had lost weight. We met in Antalya, the road back home was already cut off. On Boris Abramovich [Berezovsky]’s request, in Turkey we met Alik Goldfarb, he helped us to find our feet. The first discussion was about obtaining asylum in the USA. We went to the American embassy, but they said: ‘We’re very sorry, but there are elections just now, and we can’t take this responsbilitity.’ It would take a long wait to get an ordinary visa, and Turkey might give us away at any moment; so the decision was taken to travel further. And we went to London -therefore was accepted the solution to go further. And we went to London – there we didn’t need a visa , and it was possible to get a connecting flight from Istanbul to Moscow via London.”
(to be continued)
See also: Conversation