Strange things are going on in our neighborhood, not far away from here - just a few stops by bus. Opposite the STI (Siberian Institute of Technology) there is the administration of the Central town district, and on the second floor there is the tax inspection.
There it was recently decided to sequester and block the account of the "Memorial" organization. What? Why? What has this charitable organization done?
Maybe it concealed receipts of more than one million? No, that's nonsense! The account was opened half a year ago, and since then less than 18.000,- Rubels (in words: eighteen-thousand rubels, zero-zero kopeks) have been bookes in for charitable purposes. Dividing this sum up on six months, it makes three-thousand per month - which is less than the average salary of a dvornik (a man, who takes care of the yard and the pavement in front of a house; translator's note). The true generosity of the Krasnoyarsk businessmen is, in fact, below all bounds, but that's not the point at all.
Maybe these "Memorial" crooks used the 18.000,- Rubels for activities which are not in keeping with the effective statutes and articles: they probably withdrew the money from the account, allegedly destined for charitable pruposes and bought themselve a waggonload of spirits with the monarchist name of "Royal", then resold the stuff and guzzled away the profits? No! They do not want "Memorial" to take out the money, because they do not want them to distribute the money among needy victims of political reprisals. For the payment of salaries - ok, for official trips - ok, but cash payments for charitable purposes - no, that's not allowed. Thus, these fatal few thousand rubels have remained on the account till today, they are shrivelling up by the inflationary economic development and do not reach those, who they are destined for, but that is also not the point.
What we are talking about is the question why the account was yet sequestered. You are not the only people interested in hearing a reply to this question. Natalya Fedotova, who is working as a bookkeeper for the "Memorial" organization, was also interested to definitely find out what was wrong. She calls the tax inspection and asks: "Why?" In answer to it the inspector in charge, Sergey Leonidovich, saya: "Because I decided to do so". - "Well, I understand very well that exactly you dropped this decision. But WHY?" - Fedotova repeated her previous question, and Sergey Leonidovich, conveying the general sense, answered, that it does no good to know too much, as this would only make people sad. Apart from this they would grow old rather quickly. Sergey Leonidovich did not give any reasons. He had decided - and that was all.
The next day some pretended reason was found, after all: the half-year closing of accounts had ostensibly not been mailed in time. However, the balance-sheet and a written declaration that it appeared to be ridiculous to give more details on such a small sum kept in the account, had already been sent EIGHT DAYS BEFORE THE DUE DATE, which was confirmed by a collaborator of the tax inspection during the first personal conversation. By the way, this statement did not make Sergey Leonidovich feel embarrassed at all. He refused to release the account. Why? Bot why! He did not release it - and that's that!
Nonetheless the "Memorial" account was released. Without asking Sergey Leonidovich's permission. How many discussions had to be held, how many efforts had to be made, how much time was wasted by the working population - all this neither represents the crucial problem, nor does it solve the riddle.
The riddle lies here: till today Sergey Leonidovich has not explained the reasons for his sequestering the account, and he has not given any reasonable explanation of his behaviour. Therefore the Memorialists, theier friends and acquaintances started uttering wild speculations. One of my acquaintances, a businessman declared that "Memorial", as distinguished from mighty commercial structures and due to its limited financial possibilities, but mainly because of its old-fashioned moral principles, is not really able to emphasize its charitable purposes before the tax inspectors, and that it therefore does not rate very high in their opinion. Full of indignation I repudiated this insinuation. Neither Sergey Leonidovich, nor any other tax inspector ,had given the slightest rise to think about them in this way.
A well-known democrat, functionary of a tiny party, tried to convince us that Sergey Leonidovich was a firmly rooted stalinist, who insisted to persecute the "Memorial" organization for ideological aspects. No - this can't be! Sergey Leonidovich is a young man, who did not experience Stalin's time. Beyond all doubts he has to be classified into the front part of the ideological boundaries and therefore, in the worst case, he can only behave with indifference towards a charitable organization that was founded with the good intention of rendering help to the GULAG victims - with indifference, as the oppressed majorit of our fellow citizens. But with enthusiasm ... Good heavens! Who really needs this "Memorial", except some dozens of its members and a few hundred former prisoners?
Well, and then - liking by sympathy; but there are laws, as well, and no matter how much Sergey Leonidovich may hate "Memorial", he would not have the possibility to simply release the account without legal authority. We dod not live in those times anymore, and we do not have those bureaucrats nowadays.
In earlier times, under the Communists, there was the telephone law and others. To hell with the whole lot! But our statesmen today are not even aware of the laws - and at the same time want to strictly observe them.
Let us also drop the remaining attempts at an explanation, the entirely phantastic ones (such as psychotronic radiation or bad energy from the cosmos): and such strange ideas were hit by the idle Memorialists! One of them even shouted out that all this mess was created by the intrigue of a certain Galina Borisovna, which gives once again proof of the fact that, no matter what subjects men are just talking about, the talk will sooner or later turn upon women again.
Let us dismiss all these thoughts and stay in perplexity. As it often happens: everything goes quite well, and suddenly - what a drag ! ...
The most important thing, however, is that this nasty situation befell us in a rather inconvenient moment: exactly at this time the Krasnoyarsk "Memorial" Started distributing a book written by V. Abramkin, titled "How to survice in a Soviet prison". The author, obviously a dissident and now a memeber of the Human Rights Commission attached to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, informs the reader about his rich experiences in Soviet camps. (By the way, I recommend to buy this book: the conditions there have not changed a lot, and one should not spend one's bag on betting that one will not be put into priosn oneself some day. Heaven forbid! But maybe the book is useful). Well, the distribution of this book was, in fact, something like a tatutory action carried out by "Memorial". Besides, "Memorial" took the occasion to explain their aims and purposes and also referred to their bank account, to which the people should transfer the amount of 49,- Rubels, in order to obtain the book. (And, of course, it would have to be ordered from "Memorial", Pr. Mira 3, 660049 Krasnoyarsk.).
It goes without saying that Sergey Leonidovich did not know anything about this. "Memorial" did not make a secret of their intentions, but the publication in the newspaper only appeared a few days after the sequestration of the account, so that I categorically neglect any connection between the publising and distribution of the book and the measures taken by the tax inspection. Thank God, that they do not yet control the passing of materials in the press editorial departments and tap telephone conversations (although, as people say, it will come to that sooner or later). And the reasons ... It is not our businss to rack our brains about this. In general I believe that Sergey Leonidovich had a merely accidental and absolutely non-committal idea by thinking that, if "Memorial" had already survive four years without disposing of any bank account at all, then it would certainly be able to live on without in the future, too: the State, anyway, would not derive any advantages from this; the government officials would at the most be worried and get a splitting headache. Well, and this was when he sequestered the account. And all this he had exclusively thought out himself.
I expressly underline that nobody counseled him to do so. I furthermore expressly underline that both events do not have the slightest connection with eachother. And I responsibly wish to say: in our democratic Russia there are no people or organizations, which try to stop the distribution of a book or simply put obstacles in "Memorial"s way by carrying out such measures. And those spiteful critics of the"Memorial" organization, who insist that some long, blue ears just out from this story, were merely taken ill with a persecution complex or lingering schizophrenia (about some of them already exist corresponding information, issued by institutions competent in psychiatric matters, but nothing can be expected from them except analysis'). May they be grateful of having not yet been arrested themselves.
... All this would be very amusing, if it weren't such sad a thing. Instead of detecting and clearing up the shady dealings of the mafia, the tax inspection treats a group of altruists ina very bad way. Instead of putting a stop to the games of those who enforce money, militiamen chase away old women from places, weretheyunlawfully sell trifles. I am not talking about the many other State organizations and institutions which deal with the devil knows what, instead of taking care of things that are really necessary and important. And all this in spite of the approaching anniversary of the Great Capitalist August Revolution. A particularly sad thing for the common tax payer, when he thinks about how they deal with hosown money: 28% in accordance with the contract, 32% on the profits, not to mention the income tax.
However, when thinking in a positive and friendly way, all this is understandable from the human point of view: bandits dispose of automatic pistols, businessmen of money and, Sonsequently, of insolent and shameless bookkeepers. It might become very expensive, if one gets into trouble with them. Little old women - that's a completely different matter.
Published in "My Voice", 1993
Alexey Babiy, 1993