Hi, remember me? My name is Peter Ekman. Iím here to help prevent you from destroying your life. Last year, I had a regular economics column in the Moscow Times, I was a Financial Educator at the American Institute of Business and Economics, and I was happily married to a wealthy Russian woman, whose invaluable material support helped to buffer my intellectual pursuits. My life, in short, was enviable. Then I made a fatal error. An error that I knew had destroyed others, but that I never believed would destroy me. I interfered with the workings of the eXile.
It all began when I posted a personal attack on Mark Ames and the eXile on Johnsonís Russia List in the spring of 1999, after which Ames personally threatened my person with bodily harm. Things quieted down until last fall, when I sent Matt Taibbi an unnecessarily rude reply to his request for commentary on a critical press review he was writing on my column. After that, all hell broke loose. The eXile, in an article entitled ďPeter Ekman Groped MeĒ, printed an account of how I tried to seduce their former web project manager, Larissa Gorbunova, and mercilessly pointed out every flaw, mistake and downright idiocy in my fiercely pro-American-values columns. Within a month, I was fired from the Moscow Times, my moneyed Russian wife had left me, and my attempts to paint the eXile as a pro-Nazi newspaper were received with ridicule and silence. Even the lowly Russia Journal refused to hire me, even without pay.
People who once admired me now refer to me as ďPeter Ex-ManĒ.
Today I am an unemployed 48-year-old financial educator living alone in a $200-a-month studio on the outskirts of Moscow. And I am holding onto this meager existence by the grace of God.
I blame myself and only myself for this disaster. Others have tried taking on the eXile and failed, but I paid no heed to their example. Jean MacKenzie, Suzanne Thompson, Michael Specter, Carol J. Williams, Gary Peach and Geoff Winestock are just some of the people driven out of Moscow for having ill-advisedly crossed the eXileís path; others, like the Baltimore Sunís Kathy Lally, were driven out of their minds, while former Stanford educator Michael McFaul was denied tenure simply for interfering with the workings of the eXile. He now faces possible arrest in Russia.
So please, donít just take my word, take my example. Donít wind up a lonely, unemployed, divorced loser. Donít interfere with the workings of the eXile. It may be the smartest thing youíve never done in your life.
Single Unemployed Financial Educator