Marina Pavlova-Selvanskaya ( political analyst), 1993

Interview with Marina Pavlovna Pavlova-Selvanskaya in Moscow (2 interviews?)
Interviewer — Julia Kalinina, on behalf of Metta Spencer

Tell us about yourself — your occupation, your job, your social activities.

Pavlova-Selvanskaya: I am working in the Institute of All-World Socialist System for 25 years, dealing with problems of Eastern Europe. For ten years I was working in Prague in a magazine, Problems of Peace and Socialism. Now I am working in the institute and at the same time I am writing articles for Independent Newspaper, Literary Newspaper, and Moscow News.

Julia Kalinina: Can you tell me the steps of changing of Soviet foreign policy toward Socialist countries of Eastern Europe?

PS: I think that there was no foreign policy concerning socialist countries until 1989 because all these countries had to copy the Soviet Union and this process was achieved by cooperation between parties. When there was concrete cooperation between enterprises the results often were not as had been planned on the inter-governmental level. It was a great divergence between what we wished and what we had in reality. On the inter-governmental level, the principles of our foreign policy concerning these countries were not even formulated. Not long before the autumn of 1989 when the revolutions took place, during our meetings and conversations with the representatives of the ministry of foreign affairs, we told them that it is time to formulate our principles, our approaches, and they admitted openly that this policy was never formulated. And only now they begin to state it rationally, trying to express in what our national interests are concluded. But they are mostly formulating the interests of the Party and the Centre — then the interests of the nation and of the state. I may say that we still don’t have this policy worked out in detail.

JK: But if there is no policy, it must be an attitude.Can’t you tell me how the attitudes were changing concerning these countries of Eastern Europe? To accept or not to accept the changes and the revolutions, to approve or disapprove, or to be resigned to these changes?

PS: Since the New Political Thinking was adopted as an official political doctrine, the possibility to use violence in international relations was excluded. This fact made these changes possible and it was impossible to influence these changes by violent methods. Former methods were only violent. And then the events were developing in their own course, and when these changes took place in Poland all the other countries immediately understood that if the Soviet Union didn’t interfere once, it wouldn’t interfere the second time. That meant it was a green light. And then the possibilities to influence were very limited.

The events followed their own logic and the Soviet Union interfered only to prevent bloodshed and violence from the side of our armies residing in those countries and from the side of national security, which was very much influenced by KGB. It was very limited influence, only to prevent bloodshed and violence. The Soviet Union did not exert influence on the essence of national policies in these countries but only observed the peaceful character of these changes. Then, when new people were gaining power, the main criteria in the Soviet attitude toward these countries was how friendly and how well-wishing are these new politics toward the Soviet Union. Then our official structures began trying to establish contacts with those politicians whom they considered to be the most well-wishing. For example, the old party structures, choosing among Polish politicians, are oriented toward Michnik because they consider him to be the most benevolent. It is a very primitive approach to the definition of policy: Are they pro-Soviet Union or anti-Soviet? But rational policy only begins to arise now.

JK: What do you think. Do you have influence somehow on public opinion with your job, with your articles?

PS: Yes, I think so. Not long ago I read an article on literary newspaper and this article began with the worlds,What do I know about Poland? I know what Pavlova-Sevanskaya writes and I know that Polish people like to trade. And that’s all.” That’s why I think my articles influence public opinion. I know that people in the Central Committee of the Party and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read my articles attentively. I have been told of this many times. Often they cause irritation.

JK: You think you can influence official governmental position with your articles?

PS: Yes.

JK: Can you trace it somehow? Maybe sometimes you face something and it seems to you that is the result of your previous articles.

PS: Yes, I think after my first articles, when it became clear that I had good contacts with the Polish opposition, they tried to use me as a courier for establishing direct political contacts with Walesa. But the results of these negotiations turned out to be unsatisfactory because the terms made by the Polish side didn’t satisfy our official institutions. Afterwards, also through me, there were established contacts with Solidarnosc, and they chose me because of my publications. Then these contacts continued without me but the way was paved through my participation.

JK: When did your contacts with E. European opposition begin? And with whom did you have contacts? Who impressed you?

PS: My first private contacts with Poland began in the summer of ’89 because the representatives of the Polish Catholic church came here to Moscow. They were looking for acquaintances and for possibilities of dialogue with academicians and among the oppositional intelligentsia. I am interested in Poland since August 1980. They applied to me and I came there.

Then, after some time, a person came to Moscow and we can consider him to be an emissary of Polish intelligentsia, Professor Hinycz, who was at that time organizing the famous conference on the problems of central Europe. Not far from Krakow there was an old abbey and there there was this conference in ’89. It took place a week after the first elections in the Polish Sejm. It was a unique conference. All the leaders of Eastern European dissent were present — Georgy Konrad, Janos Kis, all the Polish opposition, Mazowiecki, Geremko, Zivanovski, Janos Reiter, Abbot Tishner, all the shades of the former Polish opposition. And people from Czechoslovakia didn’t have an opportunity to travel during that time, which is why there were few people but there were representatives of Czech emigrants from Paris, Antonin Lym from Paris, Milan Joraczech, Deputy of European Parliament, There were a lot of representatives of European intellectual elite who were dealing with the problems of Eastern Europe — Timothy Garton Ash.

In that period it was the most famous meeting of all the representatives of the European intellectual potential. There all my contacts began. There I was trying to transfer this message that our official structures are searching for contacts with Walesa. Then in response to this, Michnik came to Moscow.After this conference, all the doors to the oppositional structures were open for me.At the beginning in Poland,

And then after the Velvet Revolution, Rudolph Slavski came here. I got acquainted with him and then I wrote a big article against Colonel Alksnis in defence of Shevardnadze and Civic Forum. [Alksnis charged that the revolutions were all organized or carried out by the KGB.] After this article, all doors in Czechoslovakia were open for me.

February 11 interview

MARINA PAVLOVNA-SILVANSKAYA: Now I’m looking at the people with whom I was pretty close – those who were dissidents and then emigrated from Czechoslovakia – they had another kind of mentality, they were non-conformists beforehand.

Those who were working in Problems of Peace and Socialism were quite the opposite – they were conformists.

Some of them were pre-programmed cynics but not all of them. Chernyayev for example – he wasn’t a cynic.

Ambartsumov is cynic, he is a turncoat, a conformist, but even now though he acts as a democrat he still can’t cross some restrictions in his views, he is an evident supporter of a “strong hand” in the political sphere.

The same as Migranyan (a popular speaker on politology themes), he also thinks that the leading role of a party is needed.

Such views mean the readiness to obey the power, so I think that the employees for the Problems were selected on this basis.

Those Czechs who later were working in Lettre Nacional and who were in the East-European dissent, in 1968 they already had no illusions concerning the Communist Party.

For us this 1968 lesson had the opposite result – it said that if at least anything could be changed in that socialist monster system – it could be done only by the Party, in a way Dubcek had done it.

So we (who believed in that plot) turned out to stay on one historical step behind those who lost the illusions.

Russian evidents of 68 events in Prague actually were infected with the already outdated idea becuse they interpreted that experience in a wrong way.

They interpreted it positively mostly because the idea was actually crushed by our tanks.

That complex of fault didn’t give us an opportunity to realize the events properly.

The significance of Prague events in Russia had some limits and later it turned out to be more like the chains that restrained the development of social free-thinking.

The generation that went through Prague-68 contains the typical representatives of 60-niks (shestidesjatniks – a social type of people whose youth was somehow warmed up in Khruschev’thaw, all of them are great fans of Okudzhava, Evtushenko etc., people who criticized the system in the kitchen conversations but never dared to do it openly, usually they were members of the Communist Party if it was needed for the career – my father is a perfect example).

Not long ago Yegor Yakovlev (MNews) said in some newspaper that the tragedy of 60-niks is that they’ve got the power when their positive program was already carried out.

He was explaining that the positive program meant the elimination of the leading role of the Party.

So people like Karyakin, Yakovlev (the last Deputies of the Supreme Council of the USSR) really got the power when it was done already – obviously too late.

It’s interesting to count how many USSR’s Deputies were from the “Problems” – Yakovlev, Karyakin, Zagladin, Chernyayev.

I: Do you remember any stories about the life in “Problems” before the time you were working there? Any discussions, circles?

MARINA PAVLOVNA-SILVANSKAYA There were permanent international discussions of the Marxists.

For example Vadim Pechenev was working there for some time, later he was Chernenko’s assistant.

Pechenev’s nearest friend, who also participated in the discussions but didn’t work in the “Problems” – Richard Kosolapov, he was a Chief of the Department of Propoganda and now he is re-creating the Communist Party.

He also made the attempts to renew Marxism, neo-stalinist actually.

He could become a new Suslov if Gorbachev wouldn’t come to power.

Pechenev published his memoires in Ogonjek, where he was telling about that Central Committee kitchen.

Another one is Jurij Nikolaevich Solodukhin (2384069).

Later he was an Assistant of Birjukova.

Another interesting person who was working in the Problems in 1968 is Valentin Fjodorovich Terekhov.

Later he was the Soviet Council in Bulgaria.

He can tell a lot.

I’ll ask my friends if somebody knows where he is now.

Konstantin Ivanovich Mikul’skij – he is an Academician now.

He is a boredom, I don’t think he’ll tell anything interesting.

The right person to interview is Jurij Senokosov- he was the nearest friend of Mamardashvili (very progressive Soviet philosopher, died not long ago).

243-17-56 – tel.number.

Stepanov Lev Vasiljevich – 2510519.

Alexander Ivanovich Volkov – he is a more sympathetical person 2856990, you can refer to me.

Now he is working in the Gorbachev’s Foundation, he knows a lot, he is very intelligent.

Rybakov Vsevolod Borisovich, 251-8006, later he also was a Consultant of the International Department.

You are probably disappointed by my stories because the Problems were not a place where the grass-roots of free thinking were growing.

I: Absolutely not.

We still couldn’t find any places of evident free-thinking, and it’s surprising that in the “Problems” there were at least some nuances, some hints reminding about the alternative views.

MARINA PAVLOVNA-SILVANSKAYA First of all you should look in the Sector of Methodology in the Institute of History that was crushed approximately in 1969 (Gefter was famous as an organizer).

You should also find the workshop of Michail Abramovich Barg, medievist, he was a Head of the Department of the Methodology of History in that Institution.

Probably all the free-thinking persons participated in that workshop.

For example Danilov – later, in the first years of perestroika he was writing about the collectivization.Viktor Pavlovich Danilov was playing a very positive role because he was a Secretary of the Party Committee in the Institute of History.

So you should ask Mikhail Jakovlevich Gefter.

After these events he quit the Communist Party, he was one of the few who did it.

The same nest of free-thinking was in the Institute of Philosophy.

I don’t know in details what was going on there but you can ask about it Anna Mikhailovna Grishina (she works in Memorial) – 1430110.

She is a very sweet woman and she’ll tell you a lot.

The other place was FBON (now it is INION).

The reason and the direction of free-thinking in INION was quite different.

It didn’t grow from the scientific research and discussions, but it was a real dissent.

Viktor Ivanovich Shumkov, Academician, was working there.

He interviewed everybody for an hour before hiring him.

He gathered there people who returned back from Gulag, highly-educated persons, crushed in jail, without any ambition, who could never make social career. He gave them an opportunity to work as bibliographers and they got an access to “spetskhran” (special storage contained books that couldn’t be read without special permission – Oreshin told about it).

Spetskhran in FBON was a curious place, for example Nekrich was grown up there, he wrote his famous book there, and he also was directly connected with Gefter, Danilov.

Later Nekrich emigrated.

So lots of such people as Levada, Rozhkovskij, Engelgardt were spending the days in FBON spetskhran.

Even Solzhenitsyn was working there for a short time – it was a period after “Ivan Denisovich” was published.

He spoiled the relations with all the librarians who were working there because of his bad temper.

I know for sure that people who were engaged in Express-Khronika production were working in FBON.

An interesting person is Tsipko.

He came to Prague from the Komsomol Central Committee.

These different Party layers were all connected with the linkages between those who were working there.

These connections were created everywhere, and also in the “Problems”. When perestroika started, all these connections immediately came to the surface, people began to pull each other.

Those who got a new, higher position immediately hired the collegues (from one of his formers jobs).

These connections played a very important role, but not positive one, because that cohort of 60-niks who took all the significant positions was like a 60-niks mafia from the next generation’s point of view.

They shut up all the pores and only now thanks to the strong pressing they slightly begin to come off.

Otto Latsis (newspaper Izvestija) also worked in the “Problems”. He wrote his famous book about Bukharin’s position and the typist while typing it made a spare copy and transfered it to KGB. Latsis was immediately turned out from Czekhoslovakia and expelled from the Party.

Though later in Moscow the Commission of the Party Control didn’t confirm his expulsion because the Chairman of that Commission – Arvid Pel’she – had known Latsis father.

Yakovlev, Latsis and Tsukasov were a kind of a team and another member of it was the Gaidar’s father (Timur Gaidar).

In the light of this friendship I’d say that Yegor Gaidar also experienced the influence of these people.

During the last year Latsis always was a main advocate of Gaidar’s policy and his reforms – that could be explained by his long-term friendship with Gaidar’s father.

You see, all these relations are like a mushroom spawn.Not long ago I was talking with Lev Kopelev who is a great friend of Gefter. He said that most of all he is upset with what is going on in Georgia.

I asked him why do you take it so close.

He said: The thing is that Georgia was a last resort of freedom, Kopelev and his wife could deliver lectures in Georgia when they were already forbidden here. Mamardashvili also escaped there when it was impossible to continue his research in Moscow. The great part of Russian intelligentsia was somehow connected with Georgia because there was at least some freedom there. Probably it makes sense to investigate Georgia and write a separate chapter.

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