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"Stolypin is not on us"
"A sensible policy of state support can turn the harsh conditions of Siberia and the Far East into dignity"
- Arnold Kirillovich, you recently published a book where you dwell in detail on aspects of the political geography of the countries of North Asia - and Russia in the first place. A special chapter is about Stolypin and his reforms. By the way, they recently started talking about Stolypin, when the idea of distributing land to people in the Far East appeared. How do you yourself feel about this idea? Is it worthy of being called the successor of the Stolypin reform?
- I sharply negatively assess this idea. It is a pity that this proposal was hastily proposed for signature and the approval of the top officials of the state was obtained. Nothing good, except undermining the authority of the authorities, the implementation of such projects will not result. This is a kind of nonsense, a caricature of the ideas of the great Pyotr Stolypin. But our reformers should study his experience very, very carefully.
Stolypin was able to really get the economic processes off the ground, acting in a fierce struggle with powerful people and tragic circumstances. Even the Bolsheviks who came after him and their successors could not completely nullify the fruits of Stolypin's reforms. In the book I am citing an article by Alexander Yakovlev, one of the ideologists of the perestroika reforms. He recalls how, during the events on Damanskoye, he talked with old residents of those places, and they explained: we love Stolypin. He gave us land. And the Soviet government took it away. That's why we don't love her ...
- What measures do you consider the most important first steps?
- If we talk about agriculture, then a reasonable policy of state support can turn the harsh conditions of Siberia and the Far East into advantages. For example, in the agrarian policy of European countries since 1975, a system of financial support for regions with unfavorable climatic conditions has been in effect. If farmers use the natural area of such land for at least five years and at the same time use environmentally friendly technologies, they are allocated compensation (up to 200 euros per hectare). In 1995, an agreement was signed, according to which the WTO members are obliged to guarantee the quality of agro-food products that have special markings of geographical origin (Parma ham, Irish whiskey, champagne, etc.) for other reasons, genetically modified feed and chemical fertilizers are used very little on the farm. There are also famous "brands" - northern fish, caviar, reindeer processed products and much more. The very same organic food, the very products of "geographical origin" for which consumers are now willing to pay much more than for mass food. The same applies to the purest, unique Baikal water. In general, it may turn out to be our priceless capital on the most populated Asian continent, where the water crisis threatens to become much more urgent than the financial or oil crisis. These opportunities need to be used wisely. But it is another matter that aggressive marketing of products, changes in legislation, the provision of new rights to local and regional authorities, and business - benefits and opportunities are required ... And if the aircraft plant, by and large, does not matter where to build, agriculture requires different approaches. In Buryatia, such programs already exist at the regional level - for example, in the development of small villages and farms. But this is a drop in the ocean.
The same approaches are possible to many other aspects of life in the eastern regions of Russia. In almost any area, you need to start with the main thing - with people, so that their life is as comfortable as possible. We must bind them with all our might to the land on which they live. To make attractive what you cannot take with you - to increase salaries, to sell gasoline to the residents of these territories for personal needs one and a half to two times cheaper, to introduce some other benefits. Build roads and research centers, open schools or universities, theaters, libraries.
- But in the East there is already not an open field. Large cities, powerful factories, BAM and Transsib, scientific centers ...
In 1943, the Russian Academy of Education was created, in 1945, on Stalin's instructions, the largest opera and ballet theater was opened in Novosibirsk, in 1949, a similar theater was built in Ulan-Ude by captured Japanese. Stalin did not care deeply about the opinion of the public, the people were not a decree for him. But he understood that when the war was over, people needed to be united and raised with something. New era - 1957th year. The illiterate Khrushchev creates the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences - also realizing that without science you cannot raise Siberia. And what are our literate and educated people doing now? Strictly the opposite is true. They are pumping out resources, holding summits and sports competitions, building gas pipelines, and medicine, education, and cultural life - on a leftover principle. It is enough to recall what is happening to our science and culture now, what spears are breaking around the RAS, what editions are published books and what school textbooks teach ...
- Now Russia is in a difficult international situation and in many respects has to rely only on its own forces. A turn to the East instead of the West - how much is it possible, in your opinion, and what can it give?
- I will again remember Stolypin, who said that Russia has no colonies, but going to the East could have far-reaching strategic consequences. Russia lost the Russo-Japanese War largely due to the lack of railway communication with the center of the country - and "we cannot win with fortresses in the East." Stolypin managed the Russian economy for less than five years in the face of the struggle against the tsarist family, the Duma, opponents, and the threat of terrorism - and nevertheless, the results were colossal. He was told that the Transsib (Amur railway) was going "nowhere" - in the same way as many later were skeptical about BAM. If Pyotr Stolypin had not defended his point of view, we would not have a lot of things now. The road does not have to go “somewhere”, sometimes the opposite is true: there is a road - and then strategically important objects appear around it. In this respect, we are now losing to other Asian countries, and especially China. The Chinese are now going to South Asia, bypassing Russia - through Kazakhstan, Pakistan, etc. If these pipelines, gas pipelines, railways and highways continue to break through like this, we will simply lose the Transsib, it will become useless to anyone. Money has been allocated for BAM now, but things are not shaky or shaky. The gas pipe goes through uninhabited places, bypasses all southern regions - Irkutsk, Chita, Buryatia, and then goes south to China. Otherwise, our gas monopolist is “unprofitable” (I myself heard these words from a high-ranking official). And people from all ten of our eastern provinces "flow away" to the west. And this is actually a disaster. “Given the presence of a densely populated state, neighboring to us,” wrote Pyotr Stolypin more than a hundred years ago, “this outskirts will not remain deserted. A stranger will seep into it, if the Russian does not come there sooner ... If we sleep in a lethargic sleep, this land will be saturated with other people's juices, and when we wake up, maybe it will turn out to be Russian only in name. " I would not want his sad forecast to come true. But so far we have to admit: we are saving on everything, we have even ruined the Selenginsky PPM, there are very few positive examples. And in the PRC there is a program for the development of Northeast China, which is aimed at concrete matters - the construction of 100 new cities along the border, the creation of the country's largest grain base, the search and training of talented children, the link between the village and the city ... By the way, back in the 80s I saw how in the Chinese Heihe, across the river from our Blagoveshchensk, ZIS-5 cars walked along the bank. Now they were filming a historical film, but they could not find a single old fanza for the scenery ...
- In the Federation Council you represent the Republic of Buryatia. The golden rain is clearly not pouring on this region - even though Siberia and the Far East are now officially considered "priorities of state development." And what is a priority for you as a senator and as a scientist when you defend the interests of Buryatia in the upper house of the federal parliament, and not only in it?
Yes, Buryatia is not the richest region. But in Russia in general the situation is strange, if not absurd: we have only 10 donor regions. The rest have to stand with an outstretched hand. Supposedly they are dependents and can only live on subsidies from the center. In fact, this is how the system is structured: an official sits in Moscow, who, figuratively speaking, “turns the tap” and gives money: he gave this to him, but not, let him “deserve”. These are administrative and political things, they have nothing to do with the real potential and capabilities of the subjects of the federation. And I have always said this, and now I will repeat it once again: as long as the system of governance in Russia remains centripetal, there is no need to talk about any economic development. Among other things, also because not everything is so clearly visible "from above" and from the center. For example, we are now fighting with the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East over the implementation of the federal target program “The Far East and the Baikal Region”. The name remained, but we were essentially deleted from it. After appeals to the government, they seem to have included representatives of the republic in the appropriate council, but there is still no big sense. First of all, because this program is just a list of activities that do not have a scientific basis. And everything rests not only on money, which we usually complain about. By and large, there is money. But quite often there is no clear understanding of what they should be spent on in the first place.
- What place can Buryatia play in the all-Russian geopolitical strategy?
- Buryatia is the easternmost national republic on the border with the Buddhist world. Our mission is to be a conductor of eastern ideas to the west and western ideas to the east. We were simply born to be there, because the vast world of the APR countries begins behind us.
It is my deep conviction that it is better not to touch national formations, especially in the east. It is not from the Ryazan region to transfer any region to the Tula region, 20 km away. Other distances, a different course of time - and now the grandmother, due to the fact that the Evenki district was removed from the map, has to go a thousand miles further for a certificate. Or fly by helicopter, because any transport in our country strives to move "through Moscow". Villages and villages are gradually dying, the connection between generations is being lost, traditional Buddhist peacefulness and a host of other vital things are leaving the system of values. Ties are crumbling, traditional crafts are declining, the land is left without owners. Why? Yes, only because it is more convenient for officials to manage. Neighboring countries do not make such a mistake.
- The past 2014 was the Year of Culture. You actively used this opportunity to draw attention to the culture of Buryatia. But the year is over. What's next? And one more question, close to the first. Does the inevitable translation into Russian greatly impoverish Buryat literature, without which its “presentation” to a wide audience simply will not work?
- The answer is simple: you have to pay for everything. The flip side of the fact that Buryatia has science, culture and education mainly in Russian is in many ways the loss of national identity. But in this case, you have to make a choice. Due to the loss of this part of our "I" we have the highest level of education; in the Soviet Union, the Buryats were the third ethnic group after Jews and Georgians in terms of the number of candidates of science, etc. But here's what else is important. For some reason, it is believed that the national culture, especially when it comes to Asian, Eastern, and northern peoples, is only “songs and dances”, “tambourines and shamans”. But folklore is only a small part of the entire cultural "archipelago", which very easily goes under water during general storms. It certainly needs to be preserved, and I consider the current attitude to these problems unacceptable. Compare: in 1990 the Institute of Philology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences published the first book from the series "Folklore of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East" in a dust jacket, with enclosed disks. 10 thousand copies - “Tales and legends of the Evenks”. The year before last, "Tales of the Shors" came out. The circulation is 300 copies. This is the level of funding and the status of the relationship. The Minister of Culture did not even reply to my indignant letter - his assistant only assured that they could "provide us with experts", but, alas, there is no money.
It should be the other way around - it is necessary not only to strengthen the system of universities and research institutes in the eastern regions of Russia, but also to create there training centers for foreign students from Asia and the Far East. For them, the same Ulan-Ude is much closer in mentality than Moscow or St. Petersburg. Then, naturally, they will be able to go wherever they want. But the student years are not forgotten ... By the way, the current ambassador of Vietnam to the Russian Federation studied in Buryatia and in a conversation with me recalled it with obvious pleasure.
- By the way, do you yourself think in what language - in Buryat or in Russian?
- In Russian, for a long time already. Because I was in this environment all the time. Just in time for our conversation about what and for what you have to pay.
- Do you have to translate from Russian to bureaucratic when you perform your official duties? You are, after all, a scientist, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a professor. Politicians and managers have a different vocabulary, much more meager, and a way of thinking. Do you feel such translation difficulties in your daily work?
- Sometimes, I will not dissemble, - yes. Especially when it comes to pressing issues of science, the fate of the atomic fleet, scientific courts, the reorganization of the Russian Academy of Sciences, etc. I am one representative of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Federation Council. We are fighting, proving that it is impossible to keep the Mir deep-sea vehicles without work, which are now out of work in Kaliningrad. I myself dived on them 12 times to the bottom of Lake Baikal, I managed to make discoveries of world significance - and now there is “no money” for all this ... The ship “Akademik Keldysh” carries tourists. The age of directors of scientific institutes (people who founded scientific schools and entire areas) is proposed to limit and thereby decapitate fundamental science, where the price is not young "managers", namely the luminaries, the founding fathers. There are too many such areas on the brink of disaster, where management decisions are made by incompetent people. You feel no less bitterness when there is a discussion of strategically important problems - for example, those related to Lake Baikal, the development of the Northern Sea Route and many others. We recently held a meeting on Arctic problems. I ask the question: "Where do you think the southern borders of the Arctic are?" Some respectable figures lead them along the Arctic Circle, another - along the border of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Yakutia, and others ... in general, both laughter and sin. Another question: Yakutia and Chukotka - is this the Far East or the Arctic? They scratch their heads, think ...
All this, as you know, I have said many times, proved, tried to reach out to powerful people. But all the same I object when I hear: "You will never get through this." Experience teaches me that any effort is bound to bear fruit someday. You just have to repeat them over and over and do not give up.
- And where are you directing your efforts right now?
- I am preparing four bills. One concerns the reorganization of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the system of electing the director of a scientific institution. I believe that he should not be elected by the collective, including the watchmen and guards, but by the researchers. The second law is on environmental education. I insist that for managers of all levels it is a mandatory minimum, which must be passed the exam - a kind of "educational program". The third project deals with the problems of Lake Baikal and its status of a specially protected natural area, the fourth - about the types of permitted economic activities in such places. At present, Baikal has actually become a hostage to its status - you cannot build roads here, expand cemeteries, sell your house - in fact, people cannot live there. And what should they do? They were born here, this is their homeland ... I cite as an example Lake Geneva or the Great American Lakes, where formally no one forbids the construction of even metallurgical or chemical plants. But on the other hand, there are such norms of environmental safety of production that they protect these reserved places and their unique world better than any direct prohibitions.
Arnold Tulokhonov is a member of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, a representative from the executive body of state power of the Republic of Buryatia, a member of the Federation Council committee on science, education, culture and information policy.
Doctor of Geography, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation. He was director of the Baikal Institute of Environmental Management of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, deputy of the People’s Khural of the Republic of Buryatia of the fourth convocation on a non-permanent basis. From 1998 to the present he heads the branch of the Russian Geographical Society in the Republic of Buryatia. Member of the Supervisory Board of the Fund for the Conservation of Lake Baikal, the problems of which are devoted to many of his scientific works and reports at public and political events.Tulokhonov is the author of the book "The Political Geography of North Asia in the Context of Globalization, or How to Equip the Russian Periphery" (Ulan-Ude, "ECOS", 2014), which examines in detail the problems of the political geography of the countries of North Asia, including Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China in within the territory called "Great Steppe". The history and future of Russia in this work is considered from the standpoint of the territorial integrity of the state, determined by the attitude to economic priorities and structural reforms