A YaK-40 jet crashed at the Sheremetyevo-1 airport in Moscow on March 9, 2000. Famous Russian journalist, Editor-in-Chief of popular newspaper Top Secret and president of Top Secret holding Artyom Borovik was among passengers who died in the crash. Exact details of the crash are not investigated yet. Some people believe it was an accident, but some are sure that the crash was premeditated. PRAVDA.Ru correspondent interviewed the widow of Artyom Borovik, Veronica Borovik-Khilchevskaya, who is currently president of Top Secret holding.
I talk today to a really very beautiful woman who managed to maintain composure even in a very difficult situation. Was it difficult to set up a holding that brings either fear or respect to people?
- I got acquainted with Artyom Borovik many years ago, in 1971, and we maintained relations all the time since that moment. Artyom was a completely independent person. I think that is why the holding itself became independent as well.
After graduation, Artyom was offered work at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, that was a very prestigious work. But he preferred working at a newspaper to the ministerial work. Most prestigious newspapers of that time, Pravda, Izvestia, were the mouthpiece of the Soviet Communist Party. Correspondents of these newspapers working abroad were on a very high and stable position. However, Artyom chose Sovetskaya Rossiya (Soviet Russia) newspaper.
He desired to work in Afghanistan at the time of war there. But he understood perfectly well that his family would negatively take the idea of going to Afghanistan. When we were not yet married, he told me about the desire and I was shocked. Artyom kept the intention to leave for Afghanistan in secret till the very last moment. It was his first business trip abroad. Later, he was to Afghanistan several times more, and also, at the Soviet troops’ withdrawal. His reports from that war were horrifying, he saw the last Soviet soldier die in Afghanistan. When Artyom got back home, he began writing his essays and a book.
It was really very difficult to publish a truthful book about Afghan war written by Artyom Borovik, and finally it was published after much censorship. When the book was published, Artyom was offered work at the Top Secret newspaper (the newspaper was first published in 1989). Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Yulian Semenov respected Artyom for his creative potential. Unfortunately, Yulian Semenov soon suffered his first heart attack, and Artyom became editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
Do you still support ideas of Artyom Borovik?
- I always shared Artyom’s striving for independence. I should say that the holding is still financially independent, even now. Currently, we have only one American partner. Independence is the cornerstone of our reputation and of the Top Secret brand. People read the newspaper and like it very much because they know that we publish only what we ourselves think, not what some officials say us to publish. We always have arguments to support everything what we publish. We can publish what other editions can’t afford saying. People working in the holding are bright, we are a solidary team. Artyom paid special attention to creation of the team, every member is special. Legal department of the holding is wonderful, we publish our articles only after obligatory approval of our lawyers. That is why we are sure winners of legal proceedings that are initiated against the holding.
Every member of the holding understands his own responsibility for what the holding does. We are not backed by oligarchs, and we realize perfectly well that we should rely upon ourselves only. So, if we want the holding to survive, we should work hard.
What do you think about Vladimir Gusinky?
- I remember a moment when Russian television NTV wanted to demonstrate Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, the film so much criticized by the Orthodox Church. Despite protests of the Moscow Patriarchate and requests not to demonstrate the film, The Last Temptation of Christ was demonstrated on NTV. Gusinsky waived all protests aside and said NTV was a private channel that could demonstrate everything the management desired. It is not right to behave like this toward the church, one should also respect interests of other people. To my mind, Vladimir Gusinsky has lost connection with the reality.
Were any attempts ever organize upon you?
- We had some problems, and they still occur, as the struggle continues. My opinion is that censorship is currently rather strong on ORT television, it is not called censorship exactly but it still exists. However, we also enjoy support of our readers. Although, Top Secret is not so great, but we do attract people’s attention.
Could you ever guess that such tragedy might happen to your husband?
- Certainly that occurred unexpectedly. On the other hand, that autumn was rather tense because of a political struggle in the parliament. Position of Artyom, and consequently of the whole holding toward events in the country was particular. The holding experienced hardest pressure at that period, the Minister for Press Mikhail Lesin even had to leave for the USA. He met with our American partner and told that the latter’s investments were in great danger, and the newspaper would be stripped of its license. Reaction of the American partner was quick: he told everyone that he was blackmailed. In winter the situation became less tense, and Artyom even wanted to enter the big politics. When elections were over, he decided to pay more attention to business and develop the newspaper.
What helped you to go through the awful tragedy?
- Our children.
What would you say to those people who set up their business by shedding other people’s blood?
- Berezovsky’s participation in this nightmare is great. It began when an armed conflict was provoked in Chechnya: people schemed a small-scale war to earn some money on it. It began when then-Defense Minister Grachev allowed to kill Russian tankmen.
What we experience now is the result of what was done over the first period of the Chechen war. It was a crime when Chechnya was first armed and then involved into war only because some people wanted to launder dirty money.
Are you an optimist or pessimist? What is your wish to our readers?
- I am always optimistic. I am an active and energetic person. I want the Chechen war to be over so that Russians could be proud of the country.
Do you believe it is possible?
- If it were not my strong belief, I would never say so. To live in a good, civilized and developed country, each of us should make honest efforts at the workplace.
Interview prepared by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/22/46091.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969