"I could have realized myself much more useful..."
- Naum Yakovlevich, when did You stop being the colonel?
- In sixty first. Then there was the large reduction of army - 1 million 200 thousands of people were transferred to the reserve. That time I served as a chief of the educational unit of the Military Chair of Voronezh State University. In principle I could have remained in army, but Mark Aleksandrovich Krasnosel'skii had persuaded me: "there is the sense", - he said, - "to begin the life from the beginning".
- And you left?
- Mark Aleksandrovich knew how to persuade.
- How old were you then?
- Thirty seven. At that time I was probably the only colonel in the Soviet Army retired without pension.
- Because I wasn't old enough to get the pension - I was not forty yet, and I lacked one year to receive privileges for pension. Considering the war I had 24 years of service, but it was necessary to have 25.
- So you ventured to begin everything again, didn't you?
- Yes, I did. By that time I had been finishing the mathematical faculty of the University. Certainly, it was a correspondence course. Mark Aleksandrovich went to the rector of the University, Boris Ivanovich Mihant'eV offered me a job at the University, and I was admitted to professor Kirill Andreevich Rodosskii's chair as an assistant.
- Did you begin your thesis at once?
- No, the thesis appeared later. At that time an economic faculty was created at the university, and I was suggested to read mathematics at the new faculty. There was a lot of everyday work. And a salary was - 105 rubles. It was four times less than one in the army. I went to the cord plant for extra earnings. I read lectures on statistical methods of analysis of quality there. The director of the plant, Nikolai Semenovich Red'kin, suggested me to solve a number of specific problems on organization of production. I started solving these problems. Later they formed the basis of my candidate thesis.
- What year did you maintain it?
- In sixty seventh.
- And why didn't you start working on the doctor thesis?
- Firstly I thought I had too few data - after all I am an applied mathematician. And then I was captivated by other problems. But to be sincere I didn't want to be commonplace. I wanted to astonish the world. You know after the maintaining of my candidate thesis a lot of principles of the work got to all textbooks on textile production. I got the Ministry of High Education award.
- If I understand the situation right, you are more an applied mathematician than a fundamental one?
- No, that's not true. In my soul I am, probably, a pusher of science, but not an "engineering fan". In the beginning of sixties a new trend appeared - Operational Research. And during my service in the army I was engaged in the theory of shooting. There are a lot of points of intersection between these two trends. That is why, when I came to the University I began to create a group of young people, who later devoted themselves to this direction of a science.
Selim Grigor'evich Krein, our Chair Chief (by that time I had been working with him), encouraged us. In sixty ninth the group turned into the Chair of the Mathematical Methods of Operational Research.
- And you had been managing this Chair for ten years?
- Yes. Next year we will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of our Chair. We have a very good staff. People were leaving just because of removal. The Chair is rather authoritative both in Moscow and in "Peter". We are taken into consideration. And not because we were the second Chair with such a name but a high level of researches, which are being lead by the scientists.
- Does the Chair lead Shatalin's conferences?
- Yes. This school began to work in seventy eighth. It united economists and mathematicians for the first time. At that time that was the most qualified personnel. Yasin, Shohin took part in its work. In eighty sixth Stanislav Sergeevich made a report for the first time, in which he showed, what condition the Soviet economy was in. After this report, I know, there went complaints about him to the CC.
- And Gorbachov defended him?
- Not Gorbachov but Yakovlev.
- If we began to speak about economy... How long we have been trying to get rid of the back-log from the West. And nothing came of it. Why? Because we do not want or can not?
- Want or do not want... The economy does not belong to a number of exact sciences. The economic statements work in one place, and in another one - do not. Everything depends on concrete conditions, on the smallest deviations from scientists' recommendations and from actions of people, who realize these recommendations.
It is one thing - to create a technique of treatment and to write out the prescription, but it is the other thing - to treat under this prescription. And we have continuous opposition between legislative and executive authorities. As a result there are accepted laws which correspond to cravings of authorities not to the economic development. And those, which are often just contradict the economic theory.
Besides we do not have such an experience in the market, that developed countries have.
- What about the experience of imperial Russia?
- There are eight decades behind. Everything is forgotten. People, who had this experience, do not exist any more. Instead of the market, beautifully drawn by the theorists we have got uncontrollable bear-garden.
Add to this the fact, that all means occurred to be in the hands of the former party-komsomol functioners, who used this money mainly for the personal enrichment. Plus - uncontrollability of the regions (to the bad federal laws there are added the same bad regional laws).
And one more thing: the economy of the USSR was always in short supply - we ate more than created. By the moment of the beginning of the reformation the economy of the country was in a very lamentable condition. The starting point was not to begin with.
- May be, we should not have begun at all?
- We should. But not in such a way. The privatization was realized under the variant, which had the populist character - everything to all. The majority of working people became owners without any responsibility.
- And how it should have been done?
- There was a variant of privatization, according to which a real owner could arise. According to this variant an initiative group got the larger quantity of actions, mortgaging its property and risking. Therefore these people were more responsible.
- But it generated more sharp lamination of the society, didn't it?
- Nevertheless the lamination happened. Privatization must create an owner. But it failed in our case. But the market can not exist without a real owner.
- So where is the way out?
- Russia - is a great country with huge resources and different levels of living and activities. We can not have a general-russian model. These models must not be introduced rigidly.
- So must we look for variants with the method of tests and errors?
- Have you noticed, that every new government in Russia offers new ideas? And the science is expelled from this process. The point is not in quantity of tests but in its quality. Economic policy must be flexible: one series of methods should be taken in one region and another ones - in other region.
And, undoubtedly, the taxes code should be changed - the economy could not be risen only with the help of fiscal measures. We should develop production. The bureaucrat class tends to grow. And if it grows it should be fed. Our governments are very expensive.
- Were all of them bad?
- Well, may be Gaydar was better than the others. But he lacked flexibility, ability to command. An ability to lead an organizational work with lawmakers. An ability to make the objectives of the reformation clear for people.
- And what could Kirienko do during some months of work?
- It is paradoxically, but I am ready to praise Kirienko for what he did.
- What do you mean?
- He was the first who honestly put Russia before the fact of bankruptcy. It was a really man's deed. Now the situation is clear. I can not give a good prediction. At least with the present government. I think it will change two or three times. Only full defeat of communist ideology can help.
- So it's like in a famous song from the film "Aibolit-66": "This is very good that we feel bad at the moment".
- Unfortunately, it is so.
- But in this case there's a possibility of a social explosion, right?
- I want to believe there won't be one.
- Today a lot of people speak about a necessity of returning to the past. Having been afraid of the future they pull into the past.
- It is easy to understand such people - they do not receive money, they have no opportunity to work. But it is necessary to go forward. I was an absolutely convinced communist. And I do not regret past years. But now I understand that I could have realized myself much more useful.
- Do you think that you belong to the deceived generation?
- Everything is more difficult here. I was giving up my communist positions with a great difficulty. Although I realized rather early what Stalin was.
- And when?
- During the War. At the front I met generals and officers, who were in prison in thirty seventh thirty eighth. I remember my father's fears. He worked in the typography in Vinnica. At that time cliche was made in zincography. If the print got blocked up with dirt even just a bit then four points turned into a Cross. And what if the cross occurred in the photo of a member of the government? Father came home exhausted - they had looked through the whole circulation. Once the secretary of the regional committee told my father: "Yakov Naumovich, everything is clear with you!" The father was waiting for an arrest during the whole night. They did not come - the secretary of the regional committee was arrested that night. No, I did not mourn Stalin's death.
And you kept silent?
No, I didn't. I've met one of my students the other day who I taught in seventies. He tells me: "Naum Yakovlevich, you told us about the pricing the things which have been confessed so far". But of course I started understanding moral values only in the second part of my life.
- Don't you pity yourself because of this?
- I was not in the worst conditions, though. A thirty two year old colonel. The candidate of sciences. The assistant professor. The Head of the Chair. And despite the fact that sometimes I wanted to say something but could not I had a normal life. What I was given, I was. In the limits of offered circumstances I lived normally. The other thing - the offered circumstances were not right. I want to believe that our children's life will be different.
- And are you satisfied with your children?
- In the whole, yes. Lenka is a neurosurgeon in St. Petersburg. Irina took after me - she is an assistant professor at the economic faculty. She read my courses. Il'ya works as a deputy in the Board of Property Registration. The grandchildren are growing.
- And are you a good grandfather?
- I am afraid - not very good. To walk & to play is not enough. It is necessary to look after a soul. And it is very hard. And there is almost no time for the looking after the grandchildren.
- Do you work much at the desk?
- Unfortunately, I go to doctors and stay in hospitals.
L. Kroichik talked.
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