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Interview Transcript

Sergei Kapitsa   (cont)
Interviewer:  That's a good story.  And here was the boss of all the television.

Mr.  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.

Interviewer:  Let's talk a little about Gorbachev--your understanding of Gorbachev.  When he came in, seeing that there had to be these reforms.

Mr.  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.

Interviewer:  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?

Mr.  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 still are.

Interviewer:  And, for example, when glasnost started, did he know to what extent this develop?

Mr.  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.

Interviewer:  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 now?

Mr.  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.

Interviewer:  But when we look at this change, it looks to most people, well, it happens so fast.

Mr.  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.


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RAO > Catalgoues > Transcripts > TRAC > Sergei Kapitsa p.12


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