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Moscow is an amazing city. Anything can happen here ... Take for example, an average book store. Here the choice is slightly above the average. All appears uneventful, but, most importantly all is quiet, without any jostling, so what more does the Moscow intelligentsia need? It is not like it was in the past, when you could buy a book, put it under your arm, and go to a nearby cafe with portraits of different writers on the walls, grab a tea or a coffee, or maybe 50 grams or even 100 grams of vodka, and you are good! You could sit and read, write something, or contemplate something sad. Just like some Montparnasse.

ON 25 AUGUST 1952, Stalin received French Ambassador Louis Joxe for a working meeting at which the ambassador in reply to Stalin's question about the nature of NATO from Charles de Gaulle's perspective hinted that the bloc was an absolutely peaceful structure strictly within the UN Charter. "Stalin laughed and asked Vyshinsky, who was present during the conversation, whether the U.S.S.R. should join it then." Nikolai Kochkin who had spent some time in the Russian Foreign Ministry's archives pointed out: "From every indication, it was simply irony, but it cannot be ruled out that Stalin had some latent intentions" {Mezhdunarodnaia zhizn, No. 1-2, 2009, www.interaffairs.ru). In 1951, Andrei Gromyko repeatedly stated: "If this pact was aimed against the restoration of German aggression, the U.S.S.R. would join NATO."

In March 1954, twelve months after Stalin's death, the Soviet Union sent a note to the governments of the United States, France and Great Britain which said that the North Atlantic Alliance created a closed group of states and ignored the task of preventing another German aggression. The U.S.S.R., the only of the great powers — members of the anti-Hitler coalition left outside the Alliance, could not but treat it as an aggressive structure aimed against the Soviet Union. Under certain conditions, namely, if it united all great powers — members of the anti-Hitler coalition, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would have lost its aggressive nature. In view of this the Soviet government was prepared "to consider jointly with the interested governments the question of the participation of the U.S.S.R. in the North Atlantic Treaty."

THERE ARE TIMES when the human soul is filled from within with such an overbearing and unassailable feeling of evil and gloom that it requires inhuman power, some extraordinary exploit to overcome it ... This is when the person prone to suicide shouts faint-heartedly: "I don't want to live, and I'm not going to live," while the long sufferer beseeches: "I can't live, but I yearn for Life." This is akin to the Agony in the Garden, when Jesus prayed in such earnest that it was as if great drops of blood were falling to the ground, when he prayed for this cup to pass him by.. .so that the light would not be engulfed by darkness. And not somewhere remote, in far-off galaxies, but right here in the heart, and only then in the galaxies, which, compared with the human heart, are nothing but dust and ashes... "All around me I see treason, cowardice and deceit" are not only the words Emperor Nicholas II used to reproach his contemporaries for forsaking him, they express the agony he felt for them, "for they know not what they do." Had he not felt this agony, the Sovereign's daughter would not have written, "He forgave everyone...," which was the message of reconciliation he asked her to give everyone who had remained faithful to him. He also forgave us, only do we really "not know what [we] do..."? After the toxic gas of the revolutionary propaganda evaporated, after the whole of Soviet historiography had insulted and spit in the face of the royal family, after the archives were opened for public perusal, after the letters, diaries, memoirs, and eye-witness accounts were published, and after we became free to take sober account of the tragedy of the royal family's murder, we suddenly hear from the television screens and from the incompetent historian: "The empress was a idiot." While another philosophizing TV anchorman, primping and preening, would say sneeringly: "I am not one of those who believes Nicholas II was a man of strong will." These people cannot "not to know"; they simply do not want to know. 

"The elephant in the boa hat," was drawn by a little prince and resembled an ordinary hat, touching in its naivety the correctness of the child's drawing. "The man in the boa hat" is a scary, but prophetic dream of today’s world. Today Gogol would more likely to have exclaimed: "it is stuffy to live in this world, gentlemen!" However, one can get used to the stuffy atmosphere ... And therefore of particular interest to us are the people, or rather, those of their thoughts, which were born in the unclouded atmosphere that failed to absorb the miasma of the stuffiness of the mind.