Today finishing my translation of this piece from Komsomolskaya Pravda — in which the father and step-mother of young “Hamlet of the Arbat” get to tell their side of the story. Both adults, hounded by the press and paparazzi, deny that they concocted or instigated this event, or that they were paid by “Liberals” to discredit the Moscow police or Putin government. The Russian press was all over this one, sensing possibly a new “Pussy Riot” in the works. And the Westie press — did its usual thing. Westie propaganda usually starts from the desired headline, and then works its way backwards to either tweak or create Reality, to fit the headline. For example, with Pussy Riot, the desired headline was: “Feisty young women arrested for singing in a Russian cathedral.” In regards to young Oscar, the desired headline was: “Boy arrested on Moscow street corner for reading Shakespeare.”
Westie propagandists, training the public to hate Russia mindlessly and yearn to go to war against that cruel and mysterious land, expect that casual readers, just skimming headlines, will get the impression, burned into their brains, that Russia is a totalitarian society where people’s behavior is highly regulated. And where both music and Shakespeare are banned. Sort of like that rustic town where Kevin Bacon was forbidden to jam his signature moves. And with that sentence, I just managed to link Oskar Skavronski to Kevin Bacon in a single step!
Putting propaganda narratives aside, the KP reporter and photographer had a chance to observe the child in his natural environment. It turns out this enterprising kid is always thinking of ways to make money — see, he wants to buy himself a (computer) tablet. After seeing the state of Oskar’s bedroom, filled with junk that he wants to “sell on the internet”, it becomes fairly obvious why the boy was out on the Arbat declaiming Hamlet with a begging bag at his feet. Although a less intellectual child might have just set up a lemonade stand!
The Mother And the Step-Mother
Elias told me [this is the KP reporter talking, continuing with the interview] that several years ago they moved here [to Moscow] precisely to this neighborhood, so that the boy could be closer to his (biological) mother. (She lives nearby.)
“His mother and I were never actually together, in the usual meaning of the word. From the time he was around one and a half, up to the age of 7, Oskar lived with me. After that we came to an agreement, and now we raise him together. On Thursdays I take him after school, and on Mondays I drive him to school. After which, she takes him back on Mondays. We communicate with each other like normal people.”
“The issue is me,” Kristina interjects. She doesn’t like it, in principle, that I exist. I don’t know how many times she has told Elias that he should break up with me. And now this happened.”
We sat for a long time and chatted in the kitchen. We drank three cups of tea apiece. We argued, even heatedly. [KP reporter doesn’t say what they argued about; I am guessing, politics.] Our “heroes” had to contend with a constantly ringing telephone. Now it was reporters trying to solicit some quotes; now it was artists inviting them to a concert in the Kremlin.
Nobody ended up going to the Kremlin, which really disappointed Oskar, by the way. But among the adults there was neither the desire nor the will.
“Kristina, can we plant carrots?” the boy asks. “We can? When?”
“We will, we will, don’t worry,” she assures him.
As I am getting ready to leave, I ask the boy: “Can you read some Shakespeare to me as a going-away present?”
“Oi, no! I got so scared I forgot everything!”
“Is the talk show on yet?” Kristina suddenly jumps up. “Elias, run to the store right away, after the show runs we won’t get a chance, they [the reporters] will be laying in wait for us at every door!”
Thus ends the formal interview; but as a bonus, KP tacks a small commentary on at the end of the story, this is written by a family psychologist named Natalia Pitchenko, who treated the family. It seems unprofessional to me that she breaks confidentiality here; but possibly the family authorized her, especially since her comment fits their side of the story:
Oskar received a serious psychological trauma when he was detained by the police. I met with him two days later, as his parents were attempting to bring him out of his state of constant anxiety. Within the family, Oskar does well, he is happy. He very much loves his papa, his mama, and Kristina. I saw his drawings, they are happy ones, in which all the members of the family are holding hands. He is comfortable and happy within the family. By his nature, this child likes to be the center of attention, that is a definite fact. And he derived satisfaction from these street performances. I talked to him about that. My opinion is that nobody put any pressure on him from any side to do this, there was nothing like that at all.