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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Photographer Shoots Opposition

Glancing around the hall of photographs, Heidi Hollinger made a quick mental count. "I think I got everyone," she said. She certainly did. The nearly 100 portraits Hollinger, 26, made over the past year are exactly what she wanted them to be: a Who's Who of the Russian opposition. But Hollinger, a Canadian photographer living in Moscow, wanted her exhibition to show a different side of the politicians' lives. Radical communist Viktor Anpilov, usually captured screaming at a crowd, looks like your average dad with his kid on his lap behind the kitchen table. Ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, dozing in bed in nothing but his underwear, is almost sweet. "I've just learned that these are all simple people, even if they say stupid things," Hollinger said. "These people get such bad press." After moving to Russia last year as a Canadian graduate student at Moscow State University, Hollinger planned to write her dissertation on the leaders of the opposition. Instead, she began befriending them. It started in May 1993, at a Victory Day demonstration led by Sergei Baburin, the roguishly charming nationalist who led the National Salvation Front in the rebellious Supreme Soviet. "I just ran up to him and kissed him," Hollinger said. Apparently not displeased by the gesture, Baburin took her on his campaign tour last fall. Anpilov roasted shashlik with her in the forest. Zhirinovsky played hard to get at first but eventually invited her to his dacha. "Nobody has said no to me taking pictures," she said. "They all think it's quite amusing that this Canadian girl is interested in Russian politics." The exhibit arranges the politicians appropriately, from left to right, with orthodox communist Nina Andreyeva at the far left and fascist Alexander Barkashov on the far right. Between are Vladimir Kryuchkov, posing in front of the KGB office he headed when he launched the Aug. 1991 coup, and former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi. "We tried to follow the whole political spectrum," Hollinger said. "It's difficult. These politicians keep changing their position." Pro-reform politicians like Yegor Gaidar have never interested her, she said. "I find the opposition much more romantic, colorful, more Russian. And I don't think Gaidar would invite me for shashlik." For much of the past year, Hollinger attended nearly every demonstration of the opposition, crashed its members' parties and had dinner at their homes. "I have a totally different view of these people now that I've photographed them," she said. "Mostly for the better." Anpilov, she said, is particularly dear to her heart. "He is so mean at demonstrations," she said. "But he is a normal guy like everyone else." "Zhirinovsky is a bit of a madman, but I like his personality," Hollinger said of her most notorious subject. "He's very very fun to be with, but he is always lying. He just makes me laugh." Her friends admire her for her success as much as they criticize her for getting to close to anti-Semites, fascists and reputed nutcases. At her birthday party last month, radical communists rubbed shoulders with fascists. Rutskoi's son, Alexander, vandalized her courtyard. "I get close with everyone. That doesn't mean I share their views," Hollinger said. "But if I had kept a distance from them I would never have gotten such good pictures." "In the Face of the Opposition" will be on display at the Fotocenter, 8 Gogolevsky Bulvar, until early July. The Fotocenter is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 7:30 P.M. Tel. 291-5685. Nearest metro: Kropotkinskaya.