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vice and questions about human rights.” We knock, and a pleasant young woman invites us
inside. The floor is wooden, covered with dried mud. There are several wooden desks, an
aging photocopier, a coffeemaker, an electric teakettle, and the telltale Memorial flag with
a red flame draped on the wall.
“The people you want to see will be here shortly,” the young woman says.
Sergei and I sit, and I can't help but think how this shabby office next door to a mani/
pedi shop says a lot about the battle for civil rights here. The organization fights a lack of
money and lots of government pressure to achieve a respected place in Russian society.
Several minutes pass, and an older woman walks through the door, gives us a look, and
motions to a table in the corner, where the teakettle and cookies are located.
“Ochen priyatno—David,” I say.
She turns the switch on the teakettle, munches on a cookie, and waits for the water to
heat. Sergei and I sit in the second and third wooden chairs at the table.
“What would you like to know?” she says. Sergei briefly tells her about my book, and
how he was told that she had a painful story from Soviet times that caught Memorial's in-
“You know they wrote a book about me?”
Angelina reaches into her bag and pulls it out. It's called The Whisperers: Private Life
in Stalin's Russia . The topic, which I mentioned earlier, is by British historian Orlando
Figues. She pages through and finds a black-and-white photo of a baby girl. “That's me.
That was the last photo my father took of me.”
Angelina Bushueva has red-dyed hair tied in a pony tail. She's wearing a black blouse
and purple scarf. She squints a bit through her glasses when she speaks.
“You're young,” she says to me, smiling. “You don't know these stories.”
She puts a tea bag into a cup and pours hot water in. She motions with her head to some
other teacups. Sergei and I each take one, along with a tea bag, and we pour.
“My father was head of a technology bureau. One day, just like that, he was arrested on
his lunch break. And after he was arrested we were evicted from our house. We were told
we were 'enemies of the people.'” That was the fall of 1937. To this day she doesn't know
why her father was taken. But in Stalinist times this was common. He ordered arrests and
executions of people because they were academics, or in the sciences, or of certain reli-
gions, or because Stalin and his cohorts just acted on whims.
“My mother saw him in prison. This photo, she brought it to him. Then he was sent to
be executed.”
Angelina is speaking smoothly and quietly in Russian, with little outward emotion.
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