Kostya didn’t join us, he said something about having to go to another meeting, and since Paul and I are both Americans, we could manage ourselves. Manafort told me: “Your friend is a strong little boy.
He did not elaborate, but went on to say how he felt taxed on Kostya when he had to sit back and often mediated the endless meetings between the warring factions in the OB. What does he mean by “strong”? The tycoons were, by nature, the party’s shareholders paying Kostya more than the Hyatt service staff were paying us.
The way I read this is that, after so many years as a tool explaining what Manafort is saying to party sponsors, leaders and hackers alike, he himself became a part. of the legend. I have seen how Lyovochkin looked at him, and later I will see other people looking at him in the same way. He became, as some media accounts later mentioned him, “Manafort by Manafort. “
A morning or more than a week later, I was returning from a brisk fall jogging past the peaks of the hills surrounding Kyiv, still immersed in the kaleidoscope of red, brown, brown and green and the damp birch smell when I noticed a idling truck outside my building. More quietly than usual, I hit myself podyedtz (entrance hall) and starting to step into my first floor apartment when I noticed four or five burly men standing outside where I knocked on the door.
It was too late to turn around so I continued walking past them, intending to climb at least out of view. One followed me and jumped a few steps ahead of me, placing one hand on my shoulder. A few questions, he spoke in Russian, which I pretended I couldn’t speak.
I said in English that I worked for USAID, and gave the most ignorant wording I could manage. It worked, and he gave up. When I got up a few floors above them, I summoned the elevator and when it arrived, directing it back to the ground floor, my thumb pressed the Close button.
Fading away, one of the thugs noticed me and chased after another with another. I exited the front door, walked 15 steps ahead of them and ran up the hill and back to the park. Having run an hour ahead, I had an advantage over men in blue jeans and bulky leather jackets, who were probably hangover. When I was sure I shook them, I called Kostya.
In the most steady voice I could muster, I asked, “What the hell is that ?!?!”
Don’t worry, he said, maybe it’s all just a misunderstanding, we’ll fix it.
Somehow I suspect it is a misunderstanding. There was a visit earlier by a man who identified himself as a plainclothes policeman looking for a couple of Georgians who he supposedly lived in my apartment. There’s no Georgian here, I assure him. He took down a statement he let me sign.
That, I wrote down at the time, as a misunderstanding, but what just happened seems to be a abduction canceled. Why would someone want to take me? For what, I can’t figure it out on my own, but I’m pretty sure it’s related to my work. Strangely enough, I wasn’t determined to move.
Kostya spent the better part of those weeks taking care of Manafort, letting me infuse my creative energies with Sunshine, who turned out to be a talented video producer and a salesman we call Michael . We shared an office with Manafort, a Maidan estate, but our workflow is quite different. Sometimes our path will cross.
Rick Gates is Manafort’s loyal lieutenant – anyway. Sometimes we exchange copies in the office and see what the other person has written and graciously make a suggestion or two. Once we were looking at a live letter with a picture of babushka, a village old woman, on the cover. Manafort heard us talking and passed by, glancing at the final evidence. “Looks like a witch,” he said. To me, she looks like a pensioner. However, they changed the photo into a babushka that looks less witty.