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Idea to ask my father to write memories first come to me when he visited us in the USA in 1998. It was time of the total collapse of the economy in the stillborn Union of Independent States, formed in place of the USSR. Western media were publishing expert opinions that dire state of post Soviet economy is a result of mismanagement by either stupid or corrupted, or both “red directors” who are unable to mange effectively in free market environment. My father was one of those but perhaps not quite typical.
Unfortunately, it took several years to persuade him to begin writing. By this time he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease and writing, like other activities, become more and more difficult. Manuscript that he wrote was quite short and different from what I expected. He was reluctant to add chapters that I asked for, never refusing directly but preferring to do home chores instead of writing. Two years after he started, I visited him in Ukraine and attempted to push this project a bit close to the completion. However, in the middle of my visit, I learned something that forced me to think differently about his writings. Some guy, affiliated with KGB in Soviet times, approached me with an offer to publish, with his help, a book about “all these bandits in high places that your dad knows”. I realized that rumors about my father’s writings reach somebody who becomes worried about the content. (Now I think that I may be wrong about it and this guy was not a provocateur but a sincere corruption fighter. He was found hanged on shipyard fence few years later.) It was year 2003, time of criminal redistribution of billions worth property and almost every week newspapers publish stories about killings of inconvenient banker or stubborn enterprise director. Getting rid of retired director with no bodyguards was a child play. I stopped asking father about new stories and begin telling everybody that he is not doing it anymore. Quite likely he also understand dangers of his knowledge and for this reason he did not mention any names in his memoirs. After he passed away, I read his writings and realized that he skipped a lot of interesting stories; ones I remember well are included in this book others are gone with him.