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, 30 2002

ImageYesterday Pavel Borodin came to the Filatov Children’s Hospital, where there are five children who were rescued from the theater on Dubrovka. Hebrought huge bouquets of flowers for the small hostages, and, as moral support, shared with them his rich life experiences. “You sat for three days, while Isat for three months and no biggie,” said ‘Pal Palych’ (Pavel Pavlovich Borodin) to thekids.

“Whom are we waiting for?” a doctor asks colleagues that are huddling on the porch of the admissions department.


“They say he’s going to hand out money.”

“Right here, cash?” a colleague expresses lively interest.

“What’s it got to do with you? He’s here for the children.”

“Something barely happens and suddenly it’s all about the children,” grumbles the doctor, still patiently waiting for the distinguished guest alongside the others.

Physicians are obliging people, and well disciplined. Ifthey are told to be out on the porch at half past two, they all run out there just as they are, still in their white coats. Borodin was delayed, so for now the doctors patiently talk with the gathering reporters. Yes, the children are from 11to 14years old. There were six, but one boy from the Ukraine has already been picked up, while the others are still under observation. Their condition? Fairly normal. “The psychologists say that after such stress, first comes euphoria, and later depression. Fornow ours are having fun,” assistant chief physician Vera Smirnova shares with us, and then, recollecting herself, she adds: “But get this straight nobody’s going to let you in the ward to see them.” She does not know Pal Palych very well.

In the meantime the wait continues. Thedoctors are beginning to get cold and nervous. Forty minutes later, Borodin’s black Mercedes finally shows up. Thelong-awaited guest steps out, his aides hand him a huge bouquet of red roses from the trunk, and he carries these straight into the crowd of television cameras. “We’re here to give a little bit to the kids,” Pavel Borodin shares with the press.

Suddenly he spots Vera Smirnova, for whom, it turns out, these luxurious roses are intended. “Thank you for your kindness,” says Pal Palych. Thetelevision cameras shoot close-ups. “Don’t film me, I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary person,” Borodin suddenly declares to the reporters, whom he himself invited to the event.
The procession moves off and heads toward the building 15, where the suffering children are located. Thejournalists surround Borodin in a tight ring. “I know you very well. I’ve seen you on television,” says the assistant chief physician, making small talk with her guest. “You have a lot of foster children.” “Yes,” says Borodin, happily picking up his favorite theme. “I’ve got 114, and another two grandchildren.” People who encounter this crowd, with its flowers and cameras, shy away in horror.

On the sixth floor they are already awaiting the procession. “Do you want the children separate, or with their parents?” asks the assistant chief physician, running to catch up with Borodin. “Let’s have them together,” he nods briskly. Inone corner is a grandmother, who is a bit frightened since no one bothered to explain to her what was going on. Itdoes not matter, however, and Pal Palych presses his hand to his heart and, looking earnestly into her eyes, speaks words of encouragement and consolation: “I’m not a politician, but Ilove kids. Ihave lots of kids, 114of them. Youalso have kids, and that’s what’s most important.” Grandma does not object.

The next item on the agenda the children. 50reporters with television and still cameras, crushing each other and shoving with their elbows, rush into the small room. “Don’t wreck the doors!” the doctors beg in horror. PalPalych hastens to a girl who is sitting alone. “You have everything still ahead of you,” Borodin joyfully informs her. Thegirl nods in agreement. Akeepsake photo is made of Borodin in an embrace with the girl. “Well, all right, let’s straighten our shoulders,” the distinguished guest reassures her.

In the ward are another two girls of about the same age 14years old. PalPalych is photographed with them. “I have kids just like you, 114of them,” he says to the surprise of the girls. Thensuddenly it is clear that they have run out of bouquets. “We’re having technical difficulties, but they’ll bring more flowers along shortly,” The former Kremlin official soothes the young patients, and to somehow give them moral support, he decides to share some meaningful details from his life. “You sat for three days, while Isat for three months (his arrest for money laundering in 2001 ed). Ihad a hard time too,” Borodin tells them. “When a person has it rough, you have to come help them and not get all choked up in front of the camera.”

Meanwhile, the assistant tells everyone: “Mission accomplished.” “Are there any more kids?” Borodin asks brusquely. “There were another two boys.” Everyone dashes to the boys. “When Iused to work in Yakutia, Ihad a boss who was as tall as you,” Pal Palych greets a small patient. “You can call me ‘Uncle’.” There is no talk about his 114kids, that was all said in the previous ward, so Pal Palych finds other kind words: “Hang in there, Ibeg of you.” The boy is a bit confused, but he reassures his newfound ‘uncle’: “Fine, don’t worry, everything’s alright.” Already taking his farewells, Pavel Borodin elevates the conversation to a governmental plane: “Boys, you have to pull for our great big beautiful country.” The boys promise to pull for it.

“Goodbye, children,” one of the physicians cannot hold back any longer. “The prosecutor’s office still needs to come to them today.” Out in the corridor, Pal Palych unexpectedly starts cursing Nemtsov and Khakamada, and he says that he has a plan for the reconstruction of Chechnya. Feeling that Pal Palych might not stop, his aides quickly lead him away from the cameras and further sin. “What are you here for? Whatdo you want?” the doctors ask the journalists.

By Svetlana Smetanina
October 29th, 2002, in ‘GZT.RU’

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