Chronicle of diving country
- Were there any other options for the USSR, except for perestroika and subsequent collapse?
- There are always options, in any crisis situation. History Russia, like any other state, clearly shows this. Experience has been accumulated, but do not be lazy to study. The trouble is when the country's leadership does not want to turn to this experience.
The crisis situation in the USSR began to be felt from the beginning of 80's: the last year of Brezhnev’s life, a leapfrog with the appointment of general secretaries. By the time Gorbachev arrived, it was almost impossible to stop sliding down — the CPSU simply wouldn’t have enough strength for that. The party has lost faith in itself, in its ideology, and in essence in the people. The last five years of Soviet rule have been agony. There was already no choice, the situation was getting worse every day.
At that time I was working as a deputy chief of foreign intelligence, and for the last six months I was the head of the Analytical Department of the KGB, so that all the information was in our hands. And we felt like a nurse sitting at the bedside of a hopelessly ill patient. None of our recommendations to the top leadership of the country, who decided his fate, were accepted. Gorbachev did not hear either intelligence or the State Security Committee, acted essentially on autopilot, and only two people played a significant role with him - Yakovlev and Shevardnadze.
- They are also included in your analysis?
- I suppose, in the archives even now there are kept secret memoranda, which I wrote on behalf of the management. For example, the political characteristics of Yakovlev and Shevardnadze were written on a typewriter with one finger. These were absolutely secret documents intended only for a single person - Gorbachev. From the characteristics it followed that these people have nothing to do with either the party they are in, or the country they live in, and will go away from there and from here at the first opportunity. We could not call them traitors, but the wording like “work is treacherous” sounded. There were a lot of textures. For example, Eduard Shevardnadze always tried to talk with the Americans not in the territory of the USSR, but in the USA and not at the Soviet embassy, but somewhere on the ranch, using only American translators. What was it for? So that none of ours could hear what was being said.
Shevardnadze and Yakovlev were the first to break the law, which demanded to make transcripts of all the conversations that were conducted with foreigners by officials of the party and the state. Records were provided to Politburo members so that everyone would know who negotiated what. And, of course, all this later went to the archive - only in our archives there are no records of Shevardnadze's talks with the Americans. Yes, but somewhere there, not with us.
We said that no major transformations in the country are possible without a decision of the highest party organs — industrialization, collectivization, some significant ideological decisions and other large-scale issues were discussed and adopted at the plenary sessions of the Central Committee, at party congresses. But perestroika turned out to be just a verbal formula that has never been discussed by anyone. At the party conference in 1989, the talk was about restructuring, but no further talk of sarcasm went. Then the phrase was heard that the restructuring is like a plane that took off, and no one knows where to fly and how to land. We paid attention to the current processes in society, that the party did not participate in the restructuring, no one thought about what its ultimate goal and what means are there to achieve it. No, there was a solid improvisation, which could not help but become fatal.
Intelligence in an attempt to convey to the top leadership this kind of information had to be resorted to, let's say, to some kind of fraud: we presented our thoughts as words spoken by our influential agents in the West. In essence, Western experts gave their opinions on how they see what is happening in the USSR.
- Nevertheless, the population of the Union was partly ready for radical changes, at least mentally ...
- I see the military-industrial complex as one of the main destroyers of the USSR. He devoured so many resources that could more than compensate for all our shortcomings in civilian life. If investments in civilian industry, in agriculture are the same as in the military-industrial complex, the level of well-being of the population simply would not allow such an unfavorable situation to emerge as the 80-s ended. A lot of things were simply not enough, not just sausages, the queues were behind everything. But what could have been expected when 30 – 35 percent of the budget went only to the armament, and the senseless, obviously excessive. This is a consequence of the fact that the state did not have a normal head. I remember with horror Andropov’s public statement, when he, barely becoming the Secretary General, dropped the phrase that the USSR should have an arsenal equal to NATO and Chinese combined. I can explain such statements only with one thing - he wanted to enlist the support of the military-industrial complex and specifically Ustinov in the event that the throne staggers under him. The Soviet economy was simply not able to withstand such a load.
“But at the same time, the military industrial complex in the USSR was also the focus of high technologies: almost all Soviet achievements began in secret research institutes, design bureaus ...
- MIC was, is and will be the core of scientific and technological progress. But we talked about something else - there is qualitative work and quantitative. As for the quality - there are no questions. But to make hundreds of nuclear submarines is nonsense. Creating 15 thousands of launches for strategic missiles is nonsense. We still do not know how to get rid of such a quantity of weapons, the amounts spent for its liquidation are hardly less than the creation. Under the treaties, medium and shorter range missiles were destroyed, but we did create them! Experts said that on one SS-20 rocket only gold of the order of 16 kilograms, it was not extracted. And all this is a huge number of destroyed missiles - our missed chances to be at least on a par with the West in terms of life.
After all, China did not go this route. They created an order of 600 – 700 launches for strategic missiles and stopped. Next went the investment in the civilian sector. And we did not stop. This was also beneficial for the defense industry - factories were loaded, funds were being allocated.
- What did your studies of those years talk about moods among the masses? Was the situation fraught with a social explosion, as in Poland, for example?
- Andropov had a meeting devoted to Poland, and then I had to report. I reported that the unrest was caused by a sharp decline in the standard of living of the people. The reason was the increase in the price of meat in Gdansk. It was a special city - huge shipyards, which employ a lot of people from all over the country. Most of them are men, they live in hostels, coming exclusively for work. Because the situation is obviously explosive, with such a crowd of people, the slightest discontent can instantly turn into riots. Not only the rise in price of meat was the reason - there were a lot of questions to housing conditions, health care, social policy, but it became a catalyst for mass protests. Andropov asks: what is the consumption of meat in Poland? I answer - about fifty kilograms. He: “And we have 36 kilograms per capita - why don't we rebel?”. Therefore, I answer, that each nation’s patience threshold is different. At the same meeting they remembered that when Richard Nixon came to the USSR in the rank of US Vice President, Khrushchev asked him in jest: when will you have a revolution? Nixon replied that when we have queues like yours. It seems like they were joking, but the main reason for any revolution was named: all the unrest from the social discontent of the population. And the French, and our February. Lenin, speaking in Switzerland to the young socialists, complained that he would not live to see the revolution in Russia, the situation was not yet ripe. A month and a half later, the revolution took place.
- So you would not have taken Lenin in your analytical management?
- It is necessary to speak about the perspicacity of the leaders with great caution, social discontent flares up suddenly.
- So Russian long-suffering is a plus or a minus?
- Even Stalin said that any other people would send us to hell, and the Russians, having a goal, are ready to endure a lot. So with smart rulers such a high threshold of patience is rather a plus. Our people are silently and patiently ready to do heroic things. Petersburg was built, not bathing in prosperity, they laid out bones. And railways, remember Nekrasov ...
It so happens that all the time we have to catch up with the West, catch up with heroic efforts. How many years have we lived under the Mongol yoke. When Europe was already building major cities, we lived essentially in semi-wildness. Yes, our civilization is ancient, but we all took over from there. And our first ideology, Christianity, is also borrowed.
Alexey Mikhailovich began to build the Russian army on the Western model. Peter was a purely pro-Western - went, looked and began to build a fleet, a fortress. That is something that has existed and developed in Europe for three hundred years. I really like the idea that the only ones who decided not to copy Western values in Russia, but to force it to go its own way, were Bolsheviks. They created a completely new socio-economic model that turned everything upside down. At the XIV Congress of the CPSU (b), the course was set for industrialization, at the same time the slogan about building socialism in a single country sounded. It is now the West is trying to isolate us, but then we ourselves sent him away and decided to live with our mind. And the world accepted it, we were respected. All established diplomatic relations with us, began to trade. When Trotsky was expelled from the country, no one wanted to accept him. I went to Turkey - we clicked on the Turks, they sent him to Norway, the Norwegians also didn’t need them - they sent him to Mexico ... No one needed the enemies of the Soviet government.
“But we sort of decided to abandon all of this — perestroika again turned Russia in the direction of“ doing what they do. ” How predetermined was such a finale of the Soviet Union?
- The trouble is that the CPSU, after decades of cooking in its own juice, is so weakened, the politicians of the Politburo are so outdated that all perceptions about reality have been lost. They changed Marxism at a key moment, because Marxism must be a living doctrine and respond to all changes in life. They followed completely different recipes, and no other final could be expected. The most tragic moment when Gorbachev was elected general secretary. There were other candidates - Romanov from Leningrad, Scherbitsky from Ukraine - heads of large industrial and scientific centers. But they chose a man from the village, whose merit was exhausted by the fact that he could well host the distinguished guests from Moscow. He was not familiar with modern industry or science ... He was brought to Moscow as an agricultural manager. And the lingering politburo led to the fact that they chose not the most capable, but the most convenient. The party, brought up in the silent submission of the Politburo, accepted this choice. And when Gorbachev’s criticism began at the party plenum, he said he was ready to leave. Immediately all opponents were blown away: that you, Mikhail Sergeyevich, stay. It was already a complete paralysis of the party. The situation in which we found ourselves in 1991 became inevitable - the country had an incompetent leader and a rotten ruling party. It is about leadership, and not about twenty millions of communists - they were not asked about anything, mobilized anywhere and did not call for anything.
- But the population perceived the arrival of Gorbachev almost with enthusiasm. Not at all old, unlike its predecessors, speaks well, again, publicity ...
“From the moment when Gorbachev again turned the country towards Western ideals, he received tremendous support, everyone whom the Interregional deputy group united. They began to inflate the idea of following Western models in politics, economics, and social issues. As secretary of the Central Committee on ideology, Yakovlev managed to transfer almost all the media to the interregional areas. By the time of the State Committee on Emergency Situations, the Communist Party had only one newspaper - Soviet Russia. All former chief editors of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines have been cleaned. And the Communists press chikhvostil in the tail and mane. Therefore, to preserve the Soviet power was already impossible. Now, comparing the events of August 1991 and the Ukrainian Maidan of the 2013 model of the year, I come to the conclusion that the USSR had the same "color revolution" - a mad orientation to the West like those crowds that gathered at Manezhnaya and that burned tires, the rejection of its own history. All one to one. And the result - the collapse of the country. We left the republic, they have the Crimea and the Donbass. The same collapse of the economy, the impoverishment of the population. And just as Yanukovych’s government was afraid to use force to end the unrest, Gorbachev quietly kept his tail between us, hoping that the USSR would continue somehow. Two years earlier, there was another Maidan, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. And Gorbachev was at that time in China on a state visit. He began to advise the Chinese to use "new thinking", but they cut the visit schedule, sent him home and decided to do their own thing. Deng Xiaoping was there, but we haven't. Yes, it was not without blood, but it seems very insignificant in comparison with what China expected with a different course of events. 27 years have passed - and compare where we are and where they are. Here is the role of personality in history. They still have leaders, the party has survived, and this is a lever for the reorganization of society.
I have just been to Cuba. Raul Castro speaks at a party congress: “Our task is to raise the country's economic potential to the level of its political prestige.” It is, of course, difficult to talk about prestige, when the whole world accuses us of one, the other, and the third, but it is necessary to formulate some of the main goals that the country should strive for. Otherwise, we will wander in the thicket, being interested only in the price of oil and the dollar rate.
- I, working in “Evening Moscow” and like being an informed person, did not suspect, either in a dream or in spirit, that I would wake up one morning under “Swan Lake” ...
- The habit of all Russian authorities is to pursue a policy secretly, secretly from the people. And the Emergency Committee was a typical example. I was then a lieutenant general of state security and a member of the KGB board, but I learned about the Emergency Committee a little earlier than yours - the night before. As the KGB chairman Kryuchkov said in a narrow circle, the military decided to declare a state of emergency in some cities. Being the head of the Analytical Department, where six months before these events had been transferred from the Foreign Intelligence Service, I really did not know anything about preparing for a change of power. I was transferred with the purpose - suddenly our management will offer some kind of panacea for the healing of the state. But there is no panacea when state leaders have no political will for any actions. After 8 December 1991, when the Belovezhskaya Agreement was already signed, Gorbachev sat limply 17 days in his office in the Kremlin and thought that suddenly someone would come forward in his defense. That is, he turned out to be a rag, and not the president of the USSR, who is obliged to defend his state. It’s useless to work with such people and it’s just a shame to be a cog in the administration.
As for the State Emergency Committee, there is only one thing to remember - this committee had no relation to the country's internal political and socio-economic structure. All basic decisions on the future state structure have already been taken before - the CPSU rejected the 6 paragraph of the Constitution, that is, its leadership role, a multiparty system already existed, abolished state monopoly on the means of production, removed censorship - absolute publicity reigned, free elections reigned. Therefore, all the talk about the fascist coup, “the junta on trial!” Is nonsense. It was only one question - to exclude the possibility of signing the Union Treaty, which was appointed for 20 August, which put an end to the USSR. The people did not know what was being prepared in Novo-Ogarevo, where Gorbachev invited the heads of the republics, the majority of the population spoke in a referendum precisely for the preservation of the USSR. It was expected that Gorbachev would sign the treaty of union immediately after returning from Foros - and the country would cease to exist in a legal manner. He himself experienced serious pressure from Yeltsin, realizing that this treaty makes his post essentially decorative. But he did not want to be responsible for the failure of the signing, fearing to drop himself in the eyes of Western leaders. After returning after the events of August to Moscow, he said that no one would ever know the whole truth about what happened. I can only guess that, being aware of the upcoming events, he simply washed his hands, leaving him to do the dirty work of his immediate environment - those who called themselves members of the Emergency Committee. Gorbachev didn’t have enough strength against Yeltsin, but those whom he ordered to defend his interests also didn’t have the strength, nor, more importantly, the will. Yeltsin could easily be neutralized, he had no national support. No matter how much his supporters called 1991 in August for strikes, not a single enterprise fell. So it was not a coup, but the Maidan in its purest form. On the other hand were lack of will, lethargy and cowardice. And no concern about the fate of the state and the people.
After all, the Union was created in 1922 at the Congress of Soviets, at which there were more than three thousand delegates from all over the country. They discussed the Constitution for a long time, took into account all the nuances. That is, the USSR was created solidly and legitimately. As a result, three drunkards in Belovezhskaya Pushcha were able to dissolve it. Who did they ask? Yes, no one. What kind of democracy are we talking about? Everything was done to please the West, who understood that the collapse of the USSR was an unconditional victory in the Cold War. So the 19 – 21 standoff in August in Moscow was the standoff of unionists and separatists, with Yeltsin being the main separatist.
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