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Saving the Kremlin

Viktor Pelevin is one of Russia's finest comic writers. Prospect, in conjunction with Index on Censorship, publishes his account of some remarkable events at the Kremlin

By Viktor Pelevin   June 1996

When on that memorable August day the Kremlin was stormed by Shamil Basayev, the Chechen leader, news of its fall proved oddly reluctant to cross the boundary of Moscow’s inner ring road. Perhaps talk of its “fall” seemed incongruous when the operation had been accomplished without bloodshed -if we overlook the wasting of the traffic policeman perched in a glass tumbler at the entrance to the Kremlin. (Even there, as was later established, he was shot only because the female Ukrainian sniper in one of the leading vehicles overreacted to the suspiciously large black telephone into which he was talking.)

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