I was invited to an unexpected session of GGSN (Glavgossviaznadzor, Main State Control over Communications, or, as someone dubbed it in the press, Glavgossviazterror, Main State Communications Terror).
A year had passed since the remarkable date Ц August 26, 1999, Ц when almost simultaneously two fateful events took place:
Ц VympelCom received its regional licenses from the licensing office;
Ц The VympelCom employee carrying these precious documents, while in the process of running out of the Entrance # 3 of the Ministry of Communications, so familiar to all in the business of communication s, all but bumped into the new big boss Ц a businessman form St. Pete, who had just been appointed as one of the leaders of the industry.
On my way to GGSN I even had a fleeting thought: perhaps on the occasion of the new BossТ ascension we are all invited to yet another drinking party Ц except at too wee an hour.
Oh, yes, and I also remember that some of my friends among the officials were saying back then, in 2000, that if the issuing of our licenses had been delayed but a dozen minutes, we would have never gotten them. There would never be the present-day VympelCom.
I did not go to GGSN alone, but was accompanied by Valery Frontov. A retired General Headquarters colonel, Valery Vyacheslavovich Frontov was a kind of chancellor at VympelCom. He was our point of contact with many state structures, establishing formal, and simple human relations, both with civil and military bureaucrats. It was he who organized the big inter-agency project researching the state of frequency resources in the country and the means of their conversion.
And in general, his vast and very positive role in the companyТs history merits its own book. In its absence, IТll limit myself to a few photographs.
In the upper photo he is behind the name plate that says УSelezniovФ (State Duma President at the time). The man behind the name plate that says УPlatonovФ is indeed Platonov (President of the Moscow Duma, a good man).
And in the right corner, sideways and hard to see, sits one of the heroes, or victims, rather, of the frequency scandal, an employee of the Communications Ministry and a guest at our party, whom IТll call УThe Soldier.Ф That was how he referred to himself (УI am a soldierФ), stressing his service as a civil servant.
Looking at this picture and remembering that party, I am beginning to think that it was one of the happiest days in my (and maybe not only my) business life.
Look at the inspired dance of financial director Tatyana Filonova and the head of the Projects Department Felix Ayzin. And in the background is my son Boris.
The company was only three years old then. It took a while, but we managed to establish something close to a working relationship with the Communications Ministry.
The conflicts between the newborn company and the management at our dear RTI were resolved, I hope Ц with dignity on our part:
The first, and alas, not last, crises in relations with AFK System, our near contemporary that was born in a far more privileged delivery ward. This baby was very healthy, and at first helped us while we were still feeble. It had a much more buxom wet nurse. Due to the babyТs kindness we too at first were nourished from her streams, although not without our grateful contributions, of course.
In the end we survived, and established normal relations, which for me were even romantically nostalgic.
Unexpected to all, and perhaps to ourselves, we were suddenly the largest cellular company in Russia. Ten thousand subscribers Ц and that while operating only an AMPS network.
Our Bee Line trademark was known not just in Moscow.
But at the moment it was our party, the first big corporate party, when the whole company for the first and last time fit on one big boat.