Our group spent a couple of hours with Vladimir Pozner while in Moscow. In case you may not know him, he is and has been, Russia’s #1 TV Icon for about 50 years. As always, he was cordial, frank and fascinating.
I extracted a 30-minute piece out of a longer version to give you what is probably the most salient part of the interview. It follows:
The longer version is about an hour and half and contains the above 30 minute extract:
FYI, our first delegation to the USSR in 1983 met with Vladimir Pozner. Off camera he was more forthcoming than we expected regarding the system he represented on Soviet TV. Since few Americans traveled there during that dangerous period, he always took the time for us as one CCI delegation after another of began showing up in Moscow. He was enjoyed by all of our travelers since he seemed so “American” in a land that seemed so foreign to us. In the second and longer URL, Pozner gives his checkered family history which included living in New York up to some of his teen years. One thing I remember vividly: the story about when his father chose to depart the U.S.(after being told he had to renounce his country or leave). The family moved Russia in the early 1950s when the country was just recovering from the devastation of WWII. Vladimir found himself in a radically different circumstance compared to New York which was normal living for him. When asked what he missed about America, he retorted, “When you are a teenager, the thing you miss most is a hamburger and a coke!” It must have been a very difficult transition.
In 2004 we brought 100 Russian entrepreneurs to Washington to get “how to” information from the world’s top 15 Embassies whose countries had reduced corruption significantly. Vladimir hosted all 100 on his weekly show which was televised across 11 time zones. Four of the 100 sat at his round table and described their stories about dealing with Russia’s endemic corruption. The other 96 had hand-operated devices with which they voted on each question asked. It was a first ever time for these entrepreneurs to speak publicly about the corruption that was strangling their small businesses.
In 2007 Vladimir showed up in a dingy District Court in StPetersburg where I was being sued for $400k for a broken pipe in my flat which had supposedly destroyed two Bechstein grand pianos below, along with assorted antique furniture, a closet of full length furs, 60 pair of Italian shoes, on and on and on. The suit was pressed by one of the grand divas of the Marienskii Theatre. Vladimir strolled into court as though he belonged there and made it known he was watching. He stayed the entire day, counseling me during breaks. I’m forever grateful, since no doubt his presence reduced the suit to below $60K plus a few other costs.