Many pages of VympelComs history still await a chronicler. I mostly only recall and describe episodes that are illustrated by photographs and revealing documents in my archive.
But before I get down to the episodes, I want to use broad strokes to paint a very simplified picture of the formation of our cellular telecommunications network.

1992 1996.
Initial stage. Competition between different standards. There are three companies in the Moscow market (at that time there are no other markets but Moscow and St. Pete): MSS, MTS and VympelCom. By the decree of the Communications Ministry they are rigidly tied to three different standards: NMT-450, GSM-900, AMPS/D-AMPS-800. In this initially narrow market, not only did the carriers compete, but the technologies as well. At first MSS was ahead, but by 1966 VympelCom was definitely the leader. It becomes the first company from the Russian Federation to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (!).

1996 1998.
GSM becomes the obvious dominant choice in the world. VympelCom begins the fight for every carrier having equal access to every technology, especially to GSM. MSS does not take part in this fight, and gradually leaves the stage. Towards the end of that period, VympelCom manages to catch up to MTS in getting licensed access to GSM in Moscow. By that time VympelCom is about 5 years behind MTS in building up GSM networks and service. VympelCom is forced to pay $30 million for the Moscow license. No other company is burdened with such tax. To note, MegaFon gets its license for the whole country free of charge. Over time, the transformation of VympelCom into an equal competitor will lead to a roll-out of cellular communications in the country at a record rate.
Take a look at some of the permits that at that time were required for every telephone. The calling signal in one of the documents is the ordinary city telephone number
Every user of a cell phone was required to have these permits on him, and produce them at the request of the police. Which they did not fail to make again and again

1998 2000.
MTS is the market leader. VympelCom, while maintaining its AMPS service and network (its main source of money), with crazy speed is building a second, GSM network in the same (!) market. The huge expenses, exacerbated by the default in 1998 and the licensing pay-off, inevitably lead us towards a financial crisis. VympelCom becomes unprofitable. To get bank credit I pawn my shares. The crisis is aggravated by the attempts of the Communications Ministry to take our frequencies away in favor of a new carrier in Moscow, MegaFon, originally from St. Petersburg (the frequencies scandal). For VympelCom the struggle for survival begins. One of the important episodes of this struggle was the emergence of one of our large shareholders, Telenor.

Spring 2001.
From the outside, it looks like a miracle has happened. VympelCom has survived. By the first quarter of 2001 it is restored to profitability. It almost succeeded in fighting off the Ministrys attack on its frequencies. The sale of a large group of our shares to the second strategic investor, Alpha, was complete. It is the end of the first guerilla period in building up the business. A young professional manager, Joe Lunder, is invited to manage the day-to-day operations of the big company (May of 2001). Joe trained for about 6 months to become my deputy. I resign.
At this new stage new people need to lead the company. From this point on, people of Lunders caliber, and especially of the caliber of Izosimov (who followed Lunder, and was the companys third CEO) are unquestionably more effective than me. This is true regardless of the question of age

And now, on to some of these interesting episodes

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