Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. ‘President's Crown of Thorns’ - it was my sacred belief in justice which saved me.

As a boy I really believed that everyone in the West dreamed of sneaking into the Soviet Union and blowing up a factory, poisoning our rivers and wells or derailing a train. That was what we had been taught since childhood.  This kind of

information was rammed into us via movies, books and newspaper articles. They taught us to hate those who lived a better, freer and more secure life, and they awakened in us a vicious, beastly envy. He who lives better than me is an enemy or a thief. That was how they distorted the slogan of equality and brotherhood. If I am a fool, then everyone has to be a fool. The intelligent are enemies. If I do not want to work then you must not work either. That is equality for you.
Several centuries ago the divided and suppressed people of Rus were united around a great religious idea which transfom1ed the nation into a great power. Hitler united Germany with the notion of national superiority and selfishness. However, as a popular saying goes, don't take pride in your strength, since there will always be someone stronger than you. What will unite us now? Envy? Our sense of superiority? These are wild and unruly forces which wi ll certainly ruin whoever nurtures and releases them.
Five years ago I did not torment myself with these questions. At the time they did not appear to me in all their gigantic enormity. Then I was only fumbling for the tiny broken links in the chain.
Questionings, questionings, questionings. The lieutenant literally sank his teeth into me. He demanded the addresses of my friends and acquaintances. He intimidated and threatened me. He was desperate to win another pip for his shoulder straps and build a big case around me! Who knows, maybe luck would come his way. After all, in the heat of the moment Kirsan might blurt something out which would help construct a sure-fire case and get him hooked. I was driven to distraction by his never-ending questions: "What?  Where? When?  And with whom?"

Perhaps it was my young age and naive belief that truth always triumphs in the end that sustained me in my resistance, dissent and denial of everything. I did not try to make excuses, but I proclaimed my innocence in a very assertive manner. The more I was pressured the more I resisted. I think it was my sacred belief in justice which saved me then. If it hadn't  been for that I might have broken. It was this very belief that gave rise to my resistance.
And so we kept on clashing, character against character. The whole power of the KGB infrastructure was behind him and I, who was cornered like a rat, had nothing to lose. I am inclined to believe that I developed the ability to withstand coercion and violence during the frequent street-fights of my boyhood. I couldn't give in to the lieutenant. He seemed to have underestimated me.

At some point between the second or third questioning session I had already categorized his methods and could foresee many of his questions. His tactics were simple. He planned to intimidate me, rob me of my ability to grasp what was going on, and then squeeze me for whatever information he required. I would then begin to expose my friends and acquaintances, buying my own freedom by slandering all and sundry.
The lieutenant was slow to realize that I was not scared I got over that after our first meeting. In my mind prepared myself for the worst and regained my composure. I told myself that my case carried a death penalty. It was possible they would put me up against a wall. But then we are all mortals and sooner or later death will come to each one of us. My fate had already been decided in heaven and whatever was to happen would happen anyway.
Profoundly gripped by this kind of fatalism I stopped worrying. All my fear evaporated and I began to struggle for survival. I was lucky that since me memory was excellent I never wrote notes but kept everything in my head. That was why the KGB found nothing, no diaries, note-pads, address books or lists of telephone numbers. They could hang nothing
on me and I revealed no names or addresses.  Why get my friends mixed up in all this?
It took the lieutenant a few days to understand that he had been wrong to count on my fear. He changed tactics. I was paroled and warned that they would summon me again soon. The routine was repeated several times. I was summoned, kept under lock and key for a few days and then released. And they kept on questioning me.
After my first interrogation at the KGB headquarters in Lubyanka many of my fellow students immediately broke off relations with me and began avoiding me like the plague.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
The President's Crown of Thorns 1995