Mr (Andrei?) Loginov at Gorbachev Foundation, October 28, 1997
MS: One of my questions has to do with the collective contract. MG introduced a system based on the zveno system, which had been used around Stavropol. It had always worked. Then when he introduced it as the collective contract, a slight variation on it, it didn’t work. what do you know about that?
Loginov: Gorbachev was telling the details in his memoir about it.
MS: I have read his memoirs and the —-
Loginov: Up to this time the situation in agriculture was such that some half-way measures couldn’t do anything. When China came to its family zveno system it was a radical treatment to them but here we needed some principal changes. He made some experiments in Stavopol in different forms and each experiment gave some result but it couldn’t change the sytem itself— the system of relationship between agriculture and industry. We call it the scissors. The difference between prices for industrial and agricultural production was going up. Any form of experiment was broken by this scissors. obstacle The experiments in Stavropol were connected with economic effectiveness but with this scissors situation there couldn’t be economic effectiveness. In Stavropol he could support this experiment because he was the political head and there were some results but in the conditions of the whole country, it simply couldn’t work.
MS: My theory is that in the interval between Stavropol and the introduction of the collective contracts, Brezhnev had given a big injection of money into agriculture and that the farmers already had the best deal they could get as far as wages go.
Loginov: Those injections we call “digging money into the earth.” The financial injections couldn’t give anything to the peasant. This money was put into remunerations that were very badly thought out, as well as very expensive agricultural technique and the price of this technique couldn’t be compared with its effectiveness. If we look at the tables of effectiveness of this time, we see that effectiveness was coming down. Great money was put into animal husbandry, but the peasant himself practically got nothing from it. The money was put into expensive and ineffective projects. It’s really these financial injections didn’t improve the results anyhow. The relationship between the peasants and industry came to a dead end and some radical treatments should have been done here.
MS: Would that not have required a great increase in wages for farmers?
Loginov: It was a decision about the guaranteed salary of peasants. Is that what you mean?
MS: No, this collective contract wouldn’t guarantee anything. But to make an incentive for the peasant, they would have had to have the possibility of earning more than they had been earning.
Loginov: Under Brezhnev was the first time when the minimum salary of peasants was announced. It was called a guranteed salary for them. So this salary wasn’t connected with the results of production. The idea wasn’t bad — to keep peasants living standards up, but the same decision led to the diminution of labor activity of peasants. They had from that moment some minimum, so it didn’t mean so much whether they worked.
MS: That’s my theory of why there was no attraction or appeal to the collective contract. They wouldn’t get much better pay than they were already getting from this guaranteed pay.
Loginov: The system worked in such a way that the difference between people who worked a lot and those who worked little was too small.
MS: And would stay so even with the collective contract.
Loginov: We have an anecdote. Eggs are being sold. For the huge ones the price is 1 ruble 40 kopecks (the old price of Brezhnev’s time), and the little ones are priced at 1 ruble 10 kopeks. And one chicken says to another, My eggs are being sold for 1 ruble 40 kopeks and yours are only 1 ruble ten kopeks. And the other chicken replies, And you want me to give only for 30 kopeks. You can work from morning to night and do your best and I will sleep. You’ll get more, for sure, but not so much more.
MS: I would like to ask about the process leading up to the release of political prisoners in 1987. In what year did Gorbachev decide that he was going to eventually release political prisoners? Maybe he decided when he was five years old.
Loginov: This release process began in 1954, actually, before the 20th congress of the CPSU. At this time he was a student; he saw those people. They came here from camps with victory and we looked at them like winners. The rehabilitation and justice was one of the problems of the 20th congres of the CPSU. For all those people who considered themselves to be shestydiasky it was an axiom. He dealt from this problem from student time. When he finished university he was sent to work for the procurator. He had to deal there with the rehabilitation process but they considered him to be too young for this work and he went to Stavropol. So all this time went in parallel with his role. He lived in Stavropol in a zone where a number of Caucasian nationalities were sent, so he knew this problem from his childhood.
MS: I believe that. Yesterday I had a conversation with Ludmilla Alexeeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group. My impression is that the people who opposed Gorbachev most, for some reason, were the dissidents.
Loginov: We call them now Democrats/Criminals. The extreme criminals. The first generation of democrats now is called Democrats/Extreme Criminal.
MS: I don’t understand.
Loginov: It’s complicated and maybe it’s impossible to understand what happened here. Nobody can understand.
MS: Okay, but I think it’s important and I have to talk about it because people in the West don’t understand it at all. Yesterday in the conversation with Ludmilla I asked what she and all the members of her group thought of Gorbachev. She told me about meeting Gorbachev in Europe shortly after he came to power. She told me that he was asked about political prisoners and when they would be released and was asked about Sakharov. He answered: Sakharov is crazy and the SU doesn’t have any political prisoners. She said eventually he evolved in his thinking and in 1987 pol prisoners were released. My impression is that his thinking was evolved very far before then and that if he said such things it was for political reasons.
Logainov: Gorbachev had to act in some certain conditions. In 1986 if he had allowed himself to speak in such a way that Alexeeva would like, then the same year he would have stopped being president. That’s why he and we had to move in stages, considering the real powers from both sides. That was the first point and the second is that really he had some evolution, some changes of his thinking. But maybe it is useless to talk over this matter with dissidents. They stopped in their development ten years ago, approximately. They don’t see that Russia has become another country. Their psychology is of ten years ago. We respect them but they are people of yesterday.
MS: My impression is that they were very early to decide to give up on Gorbachev — before the rest of the population made that decision, and that they became supporters of Yeltsin very early.
Loginov: His political position was broken due to attempts of two sides — radical democrats and the fundamentalists.
MS: Communists fundamentalists?
Loginov: It’s a more complicated notion. Up to this time the notion of communist had become very complicated. Practically in the party there were three streams— as well as to say today that today’s communists are communists. It’s not true. It’s a very complicated and multi-sided movement. The ideology is very far from some communist thinking.
MS: But in 1990?
Loginov: Then the KGB was the fundamentalist power. But not only fundamentalist forces inside the party, but all those who were against changes and against perestroika. It is wider than simply the communist party.
MS: Okay. On one side were the opponents to reform and on the other side were dissidents and Yeltsin. Were the dissidents influential in drawing people to Yeltsin and away from Gorbachev”
Loginov: They had a kind of moral influence, they did. And when perestroika began some political games began in Russia and for those who participated in those games moral problems didn’t exist at all. When I said to some leaders of left radicals, why are you for Yeltsin” They told me, don’t worry, we’ll lead him. He can’t say a word without us. He will do what we want. And he simply threw them away.
MS: Were these the people in the Inter-Regional Group” Those are the people you are referring to?
Loginov: The main organization was Moscow Tribune and then when parliament was created, this Inter-Regional Group was created. For a long time they were trying to find a leader. I saw it, and then they chose Yeltsin. An then they were warned that it would end up with catastrophe but they were absolutely sure that he would listen to them. And he simply put them away. But they have all managed to become rich people. All leaders who went after Sakharov — a person who never thought about a kopek. Those who followed him have become the richest people in Russia and now they are out of politics.
MS: Such as?
Loginov: Sobchak. Popov. Afanasief. All leaders became the richest people. The origin of their wealth is ______. You know that Sobchak is charged now. And everybody knows that if it is a success with him (the court) then after him all the others will go because all their richness is stolen.
MS: My theory is that one reason for Gorbachev’s turn to the right is that he was abandoned by the radical democrats.
Loginov: I wouldn’t say that he turned to the right. When the country is divided and goes into different directions, there is no third space.
Loginov: There is no space for democratic games. He was left alone. You should be either with these or with those, and from both sides he was beaten. The democrats simply abandoned him and his colleagues from the Politburo simply betrayed him.
MS:There is another theory — that his turn to the right represented an invisible coup.
Loginov: You know what the difference is between Gorbachev and his colleagues and competitors? He knew what is Russia — where any radical attempts to change something can lead only to catastrophe, and the steps he took were not the weakness of his character, and the steps he took were not sequential. It meant only that all the time he looked at his country.
All political scientists look at politics as some intrigues of personalities. But in reality politics begins only where it considers the destinies of billions. He knew what he should have done and he had to do everything very carefully. Neither dissidents nor radicals wanted to understand that. They wanted everything tomorrow or today, and they consider him to be guilty in everything — that he couldn’t decide anything, that he had some common interests with rightists. That was not the point. The point is that he realized how difficult it is for our country to accept all those changes and his political behavior was always connected with what really happened. But with dissidents and democrats, the whole country was limited to the Sadova Ring — the central Ring Road of Moscow.
MS: Nevertheless there were people who said that it was not simply that the radical democrats left him with no other base except for conservative groups, but also that the conservative groups used serious intimidation to control him.
Loginov: What control could they have over him if, at the moment he became the president, he left all the control of the politburo. He realized, and he was right, that they really had great influence.
Loginov: The Rightists, the conservatives who controlled him. Now a new book by Chernyaev will be issued in 1991. It is very well described there — this situation, how practically, even before he was discharged from his president’s post, step by step the power was taken away from him.
MS: By whom?
Loginov: Some military structures and KGB stopped obeying. Some Republic leaders and even some regional leaders.
MS: It is said that in Nov 1990 some soyuz members and military people came to see Gorbachev and demanded that he replace some of his officials, such as Bakatin. A list of ministers, and that in fact, Gorbachev did so, replacing them with people of their choosing. It was about then that Shevardnadze resigned, saying that a dictatorship in coming. Were these people able to put pressure on Gorbachev or did he join them because he thought they were the most hopeful group?
Loginov: All the time it seems to him that those people who were connected to the democratic movement, that they were able to solve some practical tasks and he agreed to those changes, but unfortunately the democratic movement couldn’t give some people who really could do some practical things. They were brilliant speakers at meetings and demonstrations but they were not professionals in their political activities.
MS: But why would he have to dismiss Bakatin and replace him with Pugo?
Loginov: Because Bakatin turned out not to be professional at all.
Loginov: Sorry, but the KGB and activities connected with it is a profession. And there came a person who seemed to learn this system, but simply he couldn’t manage. In fact some other people were leading this KGB organism.
MS: Even when Bakatin was supposed to be the head of it. Well, Bakatin wasn’t head of KGB, he was head of Interior.
Loginov; Ah, let’s take simply power structures, not only KGB. When Gorbachev began naming people of that kind to some positions of the power structures, it was shown some cooperative features, that they were sitting in their places like kids, but professionals inside the ministry of Interior or the KGB, those professionals kept their series of connections. Let me give an exanmple. Bakatin and the others thought they were reforming the system, that they had managed to change the system, but in reality the system kept itself. Let’s take the KGB. The first minister there was Bykov (??) and at the same time he wa the head of the analytic department of KGB. He took all this department and moved to MOST Bank. The time will come when they move altogether to another sytem. Such people as Bakatin and Shevardnadze, they were alien to the system they led.
MS: So they couldn’t control them?
Loginov: To some extent. Now all the apparat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs moved to the so-called Foreign Politics Association, where Bessmertnyk is the head.
MS: But why did he assume that Pugo would do a better job than Bakatin?
Loginov: He knew Pugo before when he was a Komsomol leader. In any country when such a political situation happens you are always trying to find support in the people whom you know personally. You need to solve some new problems of foreign policy.. There are a lot of professionals around but can you trust them? Gorbachev knew Shevardnadze from his youth. He was secretary of Komsomol committee in Secretary, and Shevardnadze held the same position in Georgia. They were friends and he could trust him.
MS: Are you saying that the people he trusted in 1990 were not bad choices”
Loginov: I don’t like them. Like Yanaev. The difference is that I knew them from down and Gorbachev knew them from up. It ‘s a different point of view.
MS: You are saying that he trusted them and not that he was a victim of their intimidation?
Loginov: The point is that it is difficult to say that he knows people very well and understands them.
MS: But did anyone threaten him?
Loginov: The fundamentalists were just ready to kill him, even. Even know they hate him. They don’t hate Yeltsin as much as Gorbachev. For fundamentalists he is the political figure they hate most of all.
MS: You ‘re not speaking of the radical democrats.
Loginov: No, no. They by the way also have critical attitudes to him because they counted on him and he didn’t fulfill their hopes because they don’t think about this country and about people. The whole country is practically in a condition of catastrophe but they don’t think about it. They have another life.
MS: One other quick question. A man who worked at Communist magazine told me that when the —
Loginov: It is here now. (He points across the hall.) It’s called Free Thought.
MS: Is it? He told me that it was an open secret that when the demonstrations were taing place in Leipzig, Honecker was going to crush them with military force, but the road into Leipzig was controlled by Soviet troops, who wouldn’t let the East German troops into Leipzig, an that is the reason Honecker couldn’t crush them.
Loginov: It was not the only reason. He knew very well, and he was frankly told that Soviet troops would not take any part in political struggle which happened in East Germany. That was the form of this application but he realized that this was a bit more — that he couldn’t hope for our support in case of conflict. Soon we shall isue two books of documents on the Soviet-German relationship and all those things will be described there.
MS: I understand that the Soviets would not have helped him but did they actually block him? Block the road?
Loginov: It’s not that. He knew very well that if he had chosen the road of making the struggle sharper, in this way it would have led to a conflict and he was told that if a conflict appeared, he couldn’t count on us and he knew that without us he couldn’t keep his place during the conflict because up to this time in the GDR some difficult process had become.
MS: But nothing actually prevented his moving his troops into Leipsig?
Loginov: There was a strategic road that was controlled by our troops. He wasn’t sure that, if he had made an order, this order would have been fulfilled. Because of that he didn’t try to take a risk. After that the government gathered, and all those who two days before were ready to lick his heels, everybody. He knew that without our support, his regime wouldn’t exist.
MS: If he had tried to bring his troops in, would they have been able to do so?
Loginov: I suppose that his order wouldn’t have been fulfilled, but it’s a question of if?, and if?, and would?.
MS: But if he had tried, would the Soviet troops have stopped them?
Loginov: We didn’t stop them because there was no movement at all.