INT: Right. And what was the worst moment for you in the Cold War?
YY: I told you: when our tanks crossed Czechoslovakian border. That was the most terrible moment, because I didn't want to believe it till the last moment. I remember we were sitting with my writers colleagues in Crimea, and we were talking about it, and I remember ... I was always idealist, and I am incorrigible idealist - I couldn't be different man; I don't lose hope even in the most difficult moments... and so I remember I very romantically exclaimed, "This couldn't happen!" And one more experienced writer, who was veteran of Second World War, he said to me, "Genya, Genya, I envy to you, I envy to your idealism. Probably now, in this moment when we are sitting and talking about it, Brezhnev's tanks are crossing Czechoslovakian borders." Next morning, I radio and I learned that it was true. I tell you, it was the first time in my life when I was absolutely thinking about suicide committing. And when some people congratulate me with my courage when I sent telegram of protest, and I wrote up a poem, it was not courage: it was my fear, because I saved myself from suicide committing, sendinthis telegram; otherwise I couldn't live with such a burden on my conscience, if I could keep silent.
INT: Mm. Now what do you think the Cold War achieved? (Pause) For good or ill.
YY: There is only... you know, (Pause) If we'll... So, Cold War destroyed so many things in the world, in the both systems, I think. It made capitalism more cynical, it made us more cynical; it destroyed so many lives, so many hopes, so many talents. But probably when you think what was good in Cold War, probably one thing, but it was a competition of two systems, but it was dangerous competition; and I don't like if in the world will be only the same political system, because we need this competition, but without cold war, because such a competition could be very easily to transform into war from the Cold War. Because now, I mean, in the moment of this standardization of many systems - I call it the moment of "spiritual McDonaldization of the world" - we have other dangers, we have... and I don't think what world ha... Now America is... obvious it's a leader, and it's a pity. It doesn't mean what ... it doesn't mean my lack of respect to America, but I think it's very dangerous when only one country takes on its shoulders responsibility for the rest of the world. And, you know, I think megalomania always is kind of weakness, and lack of knowledge. When you are leader of the world, lack of knowledge about other countries could be very dangerous, it could be very destructive for this country which has courage to be responsible for the rest of the world. I think responsibility for the world has to be common. United Nations is not perfect organization, of course. I don't know... I think in the future we'll have something else, government of the world - I don't know how to call it - council of the world, something, but responsibility could be only collective. And I think that if now NATO will be expand and Russia will be outside of NATO, that could be again some retsidivs [he means recurrence] of the Cold War, and probably very dangerous. Because if you isolate someone, he feel lonely, he scares, and he feel humiliated - he or it. I think we have to... NATO has to be alliance for everybody, with open gates for everybody; and probably because we have so many common enemies for all humanity, we need new organization which will invite everybody, because we don't know in which country, tomorrow or after tomorrow, will be new dictatorship which could be dangerous for everybody else; and the rest of this union has to be united immediately, in each moment, and we don't know where this new kind of fascism or... we don't know names of new dictatorships which will come. Above all, it's very easy to produce now any kind of very dangerous bombs, very easy; probably privately some produce them privately even. So any kind of military blocs inevitably will lead to a new kind of Cold War.
INT: And can I just ask you one last question, which is about the publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: from your knowledge of Khrushchev, why do you think that he authorized the publication of this book?
YY: Yes. You know, this book, together with my poem Heirs of Stalin, was waiting long time. And when Khrushchev was in Caucasus, and one chairman of Opkhazin collective farm, with tears in eyes, began to tell him how many people were killed in Caucasus during Stalin's purges, Khrushchev began to cry too, and in this moment his assistant gave him my poem Heirs of Stalin - he was keeping it... almost... more than half a year - and Khrushchev immediately has sent this poem by military plane to Moscow. It was published in Pravda; it was a big scandal, and some Party big cheeses, without any kind of knowledge that Khrushchev was behind this poem, they wrote letter accusing editor in chief of Pravda in anti-Soviet activities, publish Yevtushenko's... such a scandalous poem. And that time he gave order in a special meeting, when he has read also One Day of Ivan Denisovich after my poems, and he gave order to publish it, because censorship stopped this book, stopped my poem, and he said, "If I like this poem, if I like this novella, and censorship accuse them to being, then also it means I could be accused in anti-Soviet activities too." And he said, "Our people who lost so many lives during Stalin's purges before the war, behaved so patriotically during the war - they were trying to forgot their own pain, their losses of their family. They deserve trust. And if you continue to have censorship, we insult our people, because it means that we mistrust to our own people." And he gave his order to ideological secretary Ilyichov to prepare this special degree [sic] of Central Committee of Communist Party of USSR about abolishment of censorship. And they were terribly scared because they couldn't imagine their lives, their survival, without censorship, and that's why they very urgently organized big provocation. They invited... knowing that Khrushchev will visit official exhibition of the painting Manège in Moscow, they called to some contemporary painter(s) [and] sculptors, and over one night or two, they brought some sculptures, some abstract paintings... they invited Khrushchev after his tour around other halls, and he never seen abstract painting. He asked, "There are some unfinished canvases?" They said, "No." "But why they have no human faces or landscapes of our Motherland?" he asked. And they answered him, "Because they hate the faces of our Soviet workers, miners." And so, in only one painting, it was dirty spots, and title, unfortunately, was 'October Revolution', and that's why they... Khrushchev became very furious. He was swearing at this sculpture of Ernst Neizvestny, but he [Neizcvestny] behaved very courageously and he was swearing back, he was fighting back. A special, special story. So, the dictionary permits, and international TV doesn't permit to repeat their very juicy expressions during this talk. And now our bureaucrats, these coyotes of ideological jungle, they said, "Now you see, our dear Nikita Sergeyevich, it's too early to abolish censorship we have to wait a little bit. People is not enough mature." That's a history of great provocation.
INT: Thank you very much.
YEVGENI YEVTUSHENKO READS POEM
We sowed crops honestly, honestly we smelted metal, and honestly we marched in ranks as soldiers. But he feared us. Believing in a great goal, he forgot that the means must be worthy of the goal's greatness. He was far-sighted. Wiry in the ways of combat, he left behind him many heirs on this globe. It seems to me a telephone was installed in the coffin. To someone, again Stalin is sending his instructions. To where does the cable yet go from that coffin? No. Stalin did not die. He thinks this can be fixed. We removed him from the Mausoleum, but how do we remove Stalin from Stalin's heirs? Some of his heirs tend roses in retirement, but secretly consider their retirement temporary. Others, from platforms, rail against Stalin, but at night yearn for the old days. It is no wonder Stalin's heirs, with reason today, visibly suffer heart attacks. They, the former henchmen, hate a time when prison camps are empty and auditoriums where people listen to poetry are overfilled. My Motherland commands me not to be calm. Even if they say to me, "Be assured," I am unable. While the heirs of Stalin are still alive on this earth, it will seem to me that Stalin is still in the Mausoleum.
(Reads same poem again - not transcribed)