Today, Belov is considered one of the two or three top journalists in Chuvashia. Volodina was the other until she took a job in the presidential administration.
* * *
On Friday night, Ilya took me to the Corona disco in the southwest apartment block district. "This is where the molodyozh hang out," he said. "We'll see a different crowd tonight."
I'd been drinking until 5 a.m. the night before; I'd vowed not to drink anymore. I was on heavy antibiotics from another god-knows-what gnawing on the tip of my urinary tract, about the billionth time that region has been colonized by devushka snapper-bugs. My stomach was already bleeding from the 1000mg of sumamed/vodka fizzing in my lining.
But it was impossible to behave. The White Moroccan God Factor was through the ceiling. Chuvash women are amazingly beautiful: tall, slender, unusual eyes -- somewhat slanted at the corners yet otherwise almost perfectly roundish, almost beady. I've never seen eyes like theirs. The men were mostly short and greasy. It made for good odds for the Moroccan Conquistador.
The disco was well-packed with a couple hundred kids. The layout was simple enough -- a large round dancefloor, circular viewing area around the dancefloor, and stage for the fag-dancers. The cheaps were drink, so I loaded up on 50 ruble gin and tonics.
The music stopped. Some drunken thug in an Adidas track suit took the stage. He started egging the kids on about the upcoming parliamentary vote on Sunday, a vote so uneventful even the journalists couldn't tell me what was at stake. ("They all promise to lower prices on gas and electricity and to attract foreign investment. There's no difference left anymore.")
The thug then implored the kids to take up sports. "Sports is good! And vote for Ivanov! Yes, and sports too!"
I asked Ilya who he was.
"That's Vyacheslav Krasnov, our deputy minister and Minister of Sports. He's very close to Fyodorov," he said.
Krasnov was making a complete ass out of himself. He went on and on about sports and voting, stopping emphatically between each slurred slogan. At first the kids were embarrassed for him, clapping courteously, expecting it to be over quickly. Then they became embarrassed and angry. They started booing and hissing his every dramatic pause, but nothing could wipe the smile off of Krasnov's face. Finally, the DJ launched into a techno number. But Krasnov wasn't done. With the microphone in hand, he started dancing on the stage. The kids poured back onto the floor, trying to ignore him. He wouldn't budge. Soon, three flaming male dancers with black boots and gloves jumped onto the stage for one of those 'N Sync-like dances. Krasnov tried to join them, and they tried in vain to ignore his bulking, lumbering presence. He thrust his arms towards the ground, up in the air, crossed his legs, twisted... it went on for about five minutes before someone held a bottle out to him from the side of the stage and mercifully lured him off. He stumbled along the floor and made his way up to a table of four or five rotund, middle-aged chinovniki in the viewing area by the bar.
Ilya introduced me to Krasnov. The Chuvash Republic minister of sports was saying something about "keeleri" when I walked up. His face was swollen, eyes almost shut. "Ameriki, eh? Ameriki? Oh!"
"Your speech was great!" I told him. "You dance really well. You should get up there again!"
He smiled, nodding his head, and stumbled away.
* * *
I don't remember if it was Krasnov or not, but one Chuvash told me this:
"There are three words you need to know in Chuvash: uksha, kapsha and ereke. That means 'money, pussy and vodka.'"
* * *
Anastasia was tall, about five feet ten, with sharp high cheekbones, swarthy complexion, dark Chuvash eyes and reddish brown hair pulled back tightly. Her one defect was her ass -- haunches, kind of like a horse's. But she was easy prey and I don't have the patience anymore to waste my time charming girls.