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TRAC
Interview Transcript

Sergei Kapitsa   (cont)
Interviewer:  Now you said there were two of these.  There was another one.  It reminds me of the time with Aganbegyan.

Mr.  K:  Oh, that was another time.  That happened, I can tell you exactly when it happened, in May '84 or June '84.  My father died in April and I went to see a friend of mine who was in fact connected with Pugwash.  Also, he was on the central committee of the Party.  He was not a member, but he was an inside man, and was engaged in matters of Pugwash.  We were good friends, and I came to see him.  We had dinner at his place.  His wife is a professor at the university in economics.  And Aganbegyan was there.  And Aganbegyan and I met a number of times.  In fact, no one on my boathouse has been more often than Aganbegyan, all through those twenty years.

Interviewer:  Say a few words first about Aganbegyan.

Mr.  K:  Aganbegyan is a remarkable man.  He was in Novosibirsk--he left Moscow, and Novosibirsk established the institute for economic studies.  Initially, it was to study the economics of Siberia, but it went much further.  It became a breeding ground for liberal democratic thought.  Many of the people now in the government have passed through the school of Aganbegyan.  Begyan now is in charge of an academy of economic studies in Moscow, but in those days it was all done out in Novosibirsk.  And we were good friends and met him both in Novosibirsk and Moscow.  

 He was always moving.  When things got difficult for him in Moscow, he left for Novosibirsk, where he was out of sight and out of mind, so to speak.  He could do whatever he liked.  He was a remarkable man.  And we were sitting there discussing the very desperate state in which our economy was.  I won't tell you why that conversation was so interesting, but I told Aganbegyan, "Now, look, you are saying great things.  Let's tape it all."  "Oh," he says, "You know the day after tomorrow, I'm leaving for Novosibirsk, and then nobody will allow this to be shown, and we cannot do it."  "Well let's try it."

 So I remember at 11:00 in the evening, during the dinner party, I called the people who were in charge of distributing the studios on the television system and told them, "You know, tomorrow I need a studio to tape an important  conversation."  They said, "You are crazy.  You are drunk."  And I said, "Well, I've done some drinking, but still need a studio."  "Oh, you know you have to book at least a week ahead.  How can we work like that?"  I said, "It's really important."

 So next day we had a studio.  It was the biggest thing they had, but it was empty.  So in a huge hallway--you could play football--they arranged for a couple of chairs and everything that was needed to tape a conversation, with three cameras, done professionally.  

 So what happened next, we taped a long conversation, went on for two and a half hours, of how our economy is going to the dogs and how it can be saved by sensible reforms connected with innovation and a sort of redoing of the whole thing, and many major new investments based on modern science and technology.

 Next Aganbegyan left, and we were left with this remarkable conversation.  We did a complete transcript of it, and then I had a sort of bright idea.  I was not required to do that, but I said, "Let's send a copy of that transcript to the central economic agency of the government," so I can sort of--the tiger's mouth, the horse's mouth.

 So that was done.  It was the middle of the summer.  Three weeks passed.  Nothing happened.  And we had a very nice assistant, both clever and very good looking.  I said to her, "Go to the state economic agency and find out about our transcript."  She went and discovered that it was in the office of one of the deputy chairmen of the state economic agency.  And maybe looking more at her legs rather than this manuscript, he said, from his point of view, it is okay, but it's very poorly written.  "Well, "she said, "that's a verbatim transcript," not even edited in the way a stenographer or a typist is supposed to edit a transcript, sort of missing all grunts and noises that have no relevance at all.  Even this was not done because that's how you cut--you follow the transcripts--you're the professional. "Well," she says, "that's your problem.  It's not meant for publication or real distribution, but we didn't have anything else."  "Well, that's your problem; I have no objections."  "Can you endorse it?"  He signed it and then, "Can you add the grand seal to all this, of the economic agency?"--documented or sealed by the grand seal of the central planning authority, Gosplan.

 And she came back and, of course, all of us who were understanding it was highly explosive matter, it was during the Chernenko interregnum, after Andropov and before Gorbachev arrived and was dealing with the most hottest issues in economics.  And here we had the blessing of this authority.

 

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RAO > Catalgoues > Transcripts > TRAC > Sergei Kapitsa p.8

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