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Unfiled July 24, 2003
The First Days Of A Liberated Criminal
By Edward Limonov Browse author
Edward Limonov

The warden ("hozyain") of my prison colony, colonel Zorin, opened the door for me. In doing so, he inhaled part of his big stomach, otherwise I could not have passed him in the narrow corridor to freedom. The colonel grinned to journalists and I stepped outside. I saw a terrible looking industrial zone. Grey delapidated buildings made of old concrete, deep dust, everything looked disgusting. So, my first words to the free world were: "How disgusting! At least we have roses in our colony."

Then I saw the friendly National-Bolshevik faces of Anatoli, Misha, Dimitri, and Abel. The faces of journalists and the lenses of their cameras and video cameras. Dimitri opened a champagne bottle, we started to drink, but an officer of colony asked us to move out of the area.

Then my lawyer Sergei Beliak, Anatoli and I got into red "inomarka," [foreign car] that Andrei Mishin, a lawyer from Saratov, borrowed for the occasion. Journalists, meanwhile, had moved to their cars. Mishin succeeded in escaping from journalists' cars. He drove artistically through the back streets of Engels City toward the bank of the Volga. First we drove to the nearest "Gastronom" were my lawyer bought whisky, beer and champagne. We drank part of it inside of our red "inomarka." Whiskey tasted like good old times in New York, but I was careful, I was afraid of getting drunk. Because I didn't drink all those years in prison, so I didn't know how I would be affected.

We drove to the bank of the Volga River. Or, rather it was some channel of the Volga. My lawyer Beliak and I, both tatooed, stepped into muddy waters of mother Volga. Lawyer Beliak has a colourful dragon on his shoulder and arm, tatooed in Thailand. I had black "Vigor" shorts on. The water smelled as free Russian muddy river water should smell: of adventure, of travelling to Caspian sea, towards Iranian coast, of contraband and revolution in Kazakhstan.

Then we went to the press-conference in Saratov. Questions, answers. About thirty media men and women. Afterwards, National-Bolsheviks, Beliak and I walked the streets of Saratov. The weather was hot and sunny. Some people recognized and congratulated me, some shook my hand. I insisted we walk to the local FSB building. A group of FSB-men were positioned near the entrance to the building. Recognizing me, they stared at our group. They were visibly very shocked by this visit by me, enemy of the state. At a street-cafe I had a glass of red wine and smoked a Cuban cigar.

At the train-station I found out that a dozen journalists will be going with us: my old friend Dimitry Bikov, two cameramen of REN-TV, many others. Finding places for all our crowd took us a while. Then we started to talk and drink and eat. Two photographers were shooting from the river banks, and a television camera was shooting from the corridor. I remember that far into the night somebody brought two big one-liter bottles of vodka.

When I opened my eyes it was exactly 5:45. This was always time to get up at Prison Colony No. 13. The door of our compartment was open. Lawyer Beliak was seated in corridor, reading a book about Napoleon Bonaparte. Dima Bikov was snoring on the upper bench.

After some time we saw in the windows a Moscow suburb. It was raining and the small stations were almost deserted. About ten kilometres from Moscow I started getting nervous. I thought about arriving in Moscow "incognito," getting out of train at a small station, but it was obviously too late. Then we saw the asphalt platform. We could hear people shouting. Masses of people were shouting something. "What are they shouting?" I asked National-Bolshevik Misha. "They are shouting 'Our name is Edward Limonov,'" - he said. I thought about hiding somewhere.

But I got out of the train. I was deafened by shouting. I saw faces and faces and faces of National-Bolsheviks, girls and boys. Also I saw the bald head of Duma member Shandybin, as well as the friendly face of State Duma Deputy Colonel Victor Alksnis. And our National-Bolsheviks' flags and slogans. "Limonov instead of Putin!" shouted the National-Bolsheviks. They looked very happy, though wet. They were as enthusiastic as little devils. Most of them were unknown to me. A new generation of National-Bolsheviks has joined the Party during my prison term.

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