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Though both of his parents were Party members

they had him secretly baptised in case

Stalin died. They often spoke about

the Doroga Zhizni, the Road of Life,

the ice routes built across Lake Ladoga

each winter, under bombardment, to help

lift the siege of Leningrad. He spent

much of his childhood chasing after rats

in the bombed-out ruins of Peter the Great’s

once imperial city. Perhaps he was

playing at being Ivan the Terrible

routing the Tatars from Crimea.