Grigory Pasko: The Journalists’ Ball


On 13 February in Moscow in the center of international trade there took place a ball of the press, dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Union of journalists of Russia. There were around a thousand people from various regions of the country. I even ran into old buddies from Vladivostok, who said to me: «There are many among us who think that you’re living beyond the border». In a way they’re right: Moscow – this is the “abroad” of Russia.

Of famous journalists I saw at the ball Genrikh Borovik, Alexey Simonov, Pavel Gusev, Dmitry Muratov, Yuri Rost, Vitaly Cheyshev, Alexander Minkin… Of the very famous – former Boris Yeltsin bodyguard Korzhakov, who after his dismissal edited a little yellow paper (now there’s a real journalist for you…).

Of course, whatimpressed was that the words of greeting in honor of such a jubileesounded from the stage from the mouths of some kind of unknown (to me,at any rate) people: a deputy mayor of either the mayoralty, or of somedistrict of the capital; an employee of the press-center of the SochiOlympiad; some kind of military types… The only one I recognized wasState Duma Deputy Boris Reznik, who gladdened those gathered with newsthat somewhere in the bowels of our wonderful Duma, a new edition ofthe law on the mass information media has been hatched. (I can alreadyimagine JUST WHAT was written there by THIS Duma!) Of course, thechairman of the Union, Vsevolod Bogdanov, also spoke. But for somereason, he too did not read a congratulatory statement from presidentof All the Russias Medvedev and his boss. The latter, by the way, withhis unique martinet’s humor, could easily have congratulated thejournalists (whose death, as is known, brings him more harm than theirarticles).

What amazed me was that on the stage in the capacity of a backdrop werehuge posters…No, not with the portraits of journalists slain in recentyears and months, but – of «Putinka» vodka. That is, there was agreeting from the martinet after all. And not without humor.


Of course, one can imagine what efforts it’s costing Bogdanov andhis colleagues in such a time to preserve the Union, which, in thewords of the chairman himself, «is striving to preserve the besttraditions of Russian journalistics – morality, social responsiveness,patriotism». In such a time, when you need to (I quote Bogdanov onceagain) «draw up a clearly-defined system for the legal, material, andmoral protection of journalists», like it or not you’ve got to contentyourself with the fact that they’re still allowing you to gather at aball, and not behind barbed wire, in the lokalka of a strict-regimezone.

Happy holiday, colleagues!

Upper photo: At the journalists’ union 90th anniversary ball (photo by Grigory Pasko)

Lower photo: «Putinka» – the official beverage of the press ball? (photo by Grigory Pasko)