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IN ANTICIPATION OF the President's visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Smolensky Square was spruced up fit for a king. The marble was polished until it shone, and all the cars were removed from the parking lot. The pompous conference hall, which has seen more auspicious occasions and guests in its time than one would care to count, removed its crimson red apparel to don a shade of subtle terracotta instead. The ministry's new emblem, approved the previous day by the President, adorned the wall with its heraldic symbol emblazing the center, while each of the eagle's talons clutched a palm branch distinctly reminiscent of goose feathers. The image does not seem complete, however, without the wax-sealed scroll, the prototype of old embassy dispatch...

The atmosphere of intense anticipation was defused by the President's delay; he would not arrive and deliver his speech for another three hours. This gave Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov, Chairman of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin, and Chairman of the Management Board of the Institute of Contemporary Development Igor Yurgens the opportunity to speak at the very beginning of the meeting. They were listened to attentively, just as the audience listens to the overture at the opera while the curtain is still closed before the main performers appear.

"Are you are looking for investments that could bring in 2,000% in three years? “ The "Wall Street Journal" in 1995 teased its readers. “Only one stock market promises such a result ... Russia.” Yet, as noted in her book "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein, Yeltsin "deviated" from the doctrine of the Chicago school, by not allowing foreigners to directly buy up "Russian wealth." Still, the profits were astronomical. First of all, enterprises fell into the hands of a new layer of society, the so-called oligarchs, and these opened the door for foreign companies. 

"Spread this truth - the laws of economics are like the laws of engineering. The same set of laws works everywhere." This postulate is worthy of an inhabitant of a lunatic asylum, but belongs to a completely sane person named Lawrence Summers: Chief Economist of the World Bank in 1991. "Yes sir!"  Said the Russian version of the "Chicago boys", "spilling" all over the face of their native land. Exceptionally arrogant and unquestioning, unfamiliar with the basics of real economics, they assimilated two or three rules of the "shock therapy" theory, lacking even a basic understanding (like dressing up!). These "market Bolsheviks" started what Naomi Klein calls in her book "creative destruction."

Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine" argues that instead of a "spineless" Gorbachev, for a radical reform of the Soviet Union, the West sought a Russian Pinochet and found him in the person of Boris Yeltsin. Of course, in political terms, this comparison is "lame." Yeltsin built a concentration camp on the football field at the Luzhniki Stadium, but did not physically eliminate tens of thousands of members of the opposition, he did not throw in jail those disgruntled with the regime, and they were not subjected to severe torture. Even the shooting of the White House in Moscow can’t be put on same par with the Chilean general. So the question is: "Who was looking for whom: was the West looking for Yeltsin, or was Yeltsin looking for the West?" The question remains open. Apparently, the movement was mutual...

Not so long ago in Moscow bookstores, Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine. The rise of disaster capitalism" appeared. Its author is a well known Canadian journalist, who has been published in major journals, such as: "New York Times", "The Guardian," "Harper's Magazine" and the Canadian "Globe and Mail". However, fame came to her not only through newspaper articles, but from the book “No Logo. People Against brands," which in its time has been translated into 28 languages, including Russian and millions of copies have been published.

The future is bleak if the present is burdened with a legacy that still awaits rational analysis... Skimming through the Western media, it is hard to take seriously occasional complaints that today's Russia is subjecting its neighbors to what used to be known as Finlandization in the Cold War era. In the context, one can't but recall the aggressive Finlandization – or, in the US terms, Canadization – that Russia had to endure in the 1990ies.

As an influential US paper wrote recently, over the past two decades proponents of humanitarian interventions have remained convinced that some countries are not entitled to independent domestic policies and should face punishment for defiance. During the period of time, the concept of limited sovereignty was imposed on a number of states by external forces while others - who chose to partake in the EU - in fact adopted it freely, at least on the formal level. A Russian writer remarked ironically that freshness of foodstuffs is a condition that affords no gradation. The same should normally be true of sovereignty – the phenomenon known as limited sovereignty clearly invites a less diplomatic descriptive term.

More than one generation of historians will ask themselves the question, "when did the Cold War begin?" The complexity of the matter is that it slid into place gradually and secretly. However, it seems clear that each of the former allies moved to their own Rubicon and this transition did not coincide synchronously in the actions and intentions of the three great powers. There is no doubt that Churchill was the first. He was to take public action that can be seen as the first salvo in this war. 

In 1972, Molotov could not stop wondering: "Churchill is one of the victorious leaders, and I still can’t explain to myself how it could happen that he failed in the 1945 elections." In fact it is indeed extraordinary and inexplicable. Some romantically-minded historians even believed that with the departure of the "heroes" it was a time for mediocrity. Churchill later played up to such comments, for instance, throwing away phrases such as: "When the war of the giants ends, the war of the pygmies begins

HUMAN MEMORY recoils from the vast or even boundless expanse of the last war; it breaks it into events, periods and stages to better cope with its tragic grandeur. Thousands of those drawn in its whirlpool were aware of this yet not all of them proved equal to the task of passing their personal experience to the future generations. New facts and new documentsreveal new dimensions of well-known facts; they even upturn our ideas about the past and many of our former approaches together with the meaning of the past events. It seems that mankind should pool efforts to draw on its collective memories to move closer to the line from which the vast panorama of this war can be seen in its entirety.

November 1943: a photograph published in all corners of the world shows the British premier and his Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden at the Tehran Conference. Seated, Sir Winston looks straight at the camera; his face betrays the already familiar and somewhat grim charisma. You are looking at the man determined to go to the end. This brings to mind thedesperate Battle of Britain when Churchill said in the House of Commons that if Britain was occupied "the Empire will carry on the struggle" beyond the seas, in the New World. Anthony Eden standing behind his premier looks like a true Englishman.

Proud bearing, high and noble brow, the eyes looking into the distance where the dawn of a future victory can be seen: the contrast between them is striking. In the photo Churchill looks like a skipper minus a pipe. He was the skipper destined to save his country from a deadly threat. Romanticism was alien to him: he never lost sight of the reefs, sand-banks and mines which threatened his ship.

In February 1945 at an airport in the Crimea, Churchill arrived at the Yalta conference and started to behave extravagantly. Passing by the guard of honor, instead of observing the usual protocol he started to closely scrutinize the faces of the officers and soldiers standing frozen "at attention," as if trying to read something in their faces. However, those greeting him and watching the scene did not find it offensive. To many it was obvious - Churchill wanted to understand and see the qualities that made these people capable of a victorious resistance against the most powerful military machine in history. I must say that the Premiere’s curiosity had been warmed up by the most recent developments on the Western Front.