That's a good story. And here was the boss of all the television.
K: Yeah, and again, I once came to see him in his offices,
and there was sitting his opposite in the party, controls of this
thing, and I had some minor business with that, and I don't know
why he came in. And they were in a very heated debate as should
VCRs be encouraged or not. This man from the party political
system, who was in fact an appointee of our ambassador to Canada,
said that he thinks VCRs are becoming important as a way of sort
of distributing information and all that. But Latvin was steadfast.
He said, "As far as I'm sitting here, there will be no VCRs."
And they asked me what do I think. Well, I said, "I think
you can't stop this and finally technology starts introducing ideology."
And he concurred to the example, I think, of Khomeiny who came to
great power and entrance in Iran thanks to tape recordings of his
speeches and his sermons, whatever they are called in Muslim countries.
Let's talk a little about Gorbachev--your understanding of Gorbachev.
When he came in, seeing that there had to be these reforms.
K: Well, the events I told you about were just before, a few
months before he came to power. And he was number two in the
country, lying low before things happened.
And do you think, Sergei: to what extent do you think he had some
sort of game plan or any plan at all, or was he improvising?
K: I think it was not a matter of that. You see, I think
he understood that changes had to happen, and I told you he was
briefed on these economic matters by an advisor like Aganbegyan.
But you know I always have the image--there is a standard image,
you know, of epitome of power. The most powerful chap sits
at the very top. But this image of power has another meaning.
The width of the spot and the level on which you are seeing is the
width of the space in which he can maneuver. When you are
running around down at the very bottom of the pyramid, you can do
a run anywhere. But when you are at the very top, you have
no latitude or movement plan, you see--very small latitude.
And this, I think, is what has to be remembered. And I think
he unleashed events that went well beyond his control, and they
And, for example, when glasnost started, did he know to what extent
K: Well, you see, glasnost did a great thing in bringing the
downfall of the system, but unfortunately hasn't done much to build
the new system. Not that I'm against glasnost. All those
people who were so bright and brilliant in the old system, when
they had to deliver a message of advice on what to do in constructive
terms, then they all split. Each has their own pet idea, and
there's no consistent strategy on what should be and can be done.
Good. Okay, let me frame that. Just in terms of your
highest hopes, let's talk about this for the future. Just
reflect a little bit about what can be made out the current situation
K: Well, I hope the developments will carry on. They
will be erratic, they will have their ups and downs. I hope
there'll be more ups than downs, but it's very difficult to say
what the development will be, and I say, I just mention it, those
people who are so good at dismembering the system prove to be very
poor at building something new. And I think there's going
to be a major transition in this sense.
But when we look at this change, it looks to most people, well,
it happens so fast.
K: Well, all revolutions happen fast. The French Revolution
was very fast, if you remember history; the Russian Revolution was
very fast. The long time is the adjustment after the revolution.
That takes a long time. But these transformations happen very
fast, and that is what it should be. There's no other way
of doing it.