Walking the Cold War Tightrope
By KIM PALCHIKOFF
Published: May 16, 2012
I first met Ravil Biktagirov, a Russian highwire walker, in 1990, when he was touring with the Moscow Circus.
It was a special tour, he told me then. For most of the previous decade the Moscow Circus had been banned from performing in the United States and other NATO countries as punishment for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
When I met him the Berlin Wall had just come down, the Cold War was over, and the circus was allowed to tour again to show off a bit of the famed Russian circus culture known for its dancing bears and Ukrainian acrobats. They were on a two-year U.S. tour, and that day they were in Reno, Nevada.
I had never met a celebrity before, let alone a Russian one, when I walked up to the red ring at the end of the performance to talk to Ravil, a handsome, muscled man with long blond hair and a wide smile.