Michael Macpherson (re Tairov), 1990

Michael Macpherson. Prague, October 22, 1990
(Preceding this interchange, there had been a discussion between us about whether we can remember a time when a person changed to a peace-position right before us, in a visible way. Michael said he could actually recall such a case, and I whipped out my tape recorder.)

Michael Macpherson – Well, I’m not historically rehearsed for this. I think it was 1984, and that was the third of the annual END meetings in Europe and it took place in Perugia, in Italy. I think it was the first time but maybe it was a very significant time when a lot of representatives of the official peace committees and probably some other officials from the Soviet and some other Socialist countries came to this meeting and there had been at the time sort of an expectation that there would be a better discussion than there had been before, I’m not sure why that was. I was kind of going there from an unusual perspective because I was travelling there with some people from West Berlin, people who had been thrown out of and had left the GDR because they had been peace activists in the GDR.

Metta Spencer – Who were they?

MICHAEL MACPHERSON- They were people like people close to Roland Jahn and they were people who I haven’t met since except I know this one called Blaven, he was a very large guy, Blaven means bladder unfortunately, and he was a very forceful character and nice guy. But the other people have not become very significant as far as I know, but they thought they had something important to say because still at that time we knew Cruise and Pershing missiles in the west and SS20’s in the east and they wanted to say something about that situation and also about conditions of human rights in the U.S.S.R., and the fact that people there couldn’t protest about the missiles for instance, among other things. So, I remember some discussions with people from the Peace Committees, for instance Mient Jan Faber was there, he is here now, in one of those and it was quite open and never the less in spite of the openness and sort of the western vanity of some of the Russian representatives, they were representing a sort of Brezhnev line.

M.S. – Do you remember who they were?

MICHAEL MACPHERSON- There wasn’t much change, particularly I remember Tairov, who , we can mention him later if there’s any tape left and I won’t go on for too long. So, okay there was this Brezhnev line, and that was a workshop. One of the plenary, big, big, big, sessions with everybody there, the people from West Germany broke protocol and they jumped up on the stage with a banner saying something like peace in east and west and let our friends come to the meeting and things like that because the dissidents in the west and all the peace activists had not been allowed to come to this meeting and that was a big point of disagreement between the peace activists in the west and some of them and the peace committees in the east who could have, would of they been contacted, arranged for these people to have come probably. Okay, there was this sort of atmosphere, and that was maybe a turning point. Now we have a personal case history because Tairov, well let’s say about 1986, 1987, he that was after some of Gorbechov’s, kind of big overtures to the west, he appeared in the press in the west in Sanity and End magazines saying “Things are not going fast enough here, we have got to change more quickly.” He had really become a dove and he was now very critical but he was someone who I think was expressing some self criticism because he had obviously been on a different ticket before and now he was quite clearly saying we did it wrong, we got it wrong. I think that’s more or less documented. Okay, so there we are, so he’s going on, he then had some problems He was thrown then out of his job at that time, still, or at least he split up with the peace committee and subsequently I’ve heard he’s become director of some institute in Moscow. And it’s something like peace research or something.

M.S. – (Laughing) He’s the co-author of this book. [Well, that was the plan for a while.]


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