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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kostikov Tells All, No One's Printing

Vyacheslav Kostikov, former press secretary to President Boris Yeltsin, said Tuesday that he was worried that fear of official wrath would prevent his finding a publisher for his book on life with his boss.


Kostikov's fears were borne out by the reaction of several Moscow publishers, who were clearly reluctant to risk presidential disfavor and retribution by printing a book that has already raised official hackles.


"Of course I am worried," said Kostikov in a telephone interview from the Vatican, where he is still serving as ambas an agreement with anyone."


Kostikov declined to say whether he had been formally turned down by any publishers, but several editors said Tuesday that they would be wary of becoming involved with the project.


"We are not going to publish it," said Gleb Uspensky, director of Vagrius, a large private publishing house. "I heard that he tells too many stories that might ruffle some feathers. At the moment, nobody wants to publish this book."


The work has already caused quite a stir. Kostikov's public hints on the book's contents earned him such a reprimand from the Foreign Ministry that he resigned his post as ambassador to the Vatican.


In a candid interview on NTV's "Itogi" news program at the beginning of the month, Kostikov said that Yeltsin was obsessed with power and manipulated by his inner circle.


"Power is his ideology, his friend, his concubine, his mistress, his passion," Kostikov told the NTV interviewer.


Sergei Maximov, an editor at Novosti publishing, which brought out the memoirs of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was also leery of the book: "On the basis of what Kostikov has said about this book, I'd think one hundred times before publishing it," Maximov said. "The presidential structure has enough strength to somehow prevent this from getting out, or else punish its publication."


Kostikov was quick to defend his creation, insisting that it would do no harm to anybody.


"You know, I'd rather not talk about this," he said. "I see no reason to worry. This is a serious analytical work and brings no damage to anyone. It was written with good intentions and it follows the position of Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin in a way that is useful for the president."


Uspensky, however, was not convinced.


"He wants to publish his book so he gives you the arguments that the average author would give you," he said. "But the average publisher is scared."


While Uspensky said he believed that eventually a publisher would be found, and that there was potentially a great deal of money to be made from Kostikov's book, he insisted that for him and most of his colleagues, the consequences would not be worth the risk.


Asked if there was any way a publishing company could protect itself from potential closure, Uspensky replied: "Against the president? You've got to be kidding. There's nothing legal that you can do."


To Maximov, Russia's present political climate does not allow for books like Kostikov's.


"That's democracy for you," he said. "Much is allowed, but not everything. This was an attack on Yeltsin and his entourage that is too open and too direct and therefore very dangerous. If beer and cheese aren't ripe, they don't taste good, and it's the same with democracy."


One publisher, however, was scornful of her colleagues' timidity.


"All this business about how offensive it is to the government is just an advertisement," said Avgustina Tarasova, director of Krug, a small private firm that publishes non-fiction works.


"If the government doesn't like it -- all the better. We're an independent company. This kind of thing plays absolutely no role in whether or not we accept a book, and there's probably not that much in it that's so negative, anyway."