Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Vasiliev

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Oleg Vasiliev for rt.ru
`My whole family is in the house arrest'

EV: The circumstances of everyone's isolation make you do something outside the profession. What are you doing?
OV: For the first time I just lye on a couch and do nothing. The big things - like learning a new language or a new skill am not yet up that yet. The first two weeks I was really enjoying spending time with my family - I work in St. Petersburg while my family lives in Moscow. We would only spend time together during the weekends. Now my wife and kid are near me, I go to sleep and wake up with them, I don't have to rush anywhere and it's a great thing. But things slightly changed recently.

EV: You mean the voluntarily self isolation?
OV: It's not voluntarily in our case.

EV: I.e. the information that you were diagnozed is true?
OV: That's the interesting thing. After my wife Natalia with the daughter Varya came back from Switzerland and had to quarantine themselves we were all tested and told that Natalia's son Dim and I were positive. But we were never shown the results. I.e. there is no documented prof we are infectious. The last couple of days I've been calling every possible office: the health dept, the headquarters of the *****, the customers support in Russia, the ER, the medical care - every office that is even remotely related. I would like to figure what is going on. Yet there is no electronic or written documentation of our as if positive test. On the other hand there is a letter from the authorities Dima and I were tested positive and are in the list of 40+ people who must be isolated.

EV: Why are you expected to believe the instructions or the tests results?


OG: I had the same question: why am I expected to believe someone's words that my test was positive? There is a common database in the medical services yet they have no mention of my positive test. After the first test several others were done and all came negative. Yet my whole family is really under the house arrest. We are not allowed to leave the apt.

EV: Does anyone make sure you won't leave?
OG: First of all we were all photographed. There is a face recognition system and there are cameras installed in our building. If I try to leave the house it will be noted and I don't know what will be the consequences - 15K rubles fine at the best case, a criminal charge at the worst. We are not allowed to buy groceries, we can't leave to the summer house, we can't even take the rubbish out. Can you imagine how much rubbish a family of 4 creates daily? And how much gathers after 3 weeks?

EV: You and your wife love the theatre...
OV: Well, our beloved Bolshoi is no longer running, but we do watch the broadcasts on the internet.

EV: When people have common interests there is usually one who is more interested. Are you the one who leads or lead to the theatre?
OV: Well, its' not a secret Natasha always drags me to the theatre, but I never mind it. It's her passion and she keeps watching all the main productions online now. Our other common interest is cooking. Despite being limited with the choice Natasha cooks a lot and her best are the deserts. She took several cooking courses and learned a lot. I'm self taught, but I like cooking meat.

EV: Your passion to cooking is a left over of your hungry youth?
OV: I wouldn't say my youth was particularly hungry. I had to limit myself though.

EV: Comparing what you were demanded as an athlete back then and now - is it more strict or can be compared?
OV: The contemporary sport is much more strict. First you have to train much more. A lot of things used to be quite abstract: of course there was the technique, but it didn't matter much - no one cared which edge you jumped the lutz or the flip from. Now such details matter so much.

EV: Does it require a special body preparation?
OV: It mainly requires more time. The more detailed you are in learning the element the more time you have to spend on the preparations to create the body that you need to execute the element correctly. Take the steps: previously no one cared about the edges and the turns, or, let's put it bluntly, about the technical part of the steps. Yes, we had the `figures' and all, but now it's all part of the same thing, the steps are not much easier than a quad jump.

EV: Does figure skating get a person used to be in pain?
OV: I think so. It's not the constant paint, but at certain parts of the season you have to live with it. Breaking the boots is painful, learning the new elements is painful, the physical stress is painful, the headache of learning things no one have ever done before. But it's part of the every day growth. There is no other way.

EV: There are a lot of discussions in the media about the coaching approach, including in the ladies singles. After working in the USA for more than 15 years you can certainly answer what is the right way?
OV: The right way is the one that gives the result. The rest is the ethical side. Just that in the USA the ethics and the sports philosophy are put together: when examining to become a coach you sign an ethical codex which exists for a while now. I think it's the right thing - the coach's influence on the kid is great. Here, however, no one cares what are the coach's methods to get out of the kid this or that element or the programme. What matters is that the programme and the elements are executed better than by the others.

EV: Why haven't you stayed in the USA?
OV: Because I got married. And my wife did not want to leave Russia. We discussed it and came to a conclusion it's the best for our family.

EV: Were there situations in your life you felt you lacked knowledge or basic skills?
OV: The understanding I don't understand things is constant. Hence I love going to the theatre, for example: Natasha just enjoys it, for me it's also an opportunity to mend the holes in my education. Or take the foreign languages: I took German in the school and the college, which I absolutely did not need in the USSR. Hence after graduating from the university I could only master a few useless basic phrases.
Later I understood the languages are as needed as the cloths in the modern world: you can't walk naked, right? When I was working in France I learned a bit of French, when I moved to the USA I learned to speak English enough to be understood. If I ended up in Germany or Austria I would probably improve my German.

EV: Is begin a coach limits you or develops you?
OV: Develops of course, there are no limits here. In order to remain a demanded coach you need to learn all the time, renew your knowledge in your main profession and everything related. I mean the ice dance, the floor dance, acrobatics, figure skating itself with it's constantly changing rules.

EV: Do you dance well?
OV: I'm a terrible dancer. Though I can waltz. At the time Tamara Moskvina invited various specialists to work with us. We used to have the acrobatics and the contemporary dances - the said jazz class at the beginning of the 80s was very beneficial for me - it developed the coordination, which we really needed. Back in the USSR times finding a jazz teacher was tough but it was then I understood you need to develop and push the skater out of the comfort zone all the time.

EV: During your competitive times with Elena Valova there were music limitations.
OV: One of our first programmes was done to the Musorgski's `Pictures from the exhibition'. I remember quite well how during one of the practices Piseev, who used to be the figure skating federation president came and demanded to cut out this music. Tamara did, but for as the sheer fact that we found a piece that no one have ever skated to before, choreographed it, made costumes was very important... There were several such cases in our career.

EV: Once one of the coaches said `when you win something major you feel like you are holding god by the beard'. Do you know that feeling?
OV: No. Even when Totmianina/Marinin won the Olympics the feelings were different. The satisfaction of the job well done.

EV: The Olympics in Turin were almost 15 years ago. How do you keep motivating yourself when you don't get the right material and the search for it takes years?
OV: The good material is a big thing for a coach, yet every athlete is interesting if you are not working with them by the book. Hence I think it's wrong saying the less professional the skater is the less motivated the coach would be. In the USA I used to work with the 5-7 y.o. kids and after every half an hour practice I knew I taught them something, that they left with a fire in their eyes. Just that the work with the leading athletes is more visible.

EV: In Chicago you were only working with the kids or whoever came to the rink?
OV: Before Totmianina/Marinin - working with whoever was my main job. From the age of 5 till 70+. I had a pair who started skating towards the age of 60. And they used to be an office workers till the ages of 40, lacked any coordination but suddenly decided they want to figure skate. They came to the rink and were working so hard for 2-3 times a week. In two years they even managed an overhead lift. That pair went to the USA adults competition, were competing in their age category and always brought a medal home. In the USA it's quite normal working with the people who want to learn

EV: And in Russia?
OV: There is that tendency in Russia as well now and a lot of my colleagues are working as private teachers and coach, as we put it `whatever moves'.

EV: I.e. if the competitive skating dies and you'll have to work with the amateurs you will nto mind?
OV: Why should I, after all it's what I was doing for 16 years in the USA.

EV: I heard you attend a lot of tennis competitions.
OV: That is also my wife's influence - she loves tennis and especially Nadal. Hence we watch every competition, it's always on the TV screen and if there is a possibility to attend the Rolland-Garros we do.

EV: Taking your wife's tallent in baking do you have to put some effort in keeping in shape?
OV: I lost 4 kg in last 3 weeks. First I am trying to control myself despite Natasha being a really good cook. Second I have a daughter at home, who, let's put it this way, is making sure I am not resting for 24 hours a day. She terrorists me and is trying to use me in her games. Hence am quite satisfied with my current shape.

EV: If you were allowed to go out where would you go first?
OV: To a park, to a summer house - anywhere with some space, with a freedom of movement. Staying within the 4 walls is hard. If we were isolated in the summer house I wouldn't mind at all - there is fresh air, I can go for a walk in our garden. But now the more I spend time home the more I feel we're in prison. A nice European comfortable prison with the family, nice food and all seems to be good, yet you feel every minute how limited you are.
 

Kasey

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I'm confused, I thought that all of Russia was on a shutdown, the 100m thing. So even if he could leave his house (and if there was a positive test, he shouldn't), it's not like he could go anywhere but the nearest store or pharmacy, right? It sounds very confusing whether there were positive tests or not, which I guess would be frustrating. But it's not like house arrest. That just seems a bit overdramatic, given the current circumstances of the world.
 

kwanfan1818

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I'm confused, I thought that all of Russia was on a shutdown, the 100m thing. So even if he could leave his house (and if there was a positive test, he shouldn't), it's not like he could go anywhere but the nearest store or pharmacy, right? It sounds very confusing whether there were positive tests or not, which I guess would be frustrating. But it's not like house arrest. That just seems a bit overdramatic, given the current circumstances of the world.
He could take out his garbage, which, in itself, is a real advantage. He could walk to the grocery store.
 

Regretla

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If he's indeed positive even going to the grocery store could pose a danger to others.If he really tested negative at least twice then he should be allowed to go out unless they don't trust the tests.
 

Cherub721

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It must be terrifying to be told you're positive and not shown the test results, especially at age 60. And to be quarantined with your wife and daughter who don't have it. I'm glad that whether he actually had it or not, he's physically doing well... Out of all the famous people who tested positive, he was the one I was really worried about.
 

Weve3

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EV: Does anyone make sure you won't leave?
OG: First of all we were all photographed. There is a face recognition system and there are cameras installed in our building. If I try to leave the house it will be noted and I don't know what will be the consequences - 15K rubles fine at the best case, a criminal charge at the worst. We are not allowed to buy groceries, we can't leave to the summer house, we can't even take the rubbish out. Can you imagine how much rubbish a family of 4 creates daily? And how much gathers after 3 weeks?
It’s absolutely horrific and disgusting. Sickening. 🤮 As someone who has loved ones living in Russia under these strong-arm tactics, I can empathize with the worry and frustration.
 

hanca

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It’s absolutely horrific and disgusting. Sickening. 🤮 As someone who has loved ones living in Russia under these strong-arm tactics, I can empathize with the worry and frustration.
On the other hand, if he really is infected, you don’t want him to walk around infecting other people. The interview makes me feel that he would, if there were no cameras and only a small chance of being caught and punished. One thing is to make rules to protect others, but what if people are not mature enough to obey the rules? Perhaps then they have to be made to obey the rules. How would you feel knowing that your elderly relatives live in Vasiliev’s block of flats, he and his family tested positive and he wasn’t worried about cameras snapping his picture and him having to face the consequences? He would be meeting them regularly, perhaps sharing the lift with them, even if he didn’t walk too far from home.
 

Weve3

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On the other hand, if he really is infected, you don’t want him to walk around infecting other people. The interview makes me feel that he would, if there were no cameras and only a small chance of being caught and punished. One thing is to make rules to protect others, but what if people are not mature enough to obey the rules? Perhaps then they have to be made to obey the rules. How would you feel knowing that your elderly relatives live in Vasiliev’s block of flats, he and his family tested positive and he wasn’t worried about cameras snapping his picture and him having to face the consequences? He would be meeting them regularly, perhaps sharing the lift with them, even if he didn’t walk too far from home.
No, I would not want Oleg or anyone recklessly walking around if they've (without question) tested positive, but has he? One wonders.

Anyway, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, hoping he has a good head on his shoulders, that he is responsible and smarter than that. Also, people get themselves into trouble when they assume their neighbor or whoever is up to no good when frequently it's their actions that are misguided and off the mark.

My point is, the eye in the sky, (Big Brother is watching) will never be the answer or solution. A country's citizens should not have to live under such spirit-crushing, freedom denying circumstances, and scrutiny. Unfortunately, history has shown us a different reality, as countries' tyrannical, dictatorial leaders manipulate and browbeat their citizens until they are forcefully or submissively kowtowing to the beastly powers that be.

These ironfisted, power-hungry "dear leaders" are shutting people down by way of fearmongering, chaos, control, and intimidation. All purposefully geared at defeating the person, the community through diabolical, dehumanizing ways. Being made to obey the rules usually has a destructive reach far beyond its original intent and mainly by design.

It is all about control, power, creating dependency by continuously instilling fear, and then eventually through various means of indoctrination and propaganda, duping people into believing that it's acceptable, the norm. It is not and never will be acceptable on a humanitarian level. If some people cannot or will not do the right thing, and there are plenty, it is still wrong to punish many for the few. Installing a (harmless-looking?) camera in an apartment hallway or building is where it starts.

Shamelessly trying to take advantage of this recent tragedy for a transparently flawed power grab and to change the very fabric of societal norms is particularly egregious. Russia is already there, while other freedom-loving countries find themselves now having to resist such hostile takeover attempts by nefarious characters.
 
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hanca

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No, I would not want Oleg or anyone recklessly walking around if they've (without question) tested positive, but has he? One wonders.
I don’t know if he is infected or not. On one hand I think why would they send him the letter if he wasn’t, but even if it was sent to him by accident, coming back from holiday abroad, wouldn’t it be the responsible thing to do, to stay at home for a few weeks, just in case? To me this whole thing seemed like he is behaving like a self-entitled prick.

Here you don’t get tested unless you get admitted to the hospital (when it is really bad). So no one knows if they have it or not. Everyone has to use common sense. I had some mild flu (probably the flu, could have been anything really) and I stayed at home. I didn’t make a fuss complaining that I have to stay at home when I may not even have co***a. I just accepted the situation and stayed at home. Yes, of course I would love to know if I had it or not, because then I would know if I could get out sooner, but we don’t always get what we want. Tough! I really don’t get it why it is such a huge issue for him.
 

Tinami Amori

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Installing a (harmless-looking?) camera in an apartment hallway or building is where it starts.
Cameras as such are installed for security and as deterrents from thieves, for all tenants' benefits, since the 1990's in Russia and other countries. Vasiliev is exaggerating a bit by making it sound that the cameras are installed to track him. Or... we're not reading it quite right... that's possible.
1990's:

more recent:
----

Not sure why Vasiliev has to complain about not able to take out garbage... All he needs to do is to wait till later hours and take just few steps out of his apartment then lift the shaft cover and put bags into the shaft... And wear gloves so nothing stays on the cover-handle and bags and his own door knob ...

Most relatively new buildings in Russia, have them on every floor, few steps from apartment doors..... Old soviet times buildings have them on the flight of stairs between two floors, each two floors have such shaft at 1/2 floor length up or down.

In some very old building build in USSR times in 40-50-60-70's the garbage situation gets out of hand now, but such buildings are not inhabited by the likes of Vasielv and people with good earnings ... :)

there are other residential garbage disposal structures and systems in various Russian cities, but they don't apply to Vasiliev's building, i am sure.
 
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skylark

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There are so many interesting things in this interview! I love Oleg's example of finding the same passion and satisfaction coaching 5 or 7 year-olds, when they leave a half hour lesson with a light in their eyes, as when coaching a high level competitive team.

And also telling about the couple near 60 who decided they wanted to learn to figure skate as a pair, worked hard at their lessons 2 or 3 times a week, and advanced to always bringing home a medal whenever they competed!
 

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