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An American’s Life in The Former Soviet Union in the Infamous 1990s

The RIP Roarin’ Russian 90s!

If you ever wondered about how an aging American would dive into a burgeoning “mafiaocrasy” where partners are killed, enemies taken out, money is easily made and frequently stolen and line-tapping is a custom and lying a way of life, then you have come to the right writing. The path that led me to spend [...]

The Hostile Takeover!

In 1995, the company I headed, Eastern Holdings International, had two partnerships in the Former Soviet Union. One was headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, with agreements covering all Former Soviet Union territories except the Baltic’s. The other was in Latvia with agreements covering the three Baltic nations (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and was headquartered in Riga, the [...]

The Art of Misdirection in Avoidance of Mugging …

This story starts with my father, James Patrick Byrne, who was rather skilled with his fists and even more skilled in his ways of not using them. Until he got Grace Burke’s acceptance of marriage, he was a young (19) professional boxer who had an early reputation for the flooring ability of his wind-up-and-throw punch called “The Mary [...]

Bunking The Bankers …

By the early 1990s, Russia and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) had earned a certain fame, summarized by a certain name for its particular blend of business and politics, it was known by its acquaintances as a mafiocracy. Now, those of us who were living in it, like in any society, hardly noticed the big image, we just dealt with our [...]

Bombs Away in Lithuania …

This will tell the story of how three of our four Vision Express stores in Lithuania were simultaneously bathed in grenades one Monday morning at 1am and how the Mafia group who did the deed eventually apologized and paid for damage repair. When the USSR folded back into its constituent states in 1991, I was already [...]

Rape Veronica ….

I was an American running a British joint venture in the former Soviet Union with offices in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Riga, Latvia. My partners in Riga were all of Russian descent whose parents  had arrived during Soviet occupation of that small and gentle country. After three years of our operation, I discovered that my partners had [...]

Nothing but The Truth …

In Russia, there is a way of embellishing truth, through exaggeration or misdirection or reduction of facts, that is considered an art and a legitimate exercise in daily dialogue and debate. It is called “vranyo”. One is considered very out of line and even rude if one challenges the fabricator of this fabrication. IN 1992, [...]

Bye,Bye,Byrnee …

Valeriy Solovyov was honored, buried and toasted. This morning,  we had told “Boris Schmoris” to “Go Fuck Himself” (in proper Russian, of course). We’d just had a few hour nap. Sergey, our driver,  rang our bell at 1:30 in the afternoon. Refreshed from our naps following the meeting with Boris, the abhorrent, Veronika and I [...]

Home Alone.

It had been a very busy Friday. In the morning, we (2000 of us) had honored my assassinated partner (“LIFE AND DEATH IN THE PALACE OF CULTURE”). In the afternoon, we had buried him (“THE TSAR IS DEAD”). Through the night, we had toasted him and vowed to avenge his death (“HEAD OF THE TABLE”). [...]

Boris Schmoris …

Valeriy Solovyev, my cherished Russian partner,  was kaput. On Saturday morning,  2000 heartbroken employees, friends, business associates and one lover had honored him at the Palace of Culture. That afternoon, half of those at the Palace of Culture assisted at his frozen earth burial in Northern St. Petersburg. That night 600 employyes and partners toasted [...]

Head of the Table.

The public mourning was done (See “Death and Life in the Palace of Culture”). The cemetery was now history (See “The Tsar is Dead”). But, Russia was not done with Solovyev yet. His Memorial Meal at Optica lay still ahead. I had instructed my driver, Serge, to take us first to my apartment so Veronika and [...]

The Wall Street Infernal.

NOTE: WRITE INTRO TO CONNECT WITH REST OF STORY. IF NEEDED. E. Dean Butler was a man with inside information. He had been inside Procter & Gamble for six years and had risen to a high inside position. The Wall Street Journal had a lady reporter who had been nosing around P&G for nearly a [...]

The Tsar is Dead.

At 8AM on December 8th, 1993, my Russian Federation partner, Valeriy Solovyev, stepped out of his elevator and was hit with three bullets fired at point blank range.  (See ”Death and Life at The Palace of Culture”, “Head of the Table” and …….). The experience at the Northern St. Petersburg cemetary was a rare one indeed …. The hand was [...]

Death and Life in the Palace of Culture.

NOTE: Write intro that connects with rest of story. He was cute. Impish. Dimpled. Round. His eager eyes always shone with anticipation and were quick to laugh. He was small for a Russian, perhaps 5’6”. Although he was somewhat rotund in shape, his shoulders-width neck reminded one of his youthful accomplishments as a Greco-Roman wrestler [...]

That Dirty Daug Mindaugas

Vision Express had opened three stores in Lithuania, the first in Panevežys which was nearest to our Latvia headquarters in Riga, the second in Vilnius, the capital and largest city, and the third in Kaunas,  close to Vilnius in size and thriving. All three cities met our population and economic criteria, but one Lithuanian city [...]