Paul  Weyrich

Let me tell you a sad tale of Russian politics. In July, 1990 I attended a conference in Prague on the emerging democracies in the former Soviet orbit. Most of the speakers told the audience that the Soviet Union would live forever; it is just that it would lose Eastern Europe. When I got up, having been on the ground since 1989 and having by this time having been to a number of the Soviet States, I said what the audience was hearing was a bunch of nonsense. I said I believed that the Soviet Union was falling apart and soon there would be no Soviet Union. That was not well received by much of the establishment in attendance. I was roundly criticized.

Former US United Nations Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick was to have been the keynote speaker but she cancelled because her husband had taken deathly ill. So the sponsors of the Conference asked then Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, a leader in the democracy movement, if he would substitute. Kasparov, noted for his tart tongue, said he would do so if I would sit on the stage with him and feed him questions. He added to the sponsors that I was the only one of the speakers who knew what I was talking about. The sponsors, desperate, agreed to Kasparov's terms. I was astounded because here was this world-renown figure insisting that I, who was known only in the United States at best, be on the stage with him in front of hundreds of important political figures from Eastern and Western Europe and even the Soviet States. Thus began a friendship based upon what was happening in the Soviet Union.

The next year Kasparov was in New York for a chess championship. He asked me to meet him at a particular hotel so I took the train to New York and did so. Kasparov said the Soviet Union was falling apart faster than even he had thought and we needed to plot together who could take power.

I was greatly honored that a man of this stature would ask me to plot with him as to what would happen in Russia. In subsequent trips to the Soviet Union and later Russia I visited with Kasparov and always enjoyed his company.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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