Magazine article Russian Life

The First Decade

Magazine article Russian Life

The First Decade

Article excerpt

On March 10, 1990, in a dingy, ninth-story apartment in Moscow's seedy northern outskirts, two grizzled American expatriates hatched a business plan. All signs were pointing to an imminent Russian Boom. These expats, both of whom were running joint ventures with Soviet firms, aimed to sell picks and shovels to hapless western prospectors. More specifically, they would produce and sell maps and business guidebooks. After all, how could a prospector succeed in "deep dark Russia" without a road map?

Well, there have been several Booms and rumors of Booms over the past ten years, not to mention more than a few collapses, wars, coups and government shake-ups. There have also been loads of interesting travel adventures, some Norwegian printers, Georgian winemakers and even Siberian arms merchants, all strung together with zillions of bytes of transatlantic email. The result, so far, has been something like 30 books and maps, 14 editions of a mail order catalog, some newsletters, calendars and, most significantly, 45 issues of Russian Life magazine.

We ended up in bucolic Vermont thanks to David Kelley. David is Montpelier native and was one of the grizzled foreigners in that seedy apartment. I was the other. David has since moved on to other pursuits. From time to time we argue over who was the wiser--the one who left behind things Russian, or the one who can't seem to get enough.

As any business history, ours is an interplay of fate, ideas and talent, plus loads of luck and grace. We have plenty of people to thank for helping us survive for a decade--not a minor achievement, given the whims of Russian business and the odds of survival in the US publishing world. …

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