The offers I couldn’t refuse
In 1988, I was invited to the Communist Party Committee of the “Novosti” Press Agency (APN), where I was told, that “there is a decision” to give me recommendation to the postgraduate studies in the Academy of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
— What is your decision? – the Secretary of the Committee asked me.
— Thank you. I agree.
— Fine. Please, inform the Chief Editor of your Department.
When I entered the room of Nikolay Fedin, the Chief Editor of the Asian Department of APN and told him about the offer I had just received, he was surprised.
— What did you tell them? – he asked me.
— I agreed.
— Are you crazy? You will lose three years. What they can teach you there?! Nothing! – Fedin became angry. – You have spent six years abroad, in India, and they have been abroad for several weeks maximum. What do they know about the international relations? Only from the newspapers, from the articles, written by people like you, and from the books written by the humanoids like them! What can they teach you, those humanoids? We send to the Academy only those, who can’t work, who is not required here, in the field…
I knew Fedin well. I had worked with him for two years in the Information Department of the Soviet Embassy in India. He was the Head of the Department, I was responsible for the information on the Soviet – Indian relations in the Indian mass media. I knew that if I do not refuse the offer after what Fedin told me, he would not forgive me, but I had already decided to go to the Academy…
I was thirty four years old, the editor-consultant in the Soviet Press Agency, which was responsible for the Soviet propaganda and the information warfare in the foreign countries. The people were happy to retire from this position. I was officially named as the best staff member of the Department and of the whole APN in 1987, and my photo was on the Board of Honor on the wall in the Hall of the APN building on the ground floor. I was sure that ahead of me lies the brilliant career, but I have already started feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned.
In 1986, I became the first journalist in APN, who was proposed payment for his articles and analytical materials by the foreign, as we branded at that time, “anti-Soviet big monopoly Press”. Of course, I couldn’t accept this money. I have been paid by APN for my articles, but I hoped to start something new, some new project, to organize a group within APN, who could work and operate in the information field on self-financing. Before, the Soviet propaganda machine was 100% financed from the State budget.
I have written the letter with my ideas and proposals to Fedin. He send it to the Chairman of APN, then it went to the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, from the Propaganda Department it went to the International Department, then it retuned back to APN. When the letter came back to me, it was covered with a dozen of resolutions and signatures. The final one was the resolution signed by the Deputy Chairmen of APN, who was supervising the Asian Department and the Department of Middle East and Africa, Karen Khachaturov.
“To V.P.Morozov. Take decision on your level.” – I read.
I became angry and frustrated. What does it mean? What the decision I can take “on my level”!? To accept payment from the foreign anti-Soviet newspaper or agency?! This could be easily used against me, if required… I’ve been too long in “the field” not to understand this…
This was an example of the inefficiency of the Soviet system, which came as the result of “perestroika”. Mikhail Gorbachev and the Party bosses around him day and night were speaking about “the new thinking”, new ideas, reforms, new economic forms, but most of the initiatives generated by those, who supported Gorbachev, were blocked by the ruling circle round him. Most of the members of the Central Committee demonstrated inertia and unwillingness to do anything beyond talking.
The work in APN was influenced by the situation in the leadership of the Communist Party, because APN was under the direct control of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and I started feeling being frustrated by the situation. I needed a break, and the break for the study was the best opportunity. Besides, by entering the Academy, I would be enlisted in the Nomenclature of the Central Committee, and that meant the important step in my career (for the information on the Nomenclature, please, see Part 1 of this series). Frankly speaking, I was not very much afraid of making Fedin a little bit angry.
That year, in 1988, the procedure of the entering to the Academy had been changed for the first time in its history. Previously, the acceptance into the Academy was based only on the recommendation of the Party Committees, but in 1988, the “perestroika” reached the Soviet elite educational center, and that year we were to pass the examinations, and there were four candidates on one seat.
Among the subjects for the examinations to the post-graduation studies at the Department of foreign policy and the international relations, which I was enlisted to, was the exam on philosophy. I had studied philosophy in the Institute of Asian and African countries of the Moscow State University, which I graduated from in 1976 before joining ANP. It took me little time to refresh my knowledge, and that was enough to pass the examination.
To my surprise, I was told that my answers to the questions produced very good impression on the professors from the Department of philosophy, and I was invited to the Head of the Department for “a talk”.
At the meeting, the Head of the Department of philosophy and one of the professors, who had been present at the examination, made me a rather unexpected offer.
— We would like to offer you to change your specialization, — said the Head of the Department. – We want to invite you to study at our Department. We liked your answers. They were not standard, and we propose you to write your work, your degree on a very unexpected and unconventional subject…
They looked at me, watching my reaction. I liked the idea, even without knowing the subject. Fedin was right. What they could teach me in the international affairs after years of my work at the frontline of the international affairs and the information warfare? The philosophy was a different field. “At least, I’ll study and learn something in my next three years,” – I thought.
— What do you know about Aleksandr Bogdanov? – one of them asked me.
I was struggling to get something from my memory bank.
— Lenin wrote about one Bogdanov, idealist, in “Materialism and Emperiocriticism”, — I said, not very sure in my answer. This name, Bogdanov, was frequently mentioned in Lenin’s book. Lenin called Bogdanov “a subjective idealist”, but there was no explanation, which was rather natural for Lenin, who used to label people, not bothering to explain to the descendants the reasons for his “labeling”. Nothing more I could remembered about Bogdanov. I couldn’t remember even his first name.
— Yes. Correct, — they said, looking at me with enthusiasm. – Do you know that Bogdanov was the leader of the Party for many years?
— Which party? – I asked in surprise.
— Our Party, the Communist! Bogdanov was number one for a few years, not Lenin. Do you know that Bogdanov was a philosopher, that he created the basis for the theory of systems and cybernetics, genetics and modern art and culture?
— We propose you to specialize and write on Bogdanov. He was a secret figure in our history, but the Central Committee has taken the decision to open his works for the Party and the people and to write a real history of the Communist Party. Do you want to work on this?
I agreed. They made me the offer I couldn’t refuse. Actually, it was the second offer I couldn’t refuse in two months.
(to be continued)