PAVEL BOGACHKO covers his walls with the same garish posters
found in any Soviet teenager's room - Michael Jackson in black
leather and studs, Sly Stallone with his muscles bulging, Arnold
Schwarzenegger glaring menacingly as the Terminator.
But Pavel waves his hand in embarrassed dismissal. "I'm not
interested in them anymore," he says. They have gone the way of the
detective novels and science fiction that used to fill his book
These days Pavel spends several hours of the day absorbed in
philosophy and literature. The slight, dark-haired teen eagerly
consumes the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the American
psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. He enjoys the novels of Mikhail Bulgakov
and Vladimir Nabokov.
Changes at this age are sometimes painful. "I had to leave my old
friends because I wasn't interested in what they were anymore,"
Pavel says. "They got together, played guitars, sang songs, listened
to Soviet pop music I don't like, and discussed stupid things - just
cursing and talking about girls."
Pavel found two close friends at school. They like to go the
Central House of Artists and listen to lectures on ancient Greece or
Shakespeare or perhaps mathematics. But Pavel's real love is
"I want to be a psychologist," the teenager says. "I like to
communicate with people very much." Pavel claims inspiration from
what may seem an unusual source for the Soviet Union - Dale
Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Some suggest
it was the contrast between the heavy ideological drumbeat of Soviet
life and Carnegie's down-to-earth advice that made a Russian
translation of the postwar American classic a bestseller here for
the past seven years.
But Pavel's role model may also be closer to home - his mother,
Olga. She is a psychiatrist working in a factory clinic, treating
the contemporary ills of Soviet life from overweight to alcoholism.
Pavel's parents divorced when he was 3. He lived for two years with
his grandparents in the Central Asian city of Dushanbe after his
mother moved to Moscow to work.
Since he was 8, the two of them have lived together in Moscow.
"Sometimes I had to work the evening shift," his mother recalls.
"When Pavel came back from school, I had already left. And he was
asleep when I came back from work. We didn't see each other for days
on end.... Life made him self-reliant."
Four years ago his mother married Alexander Gushin, an
electronics repairman who now works for a cooperative, the Soviet
Union's only legal form of private business. And recently his
beloved grandparents moved from Tadzhikstan, fearful of ethnic
riots. The five of them share an average-size three-room apartment
in the center of Moscow - along with Black, a rambunctious cocker
The visit by a foreigner to their home is a first - a foreigner
is like a lion to the family, Olga comments. The apartment's high
ceilings are an echo of a rich past when this was only a piece of a
huge apartment built before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Now
the kitchen is filled with the round table where the family gathers
for its meals and tea.
As is common in cramped Soviet apartments, Pavel's parents sleep
on a foldout couch in what doubles as the living room, now shared
with his grandparents.
Soviet parents dote on their children. Pavel has his own room,
cabinets lined with the books he acquires on his constant searches
through nearby bookstores, a scratched wooden desk where he
dutifully does his homework each evening. A Soviet-made cassette
tape player on which he plays rock music sits on a chair. These days
he is into British rocker Sting's music but Pavel also ranks Dire
Straits, Pink Floyd, and Queen among his favorites.
A typical schoolday begins, if Pavel doesn't oversleep from
staying up late reading, at 7 a.m. After a shower and breakfast, he
is out the door before his parents are awake. …