Likhotal, Alexander and Gorbachev, Mikhail

Alexander Likhotal (breakup of USSR), 1992

Interview with Alexander A. Likhotal, June 23, 1992 at the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow
Interviewer — Metta Spencer

MS: I have been here a month interviewing people, and I get answers from all directions about what may have been influential in these dramatic events. In fact what I find astounding is there are also a number of people who say that nothing very dramatic happened; it certainly wasn’t anything historically important.

Likhotal: Well, I don’t think that this is the correct evaluation because a lot of this change deserves the title “historic.” It is not only the country that has changed; there are different states now instead of the former Soviet Union. It is not only the changes, the transformation of the former Soviet Union; it is the transformation of the whole political landscape — global political landscape.

MS: Absolutely.

Likhotal: Well, I really don’t think that the argument that the West has won the Cold War is adequate or correct because, strictly speaking, there are no winners in the Cold War. I think that the West, if not lost, paid a lot of effort which was irrelevant to the situation. A lot of resources were exhausted by the Cold War. This was absolutely irrelevant because one of the aims of the Western side of the Cold War was to stop the spread of Communism, to guarantee that Communists would not come to power in Western European countries, and in fact it was not because they believed that the Communists were taking a lot of power, a lot of influence in these countries, but it happened so that a lot of the communist movement was transformed into social democratic and it was absolutely relevant to the Western type of society, these movements, and by all means they did not produce this danger for Western societies.

The next aim was to guarantee the Western world from the assault of the Soviet Union — from the attack of the Soviet Union. That is also irrelevant because the Soviet Union has always been overextended and it has never had the resources or ability of wish or intention to wage war against the West. So I don’t think there are winners. Both sides lost the Cold War, but the Soviet Union was hit by the consequences of this result much more dramatically and harder than the West. And of course we had very deep domestic problems which led the country to the change, but at the same time, the totalitarian society which controlled everything did not allow the society to change itself, so the process of change didn’t have any alternative. It really started as a change from the top.

I am sorry to say this, but no dissent, no public opinion, could have ever played any role in the change of the totalitarian society, whether the top— the political elite, the people who came to power at that time didn’t understand, didn’t grasp the meaning of what was going on in the society. They understood that country was facing a catastrophe because if the change was postponed a little more, I suppose that there will be no peaceful change option for the country. We are just going along the limit line. I am not sure that we haven’t yet slipped into a catastrophic transformation — with all this bloodshed around the periphery of the former Soviet Union and disintegration of the SU will produce shocking reverberations across all over the world, but there is a hard core of the former Soviet Union.

If it will be secured, I mean the hard core of three biggest Slavonic states —Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia— and the Muslim republics, which the people — the Muslims — who historically lived in the same area, I mean the Tatars, the Bashkirs, northern Kazakhstan—this region. If the integrity of this region will be violated, then we will face tragedy, not only here, not only in the former Soviet Union, but I am sure that the waves of interethnic conflicts will not be stopped by the borders of the former Soviet Union.

Ms: Yes. That opens a whole other area and maybe we can come back to that because it keeps me awake at night, too. Some people have said to me that it was not just a revolution from the top because if there had not been a readiness in the society, then nobody at the top would have dared to try to make any of these changes. You don’t think so?

Likhotal: No, I’m afraid the society still is not awakened. And probably there is just some kind of fatigue or exhaustion after all these years, but at the same time it is not just the communist ideology which produced this kind of society. It’s historical roots. It’s tradition. It is patriarchal society. It is linked to the confessional roots, to the religious consciousness of the society. And I would say that totalitarianism has never been imposed on the society from outside. It has always been, here in Russia, the result of the development of the society itself.

MS: Okay. I have toyed with that interpretation and I really, myself don’t know what to think. It is clear that this is not Poland. The difference is, I think, that the Poles were really ungovernable. If they hadn’t been given more opportunity to have political self-expression they just wouldn’t have put up with it. They just were ungovernable. That obviously was not true here, it seems to me. I have talked to lots of people here who say that they had their own doubts and their own problems with policies and ideologies — even people who worked in this building before, of course kept quiet and didin’t challenge anything but said they had difficulties with the positions that they were supposed to be teaching. And of course there were some people who were bold enough to stick their necks out and get in trouble.

Likhotal: Yeah.

MS: But I can’t say — I would like to be able to conclude that there were such pressures from within in their demands and dissent that it was becoming visible and that everyone realized it had to be addressed. But your impression is that it could have gone on a long time before any changes were made if Mr. Gorbachev himself had not —

Likhotal: I suppose that Gorbachev could have gone smoothly in a traditional manner of the General Secretary of the Communist Party, with unlimited powers, and he could have served until he died and nothing would have changed. This is not to mean that Gorbachev is one and unique who produced this change to the society, but the system was oriented just to the very top and when I was working in the Central Committee, there was even a joke that these people in the Central Committee would dig their own graves if the General Secretary would command it. And this was really so.

MS: The members of the Central Committee, not just the staff?

Likhotal: No, the members, because the staff was different and people, at least in the International Department, they were intellectuals in this department. They understood what was going on and actually—well, I don’t want to voice an apology for the international department, but — excuse me just a minute, Metta. (we are interrupted for a few minutes as he handles some other business).

MS: What I’m getting is a sense that everybody was obedient but not necessarily everybody was uncritical in the international department.

Likhotal: There were a lot of critically inclined thinking people in the international department, and this was so long ago, I would say the international department deserved the title of the “dissenting department” because, you know, with all the interaction with different different Western parties — not only communism, but social democratic parties— to the latest time we dealt with Christian Democratic Parties and with all the parties of all the political spectrum. And the interchange of information made the international department more Social Democratically oriented. This was considered dissent by the orthodox communist bosses of the Central Committee. But this is the old time. I would say that a lot of peole — I see them now, I watch them now in different new posts, people from the international department and from the Central Committee as well, this was just the job people held. This was not a political affiliation for many who worked in the Central Committee.

MS: I’m not sure I know what you mean. You mean they had other politics beyond the ones they —

Likhotal: No. For me, for instance, I was an academic. I made all of the possible theses and then I wished to go and see for myself what makes it tick. I mean, the political mechanisms of the Soviet Union. And I was invited to the Central Committee, so I went there as an expert on international affairs, because I knew that this was precisely the spot where politics was elaborated. But it made no difference to me whether it was communist or anti-communist. It was just the place where foreign politics was elaborated. That was why I was interested. So it was not a tragedy for me when everything was ruined in the Central Committee because I knew that somehow I would find another place and —

MS: Well, you didn’t do badly! What is your role here?

Likhotal: Well, you probably don’t know this, but before this I was Deputy Spokesman for the President of the Soviet Union.

MS: I did know it. I think the coup was about two days after you and I met for lunch last time and when I went home I started watching television for your face. A lot of the Central Committee people were locked out in the street and I was looking for you. No you weren’t there but the next thing I knew, you were speaking for Gorbachev. I thought, well, I hope you keep landing on your feet! Not a bad position.

Likhotal: Yes, a couple of months I was Deputy Spokesperson for Gorbachev and a couple of months again, everything collapsed.

MS: My memory is that you had the most interesting announcement of all to make. Weren’t you the one who announced that they were, in fact going to close down the
Soviet Union.

Likhotal: Well, in fact, yes.

MS: And the camera crews were prowling around the hall. They were peeking into your office at one point. They got very bold in those days; they seemed to go into places where they would never have been before.

Likhotal: They were invited and provided with all the necessary courtesies. Everything went smoothly. There was no mess at that time.

MS: So, what is your job here?

Likhotal: Well, I am adviser to the President — of the Foundation, this time! (We laugh.) And spokesman for the President.

MS: Do you often have press conferences?

Likhotal: No, not very often. This is one of the concerns of Gorbachev and all the Foundation. It shows that the democratic reforms are being, little by little, curbed. The press, the media are not ignoring us. They are very interested in the Foundation, they hunt, literally, Gorbachev and me as his spokesman, for what thinks Gorbachev about different matters, but when it comes to Gorbachev himself, there is a blackout. Nothing could reach an audience from Gorbachev. He succeeds to get to television broadcasting and gives a twenty-minute speech; his speech is cut to two minutes and it is totally misleading because it is not adequate to what he has actually said.

MS: What do you think the pressures are on the journalists that accounts for that? Normally a journalist wants to cover anything that brings buyers to the newsstand, so something else has to explain it.

Likhotal: Sure, there are lots of instruments. One of them is the economic instrument because there the government controls paper. A newspaper, whether it is good or bad, will not function without paper. It is very simple. It is just like that. There are, of course, different specific mechanisms of influencing journalists because of course the government has capabilities to spread the necessary information, to influence the leading journalists by giving them some kind of perks — taking them, for instance, into their descents with Yeltsin into the street, etc. If a person will deviate, start criticizing, he’s ignored.

MS: It happens in the West, too, you know.

Likhotal: But I don’t think that President Carter or Nixon has any problems with getting into newspapers or televisions. But here we have these problems. But more than that, since you have been here a months, you have probably read about the interview with Gorbachev in Komsomolskaya Pravda. It was published less than a month ago, with come critical arguments about the reforms, about what is being done.

MS: I heard somewhere that he was critical and the next day, his limousine was gone.

Likhotal: Not only that. Several days later there was a statement by the press secretary of Yeltsin, which reminded me of the gloomy days of totalitarian society or even Stalinist days because it was an open intimidation that certain legal steps should be taken to stop the ex-president from criticizing the government. So actually, this statement died the right of freedom of speech to the ex-president of the Soviet Union. Next step they took away his Zil limousine. He was just amused at that. He phoned me from the car when he got to know that his limousine would be taken away and said, “You know what they decided?” (Laughs.) Well, it was just as that. And then there was a whole attack by the high ranking officials such as Mikhail ___Polterani???, who declared in the interview to Unita in Italy that he possesses some information about Gorbachev being involved in terroristic activities. Then Stepankov, the General Prosecutor, said that he possesses the document which enables him to launch a criminal case against Gorbachev and some other people for paying money to different communist parties.

MS: But there is a case of that kind, is there not? Isn’t there an inquiry?

Likhotal: Yes, that’s right. And this sort of pressure is going on, stronger and stronger, and in my opinion, they wish — of course, they understand that they will not be able to put him on trial because it is a scandal and the West would not swallow this. But they are developing a pressure, I suppose, in order to squeeze him out of the country, to make him emigrate. But he said more than once that he will never do this. If they wish, they can put him in prison, but he will remain in this country.

MS: Who would organize such a thing. Is it the Red-Brown coalition?

Likhotal: I don’t know. There are lots of gossip and speculation about the Red-Brown coalition and I think there are some threats coming from this side, but I would say that the real problem is nationalistic.

MS: Just Browns, then.

Likhotal: I would say, yes, Browns, but different forces are just fighting for the influence of the Browns and of course, the Reds are participating in this struggle and if the democratic movement remains decoupled from national or patriotic aspirations, then by the end of the year these national patriotric forces will be a tremendous obstacle for further democratic reform. So we are nearing the stage when the society (and it is frustrated by the shortages of day to day living and disappointed because of this with the democratic reforms) and they are just put into opposition to democracy. There is nowhere they can go other than national patriotic movements because they produce some kind of idea which could now unite people. Because after the destroying of Communist ideology, there is no ideology now because anti-Communist ideology, which is dominant now in the government. You know, “anti” is not a long-living ideology. You should have some positive slogans, positive ideas, not just denying something. That’s why the most probable substitution for ideological hard-core of the society is national aspirations. This is why I think that this government either will be transformed with the input of new people into the government, representing the military industrial complex, and they will be a very dramatic but not visible change with the nature of the government.

MS: Not visible?

Likhotal: Not visible. New people will come. The president will preside. It will seem to be the same government, but the government will be pursuing a different policy — totally different. And either Yeltsin, with this transformed government, will be obliged to impose court martial law or something like that and become a dictator, or everything will be swept aside and national patriotic forces will put forward their leader, who will become a dictator. So, unfortunately, I am very pessimistic about the nearest future of this country.

MS: I wish I could say you are wrong, but I have seen enough myself to have a lot of worries. What do you think can be done? What is the most promising direction?

Likhotal: I think the first thing that should be done is to make a coalition government, to put different segments of the political elite, economic elite — not just Gaidar with his economic thinking, monetary ideas, but different because it the government now is to securing a budget. This is the main aim of the government now, to stabilize the budget, where we are forgetting about the human aspect, the people in the street. I don’t remember who but somebody in the government boasted that they are ready to go to very dramatic reforms.

MS: Such as —

Likhotal: You know that economic reform is underway in this country and prices have skyrocketed. They boasted that they are not paying attention to the pain that it is creating in the society. He said that they will provide a physiological level of survivability to the people. What does it mean, “physiological level of survivability”? I think this was provided in Nazi camps, in the Stalinistic Gulag — physiological level of survivability. It is not human to speak at the end of the twentieth century about the physiological level of survivability. The people people have the right to live today and not just think about the future. We were thinking about the Communist future and working in slavery all these years. And now we are starting to work in slavery for a future market economy. And they are just trying to squeeze the real living society into pre-set conditions. This is sheer Bolshevism.

MS: What about the land reform question.

Likhotal: And the land reform, I suppose, they are putting away this problem and without privatization of land — or at least without some resolution of this problem— at least. People should have the right to buy land, to stay in kolkhoz, those who wish to— to choose what they wish to do. Without that, kolkhoz doesn’t function because the system which would spread all the necessary equipment is broken, so there is no possibility to collect crops now. There is no change to farmer system, to landowning system. So we are facing the situation that by the autumn we will not save the crop and this will not just be shortages of food, but it could be famine. Of course, if such a development takes place, no government will survive. And the next will be national patriotic; we will be “saving” this society but saving by imposing a dictatorial rule, a totalitarian society. We will be returned into the past. This is why Gorbachev is voicing his arguments now because he never felt he lost as a politician; as long as the democratic reforms are going on, he hasn’t lost politically. But he will feel that the cause of his life was ruined and he has lost it, and democracy will be turned down in this country. He feels that he doesn’t have a right to keep silent at this time.

MS: He would promote some kind of coalition government?

Likhotal: In his Komsomolskaya Pravda interview, he said that Yeltsin should invite all the democrats, all the reformers, and they will join his effort. And this is so, but unfortunately these people do not want to listen to anybody’s opinion. They believe that they will do the trick themselves, but this half year which has passed already shows that they can’t. There is blood already. The economy is just going to pieces, and even the territory of Russia is on the verge of a split. Tatars are seeking independence. If it happens, it will be a major outbreak of violence.

MS: Let me go back to the question that puzzles me — why he lost support of the progressives. Let’s go back to the Congress when Shevardnadze quit, when there was very little support from the progressives.

Likhotal: I think this was probably one of the mistakes of Gorbachev, though he is thinking differently, but I think that that autumn, the autumn of 1990, he was made to make an alliance with the right wing of the party— of all the right elements. He argues that this union at that time was practically inevitable. When he decided to align with the right, he lost the support of the progressive elements, the intellectuals. And I suppose this is one of the reasons why he lost power a year and a half later. But at the same time, one should take into account that probably it was this person’s drama — a tragedy for this person because we don’t know the real situation. We don’t know yet the real balance of forces at that time, domestic balance of forces, and only God knows what could have happened had he abstained from this alliance.

MS: I actually wrote and printed something saying that they had him by the throat. I didn’t make it up; I got it from places like Time Magazine that said there had been warnings of physical threat.

Likhotal: No, I don’t think there were physical threats to Gorbachev, but at that time there was a danger that he will be taken aside as a president, as a General Secretary, he will be taken from his post.

MS: This created a question for me. Either he did what he did under duress, or he didn’t. I can’t see how to merge the two. Either they really had power over him and he had to do it, or else he voluntarily joined them and I’ve heard enough that convinced me (at least for a while) that there were powerful reasons why, at least to stay in office, if not to stay alive, he had to submit. And that he was told whom to fire. Officers would be accompanied by other people watching them when they made decisions. Even in Oberdorfer’s book The Turn, he speaks of this General Omelichev who started turning up. It looked to the other people who were negotiating as if he were calling the shots. In fact he or somebody made Gorbachev reverse a commitment that he had made. That was already in May of that year. If they really had him by the throat, so to speak, how could he also agree to join forces with them? And when he got back from the Crimea, he didn’t claim that he had been under duress all along, and that the decisions involving such things as what happened in Vilnius and all these other things for which he was accused, that those things happened because they were not his choice — they were not his decisions. It seems to me that that’s a valid and understandable excuse for what he did, but he never took that choice and never made the statement that he’d been had by the throat. I suppose you can’t answer my question, but I have to say that that’s where I am puzzled.

Likhotal: Yes, I understand. But probably we will understand something of this period a little better because just now he is dictating his memoirs. It will be substantiated with some documents of that period. I don’t know yet all the facts of that period, but I suppose that there was a very strong rebuff on the part of the military-industrial complex to the 500 days program. And he understood that without the support — or without the okay —of the directors of the major industrial complex, no economic program of reform could be adopted or put into practice. And I would say that this was why he was made to make this alliance because he understood that without the support — or at least without cooperation —on the part of this industrial monster the economy of the country will be ruined. Well. actually, he understood that the country will find itself in the situation in which it is now, with all economic links ruptured, with all the shortages and with people going into the streets, etc.. And he thought — probably it was not correct, but he believed that temporary alliance with those people would enable him to out-manoeuvre them after some time. But he did not grasp at the very beginning that these people would like to bind him with certain acts that will make this union very strong and it will be difficult for him to stop this union. They made different sorts of provocations, such as Lithuania, just to make him involved in this situation, just to make the left intellectuals turn their backs on Gorbachev, and this is what actually happened. And after he lost the support of the progressive forces, whatever he did, did not bring back this support until the latest time. Because now he is winning back the support of the intellectuals.

MS: Really! Well, that’s the news of the day. I hadn’t heard that. Very interesting!

Likhotal: Yes, he is winning back. He was invited by Nevamicimaya Gazetta in March I suppose, there was a one-year anniversary. You know Nezavicima Gazetta?

MS: Yes, actually, I have an article being published this week in it.

Likhotal: My congratulations. And he was greeted there by the people with standing applause. And this was just the Moscow intellectual elite. And there were different public appearances, and a lot of peole are visiting him here at the Foundation. More than that, I can tell you that now, for instance, one of the leading journalists in one of the most independent newspapers in Moscow, they are inviting him to visit this newspaper to meet different writers, such as Okudzhava, [Bulata?____] Vosnysynsky, Karyakin — all names that you are familiar with. They wish to discuss what is happening with us, what is happening with democracy, what is happening with the society. And he is getting a lot of support with this situation when the government, when the president is waging an anti-Gorbachev campaign. We are receiving a whole lot of letters of support for Gorbachev.

MS: From within the country?

Likhotal: From within the country. A lot of letters. And I’m receiving letters also because I am appearing publicly and people just pick up the name, the status — the head of the press office — and they are writing my name with their support for Gorbachev, for the foundation. And this is really encouraging. It is just a new breath with it.

MS: The loss of the left a couple of years ago has puzzled me in a lot of ways. First of all, I thought it was a lack of sophistication on the part of all the intellectuals I knew that they thought they could form an opposition and leave him unsupported without having any consequences. It seemed to me that he needed the support at that point and I didn’t understand why they didn’t see that—although I could see why it was difficult to support him at that point. The other part though is that he was not supported by people who should, I think by any logic, have been grateful. For example, people who were released from prison. I have talked to members of that community and I have not yet heard a former dissident who had any gratitude. I can’t imagine having somebody open my jail cell and let me out and not saying thank you. But they continue to blame him, somehow. Do you understand that? For example, I remember that horrible last confrontation between him and Sakharov, with both of them on different podiums. I know the issue at that point was Article Six, I believe, but I have never understood why there was enmity when there should have been mutual recognition, somehow.

Likhotal: Well, there is a Russian saying. How do you call the place where a bear lives?

MS: The lair.

Likhotal: “Two bears can’t live in one lair.” I think that’s just the case.

MS: Okay, for Sakharov that may have been it, but for everybody there seems to have been a level of mistrust. I have heard sane people continue until now saying that Gorbachev was the author of his own coup.

Likhotal: I’ve heard this speculation but I know pretty well from the people who stayed there during those days in August. For instance, his bodyguards. He had around 30 personal bodyguards there and when he heard at the press conference that Yanayev (you know Yanaev?) he invited the Russian deputies to go and to see for themselves that the president was incapable of carrying on his duties. He understood that in a couple of hours he will be incapacitated, just to show the visitors that he is incapable. At that time, he told his bodyguards to take their firearms and to guard the perimeter of the building. And his direct orders were not to permit anybody to come up more than 30 meters to these buildings. And several hours they were in the seige, and only two of the bodyguards did not obey this command and went away because they understood that in case of assault, all of them would be killed. So I know this from the persons involved.

MS: I’m not questioning the truth of that; I’m questioning how people could have such mistrust.

Likhotal: You know, it is also very traditional because Russian people used to be very obedient but at the same time very mistrustful to the authorities. Probably this is just the two sides of the same coin. It’s natural.

MS: When you say it was a revolution from the top — and it must have been — how could such an extraordinary thing happen? It is unprecedented for a revolution to occur within the belly of the beast, within the centre of the organization that was benefiting? How did people come to see this as the way to go? Or how did Mr. Gorbachev get his “dissident” leanings?

Likhotal: He had a lot of personal experience. Both his grandfathers were killed by the Stalinists, and he read the files of what was done to them in prison camp. And he knew from the inside what was the pattern of the system. He wrote his letters to his wife as early as he was just some low-level party functionary in Stavropol, and these letters he puts very frankly his impressions of the low level of culture, the stupidity of the people who grasped power in the region — that it was impossible to deal with them and everything. So he knew it, but at the same time of course he could not do anything at that period of time. He felt that probably when he would be a secretary of the regional party, he would be capable of changing, but he understood that the restrictions did not allow it. He thought that as Secretary of the Central Committee, he could change things at least in agricultural affairs. And again, he produced new documents and it was impossible to get the agreement of other members of the secretariat of the politburo, and only when he was elected as General Secretary of the party, he understood that at least he had received an opportunity to change everything. But he understood that it would take time. He would have to manoeuvre a lot because the beast should be just kept dreaming. It should not be awakened. He tried to do it smoothly, gradually, but the people at a certain point supported these changes. He thought that probably this is just a turning point, but at the same time, all this was a dreaming conflicts got to the surface of the political arena. And from this point in time, it was not only the change which should be managed, but the political landscape should be monitored, should be managed because a lot of conflicts — national ethnic conflicts, social conflicts — were frozen in the totalitarian grip.

When this grip was not as strong as before, everything appeared on the surface and from this time he was just fighting on both directions, with the right and with the left, just to keep this maneouvering on course. [Likhotal makes an undulating motion with this hands, moving forward while weaving between right and left.] Once in an interview he was asked whether this was just his mistake, he should be allied with the left, with progressive forces. He was asked, I forget where, but there was a turning road on which we were going — it was somewhere in the United States — sharp curves. And he asked the person who posed this question, “Look, can you go just directly forward?” [We laugh.]

MS: And yourself? How did you get to be the man you are, in terms of your ideas and your preparedness to leave an old system?

Likhotal: You know, actually, I’m not a fighter, a political fighter. And more than that, I’m always seeking a compromise. And actually, I did understand that the system is wrong, but I would never have become a dissident because I found my little cell in which I could hide. This was my work — academic work— and in fact I could have arranged things to go smoothly in my area of living: work, family, friends. And to hell with the other orbit. But little by little I got involved in what actually was being done with the society and suddenly I found myself a little bit changed from inside because now I am not indifferent to what is going on in the society. I really am afraid that we could slide back to the totalitarian world and this side could be very invisible. Little by little you find yourself in the situation when you should take into account that the government shouldn’t be controlling everything in this country. It’s strange but I began as an absolutely depolitized academic. Then as an absolutely depolitized expert for the Central Committee of the Communist Party, without any affiliation to communist or any other ideals.

But now? When I came here to the Foundation, I had been offered a high ranking job in the Russian foreign ministry. But I didn’t hesitate and I told Gorbachev quite explicitly that this is not the job for me, but that I interpret it, not as a job, but as a political choice. So now I believe I am involved in policy because it is really a political choice and the reason is that I don’t want this country to go back to the gloomy days.

MS: Well, God bless. You certainly have my good wishes.

Likhotal: Thank you, Metta, and it’s a real pleasure. This is for you. It’s the New Times Magazine. I have given them this interview, which they requested, about the Gorbachev Fund. By the way, New Times is a well-known liberal magazine issued in English, Russian, German, French, Arabic. My interview was published in English, French, German, Arabic— but not in Russian because it is about the Gorbachev Fund. In the Russian edition, there is no interview. They published it in foreign editions only, just not to inform Russian people.

MS: Who owns this magazine?

Likhotal: I don’t know but it is liberal, it is very new. The chief editor was Vitaly Vitenkov____________[?}. The people are professional people, good people, but they are scared of the government.

MS: That’s terrible. How can you fight that? What can you do?

Likhotal: That’s why I’m here.

MS: Well, this will be in my magazine. Thank you. I’ll say goodbye now. Whenever we have met, you have always had a new job. What will you be doing when I see you next?

Likhotal:(Laughs) That’s what my wife said: “You worked at the Central Committee and it collapsed. You worked for the president of the Soviet Union and the nation collapsed. What will happen to the Gorbachev Foundation if you go to work there?”

See also
Alexander Likhotal (Gorbachev's spokesman), 1991

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books