The Moscow Times celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala reception at the Baltschug Kempinski Moscow Hotel on Oct. 5. The Moscow Times founder Derk Sauer hosted the evening along with his longtime friend, music critic and journalist Artemy Troitsky.
Many guests gathered for the Friday celebration, including Moscow Deputy Mayor Andrei Sharonov, lawyer and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, artist Nikas Safronov, Wimm-Bill-Dann founder David Yakobashvili, lawyer Henry Reznik and European Pension Fund director Peter O’Brien. “You are people right from our past,” Derk Sauer said, “and it’s very nice to see you all here.”
Derk Sauer moved to Moscow just as the days of the Soviet Union were ending. He founded The Moscow Times daily newspaper and published the first daily issue on Oct. 2, 1992. Sauer recalls that his wife, Ellen Verbeek, insisted on moving to New York. “But I said, ‘No, we will go to Russia,’” Sauer said, adding that he does not regret his decision. “I like it here, and now my wife likes it here even more than me.”
The evening’s program focused on debates of four different topics. Lawyer Henry Reznik, New Economic School rector Sergei Guriyev, politician Boris Nemtsov and RBC television general director Alexander Lyubimov discussed the growth of democracy during Russia’s post-Soviet period. Artyom Tarasov, the Soviet Union’s first millionaire, David Yakobashvili and Andrei Sharonov — a major contributor to the creation of an institutional environment for the business community — discussed the formation of business in Russia.
Russian-American Chamber of Commerce president Andrew Somers, CEO of Roca in Russia and the CIS Antonio Linares and Deutsche Bank Moscow office director Pavel Teplukhin discussed the difficulties Western businesses encounter when developing operations in Russia. Pfizer in Russia and the CIS director Danil Blinov gave the concluding remarks to that debate. In an encounter between the globalization process and Russian culture, business ombudsman Boris Titov and Peter O’Brien — who is also a former vice president of state oil company Rosneft — discussed the subject of Russia going global. Writer Viktor Yerofeyev spoke about prospects for developing that process.
Guests enjoyed Russian cuisine prepared by a top chef. Their clothing reflected Moscow’s international and democratic character. Artemy Troitsky spoke from the stage wearing a chic black tuxedo. Russian-British Chamber of Commerce director Alan Thompson remained faithful to the traditions of his homeland by attending in a dark green Scottish kilt. At the other end of the hall, Alexei Navalny — clad in a dark sweater and blue jeans — spoke with U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, who preferred more formal attire.
But the most creative part of the evening was probably the showing of a video by Ilya Lagutenko, the frontman of rock group Mumiy Troll. Guests watched the screen as Lagutenko, seated in a bamboo grove, sang a congratulatory song set to the theme of his famous tune, “Contraband.”