And you got your second degree, your final doctorate, partly at
No, it's not that way. The problem is that there are agreements
between different countries of recognizing diplomas, different diplomas.
Soviet Union had this kind of agreement only with countries of the
socialist camp. Because we have this system of degrees; it's
the same. It means what was East Germany GDR (German Democratic
Republic ), was Hungar, was Poland, was Czechoslovakia, and so on.
Then you may study there and have a diploma there and would be recognized
in Soviet Union and vice versa. Of course, the permission
to pass the exams there or pass a diploma there has to be given
by officials of the State organization responsible for that.
Because without that it cannot--the document would never pass.
And the Soviet Union had no agreement of that type with Western
countries. By all means, there were students coming from America,
from France, from Germany studying here for a year, for two years.
The same from Soviet Union to this country. There were not
many of them, not like today. But at Soviet times still quite
a bit, but the diploma you had to get in your country, to be recognized.
But the only country, the only Western country where the system
of degrees is the same with the Russian system is France.
And that's because Catherine the Great, in the 18th Century,
took the French system to Russia, of education. And because
the Vietnamese studies in France are very, very good, especially
in the ancient history, classical history, and I had some connections,
I was invited to make my second degree doctorate in France.
There was a lot of problems for it because, to begin with I had
to have the permission of the Soviet administer special which is
the committee which is called the High Committee of Regislation.
This committee was quite a ministry related to the counsel of minister
of U.S.S.R. That was one thing. Secondly I had to give
all my diplomas that I had, which means my school certificate, high
school certificate, university diploma, and first degree doctorate,
to be translated into French. And to be approved by the French
Embassy at Moscow. And then to be approved by the French university
that they would except it--this level, it's not hard to allow me
to pass the French--to get the French diploma, to present my thesis
and get the diploma. So that was quite a lot of bureaucratic
work. I went through, I got in France a doctorate, and then
I confirmed it by a stamp at the Embassy, Soviet Embassy in France.
Then I brought all this stuff to Moscow and it went to this High
Committee of Regislation and they got the text of the thesis in
Russian, they got all the French documents, and they approved it,
and on this basis, gave me the Russian doctorate. So,
at that time in '87, what started out in '86 and '87, we created
a precedent. That's a precedent because the French recognized
three, all Russian diplomas until the second degree doctorate.
And the Soviets recognized the highest French degree as the highest
Russian degree. So we created a precedent. I was the
first one to do it. So that's how I got my doctorate.
So you learned French as an infant, as a child?
I never learned French, it was my first language.
It was your first language?
Yes. My first language was French, my second language was
English, my third language was German, and my fourth language was
And how would you rank your mastery of these languages now? Which
are you most fluent in?
I would say Russian, French is almost the same. And then I
would say English, and then I would say German and Vietnamese, spoken
Vietnamese, on the same level.
Your mastery of French enabled you to get, or helped in this business
venture. Tell us something about your current business and
how you got into it.