FROM: M: John F. Sloan
DATE OF TRIP: 28 January - 6 February 1992
PURPOSE: To accompany MG Nicholas Krawciw for discussion with Ukrainian officials on a proposal to establish a strategic studies institute.
RECOMMENDATION: This trip reenforced our perception that immediate efforts by the U.S. military (as part of a broad national program) are needed to defuze a critical situation that is building in Russia and its former imperial provinces. The hyper-nationalist political elements that seek their own aggrandizement will find the military and former military officers fertile ground in which to sow discontent. More important, the military is the only social element that has the organization and resources to challenge the current leadership in its efforts to democratize Russia and the other republics. Military officers are not as yet committed to the hyper-nationalist agenda, but are desperately concerned about their (and their family's) own survival. Obviously a thorough change in the social and political philosophy of a large group is a long-term process and the present situation is explosive in the short run. Nevertheless, even the prospects for a honorable, professional future that could be perceived by Russian and Ukrainian officers from the immediate efforts of their American counterparts would be a significant factor in forestalling their shift to more radical solutions.
INDIVIDUALS MET FOR DISCUSSIONS:
ITINERARY: 28 January - depart Dulles Airport for Frankfurt, Germany
|29 January - arrive Kiev, Ukraine in afternoon from Frankfurt|
|29 January - dinner reception at hotel|
|30 January - meeting with Dr. Mykola Mykhal'chenko, Adviser to the President of Ukraine and head of Political Service, meeting with Deputy Chairman of Supreme Soviet, attendance and observation of session of Supreme Soviet|
|31 January - meeting with director and members of Renaissance Foundation, meeting at INFOCENTER, meeting with Gen.Maj. Gavrish, tour of Museum of History|
|1 February - guided tour of Kiev, tour of Museum to World War II, Gospital'nyi fortifications, Museum of Kiev City history, meeting with master artists and figure designers|
|2 February - guided tour of the Lavra, meeting with representatives of Napoleonic Society of Ukraine|
|3 February - meeting with Chairman of National Security Service, further development of proposal|
|4 February - meeting with Minister of Defense, closing banquet dinner with nine Ukrainian officials|
|5 February - final discussions on proposal, interview with reporter, departure from Kiev airport, overnight in Frankfurt, Germany|
|6 February - fly from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC.|
SUBSTANCE OF MAIN DISCUSSIONS:
The most vivid impression is that the Ukrainian hosts (likely typical representatives of the intelligentsia) are deeply worried about the near-term future developments that may overtake Ukraine. They are adamant in promoting the full independence of Ukraine and insist that it is now a "power" in Europe, seen soon to be on a par with France. Yet they are extremely conscious that there are many complex, internal and external social, economic, and political forces at work and that the situation may be out of anyone's control. They are greatly frustrated by a sense that they lack even sufficient information on the basic elements to form coherent short or long-range policy. They recognize that in many respects they are groping in an unprecedented situation on a world scale and that models that might guide behavior may not even exist. Yet, above all, they are determined and courageous. Optimism and pessimism seem to flicker with the momentary mood.
The purpose of the visit was to present a proposal outlining the structure
of an internationally staffed institute that would examine major national
security issues of greatest concern to Ukraine and provide an independent
source of advice for the Ukrainian government. A draft memorandum served as a
basis for discussion. Major issues were funding, organizational structure,
staffing, and substance of the typical types of issues the institute would
IMPRESSIONS OF CURRENT LIFE:
The entire trip was spent in Kiev. No observation of life in the rest of Ukraine was possible. From the initial impression on arrival to final departure I was struck by the feeling of being in an outpost of a colonial power. Kiev is a very large city and possesses some very impressive public buildings as well as historic monuments dating from the 11th century. Still, it is obvious that until now it has been only a provincial center of the Russian empire. Even Seoul and Saigon felt to me more like national capitals.
The "hotel" "Zhovtneva". This institution does not appear in the lists of top quality hotels in Kiev. In fact, when General Major Gavrish was invited to dinner to meet me there, he asked where is this place and said he never heard of it. Neither had any of my other friends and acquaintances. Even the hosts only found out last August. Thus we come to a unique facet of Soviet power, the "nomenklatura" facility. The hotel itself is elegant, the best I have stayed in in the Soviet empire. The floors are hardwood with lovely rugs. The public rooms have lots of marble in the walls and columns. There is no usual restaurant but instead an elegant dining room with dark paneled walls and large chandeliers. Even the bathrooms are adequate. The food is excellent and abundant and the service is remarkable by Soviet standards. How is it that this hotel has failed to rate mention or establish a fine reputation in the city?
Until the August coup this superior establishment was the exclusive preserve of the party big-shots. It is located half a bloc from the Supreme Soviet and two blocks from former party headquarters and a bloc from the residence of Shcherbitski. It formerly served as an exclusive club for that exclusive strata in the egalitarian, workers' democracy. Whereas the major hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg deploy a detachment of uniformed guards at the front door to screen admittance, at the Zhovtneva a single, elderly gentleman seated at an important looking desk suffices, should anyone be so nosey and intemperate as to wander in. Local comment: Well, those other places require physical security, but here we have an example of psychological security.
To judge from the number of keys missing from the rack at the front desk, the hotel can't be more than 10% occupied. Although even that number of guests were never sighted at one time. By the way, having the keys at the front desk downstairs and not at the desk of a duty lady on each floor is itself unique in my experience. No such minders were to be found in this remarkable establishment.
The hotel is currently paying its way by charging high prices to provide office facilities for the newly established Swedish, Austrian, and Canadian embassies. Since I never saw a bill, I can't judge what kind of rates they charge. The dining room was quite busy at weekday lunch and dinner, filled with people obviously conducting business. On the weekend I had the place practically to myself.
The city is in the grip of a serious fuel shortage. Automobile traffic during the week was nothing like Moscow or St. Petersburg and on the weekend it virtually vanished. It was practically impossible to hail a taxi at night. The city buses and trolley buses operate on a kind of honor system for residents who purchase monthly passes and hop on and off at will with no one appearing to check. Perhaps the lax enforcement is a response by the authorities to the poverty and dependence of the population on public transportation.
There was much more meat in the coolers of local meat stores than I saw in December. However, my friend noted that the reason is the 500% increase in prices since December. Very few can now afford to purchase meat. The few book stores and general merchandise shops visited are even more pathetic than those in Russian towns. According to my local hosts there is no Kievan counterpart to the Arbat or Izmailovski markets of Moscow. In fact local artists take the train to Moscow to sell their art.
I walked about the town several times and noticed that there were fewer militia (policemen) deployed than in Washington. This was especially noticeable around the Supreme Soviet in comparison with the Capitol. Nor were there any guards outside either the Ministry of Defense or the National Security Service buildings, both of which are located directly on major city streets.
A sign of the times: The Swedish Embassy is advertising for a secretary
position. The requirement is for someone who is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian,
Swedish, and English. Local comment: if they can persuade someone from the
linguistics faculty at the university to take the job they might succeed in
filling this position.
DIARY OF DAILY ACTIVITIES:
28, 29 January: We left Dulles in the evening on the same excellent Lufthansa flight as in December. The Frankfurt airport on the morning of 29 January was much less crowded than in December. The flight to Kiev was smooth across the Carpathian mountains that were covered in snow. The plane reached the Dnieper River south of Kiev and turned to follow the river to the airport. The airfield is certainly one of the worst maintained I have ever seen. There were about 24 aircraft parked about, all AEROFLOT except for one Iranian, one Austrian and two Polish airlines. A huge Antonov was parked prominently at the edge of the taxiway as an advertisement. The terminal building appeared even more run-down than the runways. Granted it was very overcast and snowing lightly, but the place would be dismal even in the summer sun. It is small and provincial and speaks volumes of the status of Kiev in the Soviet Empire.
The visa office in the airport was a makeshift place and crowded with the many passengers who needed visas. This is because the Ukrainian state does not yet have full consular offices overseas. I had taken the precaution of obtaining a visa for both Kiev and Moscow from the Russian consulate in Washington, so I was able to pass through passport control immediately. (Well directly, but not quickly - nothing is done quickly.) It only cost me $20.00 for the visa in Washington, but the charge on the spot at Kiev was $53.00.
There was the usual long wait for baggage, but then we were waved through customs relatively quickly.
We were met by hosts from both INNOCENTER and INCOMART, which was fine, since we needed two cars to accommodate baggage etc. We drove into Kiev in the late afternoon darkness in light snow. We crossed the Dnieper on a nice looking bridge and immediately climbed the bluffs to pass through the 18th century fortifications at the south end of the Lavra. A short distance along Kirov street brought us to the Hotel "Zhovteneva" on Rosa Luxembourg street. More about the hotel elsewhere.
Shortly after arriving and cleaning up we attended an elaborate welcoming banquet that featured much toasting and expressions of good will. But the underlying mood of the Ukrainians was one of apprehension and hope about the actual fulfillment of the substance of our visit. One individual noted that many people are coming to Ukraine bringing nothing but seeking only to make money out of playing middleman in future projects. There was universal determination and much pride in the new independence of Ukraine. The hosts stated that advice is certainly needed, but actual capital investment is essential. Dr. Typchiyenko and Dr. Vydrin of INNOCENTER were the hosts and among the Ukrainian officials were several who had come immediately from a lively session of the Supreme Soviet. These included Mr. Yevgen K. Marchuk, Dr. Mykola Mykhal'chenko, Dr. Bohdan Kravchenko, and several others whose names I did not catch.
Typchiyenko is a very ernest, energetic intellectual seeking a role in the new order. Vydrin is a scholarly political scientist clearly fascinated with the opportunity to observe political theory being played out in the dynamics of real world activities.
Marchuk appears affable and even jovial in a social setting, but one is
somehow conscious that he is a tough individual used to wielding power. He
speaks and understands English and is a very impressive personality with the
physical image of a professional bodyguard. His secretary says he works 18
hours a day. In a business meeting he is very serious and business like. He is
obviously quite concerned about the political future of Ukraine. He considers
the present situation unstable, volatile, dangerous. He expresses the hope that
problems can be solved.
30 January: Snowing lightly. While waiting for proceedings to begin, I went for an hour's walk around the hotel area to look into stores. We then walked a few blocks to a meeting with Dr. Mykhal'chenko. As advisor to the President of Ukraine his office is in a very fine building that was the former communist party headquarters on Ordzhonikidze street a block from the Ministry of Defense. The floors are beautiful hardwood and the rooms have high ceilings. The expense makes it easy to see where the money was spent under the communist regime.
The discussion centered on the need for an independent institute to provide analysis and advice to the president on national security issues. It is clear that Dr. Mykhal'chenko is a very busy man used to setting a meeting agenda and giving instructions. He is quite receptive to the concept.
We then walked back to the Supreme Soviet building to attend a meeting of the RADA. This building also is very well appointed. It was built in 1939 next to the former Tsar's Palace built in 1742 following Rastrelli's designs. General Krawciw was greeted with open arms by many delegates, some of whom knew his father. We met the newly appointed Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Mr. Vasil V. Durdynets, in his office. He is a very forceful personality and his mood was determined. He expressed the determination of Ukraine to assert not only its independence but also its proper role as a strong power in Europe.
We then sat in the visitors gallery for a while to observe the debate and voting in the RADA. The debate was passionate and vigorous and votes were frequent. Our host noted proudly the very modern electronic tally system. My interpreter remarked that the deputies are not really in touch with the mood of the people in the countryside. They are talking and discussing abstractions while the people in the villages have lost faith in them and want action.
The Ukrainians identified strong concerns for future stability. Civil war seemed a real possibility as a result of the clash of interests as measured over several dimensions. There is the manager versus people conflict. (In other words rulers or top level versus ruled or masses). Then there is the Ukrainian versus Russian and other ethnic differences. And another dimension fraught with conflict is the supporters of the old system (communists) versus the reform democratic movement.
Dr. Vydrin laid out the various conflicts in a matrix. He obviously has given much study to the political-social issues. He noted that there is a danger from the usurpation of power by the top (ie executive and managerial elite). One task of the new institute will be to ascertain how tangible is the threat of dictatorship and to present ideas on how to prevent the return to dictatorship or to prevent a coup by the army, etc. The possibility of the restoration of dictatorship ranks high in his list of real dangers. The reverse situation is also a danger. This is revolution from below. How tangible is this threat? Can a basically law-abiding people be tempted into revolution when something goes wrong, for instance in the economic life of the country. He then spelled out various sociological problems that could escalate into becoming dangers to the state. He used the phrase "gun powder barrel" to characterize the current situation in Ukraine.
Dr. Vydrin cited detailed figures on the ethnic percentage composition of the Ukrainian state population. The number given is 25% Russian speaking or 12 million Russians. When asked how many Ukrainians are outside the state, Dr. Tupchiyenko quickly gave the total and then broke it down by area such as Russia, Kazakstan. etc. What was particularly interesting was that he quite naturally included some 4 million in the US and Canada as if they were the same kind of emigre as those in Russia etc. Through all this I had to wonder why the Ukraine needs to be independent and whose interests are really being served in this. Meanwhile the Ukrainians are busy trying to define "security interests" they, themselves, are not sure about. The strongest imagery was used when Vydrin stressed the feeling of the Ukraine being on the verge of being raped. Another interesting comment was that the international Jewish financial establishment is committed to preventing or slowing the conversion of Ukrainian military industry to peaceful production because they don't want the added competition.
According to Dr. Vydrin, during the perestroika period at first the democrats were mainly speaking Russian. But over two or three years' time the Russians became the conservatives and began to lag behind social developments. They became the reactionaries and supporters of the communists (CPSU) and the army. Since independence there has been a conscious effort to defuse the situation by appealing to all language groups. All language groups will be equal citizens of Ukraine. If the Russian speakers become congruent with the political position of conservatism and anti-Ukrainian national independence there will be trouble. There is a need to eliminate the roots of such phenomena. Right now the DONBAS is a source of such feelings. The Russians there are being manipulated by the Moscow Russians.
There is no definition as yet of the national security interest of Ukraine.
Then there are also external threats both political and economic.
Currently there are an unknown number but certainly over one million armed men in the Ukraine. The country cannot afford such an armed force. It needs something more like Canada. Yet if the armed forces are too weak neighbors will be provoked. Already there are disturbing noises from Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. So there is a trade off between weakness and excessive expense. We are also witnessing the symptoms of Russian hegemonistic thinking. The institute for study of national security must locate such potential danger areas and submit ideas to the president at the time of their inception, not when they explode.
After discussing the plan for our visit, Dr. Tupchiyenko took us on a guided tour of some city landmarks and panoramic spots, during which he displayed his knowledge of Kievan city history. At the behest of their children, I passed on the names of several individuals who were active in Ukraine in the 1930's. Tupchiyenko promised to take up the matter with Marchuk to see if the security service files would yield any information.
The preferred name for the new organization is Institute for Global and
Regional Security. It is to be a private organization supported by funds
obtained from various sources, yet it is understood that its work would be
focused under contract on the urgent concerns of the Ukrainian government,
especially the Ministry of Defense, National Security Service and the Office of
the President. The officials want a very responsive organization that could
provide quick replies in crises situations. At the same time it is to collect
information, prepare analyses, and alert the government about potential sources
of future crises. One goal is to provide the President of Ukraine with advance
warning about future developments. Another goal is to reach and maintain
international standards in analysis and political study. There will be a board
of governors composed of scholars of international reputation. The main work
will be done by a group of fellows, 65-70% Ukrainian and 30-35% foreign. The
institute will have a research library, internal publishing equipment and
eventually some small computer capability. The structure must correspond to the
requirements based on how power is distributed in Ukraine. The documents should
spell this out. Although the new institute will require a transition period to
get itself organized, this period cannot be seen as open-ended. It must be
clear from the beginning what the final results will look like and the initial
founding documents must contain the formulation of what the final result will
be. The building period must be defined as well. Moreover, even during the
initial transition and building period it is critical that substantive research
and analysis of immediate value on urgent security problems be performed. Hence
the concrete subject matter that the institute will address must be identified
at the outset as well. The institute must also take a hand in the very real
problem of training a new generation of Ukrainian analysts. The need is to lay
the foundation for a strong, long-term oriented organization while at the same
time insuring that the initial structure is able to study immediate problems.
It is important to focus on stressing that the significance of the project is
that it will contribute to building democratic society in the Ukraine.
31 January: Cold and cloudy. We visited the Renaissance Center. This is an international foundation registered as a Ukrainian association. Its purpose is to promote development in all dimensions. Its theme is to open as many doors and windows as possible toward the full integration of Ukraine into Europe. Its method is to invest in people by finding dynamic and able individuals who have special knowledge that can benefit Ukraine. It is associated with various universities and other academic and professional associations. It is seeking to further the birth of a genuine civil society in Ukraine and to provide oxygen for democracy. At the same time it is supporting the development of the Ukrainian national cultural identity.
According to the director, Western expertise is more important at this point than "humanitarian" aid in material. The need is for highly experienced consultants in practical fields. While long term problems must be addressed, one cannot jump over the many short term problems that must be solved first. One of the long term problems is the role, organization, and staffing of the armed forces. But a short term problem is what to do to protect the human rights of the current military, especially the officer corps and their families, who face disastrous immediate difficulties as they are demobilized. A budget for training these officers in civilian executive work is required. Beyond that, a capital investment fund is needed to support the activities of these retired officers as they begin work in new, productive endeavors in the national economy. There is much practical work to be done in the area of conversion of military industry to civilian production. The Renaissance Center is preparing for a 15 February visit by the Secretary General of NATO and the special advisor, Christopher Donnelley.
We visited the INNOCENTER. It is housed in the former CPSU Party school. Again it is clear where the money went under Communist rule. The building is first class in every way and contains numerous meeting halls, classrooms, fancy auditoriums and a fine cafeteria. Drs. Tupchiyenko and Vydrin described the organization and functions of the INNOCENTER. The INNOCENTER is one year old. It is described as "an independent institution of scholars united on contract grounds with the purpose to promote advanced study and realization of scientific, teaching, and organizational programs in the must urgent problems of political life of the Ukraine, insuring by politicla means social consent, adequate wealthy living conditions, national security, its gradual entry in European and world communities." It is involved in promoting education, public relations, and foreign relations through contract work. It hires specific people to handle each project. So far it has published three books and has conducted training sessions. Through Dr. Vydrin the center is pioneering the organization of scientific analysis of aspects of national security. Prior to Ukrainian independence all aspects of security studies were handled in Moscow. There is no cadre trained in this field in Ukraine. Dr. Vydrin's special interest is in the scientific approach to security problems. He holds two posts. One is as a representative of the state (government) as scientific advisor to the Chairman of the National Security Service (Marchuk). In this office he is to take care of the scientific aspects of the Service's work and get its research onto a scientific basis. His other hat is worn as a section head of the Academy of Science. He is also the Scientific supervisor of the INNOCENTER.
Dr. Vydrin pointed out that there is pressure from the state organs to create a state institution with the capabilities for research proposed for the new institute. He recognizes that such an organ would be under the presidential power and hence too much under the influence of the president when developing documents for the president that should have a certain independence of outlook. He supports the idea that an independent voice is required, but notes that the state services (both security and defense) will still try to exercise control. This requires an independence in funding (a non-profit organization). If one takes from the state, the state will control and impose its viewpoint. Drs. Vydrin and Tupchiyenko feel that by incorporating the institute as a European foundation including French, British, German and other nationals among the visiting fellows this independence can be achieved and separate channels for disseminating views can be developed.
The center hosted an international conference on "Strategic Security of Ukraine" on 18-20 December 1991. The INNOCENTER was planning another international conference for 12-14 February. Several colleagues from the National Defense University are among the invited participants. We discussed the concept and structure of the conference and made some suggestions about how working groups might be organized to maximize effective participation. Immediately on return to the U.S., I discussed this conference with individuals at NDU.
At 5 PM I met with Mrs. Novoselova and Mr. Osnichuk for a tour of the Historical Museum. They introduced me to Gen.Maj. Leontii Gavrish who teaches operational art at the Academy of the Air Defense Forces. General Gavrish is a much decorated veteran retired from active service. He accompanied us and provided interesting commentary on the exhibits. We drove across the city observing interesting buildings and monuments. Ancient Kiev occupied a very small area on the tops of several hills immediately north of the current downtown area plus a trading suburb in the lowland just north of these hills. We stopped on a high hill that was the northernmost of those forming the ancient city and were able to obtain a good perspective of the original layout. On this hill is preserved the foundation of the original 11th century church. The entrance to the main museum nearby is flanked by ancient Sythian stone figures. The two excellent museum guides eagerly showed the history of Ukraine, concentrating, by my request, on the military exhibits. The museum has an excellent diorama depicting a view of the city and its extensive fortifications in the 11th to 13th centuries. Unfortunately, like so much else, no one could explain why no one had thought to make a picture of this diorama for sale to visitors. The museum also has much original arms and armor among the many displays. The guides ended the day with a tour (held long after normal closing hours) of a new, special display devoted to depicting the special symbolism associated with Ukraine from prehistoric times. The museum staff, or a large part of it, was held on to accommodate me. Then they presented me with various guide books and mementos.
During the evening discussion of the forthcoming July tour, I presented General Gavrish with the copies I had made of German World War II aerial photography of Kiev and Sevastopol. He was delighted to receive this addition to his teaching material.
Later in the evening I met with two master artists and artisans. Dmitri
Shevchuk is a world-class designer and sculptor of military miniatures. His
work, some of which I bought, is certainly museum quality. Victor Bouzalov is
an expert on the history of uniforms and military heraldry currently under
contract to design new insignia for the Ukrainian army. He makes by hand
recreations of 18th and early 19th century uniforms and accoutrements, mainly
from leather and metal. He also is a remarkably talented artist whose paintings
of Napoleonic era soldiers would honor any museum.
February 1: Saturday morning I ate breakfast early in an empty dining room. Then Vladimir Osnichuk took me to visit the Museum of the Great Patriotic War and the new memorial monument museum opened in 1981. Nearby is an newer museum dedicated to the war in Afghanistan, which will open by summer. Between the buildings there are open air displays of a wide variety of military hardware from before World War II until recent times. At the museum two impressively knowledgeable and extraordinarily ernest young guides led us through the extensive exhibits. Their combination of enthusiasm and piety in honoring the heroes and heroines of the war was quite moving. They too had to present me with a copy of the museum guide books and pins as a gift. One should remember to take suitable items to present to the museum guides.
Several hours were then spent driving about the city in search of various 19th century fortifications (or the relics thereof) that appear in notes on my city map. We found the main part of the Gospitalni fortification dating from the 1840's and some of the bastions of the fortifications erected on order of Mazeppa and Peter I in 1704-6. After lunch we visited the Golden Gate (great gate of Musorgskii's Pictures at an Exhibition). This is a restoration of the main city gate dating from the 11th century through which Batu Khan entered the city in 1240. It is most impressive. I had not imagined how high one could build a wall out of an earthen rampart with wood palisade, without stone. Of course the gate tower itself was made of stone with massive doors. Finally we visited the Museum of the History of Kiev in the former Klovsky Palace that was built in 1750-55. It contains more dioramas of the city and various examples of arms and armor from throughout the city's history.
Vladimir took me to visit the main military book store, but it was a decided disappointment. I was looking for the same kind of books and prints of military uniforms found at many locations in Moscow. The contents of the store looked like the remanent of some second-hand flea-market after everything of value was taken. When I mentioned the object of my quest to a knowledgeable local friend, I was told there should be no problem obtaining the item from a warehouse. Sure enough, two days later I was presented with 100 copies of a fine set of uniform prints purchased at the warehouse for 2 rubles each set. If only I had mentioned other sets, I could have had all I could carry home. Buying something worth $10.00 here for 2 cents is a pretty good deal. When I mentioned this result to Vladimir, he remarked that it was entirely to be expected. The employees of the warehouse did not want to be bothered with filling out invoices and paperwork involved with sending goods to a store. However, if someone came and offered to take 100 copies of something off their hands they would be delighted to get rid of them at the official price.
In the evening I met Alexander Krylov, leader of the Napoleonic Society of Ukraine and an active participant in historical reenactments, plus other members of his society. He is a very impressive young man. He invited me to bring anyone interested in military history to witness their demonstrations. Specifically, he noted that there will be a major reenactment of the Battle of Borodino on 4-6 September of this year at the original location. He has initiated contacts with reenactment societies throughout Europe and Canada and hopes this even will draw a large number of tourists. His organization is fully prepared to handle all administrative and logistic details for tours.
Later, I went to the far northern suburbs of Kiev to the apartment of Dmitri Shevchuk to examine more of his marvelous original military miniatures. The apartment similar to the ones I visited in St. Petersburg and Moscow. But the content was a miniature museum of some of the finest figures I have ever seen. The return trip was quite an experience. Dmitri and Victor escorted me all the way back to the hotel, an excursion that required over an hour in itself since there were no taxis to be had and we used a combination of four trolley-buses and walking in between. Even though it was after 10PM and bitter cold the streets in residential areas were quite full. These people spend as little time in their tiny apartments as possible.
The trip enabled me to discuss current Ukrainian life with Victor at some length. He is quite envious of the way Americans are brought up to think independently and act on their own. Victor says that Ukrainians (and Russians even more so) simply do not understand the idea of taking care of oneself. They are used to a situation in which the state assumes full responsibility for everything, individual welfare as well as individuals' duties.
Victor was brought up believing Communist ideology. He joined the party as
a young man, but quickly became disillusioned. He found himself in an
organization where conformity was demanded and enforced. The mediocre people
who lived by subservience to rules dominated all. He later quit and felt a kind
of epiphany. Suddenly he realized that he was a "free man". The
problem according to Victor is that the CPSU and state has provided something,
not much but at least total security. The people did not have to think or
worry. Americans are used to being independent and not to expecting to be cared
for. So when economic problems and hard times come to American the people know
how to cope and can take personal initiative for their own welfare. But
Russians are not used to this. They become depressed "put their heads
down", an don't know what to do.
February 2: On Sunday Vladimir Osnichuk took his day off to take me to the Pecherskaya Lavra (Monastery of the Caves). We again fell victim to the fuel shortage. Since even the tour agency car was out of gas, we went the short distance by bus. Kiev is renowned as the site of the Pechora (cave) monastery founded by two monks, Anthony and Theodosius, in 1051. This is the "mother of monasteries" in Russia and holds the special title of a Lavra along with the Trotiski-St. Sergius in Zagorsk, the Alexander Nevski in St. Petersburg and the Pskovski-Pecherski near Pskov.
At this location on the high hills some distance south of the 10th century town, the monks enlarged natural caves that had served as dwellings from Neolithic times. The caves are in the side of very high bluffs above the Dnieper. The site commands a spectacular view and contains many impressive (although now run-down) churches and administrative buildings.
The Lavra was fortified early against the incursions of the Pechengs (Polovetsi), first with earth and wooden palisade and then with stone walls. These were destroyed repeatedly and the current white stone wall dates from the time of Mazeppa (1698-1701).
In addition Peter I ordered construction of an even more elaborate and effective 18th century style bastioned fortress considerably outside and surrounding the Lavra.
During our visit we examined the interior and exterior of many buildings. Several of the churches date from the 12th century. However, most existent art work dates from the reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine II and is in Ukrainian baroque style. There is a remarkable contrast between the baroque iconostasis and a medieval one at Moscow or Zagorsk. The entrance gate is surmounted by the Trinity Chruch, built in 1108. Another striking monument is the belltower, built in 1731-45. It is the highest belltower in Russia at 317 ft.
On the grounds stands the ruin of the Cathedral of the Assumption dating from 1073-89, which was blown up during World War II. One end and a corner still stands to its full height and is protected by a concrete wall filling up the space where the missing sections would join. The foundation of the remaining part testifies to the original extent of this cathedral. According to the guide, the new government has promised to restore the entire building. Of course funds are limited. Engineers are studying the situation and have reported that there will be major difficulties due to the tendency of the ground to shift toward he river and to the unstable conditions created by the burial of thousands of monks under the site. Local comment: What is really lacking is the brainpower of the original builders.
A visit to the Lavra calls for a mandatory tour into a section of the caves. This requires first a purchase of a thin candle. Then one waits at the entrance for the monk on duty, who insures spacing to the stream of visitors. We visited the Nearer or St. Anthony's Caves, which contain 73 tombs and 3 underground churches. We arrived toward the end of the lunchtime closing. A large crowd had already gathered. When the door was still not opened a half hour past the posted time, people began pounding on the door. Eventually a monk appeared and the procession began. Local comment: Well, what can you expect, these must be Soviet monks.
Actually, under Soviet secular administration the caves were treated purely as a tourist attraction and tourists were allowed into an extensive part. Now that the church has retaken control of the place, the monks have closed off most of the tunnels and allow visitors (grudgingly) into only a short, representative section. A prominent sign now announces the holy nature of the place and demands a long list of reverential responses from the visitors. True believers will be allowed with escort into other areas upon application. The tour itself takes less than 10 minutes. One descends some stairs, passes through a low, narrow tunnel with whitewashed walls. The way is lit by the procession of candles. On either side there are rooms, some tiny cells and others larger chapels and meeting or dining areas. One passes occasionally the open sarcophagus of a mummified monk clothed in rich ecclesiastical robes.
During the day I had an opportunity to discuss the current situation in Ukraine with Vladimir. He is in many ways representative of the educated intelligentsia. His father is Ukrainian and his mother Russian. He was born and raised in western Ukraine where the influence of European civilization is even stronger than in Kiev due to the long period of Polish control. He is fluent in English and Japanese and speaks Russian better than Ukrainian. Vladimir is in favor of independence for practical reasons. He feels that the Ukrainian people are more ready than the Russians to make the transition to democracy and a market economy. The Polish control of Western Ukraine until 1940 has left a strong legacy that influences the rest of Ukraine as well. Vladimir bases his observations from many trips throughout Russia and Siberia to China. The typical Russian has a command oriented mentality. Either he is used to giving orders or to receiving them or usually both. He cannot understand human relationships not based on commands and orders. Nor does he respond to or understand the idea of self-generated activities not based on prior instructions. Vladimir meets this mental outlook and philosophy in practice everywhere. Consequently independence for Ukraine is seen as necessary and a means by which the Ukrainian people can greatly accelerate their progress. He acknowledged that Kievan Rus is the common ancestor of both modern Ukraine and Russia. The Kievan Rus spoke a Slavonic tongue not much more akin to modern Russian or Ukrainian than Chaucer or even Beowolf is to modern English. Both peoples can claim descent and trace their roots to Kiev.
For lunch I suggested we visit a different local restaurant to sample the food. Vladimir replied that this would be a perilous undertaking, since we would not know if the place had the food shown on the menu or what might be available, if anything. We would end up eating whatever was served against our preferences or requests. But the dining room at the hotel was a known quantity and sure to have the best food available in the city. We could be sure it would be excellent since it held a privileged position. His judgment proved correct and we had an excellent meal that was undoubtedly more of a treat for Vladimir than for me.
Vladimir explained how a free enterprise tour agency functions in a land where the people are too poor to fly about the world. When conditions opened up four years ago, the people finally could obtain permission to go to Western Europe, with only a small bribe paid to speed up paperwork. Italy became especially popular as the destination. This was not simply due to the nice climate or art museums, but because the Italians actually wanted to buy some Soviet produced items. The way Ukrainian travelers financed their trips was to buy some items sold relatively cheaply in the USSR, such as fine binoculars, and sell them to Italians. Likewise there were even some goods available in Italy for not too great a cost that could be sold to the more affluent new entrepreneurial (gangster) class back in Ukraine. Vladimir himself sold a down-filled jacket obtained for pennies in China for $100.00 in Italy. Thus trade has reverted to the medieval level in which merchants passed along goods from one to the other between China and Venice. The tour agency has not found it necessary to advertise as yet, because there is a sufficient network of word-of-mouth connections to keep them busy. However, times are changing. It used to be profitable to take goods to sell just across the border into Poland. The Poles in turn would transport them to Germany for resale. But now with the changes in the price levels the differentials are being wiped out and the Poles are suffering from the lost traffic.
Vladimir's company is also in the export-import business, but this is difficult. For instance, a Western company wanted to sell fishing lures (flies) to the large Ukrainian fisherman market. But even at a price of 5 cents no Ukrainians could afford them. Another problem is the mentality of the Ukrainian and Russian artisan producer. Vladimir remarks that the typical producer has no business sense or even interest. He wants to make one copy of an item and wait months, if he has to, for the one buyer willing to pay a huge price to come along. For this sale he will consider himself clever. He thinks it is too much trouble to make many copies of something using economy of scale to reduce costs and then sell them quickly at lower prices.
Sunday evening I met with a team of three local engineers eager to get into
the private production of military miniatures. And I have to say that they
demonstrated a willingness to learn that is just the opposite of what Vladimir
was telling me. They showed samples of their initial efforts. In comparison
with the work of the masters I had already met, the work was crude and
simplistic. But I could not summarily reject such determined and hopeful young
would-be entrepreneurs. I gave them samples of British and American produced
figures as well as showed the master's products. I also gave them a couple of
hours lessons on proper use of metal alloys, casting temperatures, centrifugal
casting machines, and attention to uniform detail. I told them that, if they
could package the figures with painting instructions and return by Wedensday, I
would purchase some as samples and as an investment in their improved
February 3: Light snow again. At 11 AM we met with Mr. Marchuk, Chairman of State Security Service of Ukraine. The discussion was on the practical arrangements needed to establish the new institute for security studies. The following is a summary of Marchuk's thinking on these issues. The immediate issue is to agree upon the exact wording of a concept paper describing this institute, its functions, and organization. This paper will serve as the basis for formal agreements. The paper will also serve to help generate funds from interested parties. Obtaining financial support from private sources, foundations, is critical.
The new institute can be based in the facilities available in the same building in which the INNOCENTER is located, or they can be obtained from local city authorities. The INNOCENTER can provide a variety of administrative and logistic services for the new institute. The new organization will require a development period of eight months. In addition to a group of researchers and analysts, the institute should have a component that can conduct simulations and war games. It also needs the capability to train analysts. There is already an urgent need to produce studies and analysis on current problems.
There are many security problems facing Ukraine. The first of these is Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet. The situation in Crimea has historical roots to the 16th century and also to the 1954 transfer. The vote on autonomy in Crimea was somewhat "framed-up". There is the issue of the return of the Tatars as well. There are also problems with Moldava and Transcarpathia. The Gordian knot of underlying problems is in addition to the question of the future relation with Russia. The Crimean Tatars in emigration have strong support outside Ukraine including in Khazakstan. There are also German settlements that cause concern. "Must solve these problems without spilling blood". There are other, less dramatic problems as well.
The institute will have a board of directors. The staff will be mostly Ukrainian, but foreign scholars will also be invited. The board will include Mr. Marchuk and General Morozov. Perhaps someone from the UN should be on the board. The staff will include 16 Ukrainians and 4 from Canada and the United States. There should be four or five research scientists and five supervisory people. The institute also needs a computer and desk-top publishing facility. Publication and distribution of 3000 copies of reports and studies will be an important function.
"There is more information in the United States on Crimea than we have in Kiev."
Mr. Marchuk is in favor of the institute and emphasizes that it must have a practical purpose and focus on realistic issues. One issue is the creation of the new Ukrainian armed forces. Eventually a professional army is desirable. At present it will probably be 50% contractual in officers and non-commissioned officers. There are many concrete issues on the organization and manning of the military that need immediate answers.
The National Security Service provides security and special services. Parliament generates many tasks not all of which were anticipated. The service has a large number of trained professionals with experience from the previous regime. The service is trying to concentrate information obtained from all sources. However, implementation and application of the information is up to the president. The National Security Service will be a monopolist as far as state institutions goes in obtaining, assessing, and analyzing information relating to state security. The service currently addresses problems that don't relate to national security because the president has asked it to do so and advise him. He is especially concerned that it examine developing situations that may create unexpected circumstances. Marchuk wants to create an information and analysis department and analytical structure that resembles comparable departments in the Pentagon. He is concerned to eliminate superficial analysis.
Crimea should be studied and discussed on a regional scale. The situation in Crimea is volatile. We don't know what will happen. Looking at the map we see Crimea, Transcarpathia, Moldavia and other areas that may aggravate the situation. There is a great problem associated with turning an administrative border into a state border. (This refers to the Ukrainian - Russian border). There are many kolhozs (farms) that straddle the border. The border problem is a long range one for Ukraine, but a very painful one. We are trying to create a map that will depict the location of such centers of conflict.
We have the difficulty of having simultaneously to define problems and begin work on them. The next twelve months will be the most dangerous period. There are many destructive forces at work as well as dangerous mechanisms that may exacerbate them. We need to make Ukraine and its problems an all-European Problem like Chernobil.
There are also local problems that taken together become major. One is the issue of military personnel and their welfare. A sample of an innovative, local solution is the case of some patrol boats at Sevastopol. There were five obsolete patrol boats preserved but discarded from service and not used for ten years. Someone found the idea to rent the boats and put them into service for long-range movement of goods and people to Israel. This will provide employment for the personnel, keep the command and staff happy, and earn a profit that will be given to the fund for service personnel welfare. We need to find a great many such local problems whose solution will contribute to the welfare of the whole Ukraine.
Research is needed on how to rehabilitate and demobilize military personnel and convert military activities for the civilian economy.
"Nuclear issues are related to this conversion. We have lots of nuclear physicists out of work. There is no immediate danger of their seeking other employment, but we do need to study how to prevent one of these guys from appearing in Iraq."
After the meeting, we walked over to the St. Sophia Cathedral, built in 1037 by Yarlslav the Wise and in which he is buried. This cathedral contains the most interesting and ancient art work in Kiev, but we did not have time to study it.
Monday night Victor Bouzalov brought his artistic work to display. His work is the finest painting of portraits depicting military uniforms, both infantry and cavalry, that I have seen. He also displayed his hand-made leather and metal recreations of military accoutrements - French and Russian packs, cartridge boxes and belts, shakos etc. from the 1800's. His production is limited by the shortage of leather. The authorities take no notice and do not assist with the development of this potentially profitable industry.
Vladimir then arrived to take me to a Catholic church service. He had been unable to find one by Sunday, but spent a lot of time on Monday researching the question and locating a functioning church near the center of town. He discovered that a Catholic church that for many years had been used as a planetarium has recently been given back to the Church. The church is only a 17 minute walk from the hotel. We made it for the 7 PM service. I talked with the three priests about their problems in raising funds to make the building safe, let alone restore it as it was before being seized by the Communists in 1937. At that time the priests were sent to camps and the building was used as a dormitory. The building is being restored and there are scaffolds everywhere, but the workers have recently quit because funds to pay them have run out. Services are given in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian. Despite the language difference the service was completely familiar including the standard rituals for the feast of St. Blase.
Back at the hotel I ate alone. The dining room was crowded with long tables
occupied by Swedes and other foreigners conducting business over the excellent
February 4: Snowing again. We drove the short distance to the Ministry of Defense building to meet the Minister, Gen.Col. Morozov. He is a young officer. His office is more austere than Marchuk's. He conducted the meeting without participation of an aide. He began the meeting with remarks about his admiration for General Krawciw. He said we could be frank and touch on complex problems. The following are his views.
The Crimea situation is serious and cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. It must be finalized.
Discussion followed about the proposed institute with much of the same information being exchanged as is noted above for the other meetings. Morozov focused on the title and wondered about the global aspect in the name. The need for an independent center for political security research and analysis was explained to him. Discussion again returned to the funding issue. Organization and staffing were also explained. Morozov wanted to know how much and what kind of support was expected from the MOD and was pleased to learn he was not expected to provide personnel. He was concerned with the relation of the institute and other research facilities of the government within the MOD, Security Service, and Academy of Sciences.
Morozov considers all contributions to Ukrainian security tremendously important. He doubts that Russia will take Ukrainian interests into consideration when it comes to questions of the level of armed forces. He agrees that he needs scientific substantiation for decisions on the level of armed force required by Ukraine. He said the Russians could easily cheat us. For one thing the Russians control the communications systems between headquarters. He is clearly concerned about who really controls armed forces in Ukraine. The Ukraine hopes to be free of nuclear forces by 1995. The reduction of armed forces has an impact on society as well. There are social problems associated with having a million man armed force and others with the process of personnel reductions. There is no living space available to give retired people apartments.
Tuesday evening was the occasion for a departure banquet with much
additional toasting. Much warm feeling was in evidence. Clearly General Krawciw
had made a great impression and created strong personal ties. The Ukrainians
are now eager to see results. They say they are prepared to make it on their
own without outside help in their perceived struggle with the Russians. The
entire group of officials including Mr. Marchuk and Mr. Durdynets attended.
February 5: In the morning we discussed a final version of the proposal. A
reporter arrived to conduct a short interview. He was experienced and asked
quite pointed questions beginning with what we thought about Crimea and how we
assessed the quality of the Black Sea Fleet. We naturally skirted around such
issues. The two young engineers arrived with their handiwork. Despite the
relatively poor quality of the castings I had to give them credit for
exceptional energy in producing and packaging their wares in short order and
printing a painting guide in English. (Even if the guide was full of errors on
Russian 18th century history). In mid-afternoon we drove back to the airport.
The departure area seemed quite crowded with many people camping on their
baggage. These were people waiting for domestic flights. There were only two
international flights, the Lufthansa plane to Frankfurt and an Austrian airline
plane to Vienna. Passage through the passport control and customs check went
quickly with no problems. The flight was smooth, although we did have to make
an unscheduled stop at Vienna for refueling. That was because there was no fuel
for Lufthansa to refuel at Kiev. We spent the night at U.S. Army facilities in
February 6: The Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Washington was excellent.