“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I remember 1991 as vivid flashes. Biting air, valenki* crunching on the silver-white road, minus thirty-five Celsius and even Lenin in the main square of my hometown seems to be freezing. Dad shakes hands with every second person we meet. Huge tribune reads: "Down with the Soviet power!" Dad mounts it and speaks. As usual, half of the town is out today. People listen, applaud, cry. Then the evil car comes, and people in military apparel arrest my dad. Mom is crying, but I am not afraid. I know dad will come back – and we will go to the main square again the following Sunday. "If not us, then who?" – dad will ask, and mom will sigh, and agree…

I am very proud of what my people achieved in 1991 – they brought freedom to Russia. It is almost physically painful to realize that the effort was in vain and my country is in even more distress now.

I have a vision for Russia to become a bit better place – an extra pinch of opportunity, a lump of freedom, a touch of fairness, and a thimbleful of growth… In business or government, fully backed or battling against the wind, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health – I'll do what it takes to make this happen.

I suspect the task will turn out much tougher than I expect and my efforts will result in steps much smaller than I can imagine. But now that I have a baby of my own – I am willing to work even harder. Because – if not us, then who?

*valenki – felt boots, Russian traditional winter boots

— Xenia Yashina