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Those survivors of the 80s underground still living in the country (and I was one of them) were busy trying to capitalise on the heroic past; the phrase “If you’re so smart/talented, then how come you’re so poor?” served as an irrefutable psychological imperative.First there were the death throes of Soviet power and of the succession of short-lived General Secretaries that embodied it, played out to the accompaniment of an extraordinary unstoppered carnival of underground art (from Mukhomory to the Necrorealists, from Alexander Bashlachev to Sergei Kuryokhin, from Ilya Kabakov to Pyotr Mamonov).This was followed by the era of perestroika and glasnost, an era of everything for sale — the end of an heroic age.Perestroika brought an end to censorship and lifted the Iron Curtain a touch, something which had already changed the creative modus operandi and which, in the 90s, led to the introduction of the long-awaited market.Money, which up till then had, strictly speaking, meant nothing, now meant everything.During the time the AIVD had access to the network, which is said to be up to two and a half years, the agency witnessed various keyboard battles between Cozy Bear and US gatekeepers, including attacks on the State Department.



I was involved with some of the first dance events in Moscow, in the winter of 1991/spring of 1992 (Gagarin Party, Technoir) put on by some beautiful techno-freaks from St Petersburg, headed by Ivan Salmaksov.Of all the ways Russia attempted to exert influence over the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and party officials was arguably one of the most damaging blows to the Clinton campaign.And according to an investigation by Dutch media, the national intelligence agency of the Netherlands, AIVD, watched the whole thing play out.They were an astounding success and so, the very next moment, the rave movement was co-opted by the criminal Komsomol: they quite simply murdered Salmaksov, and these fashionable neo-futurist parties were instantly reborn as drug-fuelled gangster orgies.

Or take “showbusiness”: the first attempts at making quality pop music (Natalia Vetlitskaya, Alyona Sviridova, Anzhelika Varum) packaged in stylish videos, fell prey to cunning “producers”, and as a result a fairly horrific genre of music known as ) and, Lord have mercy, “Russian chanson” — torment on the airwaves…

In theory, this all sounds fantastic: freedom, a fresh start, “unlimited impossibilities”, as one fortune-seeking expat I knew used to say.