March 01, 2010

Memories of Perestroika

This year makes 25 since Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on his brave—and ultimately hopeless — attempt to rescue the Soviet system. The following are random memories of an ordinary visitor during those years.

⁋ The sudden death of my favorite morning routine — ice-cream with champagne at the Lyagushatik café on Nevsky Prospect. Orange punch was a lousy alternative.

⁋ Vehement and wildly incoherent street debates on the new “Speakers’ Corner” outside the Moskovskiye Novosti offices, where, to a Westerner, violence seemed imminent but, these being Russians, never happened. Though I did once flee, pursued by an acid-faced female pensioner-terrorist screaming “Trotskist!”

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