Sunday 25 September 2011
Robert was very proud of his Gagra garden - around his mother Tamara Alexandrovna’s house where he took Doodie and I down to stay for a few days in the mid-1970s - and of course of the mandarins he grew there, hundreds of which he would lug back to Moscow after trips down there for all of us and our children.
It was after our Gagra visit that he was put on the carpet by UPDK, told he was too friendly with the capitalist hacks, and instructed to tell me that he no longer wanted to work for Reuters. Which he did, very uncomfortably, but begging me not to make an issue of it. He told me the story, and some others about the pressures he and all our other Soviet staff were subjected to, only in the late Gorbachev period and even then out on the Sad Sam balcony.
Our children also remember Robert Eksuzyan.
Daughter Taina, who spent much of her childhood in Moscow where the family lived in the bureau chief's apartment a floor above the Sad Sam office, writes: I still think of Robert every year when the tangerines show up in the shops here. I remember him regularly turning up at home not long before Christmas with a massive bag that was bigger than I was!
Son Beren writes: I have fond memories of Robert chasing me out of the office when he thought I might distract my father from working. But when it was quiet he used to take me down to the office kitchen and tell me stories about Soviet footballers.
Daughter Kyla writes: Growing up in Moscow in the 70s, and living just above the Reuter office, Robert was quite a part of our lives. I have an abiding picture of him at his desk in the office, behind a stack of newspapers, cutting out articles.
Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas without Robert. Every year, he brought us a huge bag of tangerines, one of which would find its way into our Christmas stockings. I still think of them here in Brussels when the tangerine season starts.
On his first trip out of the USSR, my father brought him to visit me at Oxford University. We went into Hall for a formal dinner - and I remember how much he enjoyed dressing up in the gown and carrying a mortar board, and even standing up for the grace. ■