Why is that?
K: Well, I told you when I was under pressure and had to write
my Ph.D., I did it twice, spending two years on both jobs.
Most students, with all the facilities and all that, can meander
on for three or four years. Maybe it's the same.
And you think of the pressures Dostoevsky had to live under...
K: Certainly, and contributed to him, although, say to gain
it for us, landed gentry, spent half of his time squandering
money in Paris. Nicorosov was a great gambler. And Dostoevsky
was a gambler also.
So it's hard to generalize?
K: Yeah, Tolstoy was, again, of aristocratic origins and wrote
for the landed aristocracy.
Sergei, do you miss anything that existed before Perestroika?
K: Well, I miss the support of science; that's the terrible
thing. There's nothing that can really explain or excuse what
happened. And I think this can have terrible consequences
for the country. We have the example of Germany. Hitler
kicked out all the Jews, was very narrow minded in his support of
science. After the war, after the defeat, after the buildup
of the German economy, the rate at which science was sort of brought
back to normal levels, put huge sums into German science, but never
came back to what it was before Hitler, even in the early days of
So this is going to have dire consequences?
K: It may have very dire consequences in the future.
Although, again, it's not easy to generalize on these matters.
Anything else you miss? What has been lost since Perestroika?
K: Well, I think there is a thing that really matters, and
this I think goes to the very high levels of sort of political and
leadership. It is the sense of purpose in a society.
Even take such thing as military service. It was never in
Soviet Russian or Czarist Russia except during the Revolution, it
was considered to be the noble duty of a citizen. That's the
last thing that anybody wants to do, to begin with. Or say
the attitude of even our own of this new fast money. Why is
all that money leaving the country? We are trying to ask investors
to invest in Russia, but Russian money is illegally leaving the
country at much greater rates than all these miserable investments
that come from the West--a negative balance. That can lead
to very grave consequences.
But what has been gained that you treasure the most?
K: Well, I don't know. It's, again, very difficult to
say, you see. But I think these losses are of a very peculiar
nature. The freedoms, I say, well, maybe I've had the freedom
to tell before. Maybe not as grand as today, but today most
people are limited by money rather than by political control.
In the past science is in a very dear state, it's a very separate
thing. This exclusion of superstitions, low-grade culture,
this pulp literature--we're exporting from the West the worst products
you have. Or maybe that is the new world that we were striving
for, I don't know.
So it's not that clear cut?
K: It's not clear cut at all. Well, something should have
happened, but again, they just had no alternative, you see.
Then there's an old saying that's from London, Britain, that you
say, "My country, right or wrong." You learn these
things in Britain, not in America, by the way.