Rather anarchist and ivory-tower, but… whatever. Reporters have only two choices: work for either privately-owned or state-owned media. I chose the People. Even if this closes a million doors to me — and the fact that I work for the Iranian People closes a million others — I have zero regrets.
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Binu Mathew, Editor of Countercurrents. Can you tell us how you came to be who you are? Can you tell us about your formative years? AV: Formative years There were many of them, and actually, I feel that I am still evolving, until now. People always do, I believe and hope. I was born in the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, in an unbelievably beautiful city of Leningrad, built by insane Peter the Great and by a few no less insane Italian and French architects, on the shores of wide and powerful river Neva, right near the mosquito-infested swamps.
I did not live there long, just three years or so, but the city always stayed inside me. My mother is half Russian, half Chinese, while my father is Czech, a scientist. At the age of three I was taken to a boring, industrial city of Pilsen Plzen in what was then Czechoslovakia; a city also known for its beer and proximity to Bavaria. My father belongs to that old generation of scientists who believed that they could change and improve the world.
He loved classical music, philosophy, literature and good wine - to him, all this was inseparable from the scientific concepts, from dreaming and imagining. He explained Theory of Relativity of Einstein to me, when I was 8, and he taught me how to play chess and think logically. My mother was just a baby when the WW II erupted. Half of my family died during the siege of Leningrad, starved and bombed by German Nazis. She actually almost died from starvation. My grandma fought Germans, was decorated for bravery: she helped to defend and then to rebuild her beloved city.
Her husband, my grandfather, was a Communist, a Soviet cabinet minister, and an ethnic Chinese from Kazakhstan. He held ministerial posts for medical care and for food supply. My grandfather was executed. Why am I telling you this, Binu? Because my formative years began when I was 3. My family was pulling me apart. My grandmother and my mother educated me as a Soviet boy, on great Russian literature, music, poetry. Every year I was sent for months to Leningrad, to my grandma, and she would spoil me silly, dragging me to the opera houses, to concerts, museums.
I loved and missed Russia enormously, while living most of the year in emotionally cold and pragmatic Czechoslovakia. Both women - mother and grandmother: never tried to spare me of all those horrors they survived during the war. I lived through their stories they had to go through during the Siege of the city. My mother would often read me Russian poetry, and she cried. She missed her country and her city, tremendously. She was terrified by the war, even so many years after it ended. I was missing Leningrad, too.
I still do. Then the came, and I was barely 5. Since then, there was no childhood. Since the first grade of elementary school, my life was one huge battle for survival. Between each class, several boys would come and unceremoniously beat me up, just for having Russian mother. First, I suffered in silence. Then I began fighting back. You know how racist Europeans are. I was constantly attacked not only because my mother was "Russian"; it was mainly because she had Asian features.
I still remember that talk: "Look at your disgusting Asian ears, you shit". When I played badminton in a gym, kids were pissing into my shoes during winter, and urine would turn to ice. My parents divorced. Their marriage collapsed. But also, their political ideas were different. My father left Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
I was getting two totally different interpretations of the political events, since I was 5. From several highly intellectual and bright individuals in my family. I had to decide what was right and wrong. They destroyed my childhood, but made a tough writer out of me, at a very early age. I have never forgiven them. In the same time, I am very grateful to them.
But above all, to my grandmother, who departed some 20 years ago. I miss her, and I admire her, more and more. BM: You became a U. S citizen as a teenager. Can you tell us about the politics behind it? But I left Czechoslovakia, with the Soviet passport, when I was very young. They have been bitching throughout their modern history, but they were serving everyone who was in power. And they were always living extremely well.
Under "Communism" they had their comfortable flats, summer houses, cars. I guess, as a young writer, I was longing for at least some purity. I hit the bottle, too. I smoked two packs a day. I could have almost any girl I desired. But it was all going, somehow, in a wrong direction. I began listening to the Western propaganda outlets. I was thoroughly brainwashed into accepting official Western narrative regarding the " events". Divorce of my parents meant that I was, since early age, free to do basically what I desired.
I travelled, on shoestrings, by train, all over Eastern Europe, from Balkans to Poland, alone. I think I began when I was I got myself a girlfriend in Poland, who was a member of student "Solidarity". We took couple of trips to Gdansk, during protests. I did not care much about grades. When I needed money, I did some translations, as I spoke fluently in several languages. Looking back, I was too young for all this; of course, I was.
My life had no structure. In fact, I was deeper and deeper influenced by the Western propaganda, and losing my marbles. To fast-forward, I sent my first book of poetry to the West, and at somepoint,was ordered to leave the country.
After all, I had Soviet citizenship, and Czechoslovak authorities saw me as an embarrassment - they had no idea what to do with me.
After dramatic hitchhiking through half of Europe, I spent some time in Italy, and then, very quickly, got political asylum and moved to New York. I studied film. I worked simultaneously as an interpreter. My first wife was extremely talented concert pianist from Houston. Right from the beginning, I realized that I had been indoctrinated, and that the reality of the West was totally different from what I heard from its propaganda media outlets.
I was surrounded by fellow students at Film School of Colombia University, when the first attack against Libya took place. I was promptly explained what was going on. It was before Harlem was turned into a middle-class neighborhood - before the poor people were forced to move out. It was real Harlem. I used to go there all the time, to an old jazz club called Baby Grand, to drink with the local people, learning about their life.
Why did you choose the hard path? AV: During those years I saw real America. My first wife was from very rich family. They were in oil business.
Had I chosen to, I could have had anything I could ask for. I never did. But I saw clearly, how that world functioned. Stuff like that
Nous le faisons de plus en plus souvent, chaque fois que nous en avons les moyens. Mais nous ne sommes pas comme eux. Plus nos objectifs sont purs, et plus leurs commentaires sur nos actes sont sales. Pas toujours, mais souvent. Plus maintenant. Ils publient des milliards de feuilles remplies de mensonges. Mais que voulons-nous vraiment?
La rubrique de André Vltchek
How I became a revolutionary and internationalist: André Vltchek