Okay, what are some of the sources of hope? And what are some
of the things to worry about. First, on the hope side, what
are some of the strengths or the good things that are happening now?
K: Well, you see, the major point during all these transformations
is a change of generations. This, I think, is a crucial thing--changing
generations. All--in the first place--all great upheavals
like this lead to a lost generation. Take the great Russian
literature of the second half of the Nineteenth Century: Turgenev,
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. One of the major things was the lost
revolution, a lost generation that appeared after the huge changes
in the Russian society after the abolition of serfdom and the economic
and political reforms in the middle of the Nineteenth Century.
You see, they described the lost generation in a certain sense--the
landed gentry that was lost. The same half of the term appeared
in fact in Europe--Hemingway, Dos Passos, people like that who wrote
about the lost generation of the First World War. They were
fighting for great ideals, and when they came back home, what did
they find? You see, it's -- that's the tragedy of all these
And now we have that again.
K: And now we're having that again, you see. And I think
you can say many things about Yeltsin, especially in his last transition
inviting these young boys as they're called by the senior generation
that thinks it's their time to play the games. They are the
hope of the country. They are the money movers. They
are the people who really have new ideas and aren't tied to the
past. They're well trained, thanks to a fine education system
that we have in this part of the world, and that is the hope of
the country. But there is a very large lost generation.
The miners and most of the intellectuals, and all that. The
military--what do you do with them? We'll wait till we simply
Another source of hope, would you say, is that, to the extent to
which Russia in fact is tied in to the global game, more so than
say a lot of other parts of the world that are not so tied in.
And this has developed for a long, long time in Russia, scientifically,
in terms of media and so forth.
K: Well, that is certainly the case, you see. Opening
up is very important. But again, you'll find that the younger
generation, beginning with even my grandchildren or so, they all
speak English, they're open to the world, they've already traveled.
Traveling in the past was a privilege of a very select group and
had no real influence on what was happening. I was lucky to
be one of them. But now it's sort of standard.
Are you worried about a strong man that could lead to an authoritarian
setback, that it could go that way?
K: I don't think it can really go, because there's been such
a devolution of power to the regions, and that is one of the most
important points. In fact, I think anyone who comes to power,
his main duty to the country will be to sort of keep the realm more
or less intact.
How do you assess, then, the hopes of the provinces? Moscow
K: Moscow is a singular place. It's one of the most
expensive cities in the world now. As you see, it has all
the outward signals of flourishing, but again it has huge contrasts.
I remember once I was bringing a rather posh car, a rather important
lady to our place in Moscow, and we parked next to the garbage heap,
where two women were rummaging to find something that they could
eat. On the other end of the garden, there was a very good
looking lady having two fine pedigree dogs that I expect were fed
much better than those poor ladies. So that's what's happening.
That's not propaganda, you see, the effects of life. And this
is perhaps the social cost of what's happening.
haven't traveled much during these last years through my own country.
I more often go east or west and various spots there. Well,
one spot's in Georgia. There things were desperate.
In Leningrad and Petersburg, things of course are much worse than
in Moscow. But still things are carrying on, you see.
Gradually I think this devolution of power works. And they'll
have to look after themselves much more than being looked after
by the central state.