|Ilya Salavskiy, right, at a protest action in Oxford, May 2016. Euromaidan Press.|
We all start from personal experience. I covered the Soviet Union in its final decrepit years.Actually, no. As Brussels-based deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1990 to 1994, Brooks got his byline on exactly four articles mentioning the Soviet Union, suggesting two visits to Moscow (and none after the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991):
- A puff piece ("It's too late for a party congress", 2 July 1990) extolling Ilya Saslavskiy, a Ukrainian Oxford graduate and member of the National People's Congress, calling him a "combative intellectual" and "New Soviet Man" representing the "real action" in the Communist Party. Saslavskiy became an American and was working for BP's Russian operations when he and his brother Oleksandr were arrested for spying on behalf of the US and Ukraine in 2008—not because they were actually spies, but because Putin found it useful in his campaign to turn BP into Rosneft. I'm glad to report the brothers (who were sentenced to two years probation) seem to be OK, see photo at top. The Soviet Union, of course, had no future.
- A review ("The Soviet Reality: Murder, Apathy, Dishonesty", 17 July 1990) of Stanislav Govorukhin's 1990 documentary We Can't Live Like This which, Brooks notes, was applauded by the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- A lengthy opinion piece ("In USSR, possession is better than the law", 16 May 1991) illustrating the collapse of rule of law with the case of an astrophysicist, "Maxim Hlobov", who succeeded in stopping the KGB from stealing his new apartment. He got the name wrong (should be Khlopov—he's in France now, working in the Astroparticles and Cosmology Laboratory of the Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique de Particules).
- A travel piece ("An American in Moscow: Hard-currency god", 21 May 1991).