Richard Torrence


Richard Torrence, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1958, moved to San Francisco, where he worked in the stock brokerage firm of Francis I. duPont & Co. He moved to New York in 1962 as a personal representative for the great American organist, Virgil Fox. He set up his own concert management in 1963, which represented Virgil Fox and many other leading artists. His marketing and public relations abilities were recognized by two leading organ builders: the Rodgers Organ Company of Hillsboro, Oregon, an electronic organ builder; and Fratelli Ruffatti of Padua, Italy, a pipe organ builder. He worked with both of them, handling marketing, public relations, advertising, product development, and sales until 1976, as he expanded the concert management.

In 1976, the management grew into a production company, producing in leading concert halls of New York City, off-Broadway theaters, and such unusual venues as the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. By 1983, the new field of producing special events had attracted his attention, and he became one of the leaders in the development of high-visibility fund raising events. Clients included the Rockefeller University, Chase Manhattan Bank, Cadillac Motor Car, UNICEF, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Northwood Institute, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, CBS Musical Instruments, The Actors' Fund of America, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR). Celebrities he worked with included Elizabeth Taylor, Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Eartha Kitt, Van Cliburn, Madonna, William F. Buckley Jr., Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, and Michael York.

During a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia in May, 1992, Richard Torrence became acquainted with Anatoly A. Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg -- Russia's second largest city. He hosted Mr. Sobchak's visit to New York in June for a G7Council meeting, and returned for a second visit to Russia in late June. As a result of discussions about the future of St. Petersburg, Richard Torrence became Advisor to the Mayor of St. Petersburg on International Projects, 1992-96. His responsibilities included facilitating cultural projects and investment opportunities in the Petersburg Region. During his tenure he helped raise $1.3-million for city dental programs, and attracted the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to St. Petersburg to build a $70-million factory.

Vladimir V. Putin, who was appointed Acting Prime Minister of Russia following the August 9, 1999 dismissal of Sergei Stepashin--and President Yeltsin's first announced choice for the next President of Russia--was Richard Torrence's immediate superior for the four years he was an advisor to Mayor Sobchak of St. Petersburg. The day after Mr. Putin was appointed Acting Prime Minister of Russia, The New York Times's profile of Mr. Putin included three paragraphs quoting Richard Torrence.

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Clients in St. Petersburg have included Wrigley, Arthur Anderson, Littlewoods, ED&F Man Sugar, Americom, Merck & Co., and ICN Pharmaceuticals. In 1993 and 1995 he produced the St. Petersburg Festival of American Films, and was Chairman from 1994 to 1996 of the Grand Hotel Europe Summer Ball. In 1996-97, he was Director of Marketing at the Astoria Club, and in 1998 he designed and marketed Le Club, a business and professional complex with two restaurants and special events facilities.

In past years, Richard Torrence has been listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Finance and Industry, and Who's Who in the Performing Arts.

Gray Eminence Compels Respect and Even Fear

New York Times, August 10, 1999 By CELESTINE BOHLEN

MOSCOW -- Vladimir V. Putin is not a household name.

This much the Kremlin was ready to acknowledge Monday after the 46-year-old chief of Russia's domestic intelligence service and newly nominated Prime Minister was introduced to a stunned Russian public as the man President Boris N. Yeltsin wants as his successor in a year.

"If Putin does face a problem, " said Dmitri Yakushkin, Yeltin's press secretary, at a briefing Monday afternoon, "it is that people know less about him than about other prominent politicians due to the specifics of his work."

Whatever else is being said about Russia's newest presidential aspirant, that much is uncontested. Most of his career has been spent in the background, as befits a man who began as a foreign intelligence agent for the old K.G.B., where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In a television interview Monday night, Putin -- a tall man with icy blue eyes and a deadpan expression -- was more cautious than informative, tying up his answers in tight knots. He managed one half-smile during the half-hour conversation. He did make one joke -- really a play on words -- when his interviewer asked what he would do if people "go out and sit on the rails," as protesting miners did last summer on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

"Go out, or sit?" he asked.

"Go out," was the reply.

"Then they will sit," he said, using the expression for going to jail.

After graduating from law school in 1975, Putin by his own admission served for many years as a K.G.B. officer in Germany. Returning to his native Leningrad -- Russia's second-largest city, later renamed St. Petersburg -- he joined the international affairs department at Leningrad State University. From there in 1990, he joined the team of Mayor Anatoly A. Sobchak, a leader of Russia's early democratic movement. According to one report today, Sobchak was Putin's law professor at university.

As a Deputy Mayor, and then First Vice Mayor, Putin was in charge of international relations at Smolny, the building that had served as Lenin's headquarters in the 1917 revolution, which now houses the St. Petersburg Mayor's office. He reportedly became known as the city administration's "gray cardinal," an indispensable adviser regarded with respect and a touch of fear.

Richard Torrence, an American consultant who arrived in St. Petersburg in 1992 as an unpaid adviser to the Sobchak city hall, said he worked closely with Putin, whom he describes as a "most intelligent and amazing man."

"Putin was a discovery for me," Torrence said in a telephone interview, "a quiet person, extremely hard-working, who was subscribed totally to what Sobchak stood for. He was very loyal."

Torrence said Putin was instrumental in cutting through the local bureaucracy so the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company could open a plant in the city. Putin, who speaks fluent German, reportedly also helped the Dresdner Bank of Germany to become the first foreign bank to set up offices in St. Petersburg, which at the time had ambitions of becoming Russia's financial center.

He also headed the St. Petersburg chapter of Our Home Is Russia, a party begun in 1995 to support Yeltsin's allies in the parliamentary elections. Afterward Putin was called to Moscow, where he joined other members of Yeltsin's St. Petersburg team, among them Anatoly B. Chubais, the former chief of Russia's privatization program.

Putin's jobs in Moscow included running the Kremlin's control department, an internal auditing office, and handling the administration's relations with Russia's 89 regions.

In 1998 he was appointed head of the Federal Security Service, as the domestic branch of the old K.G.B. is called. He kept that job after he was also appointed secretary of the advisory Security Council. The second post, like so many others in the Kremlin, has proved a merry-go-round for Yeltsin's sometime favorites, from the gruff former Gen. Aleksandr I. Lebed to the omnipresent financierBoris A. Berezovsky.

Commenting on Putin's appointment Monday, Gennadi A. Zyuganov, head of Russia's Communist Party, dismissed him as a copy of his predecessor, Sergei V. Stepashin, a former head of the Interior Ministry, which like the Federal Security Service is a so-called power ministry.

"What's the difference between them?" asked Zyuganov in a radio interview. "Both are from Leningrad. Both come from the same democratic team. Both unreservedly support Yeltsin and his course. Both come from the 'power ministries,' neither has experience of economic management, neither of them has a party or a movement or strong support. Both have to serve someone who has trouble controlling himself."

But if loyalty is the main prerequisite for a long career inside the presidential administration, then Putin has passed the test. In his interview Monday night on NTV, Russia's largest privately owned television station, he even made his own presidential ambitions sound as though they had been ordered by a superior.

"It would be awkward if I said I wasn't ready if the President said I was," he said.

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company