Vsevolod Rybakov (dissent in Party), 1993

Vsevolod Borisovich Rybakov, Moscow, 1993
Interviewer — Julia Kalinina, on behalf of Metta Spencer

Q [Interviewer was Julia Kalinina.] Several words about yourself, when did you start working in the “Problems”, what was your position, for how long, what were you doing after that job?

Rybakov: In the “Problems” I was working nearly for 12 years — from 1971 to 1983. I was hired thanks to my friend’s recommendation that already worked there. Basically all the employees for the magazine were selected in this way. Before I was working in the Institute of World Economics and International Relations [IMEMO]. In the Problems first I was working as the Head of the Department of Asian and African countries and then as a head of the department of the capitalist countries. In 1983 I got an offer to work in the International Department of the Central Committee CPSU as an adviser. I was working there until 1991, in 1991 I shifted to the group of advisers in the Secretariat of the USSR President — Gorbachev. In the International Department we also were working for the General Secretary of the Party and later for the President, so it was logical to continue the same job in the Secretariat of the President. There I was working until the USSR was liquidated together with the President’s Secretariat. Now I’m working for myself.

Q. We are interested in your contacts with the Westerners, officials, peaceniks , representatives of the Parties, — official and private contacts, and also the results of these contacts like discussions (private and public), publications etc. What was the way of transformation of some new ideas proposed by Westerners, could they influence on you somehow, sow the seeds of doubt. How it was digested in the magazine, was it possible to publish these kind of things or to send it in Moscow, Kremlin as some sort of notes or messages?

Rybakov: First of all, there was a separate department in the magazine that was dealing with the problems of the struggle for peace. In the name of this Department there always were two terms — democratic movement and struggle for peace. Actually it was a Department of all the democratic movements as International Women or Youth Federation etc. Practically all the the Departments were not numerous — just 3 persons: the Head and 2 editors. Naturally not only this Department was dealing with the struggle for peace but also all the others because officially the fight for peace was our main goal. What concerns me — from the beginning when I was working in the Asia and Africa Department the situation was rather peculiar because the representatives of Asian and African countries used to say that it was not their task to fight for peace, that it’s interesting exclusively for the well-developed countries and they are interested in the struggle against starvation, diseases, colonialism etc. So these people didn’t have any particular interest in the struggle for peace though they certainly participated with pleasure in the international meetings, conferences etc. When it was needed they delivered the speeches, said what was needed to say but they were not really interested in the problem. On the other hand, the circle of my friends was not limited by the representatives of Asia and Africa, I had lots of friends among other Parties’ representatives who were permanently working in Prague , and also among the West Europeans and North Americans. So the contacts existed but thanks to my job I had the contacts mainly with the communists. Their attitude always depended on their Party ideological orientation because you probably know that the Parties were different — in 70s a comparatively deep split in the communist movement was already evident. So called Eurocommunists appeared, the term Eurocommunism was proposed by Santiago Carrillo, a former General Secretary of the Spanish Communist Party. The most bright representatives of this movement was the Spanish Communist Party, Italian Communist Party that was considered to be a dissident in the international Communist movement and in the mid-70-s the French CP also joined them. In 1975 a three-side appeal (Carrillo, Berlinguer, Marchais) was signed that became the declaration of Eurocommunism. Lately the French CP stepped aside and always rejected their participation. So it was a great difference in approaches of such Parties as US or Canadian CPs which were standing on the classical, orthodox positions, they undoubtedly supported everything that the Soviet Union was doing and their position was absolutely “monosemantic”. In the same time these Eurocommunism orientation Parties (also Belgian, Swedish CPs later joined them) had the different view — they started to distribute the international responsibility for the events (not always equally, it depended on a particular case), between the capitalist and socialist sides. Like both Western and Soviet missiles are bad, both sides perform the arms race, sharpen the situation etc. Naturally, it caused the anathema from the Soviet side but anyway it influenced on the all-world struggle for peace, on the All-World Council for Peace, that was headed by Romesh Chandra for long years. Remember, I said that Asians and Africans were not interested in peace movements but the President of the All-World Council for Peace was an Indian. He was a very talented person, unbelievable demagogue in the same time. So, the position of Eurocommunists certainly influenced the official peace movement though it followed the Soviet policy directions on 90%. The position of these Parties influenced on the position of pro-communist, pro-soviet international peace organizations. These Parties in their turn experienced the influence of peaceniks. Moreover, as these Parties changed their views they became closer to the peaceniks’ position. They started to establish contacts, relations (especially Italian communists were active in organizing meetings. discussions, conferences with peaceniks). The Problems of Peace and Socialism, though it was a magazine of the communist parties, was not a regular edition. It was different because of the content of the papers, and also because of the nature of those who were working there. What concerns the Soviet employees — editors and translators — all the editors were Soviet, there were none from any other country; the Council of the magazine [something like editorial board?] consisted of the representatives of different countries’ parties, but the editors were only Soviet.

Q.Does it mean that only Soviets were writing articles for the magazine”

A. That’s another question. So all the editors. chiefs. consultants etc. were Soviets, hired with the permission of the CPSU Central Committee. The magazine was considered to be “a branch” of the International Department of the Central Committee, though officially they were independent. The Editor-in-Chief position was equal to the Vice-President of the Central Committee International Department. The Party organization of the magazine was not included in the united Party organization of Soviets in Czechoslovakia, but in the Party organization of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee. But despite of this, 90% of the Soviet employees were concealed-, and sometimes even open, dissidents. It started from the very begining of the magazine. The first team of employees (the chief was Academician Rumjantsev) was very interesting. Afterwards their destinies were very different. Lots of them became the high party bosses, most of the Vice-Chiefs of the International Department were the persons who had already worked in the Problems: Zagladin, Chernjaev, later Gorbachev’s Assistant, many others. On the other hand the persons like Karjakin Jurij [Yuri Kariakin] also was working in the magazine — absolutely different persons but they were friends, even like-minded persons. The magazine, though it couldn’t afford an absolute freedom, anyway had more space to express free thinking than the editions that were published in Soviet Union. The proof and the explanation of this freedom was the following: that the authors of our magazine are the representatives of other parties, we certainly work with their material, but they are the authors and we must publish what they write, we can’t absolutely change it.

Q. You mean that it was all done absolutely consciously?

Rybakov: Undoubtedly so. If you could attend that meetings of the party-members who were working in the magazines — the same Zagladin, Chernjaev, Karjakin — you’d be amazed. The record of that meetings could be a reason for an arrest at that time and a best advertisement for these persons today. That liberal atmosphere presented in the magazine from the beginning of its establishment — from 1958. The first team was very interesting and later started the process about which I’ve told you already: all the other employees were hired on recommendation of someone who was already working in the magazine. For example, somebody (an editor) is leaving, the Editor-in-Chief asks employees whom he trusts to recommend a person for that vacancy. That’s why in spite of the permanent renewal of the staff the magazine continued to be something like asylum for the dissidents who experienced some persecution. For example, before my employment in the journal, for 13 years I wasn’t allowed to go abroad. The well-known specialist of the Soviet Union, correspondent of “Le Monde” Michel Tatu called the magazine “the dissidents’ nest”. So, 2/3 of all the articles were sent to the magazine from the Parties that participated in the edition or by their representatives. 1/3 of the articles were sent from CPSU or were written directly by the employees of the Problems, mostly reviews of the conferences, materials on some problems. We were allowed to sign them sometimes by a real name but not often. But as a rule the materials from the Parties were written by non-professionals and very often it was necessary to re-write them. Actually it was the biggest part of the job. That’s why it was important to keep the content, the position of a particular party — the representative of a party read it and he wouldn’t accept it if I re-wrote it from CPSU position. Often the Party asked us to write an article on a particular issue on behalf of their leader. So I was mainly writing the articles instead of other people. Such situation gave us an opportunity to reflect non-orthodox CPSU positions though it had to be done in certain limits, non-challenging and sometimes even challenging. When I was working in the magazine, our Editor-in-Chief was Konstantin Ivanovich Zarodov, a really remarkable person. Before he was working in the Department of propaganda of CPSU and also as an Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper “Soviet Russia”. After that he was a Vice Chief-Editor in Pravda and afterwards he left for Prague. From the first glance he seemed to be a sample Party functionary, completely orthodox, but later, when he started to trust you, he turned out to be an absolutely different person, very free-thinking. Thanks to his support it was possible to publish sometimes such incredible things. For example, in 1979 we invade with troops in Afganistan. The reaction of the communist parties was not simple. “Eurocommunist” parties condemned it as an aggressive intervention and they started to propose their materials where they openly said that. Example: In the autumn of 1980 in Berlin there was a conference organized by our magazine and by the Socialist United Party of Germany. It was a conference of the socialist camp and the representatives of the national-liberation movements. At that time we already communicated not only with the socialist countries’ parties but also established connections with the national liberation movements, which in some sense were pro-communist but not really communist , as later was shown by their evolution in Angola, Mozambique etc. After the conference we published its documents in the magazine. I prepared these materials for publishing. There was an intervention of a Spanish leader who said that war was an intervention. He was an old friend of mine, Damian Petel. I explained to him the situation, that I would prepare the materials for the survey of the conference. I said: “Here is your intervention, look if you can throw away from it what you think is possible to throw. What you think is necessary to publish will be published but mind the level of harm it can bring to me.” So he looked at the text, threw away some sharp passages, which being published could bring us to jail. But the phrases like aggression, invasion were left. The same was with the other texts, there were modified on the basis of mutual agreement but the formulations were left. After that I came to Zarodov and said: “here is the material, something is thrown away, but something is left. It certainly was unpleasant for Zarodov but he agreed and it was published, these issues were on sale in Moscow and one can read that the representatives of the prominent communist parties call our international assistance in Afghanistan — aggression, intervention.

Q. Any consequences of that publication?

Rybakov: The consequences were always the same — a call from Moscow, scandal, but Zarodov always said:“If you want to stop the relations with these parties and to fix the split of the communist movement — ok, let the Politbureau make the decision and we start to blame them. If not, we’ll continue to publish these kind of materials so the parties will be able to cooperate with us.” When the French Communist Party in 1976 excluded the notion “dictatorship of the proletariat” from its statutes and then they gave an article for the magazine and explained why they refused to use the notion -it was also uneasy for us. Till that time almost 30 Communist Parties didn’t have that notion in their regulations but it happened on a wave of Eurocommunism and it filled with indignation the Central Committee, most of all the Department of Propaganda. But anyway it was published. So it was really interesting to work in the magazine and I was working with great pleasure.

Q. When you was hired, in 1971, have you met any traces, any stories about 1968? Maybe among your acquaintances?

Rybakov: Not in the magazine. I was never dealing with Czechoslovakia. My field was France, then the developing countries and I had absolutely no connections in Prague. It wasn’t evident even in every-day life — I mean the attitude of Czechs towards Russians. Though my friends — other parties representatives had connections within Czech dissent. One of my friends, Italian, Michele Rossi, pretty well-known person in the Italian Communist Party who had an image of enfant terrible. He didn’t hesitate to declare his views that were the opposite to the orthodox communist views. Before he was a member of the Central Committee, the Chief of the International Department, and probably he was appointed to Prague because he was a real trouble for the Party leaders. He was a surprisingly interesting person, charming, educated. He was working in Prague in 1968 and he saved some connections with the dissent. But there were no attempts to organize a mutual meeting for me and these people. I was scared to do it and he understood that though for him it wouldn’t have any consequences (he simply could be forbidden to enter Czechoslovakia) for me it could be a disaster.

Q. Did you discuss any ideas of the Prague spring?

Rybakov: Actually it was not the ideas of Prague spring, it was not something new. But the spirit of free ideas that appeared in the Italian Communist Party long ago presented thanks to the Italian representatives. By the way, when the representatives of Eurocommunist Party attempted to condemn the intervention in Czechoslovakia, it was never published. There was a rule in the magazine — not to criticize the other Party if it doesn’t agree to that. The Czech representative didn’t allow these publications; he stood up against it. What concerns the special Department of Peace and Democratic Movements, it differed; it depended on the persons who were working in the magazine, there were more and less successful years. I think that these problems were better reflected not in the special papers on these issues but via another articles, like those reflecting the official positions of the parties, when it was possible to express some ideas and stand up for them as it was a position of the party.

Q. You know, there is a new point of view now — that peaceniks were not right while they were fighting for the reduction of the missiles, because now everybody clearly understands that the Soviet Union really was an evil and it was perfectly right to have the missiles and be ready to start a new war against that unpredictable totalitarian state.

Rybakov: I absolutely disagree with it. Peaceniks played a greatest role for that changing of the international situation that started from 1985 because they created an appropriate atmosphere, climate. They lightened the danger of the war, they saw that it threatened from both sides and people got used to hear it. Even in the Soviet Union officials were getting used to hear that both US and USSR are responsible for arms race. They created that climate that eased that shift in the international policy that started from 1985 when Gorbachev came to power. In 1986-1987 in Gorbachev’s interventions a new term started to appear — besides those 3 features of the “international progress” that existed in our policy fr om Khruschev’s time: socialist camp, international worker’s movement, and national-liberation movement — a 4th feature “democratic movements”. That was a just payment of recognition to the peaceniks.

Part II

RYBAKOV: So peaceniks helped also the Westerners. For instance, Reagan had extremely anti-Soviet views and that atmosphere also helped him to make a shift, the mutual movement towards each other started between two sides. Look at that episode — a camp of British women around the American missile base in UK. It was broadcast on our TV programs and Soviets watched women who voluntarily doomed themselves to these inconveniences for the sake of peace — it was very useful for our people who actually were under the influence of a very effective Soviet propaganda. Even in that sense it was very helpful — just to open Soviet people’s eyes. Probably, manifestations held by the American Communist Party were not influential at all, didn’t make much sense, as people just didn’t bother to pay attention to them.

Q. How do you picture the mechanism of ideas’ transfer — for example from peaceniks to the CPSU Central Committe, how did it force them to change their views? You were working in the International Department of the Central Committee so you must know something about that. I don’t think that Gorbachev just watched the peaceniks’ demonstration on TV and thought: “It might be some sense in their ideas?

RYBAKOV: Certainly not. I can’t say that there was any direct influence, like an organization of peaceniks proposes something and we, International Department of the Central Committee transfer this proposal to Gorbachev and he accepts it. Certainly not. But, firstly, as I told already, the atmosphere, then the elaboration of certain positions: peaceniks had the proposals on the medium-range missiles, on nuclear tests, etc; they had their own system of arguments, that certainly was familiar in the International Department. Naturally, we didn’t borrow anything directly, we never gave citations that this is proposed by this or that organisation. But when we were constructing our own system of arguments in that documents, speeches, papers for publishing that we were preparing for the Party leaders, we took into account the peacniks’ considerations, we were reading all the materials and were aware of the things. I don’t know much about the other Central Committee Departments and even about other groups inside the International Department, I speak only about our group — Group of the Consultants that performed very specific work: elaboration of the official documents. I started to work in that Group in March, 83, so I was working for Andropov, Chernenko and then for Gorbachev. Naturally, while working with Andropov and Chernenko, I had never seen the best team of intellectuals gathered together.

Q. Who was working there at that time?

RYBAKOV: You probably don’t know them, as they never signed what they were writing. Alexander Veber, Andrej Jarmonskij, Aleksej Kozlov, Stanislav Men’shikov, Nikola j Kovalskij, Viktor Sidenko, Vadim Sobakin, our Chief was Jurij Aleksandrovich Zhiev. The atmosphere was very frank, very free, we didn’t hesitate to express our views but we clearly understood that the rules of a game must be observed. We understood what we can propose to the Central Committee in Andropov’s era, in era of Chernenko, and later when Gorbachev came to power we felt the terms changed, that we can afford ourselves to propose much more, feel more free, go much further, and while constructing the new argumentation system we took into account that experience of arguments, views and positions accumulated by peaceniks’ movement.

Q. Can’t you give an example?

RYBAKOV: It’s very difficult. The thing is that the decisions, documents passed lots of stages, re-makings, where the original sources were hidden, were not seen clearly when the position was ready for publication. Well, the recognition of the fact that our missiles SS-20 were equally harmful as Americam Pershing-2 — here is a trace of peaceniks’ position because it was their position, they advanced it. They also gave the argumentation that we used later concerning the American program of Star Wars. The program was absurd—that later became evident. It was impossible to implement it as Reagan proposed and peaceniks’ movement clearly understood the threat as a meaning of pressure on the Soviet Union and as an instrument that could destroy already started detente, reconciliation. Though peaceniks were not pro-Soviet they understood that the program can destroy it.

Q. What newspapers, journals or other documents was your Group of Consultants reading while preparing the speeches?

RYBAKOV: We were reading newspapers, magazines, TASS and information agencies’ digests, and all the confidential information from the Consulates and KGB. Our information base was pretty solid. I couldn’t live without every-morning reading of Le Monde and International Herald Tribune. Also for the last 35 years every morning I’m listening to BBC news.

Back to the Problems. By the way, practically all the members of the Group of Consultants before that were also working in Prague in Problems of Peace and Socialism.

Q. That means that the Group was more or less free-thinking.

RYBAKOV: Certainly. In Prague it was possible to work in un-standard way and here also it was very interesting. The internal atmosphere in the Group and then, since 1985, it was really interesting to work because we were not so restricted as before. I think it were the not-in-vain years.

Q. Did you understand clearly at that time what now we say openly, that communism, Communist Party is vicious etc.?

RYBAKOV: We criticized severely all these things in private conversations between us, actually we knew more that an ordinary citizen so we were much more aware of what we were scolding. We also didn’t know everything; for example, now it’s evident that our statistics was always falsified but we knew more than the public though less than the Party bosses. I started to realize that the imposition of communism in our country was the greatest tragedy after the report of Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of CPSU. Though in my family where I was grown up the Soviet system wasn’t in great respect. But it was a clear understanding — either you live in that system and build your life in that system than you must play according to the laws of the system, though your eyes should be open. Naturally we didn’t know a lot. Though my father told me about the trials of 1937-38, about the falsifications, tortures etc . My parents didn’t study in the University because it was forbidden for them as they born in noble families. But in spite of that I was under the influence of propaganda. If you read without prejudice the same papers of Marx, Lenin or Stalin, you wouldn’t say that it’s complete nonsense. And I can say that when I graduated from the University I was a pretty orthodox member of the system. And for me a real shift in outlook happened only after that Khruschev’s report. It wasn’t only a sensation, it just overturned everything we knew about the state. And it gave me a push to self-thinking that very soon resulted in a definite way — I wasn’t allowed to pass the borders of the country.

Q. Why?

RYBAKOV: I was working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I allowed myself some non-orthodox statements.

Q. Where did you study?

RYBAKOV: I graduated from the Institute of International Relations in 1954.

Q. And later, working in the International Department of the Central Committee, did you keep some loyalty to the socialist system” I mean the two points of view were possible: 1) recognition of the disadvantages of the system but belief in a possibility of “socialism with human’s face” i.e. reforms from the top; 2) total rejection of socialism.

RYBAKOV: I’ll explain. In summer, 1956, soon after I had read Khruschev’s report, I formulated for myself a definition that I express in English: “right or wrong, it’s my country”. So as much as it’s possible I must work for my country. Also I always thought that one must make a choice — either you refuse to collaborate or you work in the system and in that case independently of your attitude to the system itself you must honestly work for it — to fulfil professionally your job and as much as possible to provide maximum of true facts and arguments to the Party leaders (as it was my job), to broaden “the space of freedom”, even if according to the rules you must dress a fact in propagandistic clothes. For example in 1962 I defended my dissertation in IMEMO. The dissertation was called “Imperialist help to the developing countries”. At that time our official position was that this help is complete robbery and is only harmful for the developing countries. In my dissertation I used all the usual angry word against capitalism and then proved that this help really helps the developing countries to develop but in the same time involves these countries in the capitalist system. So in my job after pronouncing all the needed abusements it was possible to give an account of real facts and propose concepts based on these facts. And later since 1986 when the possibilities expanded it was possible to write openly what we wanted to propose the leaders.

Q. At that time did you think that it was possible to normalize the state by reforms?

RYBAKOV: It was a subject of argument between me and my friend Rossi, that Italian about whom I’ve told you. He always said: “You don’t know your people, they can’t bear this system for so long”. We were absolutely sincere with each other. I believed that the changes in the system were possibly only by reforms “from the top “. That idea non-publicly presented in IMEMO while I was working there: that it’s necessary to try to change the system by “revolution from the top”, to make it more human. We greeted the Prague spring until 1968; we believed that things were being done in a proper way, initiated from the top, when the odious features of the system were eliminating and normal, human relations were imposed. And later I didn’t doubt my conviction that the Soviet people would never rebel. From my point of view there were no presumptions to the rebellion. But the system must be changed, and the only possible way — from the top. Until our leaders were inveterate, it was necessary to propose changes in a way that wouldn’t raise their suspicion. For example, even if Brezhnev wouldn’t understand that “that’s bad”, others like Suslov will say “look what they propose”. For instance, during the Prague spring Ota Sik, Minister of Economy, proposed the changes that were not more radical than those that were being worked out at that time in SU for the economical reform of 1967-68. That means that here these reforms were proposed in a way that didn’t raise suspicion; another thing is that later the reforms were stifled anyway. Our goal was to show that we want to improve the system and not to explode it. Since 1986 an opportunity to propose the changes openly appeared. The leaders were not scared to hear these proposals, they even had similiar views though they didn’t express them openly. But the same conviction that changes must be done from the top, “revolution from the top” that Gorbachev wanted to realize. And I think that the revolution still continues to be realized from the top in spite of August, 1993.

Q. Did you deal only with international policy of the Soviet Union?

RYBAKOV: Mainly. When speeches for abroad interventions were in process of preparing there always were passages on internal policy and we also were writing them. We also prepared the general philosophy documents like ways of development etc.

Q. What were the most bright initiatives proposed in the documents you had prepared?

RYBAKOV: Liquidation of the middle-range missiles — it was a real shift in international policy, then the concept of complete nuclear disarmament (Jan.,16,1986), it was certainly a utopia but it had the same influence on the social athmosphere as peacniks’ initiatives. They also proposed lots of things that were impossible to realize. Then the Treaties on OSW-1. [MS: I don’t know what that is.] Then withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan — it also was an overturn in our international policy, we started to support the termination of Civil Wars in Africa where formerly we supported one side. Then we stopped quarreling with dissidents in the international communist movement. Gorbachev was meeting with the Italian communist leaders and these conversations were better than with anybody else because common views between them existed. The last remarkable initiative (because after that the inside -party fight overwhelmed) — Gorbachev’s intervention at the UN General Assembly in Dec. 1988. For the first time the Soviet leader said that the way proposed by communists and socio-democrats is not the only possible one and the capitalist and socialist ways are parallel and they have a tendency to draw nearer and must bring to the establishment of a united humankind civilization. In fact it was recognition of a theory of convergence, the position of social democrats. For a Soviet leader it was a huge step forward, a step that required lots of courage because the Politbureau was split and only part of it supported Gorbachev.

Q. Who was preparing this intervention?

RYBAKOV: Mainly our Group of Consultants, we got some material from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but on the whole it was done by the Group of Consultants under the guidance of Chernyaev, at that time he was Gorbachev’s Assistant.

Q. I would like to know if you were old something like “now you are free till the certain limit amd here is this limit”.

RYBAKOV: No, we were not told anything like that. But we were not children. We understood where is the limit but we were trying to expand it in every new document. In that sense Gorbachev was a very good ally or better said, we were his allies.

Q. I doubt if he would be able to do such great things without your Group of Consultants.

RYBAKOV: Who knows, he is a person of natural gifts.

Q. Only now it’s evident that what you were writing was truth but at that time it were you who took the responsibility for the initiatives.

RYBAKOV: Certainly. We were responsible. For instance, that approach to social democrats was initiated by the International Department, we stayed for it for a long time.

Q. While you were working in the International Department did you travel, attend any international conferences?

RYBAKOV: Until 1978 I was not allowed to travel outside the socialist countries; later I started to travel.

Q. In what conferences did you participate?

RYBAKOV: It’s complicated to explain. Regularly the Group of Consultant wasn’t involved in the Secretariat of the international meetings. So we usually went abroad on the invitation of certain communist or socialist parties. For example, in Aug 1988 I was in Paris, attended a conference organized by the International League of enlightenment and education. That’s a large social democratic organisation which express appropriate position. I was invited as a representative of the International Department; it was devoted to questions of bringing up in light of peace. I made an intervention at the plenary meeting, took part in section’s discussion. Another opportunity was to be invited by the communist parties. In 1986 I was at the Congress of Socialist International in Peru, Lima. At that time CPSU wasn’t officially invited and I was invited as a mass media representative, correspondent of Pravda, though everybody knew that I was a representative of the International Department of the Central Committee. Back to problems of peace: there is an International Institute of Peace in Groningen, Holland. I was invited by the Groningen Department of the Holland Communist Party to attend a celebration of the October Revolution. I made a speech at the celebration itself and then I was invited to intervene in that Institute of Peace. The last episode. Back to that Paris conference: it was a pretty sharp discussion there. Among the participants there were lots of well-known people, Sorbonne professors, historians who had very firm anti-communist position. At that time, performing a role of an official representative I still couldn’t say openly what I thought myself, though my speech was pretty open. Later at one of the colloquiums I was just pressed to answer the question about Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. First I said that here I’m tied up by the evaluations of the events by the Czech side. As an official representative here I can criticize my leaders but not the leaders of Czechoslovakia. But they pressed me anyway: “ Tell us what’s your position”. Finally I presented that it’s my private position and said that I remember clearly that when I heard the news on the radio about the invasion of our troops in Czechoslovakia — for me it’s still one of the darkest days in my life, a tragedy not only for Czechoslovakia but also for our country. That’s to your question about the limits of what was allowed. If at that time the Czech leaders learned that the official representative of CPSU expressed such an opinion I would have troubles. Not because of Soviet side but because of Czechs — they would complain. Very often we suffered because the socialist countries communist parties complained to CPSU for the “incorrect” behavior of some Soviet representative.

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