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Honoring a General Who is Silenced

Published: September 30, 2003 (Issue # 906)


MOSCOW - If asked the way to General Anatoly Romanov's ward in the Burdenko Central Military Hospital, almost any of the staff can give directions. The hospital's department No.18 has been home for almost eight years to the former commander of federal troops in Chechnya.

Here in the two-room ward, once the most respected of Russian generals spends his lonely days, sitting in a wheelchair by the window or watching television.

Having miraculously survived a deadly attack during the first Chechnya campaign, Romanov, who turns 55 on Saturday, does not talk or walk due to the severe brain damage he sustained.

The general's wife, Larisa Romanova, who has become his spokeswoman and representative, even stepping in to receive military awards for him, said she believes the attack was a political hit, since it came as he was negotiating with the rebels to try to end the war.

Romanova said she has many questions for his commanders, but sees no point in raking up the past. "What shall we win if I smear everybody? My husband will not rise to his feet and walk because of that," she said in a recent interview at the Biblio Globus bookstore, where she works as a commercial director.

Without pointing a finger, she said too many interests were involved in the 1994-1996 Chechen war, and not only Chechen rebels, who were blamed for the attack, would have had an interest in sidelining her husband.

Romanov was wounded Oct. 6, 1995, when a bomb exploded as his motorcade was passing through an underpass near Minutka Square in central Grozny. His bodyguard and driver were killed, and only a few pieces were left of the jeep that Romanov was traveling in.

The general, who narrowly escaped death, was rushed to Vladikavkaz and then to Moscow with numerous injuries. He remained in a coma for about a year.

The attack occurred at a time when Romanov was making progress in peace talks with the Chechen rebels and it was widely seen as aimed aimed at sabotaging the talks. After taking up the post in July 1995, he had traveled extensively throughout Chechnya to persuade rebels to lay down their arms in exchange for a promise of a partial withdrawal of federal troops.

After the attack, the peace talks stalled for almost a year until another general, Alexander Lebed, and separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov reached a peace agreement in the town of Khasavyurt in neighboring Dagestan.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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