Outside the Moscow Beltway; Letter from Ukraine & Interview on Kazakhstan
In the news, I am Jose Ruiz KPFA, I want to invite you to come and bring your children to the KPFA holiday crafts fair. There's live entertainment all day from 10:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night. Children under 12 are free and it's only for $4 for grown up. It's Saturday and Sunday, December 7th and eight and 14 and 15 in the Student Union Building, Bancroft and Telegraph in Berkeley. For more information, call eight four eight six seven, six, seven. Extension six or nine of them was put onto a lot of them get up at seven o'clock. You're tuned to KPFA, KPFA in Berkeley, KFC in Fresno. And it's time now for Outside the Moscow Beltway with William Mandel. Good evening. I have a guest who visited
Kazakhstan recently. You may have heard in last night's news this morning that the president of Kazakhstan has said that his republic will not join the tripartite Slavic Federation that was announced yesterday. Perhaps my guest was not there for high politics purposes, or maybe he was a different kind of politics. Will have something to say in this. Perhaps he won't. I don't want to speculate about matters that, in my opinion today, are totally in the realm of the subjective and short either. Mr. Gorbachev will utilize the fact that he is still a president and therefore can give orders to the chief of staff of the army if he wants to do that, or he won't either. The other three will or they won't. And I honestly don't think that speculation at this point is useful. Perhaps the only thing I would like to say is that Gorbachev, by permitting Yeltsin, I am not sitting in judgment. I am describing a series of effects that Gorbachev, by permitting
Yeltsin to take the state bank of the USSR away from the USSR, take it over for Russia without uttering a squeak by, permitting him to take over the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union and to make it a State Department of Russia. Gorbachev left himself in a totally powerless position and is to me at this moment, a little ludicrous in suddenly saying that this new action is unconstitutional. It certainly is, but so were the previous ones. I repeat that the only power he now has is if he seeks to use the armed forces and that we're just going to have to see. What I would like to do with the first part of the program is to give you a sense of how ordinary people in the USSR feel right now in terms of two letters written after the middle of last month
and received by me just last week. It's very clear that the ordinary people really could care less about what the fellows in positions of power are doing. They want certain problems solved. The first letter is by someone who wrote me last April, a gym teacher in the Ukraine, someone to whom you responded with extraordinary generosity. I did not ask for money. I don't have the right to. And you threw money at me, so I bought basketballs and sent them to her. She begins by referring to that's what is important is not that, but what she tells us about the mood of herself and the people there. This is this is from the Ukraine and in a city in the Donbass, the industrial area. She thanked me for the basketballs. Again, ask that I mentioned school number 23 in the city of Hartsock and the radio broadcast so that at some school children want to correspond with our school, they'll be able to do so.
She says her students are very interested me and asks whether I really am an American and whether I will visit them. Now, she writes. I'll tell you a little about the life of a teacher. The teachers of our city and state against oblasts of the Ukraine are now talking about preparing for a strike. While the teachers of some cities in Russia are striking, we are still at the stage of strike demands which have been sent to all levels of authority. We are awaiting a reply. Since April, when I wrote you my first letter, prices have risen further by four fold at least raises and inflation compensation bonuses have been received by everyone but teachers, medical personnel and cultural workers. Today, the wage of a cleaning woman in our school is higher than that of a teacher. Did it pay to go to college or the university we were educated to keep? Silence and to take a job as a cleaning woman would be demeaning. True, our government is promising to raise our base pay
by two thirds our vice principals for instruction of computers and figure that it will come to 400 to 800 rubles. But let me tell you what this will mean right now. A pair of running shoes would cost me 600 to 800 rubles. Moreover, our government is promising to free prices in the same period and that our wages will be raised. Our statisticians calculate that this will cause prices to rise 10 to 15 fold or more, so that the promised 67 percent raise in base pay will mean, depending upon one's grade, from 200 rubles up, in my case, 350. This is not funny. I simply cannot imagine how I will exist. Aside from the question of money, the separation of the Ukraine from the rest of the country is particularly painful for me. Judge for yourself. My mother, who lives on Social Security, resides in Russia where she has a little house.
My father died 10 years ago. My older sister lives in Belorussia. Her husband is a district attorney. Byelorussian by nationality. Naturally, he isn't going to move to Russia. The impression I get is that she, her sister and mother are Russians and she is apparently assuming that only members of the indigenous nationality will be allowed to live or will be comfortable in republics other than that of their nationality. She goes on, My husband's parents live in this city and he doesn't want to move to Russia. And so we are scattered among various republics, but often go to visit each other. Now the Ukraine is drafting a law on entry visas, our new passports, a new currency and so forth. So in the future, I will not be able to help my mother either with money or with a sense of support. I assume she is referring to visits. The published document says that a visa will cost 200 rubles. That is a large sum for me even now, and the prices even doubled and the railroads are already proposed to the public affairs of visiting.
My mother will be out of the question. When I graduated, I, a Russian, was assigned to a job in the Ukraine. May I explain that graduates are required to work for three years, were assigned and many find spouses and make their homes there permanently. She goes on. And my sister was assigned to Belorussia. I have now worked here 18 years since graduating from college. During that period, I became eligible for and acquired a one room apartment by American racketing. That's two rooms because they don't count the kitchen crew. I now have a two room apartment as a result of an exchange with neighbors. Again, for example, a person who has become single by divorce, death or the departure of children. They agree to exchange a larger apartment for a smaller one. For some financial consideration, she goes on, No one is interested in my problem. Our politicians are tearing apart the living bonds among people. To me, that's a very pertinent sentence in view of today's news.
They don't they didn't ask our opinions. True, they are promised us promising us mountains of gold in the future. Our house was disconnected from the central from the city's central heat supply for ten days. It has again been hooked up now, but it's cold in the rooms. I wear a winter suit in the house and woolen socks this November 15th in the Ukraine, which is fairly southerly, and they are telling us that it will get even worse. Read a little clipping I enclose, which I cut out of our newspaper that carries the words of the vice mayor. My apartment is in the metal workers housing developments and the school is in the anniversary development. The clipping says that gas supply to those two will be cut 50 percent cold. We already have hunger there. Still promising yesterday a seminar for the principles of the 25 schools and Greater Hearts USQUE that's our city was held at our school. I delivered a sample lesson in the discussion. It was praised highly, but I have no joy from this. There's also little joy in my family life.
I have already written you that my husband was in an automobile accident. He had eleven fractures. They've all healed, but a wound in his leg has not. Although six months have passed, the leg remains severely swollen. He doesn't want to go for another stay in the hospital any longer. He's extremely unhappy. They've tried all the drugs. They advised there's no improvement on his job. He's on his feet all the time. He doesn't sit in his office. When I suggest the hospital, he won't even listen because of the nightmarish experiences he had there. One can't even describe them. Just thinking about them as I write, has caused my hand to start trembling. You wrote about our medical system in your article. Well, here's an example of it. And may I say, she may be right, but the kind of injury that results. In 11 fractures makes one wonder whether he'd be alive at all, if not for the availability of modern medicine, whatever the shortcomings may be, she goes on. I was there alongside him and there was nothing I could do.
If you don't have a little temperature, you don't go to a free hospital. I by myself go to work rather than go to the doctor or the hospital. If I have the flu or grippe. Well enough of that. No. I'll give you one more example. My six year old son died before my very eyes and the doctor couldn't do a thing because the medicine in his cabinet that had to be given can be administered only with the permission of the head physician. That physician was not home. They hunted him for three hours. I screamed and pleaded and don't remember any more what else I did. It was only after three hours that he was helped by another doctor, probably because the latter was only just out of medical school and not get hardened to people's suffering. He was doing emergency duty. He located the head physician and told him that he would smash the cabinets. It was glass and take the drug. So the head physician demanded of him a note that he would accept that he would accept responsibility and so forth. I don't want to recall all this and I don't know what to do about my husband.
He doesn't want to go to the hospital. We've already tried the folk healers and various potions. Please write me if only two lines. I know that you were busy, but I've cried a bit on your shoulder here and it makes me feel better regards to your wife, Nina, if you. OK, then I read you that because I've tried to make clear to me these letters tell us much more what the ordinary people care about and what the politicians are going to have to deliver on than the maneuverings in Moscow, Minsk or wherever. Obviously, of course, those maneuverings result in military conflict. We have something else to deal with. I wanted to read another letter, but I have a guest in time. Doesn't permit. I simply want to tell you that these are two of six letters I received since the coup. Those six letters, 26 letters received this year before the code, plus my interviews with coal miners, teachers, doctors, scientists that you've heard in Siberia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, European
and Russia have been published in a small learned journal called The Station. Really, as far as I know, this is the first time that a learned journal has ever been devoted entirely to things that appeared first as radio scripts. And I think that says something about the station at all events. If this is something you want and the final form is going to be kind of pretty and there might even be people one want us Christmas presents, you can get it by sending me seven dollars. William Mandel at KPFA, which is 1929, Martin Luther King, Berkeley, nine 474. I want to make clear that this is not plughole because I get not a penny out of this. And the people who publish it are a charitable organization which lives from month to month on people's donations so that this is not in any sense for anyone a commercial venture. I again, that
was a sense of what's the man in charge in the U.S. So I have got to deal with my guest this evening is Jim [Larriger]. Jim, you were on the show once before, weren't you? Yes, I have been. Yes, Jim and I that's when we participated in the American Soviet peace walk to the Soviet test ban site in Kazakhstan. Yes. Semipalatinsk, last September of 1990, correct? That's correct. Okay. And it there again. Right, exactly. You were there when? Just now. Again, in October of this year. And I returned from Moscow on November 10th. OK, so you're it's just a month since you were in the Soviet Union and little more than that since you were in Kazakhstan. That's correct. What did you go there for this time? I went back to the nuclear test site in the villages near it, the Semipalatinsk Polygon, the nuclear testing grounds, and the principal one in the Soviet Union was officially closed on on October 14th accommodation.
Volkoff, the director of the Soviet nuclear weapons testing program, came to the secret scientific said a city in Kazakhstan, Kurchatov City, with Omar Suleiman, the the leader of the Nevada Semipalatinsk movement. APower is a member of the Supreme. So we had and by the way, one time guest on this show a long time ago. Go ahead. Oh, very good. To basically make a declaration closing a nuclear testing at that test site where something like 600 nuclear weapons and devices have been exploded in the last 40 years. And that is, in fact, the result of a citizens movement where people have informed themselves. About their own history over the last 40 years, which they couldn't even explore until a couple of years ago because of military secrecy and where they are trying to address the problems of exposure of a very large population to a great deal of radiation for a very long period of time are very, very severe. The test site is to be converted into a civilian research center,
and that was part of the negotiations that have gone on for several years in terms of officially closing. It has been effectively closed for several years because of the citizens movement there. Weren't there a couple of tests the previous year, just about a year ago? No, there was only one. And that was in the Russian republic as it was at Neviah Zoomlion. Right. It was unexpected. It was denounced by both Yeltsin and Gorbachev. Right. And created demonstrations. Well, in Moscow and then Leningrad, now St. Petersburg and in Kazakhstan against that testing. And didn't it almost seemed as if Gorbachev did not even know it was going to be held. But that was the only test in the last two years. The last test at this Plotkin's polygon was on October 19th, 1989. And and no previous tests had been held there since February of 1989, although in 1989, 17 nuclear tests had been had been planned, had been actually scheduled. The innovative Semipalatinsk movement itself was formed in February of 1989
and was very successful. And in fact, when that test was held on October 19th, Kazakhstan essentially erupted. The miners of Car Gondar, who produce 15 percent of the Soviets coal, threatened the Soviet Union's coal, threatened to close down the mines if there wasn't, wouldn't know when they did go on strike. Their demand. No one, as they told me, it absolutely was shut down on the test, be it was before any economic demands. Right. 100000 miners and and very large demonstrations were held all over Kazakhstan, actually. In fact, the miners of the various different regions, Siberia and the Ukraine, coal miners agreed to support the strike of the Kazakh miners. And in fact, it was not known in the United States. However, the Soviet government did agree essentially at that time to not conduct any more tests, although they did not make official international proclamation of that. They did actually try to negotiate with Kazakhstan last summer with an offer of five point one billion rubles to the Karzai government
in exchange for being allowed to do two small tests. And that is because the United States government is continuing to test nuclear weapons and develop new nuclear weapons, test them at the Nevada test site. How did they arrive this year? 5.1 billion rules. What was that all about? I have no idea what I said earlier. Some came I can give you. I know how it was used. A letter from a friend of mine in from a woman I met on this walk that we were on together, which I think I think I read it here a couple of weeks ago, said that every Kosak has received something like 350 rubles as compensation for being down winders. And those are the people in the vicinity within a certain range. I say test site. In fact, that was a 250 million ruble settlement, which was independent of the five point one million compensation. Unfortunately, it was just divided up by bad and rather than that would have been enough to provide a lot of medical facilities which are very lacking in the test area. However, the decision was made to just divide the two hundred fifty million rubles by the number of people through the Semipalatinsk and the other regions
affected potentially by nuclear testing, with or without regard to any physical ailments or any or any history of presidents. The five point one billion rubles is an odd number, however, I don't know the exact reason why it was exactly five point one billion rubles, but the offer was debated in the Kazakhstan, the Kazakh parliament, and was ultimately rejected. On what grounds? On the grounds that they would not allow any more nuclear testing. I see. I see. I lost track. That was the deal, right, Jim? We are. Because this your appearance here, which was arranged weeks ago, happens to fall on the evening when we have just heard that Mr. Gorbachev has said to the presidents of the three Slovak republics, you fellows are doing something unconstitutional. I won't buy it. They have said, yes, you will. And we heard last night this morning that the president of Kazakhstan, Mr.
Nazarbayev, has said that he would not join that group. It's an open agreement these three men have made that any republic may join. For one thing, again, this is this is not your field, but you were there, what sense do you have of the attitude of the people of Kazakhstan toward Mr. Nazarbayev, who is the head of their government? Mr. Nazarbayev is very, very popular and was just reelected, even though he was essentially unopposed as president. And the concept that he proposes of staying within a union is also very popular in Kazakhstan. There are separatist movements and it is important to remember that there are 100 nationalities represented, Soviet nationalities represented within Kazakhstan. And the Kazakh people themselves represent only approximately 40 percent of the population so that there are some separatists. But by and large, the idea of converting to a market economy
and of staying very connected within the structure of a union with the Russian republic and with the other republics in terms of trade and development for the mutual long term benefit of all within a concept of sovereignty, more of sovereignty than it had existed in the past is is overwhelmingly popular and is supported by. Certainly by Nazarbayev, but also by other responsible leaders, both within the Kazakh parliament and and and without it, yeah, it happens that when we were when we were there for the walk and I guess most of the workers went for on a trip up to that marvelous ice skating rink on the mountain. Yes. I met with two or three committees of the parliament. And what they said is exactly what you have. Just in short, this is what they wanted. They wanted a market economy, but they also wanted close relations with the USSR. And what I observed there, at least, obviously, there's just a couple
of hours, was a pretty good working relationship between the Russians and the Kazakhs that I saw, although I met some very nationalist Russians within within Kazakhstan. That is largely true. There are millions of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan and there are even two million Germans who had been displaced, displaced by Stalin. And many of them actually do speak German as well as Russian and in some cases Kazakh. But overwhelmingly, they support closing the nuclear test site and eventually making Kazakhstan a nuclear free area and keeping very strong connections with the other countries or the other republics within the union. What was your personal purpose in this return visit? Well, as you know, I'm a I'm a photographer and a writer, a journalist. And I went I had actually planned to go next May rather than now. The precipitating event for for my quick leave prepared trip was the fact that the test site was being formerly closed.
And I would be able to go on to the test grounds with about 200 people, mostly Kazakh, and would be able to photograph in the secret areas in the polygon to go to the sites of the first atomic and hydrogen bombs, to go into some of the research labs, in fact, to go into one of the three nuclear reactors, test nuclear reactors on the polygon. And and then you're using Russia and the Russians say go in for tests. I just say test side. It's right. Well, actually, I like the word and I'm trying to encourage this understanding of the nuclear test site is a polygon and other test sites, whether they be nuclear or conventional weapons, are also called polygon. Yeah. And this particular one is the principal nuclear test site. What I did, I did go because I would be able to enter and document there and document this event. But I went even more specifically, and this was my longer range plan to work on a book with a Kazakh writer. His name is Well System based on a book about the testing, one of the work walkers. No, he was not because it was in Moscow.
I see there was someone with that surname, of course, maybe John Smith. For all I know right now, Rolan is from the area of the testing and was born in 1946. So when they he was raised in Kabul, which is one of the large towns near the test site. And when he was seven years old, he went into the hills herding sheep traditionally with his grandparents while Kabul was largely evacuated and was in the hills when the first Soviet hydrogen device was exploded. Saw that a huge fireball and and the earth shaking the whole event and lived through that period as a child, watch other children sicken and die. He himself is as healthy at this point, but he witnessed a lot of a lot of problems. And he is a very popular writer. He has something like five million books in circulation. He's a novelist and he's also the founder of an organization for children in there who are victims of that, the testing basically, or children who are sick.
Since you cannot create it, what does this organization do? What was its purpose? Well, they have been organizing to both gather funds to build a hospital in Semipalatinsk. There's only one children's hospital for the entire region affected by the by the test site. And in fact, in speaking with the doctors while I was there, they do report that the the rate of illness and even birth defects, so far as they're concerned, observe and even though testing has been both underground and now ended among children, is still increasing and increasing dramatically. And we are looking at the third generation of children after the testing began. Just from my information, this this rate of morbidity cover all diseases or only those that might in some way be related to the testing. They they try to distinguish what might be related to testing, but they are looking at all diseases.
And one thing to be remembered in terms of radiation related illnesses is that they are not specific because the immune system is damaged. You have a suppressed immune system. This is also true in the Ukraine so that all diseases are much more common. One other to get back again because of this just this peculiar fact, there were meeting at a night when people's minds are much more focused on political things. The major figure who launched the anti testing movement in Kazakhstan is this Port Augusta, Georgia. M.F., do you have any sense at all of his attitudes on the political matters we're discussing? Well, just Filimonov has been a very strong supporter of a continued union and and a connection. And even though he has considerably different views than Nazarbayev on many issues, he is looking at the long term issues about adjusting social society and a connection within the union, both in will in economic and political
connection. What, if I may ask, are his views of a socially just society? I say this because in the past, a very simple formulas. You know, there was socialism and the author is Marxist socialism. Very simple, very clear. Now, that's not the case. From your conversations with him, what does he think makes a just society? I think that he believes in an actual ability to gain a good education of fair wages and working conditions for all people of of high quality health care and also a sense of personal freedom to self-respect. So you are going to write a book, you're obviously putting out articles, are there one more thing, again, of vital importance in terms of today's news? Kazakhstan is one of the former Soviet republics in which there are nuclear weapons sites today.
And while it is it has the smallest number of the four, it has enough to make it on a world scale, a major nuclear power. It's got more nuclear weapons, as I understand it, than Britain or France or Israel. Did you hear any discussion about the weapons as such about who should control them if any of that come up at all in any way, at any time? So far as I know and as was talked in is even and as I read in the newspaper recently, the intention is that the weapons be controlled from the center with a unified command over all weapons that that may may be maintained. There is a significant issue about what will happen with them, the former Soviet government, unless it's reconstituted in some form, I would say former. Has said that Kazakhstan would have to pay for the removal of the missiles and that would be perhaps 100 billion rubles, which Kazakhstan does not have
the resources for now. It is discussed in Kazakhstan about working out a methodology for disarming and destroying the missiles within Kazakhstan. And that is very much open to negotiation at the moment, as is the conversion of the nuclear test site. Jim, our time is just about up. Is there anything that you as a peace advocate, as an anti-nuclear person and as somebody with some firsthand contacts in this particular republic with USA, USA, USA, USA? So I would like to leave our audience with? Well, I would really like to say that one of the things that people in Kazakhstan hope for more than anything else is that nuclear weapons testing can be ended all over the world and that the number of nuclear weapons in the world can be lowered very, very rapidly. And in fact, the Nevada Semipalatinsk movement has recently recently moved to the position of deciding to oppose nuclear power. And that's very, very new. In the past, they were not making that declaration.
They were they were just holding to the position of of of stopping nuclear testing both in Kazakhstan and around the world. Very interesting. Thank you once again. Thank you, Bill. My guest was Jim [Larriger]. And I hope that if you go there again, if you work on this book, you'll come back and I hope we'll be able to be able to devote the full half hour to it next time. I hope we can do that. And I have plenty more to say. Ok fine Right now. [ music: the song Think Again] Good evening. My name is Dwight Simpson. The name of this program is Point of View, and I'm delighted to have tonight as my distinguished guest, the consul general of Chile, Mr. Maximiliano Harper, and he and I will be discussing conditions in Chile over the past 15 or 20 years. Good evening, Maximiliano, and welcome to the program.
- Outside the Moscow Beltway
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- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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- This episode includes Letter from Ukraine & Interview on Kazakhstan.
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- "Work and accomplishments of William Mandel, 74, for weekly series in its 35th yr.; and for invention of talk radio, initiated on this program, which extends freedom of speech to general citizenry in manner not [equaled] in any other way. In 15 years prior to joining KPFA, Mandel guested on major network radio in USA & Canada and, during World War II, broadcast to occupied [Western] Europe at request of Army Broadcasting Service in Europe'. The rise & fall of the USSR was the overriding event of this century, and this series recorded nearly [illegible] of its 74 years of existence. Mandel, fluent in Russian, visited the USSR (all 15 republics) 18 times since series began in 1958. He taped interviews (i.e., draft-age boys when there was a possibility of direct Soviet participation in Vietnam) broadcast voice-over in stereo, with Russian original heard on the low-gain channel. This, and Mandel's practice of not cutting or editing, pre-empted, possibly, doubts regarding genuineness, objectivity. This bald, 'unproduced' technique maintained program's credibility during times of severe crisis in relations between our countries. 1991 broadcasts included reading of 30 letters to him from private Soviet citizens (Christian, Moslem, Jewish) representing complete spectrum of political views. Broadcasts in Gorbachev [years] include numerous X FIRSTS: (1) eyewitness report of creative personalities in revolt (Artists' Union, 1986); (2) taping of non-Party outdoor rally (1987); (3) report by participants of environmentalists' victory (stopping bacteriological warfare plant); (4) report by participants about 'people's fronts' in Slavic republics (both 1988); unique taping of confrontation between citizens' committee demanding evacuation from Chernobyl zone and government-and-Party officials (1989); Moscow-Berkley phone interview, 1st day of coup, of an American defending Yeltsin's White House; interviews with Ukrainian, Kazakh nationalists; with coal strike leaders."--1991 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
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- MLA: “Outside the Moscow Beltway; Letter from Ukraine & Interview on Kazakhstan.” 1991-12-09. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-sx6445jq1h>.
- APA: Outside the Moscow Beltway; Letter from Ukraine & Interview on Kazakhstan. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-sx6445jq1h