Andrei Fadin interview, February 1994
Interviewer: Julia Kalinina, on behalf of Metta Spencer
Q. First of all, tell me briefly about your samizdat experience in IMEMO.
A The plot is very primitive and well-known. On April,6,1982 there were arrested several persons engaged in the publication of the magazines Varianty (Variants) and Levy Povorot (Turn to the Left). On the same date numerous arrests took place in different cities of Russia and that was the last large action planned and carried out by Andropov who at that time had already been appointed to the position of the Central Committee Secretary on Ideological Issues. It was his last action as a Chairman of the KGB. I was one of the editors of the magazine Variants that was published illegally. Five issues were published. We produced several typed copies of every issue, some of them reached the Western public. In general several dozens of people were engaged in that affair; 5 of 8 arrested were in jail during 13 months. Afterwards these 5 (including myself) were liberated on the “pardon” without trial — which is a juridicial nonsense but it was a result of a compromise. One in another city was sentenced to jail before the ending of that story — in summer, 1982, in Petrozavodsk. One was sentenced to prison for 1.5 years but was liberated immediately after we were — he was not even sent anywhere. The last one was sentenced to jail in summer,1983 — he had the maximum term of punishment — 7 years in jail and 5 years in exile. His name is Rivkin, he refused to compromise with the investigation bodies.
Q. What kind of a magazine was it? Themes, sources, authors etc.
A The idea was to create a dispersed manufacture of the independent humanitarian research, to formulate a variant of the alternative to the existing reality — that’s why we choosed the name for the journal — Variants. Initially the idea was that it couldn’t be one alternative but a dialog of different orientations — one of the initial options for the name was also a Crossroad, a crossroad of opinions. Most of the people were more of less connected with the academical sphere, actually young people — from 25 to 35. Most of them were working in the officialdom, they didn’t want to quit their jobs and that’s why the journal was considered to be anonymous or pseudonymous, which required the appropriate conspiracy structure. In particular I was responsible for that. Actually the journal existed from the moment of its project to the moment of the arrest for 2.5 years. To the moment of arrest the jounal was in the decline of life. We wouldn’t continue anyway because deadlocks and realitieswere discovered that made further work senseless. The philosophical and political orientation of the journal — searching for a “third” way to reform the Soviet reality, means of resistance or better means of influencing reality — non-distructive methods. The group of publishers differed from the traditional dissidents in several significant features — they assumed that the system is developing, that only the system itself could work out the forces for reforming itself. At least I and 2-3 other persons who actually produced the journal considered that this system couldn’t be changed either by outsiders or by external pressure or by violence. Though life and history as usual turned out to be more tricky than our assumptions, our views of the historical mechanics were confirmed.
The real scenario of the events corresponded to our predictions of how it would be.
Q. Who were the readers of your journal?
A. On the whole the circle of our readers more or less matched the circle of authors, potential authors and their friends. As it always such kind of projects has a very strong contradiction between the security technology and the scale of circulation of the journal. As soon as we couldn’t control the number of copies of an issue, it became evident that it would inevitably be revealed. Some of the copies went to the West. There was a connection with the French magazine “Nouvelle Alternative”, for instance our responses to their questionnaire about the ways of developing Russia were published. I guess that since that particular contact with Paris the investigation of our affair actually began. The magazine was aimed at, and the contacts of the Russian dissidents with the West were under permanent control. Though I still don’t know how did they get the information, who were the sources.
Q. What do you know about that French magazine?
A. It was published by the East-European dissent — Czechs, dissidents from Rumania, Hungary, Poland. Later I met one person from that editorial board — Jeann Pajar, a Frenchman.
Q. Did you ever get that magazine, could you read it?
A. I saw it for the first time only during interrogation. I didn’t have direct contact with them; all the material was passed to Paris through the several intermediate points.
Q. But they read your journal.
A. They got something, in particular these responses.
Q. And where did you get the information for the articles you were writing?
A. The main body of the publishers were the persons who were working in the central academic institutions. Naturally, they were in a kind of privileged position in the sense of information. They could read Western editions and were quite Western-educated people. For example I was the dealing with the modem Third World, Latin America, Pavel Kudjukin was writing a dissertation on the Spanish social-labor party. Later, when I got an opportunity to travel, I satisfied myself that our representation of the world was adequate. When we were studing in the University, the surroundings were pretty international — Latinos, Europeans.
Q.Tell me about your articles that were published in the Journal.
A. I published three large texts, including the texts of the answers to the questionnaire of Nouvelle Alternative. Now I can’t remember in detail what these articles were about.
Q. Any articles by the other authors?
A. Well, it’s unknown if any copies of the journal still exist. I couldn’t find any. Actually, if you take Le Nouvelle Alternative with our responses, you’ll get the general representation of the dialogue in the journal.
Q. Do you think that any of the readers of your journal could tell about what they had read by their acquaintances who were close to the government?
A. Certainly, it was possible. Moreover, I’m sure it happened. After our arrest the case was used as grounds for internal elucidations on the top, in particular for an attack on the Party liberals and the traces of these elucidations could be easily found now, for example in the Arbatov’s memoires, or in the documents that were kept in the Chekhov’s Archive of the KGB. After the coup Viktor Sheinis headed the Commission on the investigation of the KGB activities and he had access to the archives. He was also a witness in our case. He was one of the readers of what we were distributing. We were also distributing some Western papers — actually very strange things like “Bukharin” by [Stephen] Cohen.
Actually there are two layers of the influence of this case on the political atmosphere. Firstly, it was used for the attack on liberals, attempt to remove Inozemtsev. I think that in the 1982 situation when it became evident that Brezhnev would soon die and the struggle for the power began, every group pursued its own purposes and every one was trying to use this case in its own way. For Andropov and partially for people like Grishin it was a possibility to push aside liberals. In summer 1982 the KGB was headed by Fedorchuk and they started to exaggerate the case. In the same time the case was used to intimidate the Party establishment and to show that drastic measures are needed.
Already in jail in Lefortovo I learned that on the 20th of April, 1982, Hitler’s birthday, in Moscow near the Pushkin’s monument there was a demonstration of the Nazis that continued nearly 40 minutes. Naturally, it wouldn’t be possible without the appropriate position of the KGB and the Moscow government. At that time the centre of Moscow was guarded extremely effectively and they certainly could stop that demonstration whenever they wanted.
Among these documents that Sheinis had seen in the archives there were also the reports by Fedorchuk to the Central Committee Secretariat about the investigation of our case. The documents of the investigation and the withdrawn papers and copies of the journal could influence somehow on the events that occured “on the top”. After Brezhnev’s death the situation changed radically. Andropov had no need to start his governing from the wide political process.
At that time the very hard negotiations on the European missiles were going on and the last hope of Andropov that these missiles wouldn’t be settled in Europe was concluded in the aliance with the social-democrats and European lefts, greens and other “pinks”. We had some contacts with the European socialists, mostly with the Italians, less with the Frenchmen, also with the Spanish socialists. We had the contacts with Giulietto Ciese, and through him with the Italian Communist Party. Also with the Italians who were working or studying in Moscow, they transfered some materials abroad. Already after our arrest the information about the case went to ICP through Ciese and as I’ve heard, during the meeting of Berlinguer and Marshe with the persons from the Central Committee Secretariat they uttered an opinion about the undesirability of such political processes. It was undesirable for Andropov so it was decided to finish the process. It was performed in the following way: more than half a year passed between the end of investigation and the appointment of the date of trial.