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Chapter Fourteen— Student Movements: Catalysts for a New Activism
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Chapter Fourteen—
Student Movements:
Catalysts for a New Activism

Alongside the cresting activism of scientific public opinion, the Khrushchev years saw the emergence of student environmental activism. For some, such as the Estonian students at Tartu State University, this activism was tinged with ethnonationalist feelings from the start. For others, particularly in biology programs at the elite universities, it revived prerevolutionary traditions of the studenchestvo (students' special social identity). Exploiting the moral authority traditionally enjoyed by students, activists took direct action against such social "ills" as poaching and also participated in the planning and staffing of protected natural territories. Finally, for a third group concentrated in the somewhat less prestigious engineering and higher technical schools, environmental activism allowed the students to put their newly gained technical knowledge in forestry and other areas to patriotic use, in trying to circumvent the cumbersome, wasteful, and conservative Soviet bureaucratic system. Only later were some members of this group, disillusioned by the bureaucracy's opposition to their efforts, drawn to an ideology of Russian nationalism.

As the professional scientists did, the students used nature protection as the nucleus for their sense of mission and social identity, but they were motivated more by youthful impetuousness and by love of nature than by a sacred ideal of Science. This was true even of the students in the elite biology programs. Despite the fact that the Moscow University Student Brigade for the Protection of Nature was originally sponsored by MOIP, the ideals, social identity, and practice of the new organization diverged from those of the older activists. This divergence demonstrated the impossibility of reproducing the social identity of the scientific intelligentsia under Soviet conditions.

The students' efforts to curb the abuses of the system and to implement


a more conservation-oriented approach to resource management provided an object lesson. Although suffocated by bureaucrats, the students' naive efforts revealed unrecognized contradictions between the Soviet system and widely shared social values. The experience of the students catalyzed the link between nature protection and an awakening antimodernist, xenophobic Russian nativism, helping to bring that larger movement into being.

The Moscow State University Biology—Soil Sciences Student Brigade for Nature Protection

The first university students' nature protection circle in the USSR was founded in Tartu on March 13, 1958, uniting students from Tartu State University and the Estonian Agricultural Academy. "Taking up the initiative of Tartu University," as a recent history put it, the students of the Biology—Soil Sciences Faculty (Biofak) of Moscow State University in 1960 founded the first druzhina (nature protection brigade).[1] The curiously anachronistic designation druzhina was not idly chosen. The chronicles tell us that Prince Vladimir, "who loved his druzhina ," consulted with it about affairs of the land and of war. The druzhina was the circle of closest warriors and counselors of the princes of Kievan Rus', the first line of defense of the Russian lands. "All this is known, of course, only by historians," writes modern-day druzhinnik Ksenia Avilova.

Nevertheless, when the Komsomol enthusiasts, having decided voluntarily and without any thought of gain to defend nature against doltish assaults, called themselves the druzhina as of old, they immediately and precisely defined the sense and thrust of their work: active activity [aktivnaia deiatel'nost '] , struggle, and the protection of Russian nature from evil, from soullessness, and from a lack of care for it. In that way the word druzhina acquired its contemporary meaning, distinguishing itself from all other circles, clubs, and societies that frequently exhibited only the external facade of solidarity.[2]

Vadim Tikhomirov, the druzhina 's faculty adviser, commented on this lexical matter as well: "The very word 'druzhina ' was a happy choice. . . . In it we see reflected the striving for active efforts, for struggle, and not for meditations on nature protection themes. It presumes a certain level of organization and solidarity and, more than anything, a strict sense of civic responsibility [strogaia obshchestvennaia otvetstvennost '] even while preserving the conditions of voluntary enrollment."[3]

That account, however, omits a much more recent antecedent, the druzhinniki , who had just been brought into being by Khrushchëv as part of his vision of a transition of the Soviet Union from a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to an "all-people's state." The Party Program that followed the Twenty-first Party Congress in February 1959 promised that organs of state


power would gradually become organs of public self-administration, in keeping with the withering away of the state that Marx and Engels had promised.[4] One of the first areas selected for this transition by the Soviet chief was the maintenance of public order, and squads of druzhinniki with their telltale red armbands became ubiquitous at sports events, parades, and even university entrance checkpoints following a decree of March 2, 1959, although their experimental precursors date to 1957.[5] The Moscow University druzhina could point to Khrushchëv's druzhiny as a potential source of legitimation while creating a social space for civic activism and public self-administration far more independent than what the state had intended.[6]

The origins of the MGU druzhina actually go back to 1959 as well, when a university student subsection was created under F. N. Petrov's Section on Nature Protection, with the active patronage of the president of MOIP's Biology Division, Nikolai Sergeevich Dorovatovskii, and its secretary, Konstantin Mikhailovich Efron. At the time, the most active student members were Boris Vilenkin, Maria Cherkasova, and V Baranov. "The numerous excursions and trips organized were motivated by the urge to apply the members' personal efforts in the defense of living nature," recalled Vadim Nikolaevich Tikhomirov, one of the subsection's organizers. The students were looking for "active efforts" and "struggle," motivated not by anti-Soviet attitudes but by a fierce impatience with the imperfections of the system. Many were members of the Komsomol who had acquired credentials as "citizens' inspectors" for nature protection. The first student inspections throughout Moscow oblast' to combat poaching and trips to the forest to prevent the logging of fir trees for the New Year date to this MOIP period of the movement.[7] The students proclaimed: "We've had enough talk about purity. Let's start cleaning up!"[8]

Aside from those dramatic undertakings, the students addressed numerous groups, from teachers to factory workers, and organized seminars to upgrade their own knowledge of conservation issues and biology. Through MOIP, they were able to attract speakers of the stature of soil scientist David L'vovich Armand. This exposure to scientific advocacy for nature protection, with all of its customs and rules of polemics and conversation, socialized the students to the social identity of nauchnaia obshchestvennost' .[9] For many students, however, devotion to the older cult of science with its rules and ethical norms had less appeal than the tug of adventure and a life of action.

Spurred by news of independent student organizations in Tartu and Astrakhan (Iu. N. Kurazhkovskii's "For a Leninist Attitude toward Nature," founded earlier in 1960), the students soon went their own way, with the reluctant blessing of the MOIP leaders.[10] Geography played a role in this turn of events. The headquarters of MOIP was on the old campus, in the


Zoological Museum off Manezh Square. However, the students lived and studied at the new campus, miles away on Lenin (Sparrow) Hills. This physical separation facilitated the creation of a distinct student identity.

The development of an autonomous society was quickened by the emergence of a group of exceptionally independent-minded first-year students in Biofak in 1960. As Tikhomirov relates it, "In the majority, they were shaped by having been in the various young naturalist circles: KIuBZ, the VOOP circle led by Petr Petrovich Smolin, and the circle within MOIP led by Anna Petrovna Razorënova. These students led by Evgenii Smantser sought out teachers who were also deeply troubled by problems of nature protection. As a result of the combined efforts of students and faculty came the birth of the druzhina ."[11]

Much like field biology itself, a region of natural science that seemed to draw in those who experienced a special need or delight in studying life in its unfettered condition, the druzhina attracted the most independent, self-reliant, and, it appeared, most sensitive students. They were also, in their own way, those most aware of social wrongs and, on some still dimly conscious level, of the possibility that the Soviet vision had taken a drastically wrong turn. It is likely that no one will improve on the portrait provided to us by druzhina veteran Ksenia Avilova: "It is natural that at the origins of this unique coalescing of youth, born as it were as a sign of the times on the eve of the RSFSR law on the protection of nature, stood individuals who were out of the ordinary. . . . [I] n the far gone days of 1960 this kind of activism with respect to nature was a reflection of an improbably daring, even dangerously bold view of life."[12]

At the October 1960 Komsomol conference of the members in the Biology—Soil Sciences Faculty, the activists secured support for the creation of a druzhina po okhrane prirody (nature protection brigade). On December 13, 1960, at a meeting of the Komsomol of the faculty and nature protection activists, the "fighting brigade" was formally christened. Its first "commander" (komandir ) was biology student Evgenii G. Smantser. Biofak dean Nikolai Pavlovich Naumov named dotsents Vadim Nikolaevich Tikhomirov and Konstantin Nikolaevich Blagosklonov, who later coauthored the first university textbook on nature protection and conservation biology, as the kuratory or faculty advisers of the new group.[13] Both were active in MOIP and VOOP and they were well positioned to convey the old-line tradition to the up-and-coming generation of elite field biologists.

As the "zoological" half of the faculty leadership, Blagosklonov trained the students in the skill of observing bird behavior. The author of an internationally known handbook on the protection and attraction of birds, Blagosklonov had organized "Bird Day" in the 1920s with some Young Naturalist groups. He also supported youth programs such as the Zvenigorod


summer schools, KIuBZ, and VOOP's youth section, in which he continued to be active despite the transformation of VOOP's leadership into a sinecure for retired Communist operatives. Blagosklonov's other great strength was in organization. For more than twenty years he organized biology "Olympics" at Moscow State University, summer camps for nature protection, and a host of other events. He was also an eager propagandist for nature protection, writing innumerable articles and appearing on radio and television.

As the "botanical" half, with particular expertise in floristics and taxonomy, Tikhomirov (see figure 20) was an invaluable guide to the world of vegetation. His students were treated to exhaustive but also exhausting training: two months in the field in Mordvinia on the upper Volga after the first year, geobotanical field work and ecology in the Moscow region after the second, a transzonal field journey south to the Caucasus or Crimea together with soil scientists, and then a 10,000-kilometer odyssey around central Russia, including the southern steppes. Various zapovedniki served as training bases. Nature protection based on a profound scientific knowledge of vegetation was the emphasis. Those who sought to spend their summers sunning themselves on the beaches in Batumi were encouraged to select another area of specialization. The students had to love botany enough to consider a grueling field trip a vacation. Tikhomirov brought more than technical knowledge to the druzhina ; he was its moral compass, with his militancy, personal daring, and charisma.[14]

In those first few months, the druzhina began with a band of forty-two stalwarts, an impressive number for such a risky and dubious cause. In that first cohort, two members were involved with organizing and providing lectures and two more worked with the youth group at MOIP, a residual link to the parent society. Three served on the editorial commission and three more started a separate section concerned with the fight against water pollution. Almost half were involved in the antipoaching patrols, which were later (1974) christened "Operation 'Shot'" (Programma 'Vystrel' ). Instruction and training were a central part of preparing the druzhinniki for this dangerous work. Because the druzhina from the outset was under the aegis of both the Komsomol and VOOP, as members of the latter, druzhinniki were able to get credentialed as "citizens' inspectors for nature protection," which allowed them to apprehend violators of Soviet nature protection and hunting laws and to confiscate their equipment and catch.[15]

Regular antipoaching operations began in earnest in the autumn of 1961. Paraphrasing Smantser's memoirs, Sviatoslav Zabelin described the scene in those days (see figure 21): "In the evening upon the druzhinnikis arrival at the base, the atmosphere was jolly around the far from sober dinner table. But from early morning on followed the inspection, which involved a profusion of confrontations with violators who had no suspicion about the existence of hunting and fishing regulations and relied in all questions on the


Figure 20.
Vadim Nikolaevich Tikhomirov (1932–1998) and
Tat'iana Bek, druzhina komandir  (leader), mid-1960s.

Figure 21.
Druzhinniki  inspecting hunting documents, mid-1960s.


power of their fists and their lungs."[16] On rare occasions the raids ended in tragedy; at least six druzhinniki were shot dead during these hunting checks, creating an aura of danger and responsibility around the druzhiny . The group also conducted raids on the Kalitnikovskii open-air market, detaining those who were putting songbirds up for sale.[17]

Targeting ordinary citizens, albeit lawbreakers, reflected the political immaturity of the druzhina movement. From the standpoint of theory, the movement failed to develop a thoroughgoing socio-politico-economic analysis of the roots of the destruction of natural amenities in their society. From the standpoint of tactics, these raids alienated the great majority of the workaday public from the students. In many cases those who were fined or whose merchandise was confiscated were those toward the bottom of the Soviet social ladder, trying to earn a few rubles or bring back a partridge for the family pot. Despite the physical danger of flushing out poachers, the students were going after relatively minor offenders while major bosses, who were not only poaching but poisoning the rivers, lakes, streams, and air, were conveniently ignored. No wonder the antipoaching campaign alienated the masses from these elite students, as Tikhomirov obliquely recognized: "The attitude to its work on the part of the population was, as a rule, hostile. The activities of the druzhinniki often met with total incomprehension, especially when they affected the personal interests of citizens regarding the use of forests, hunting, or fishing. . . . It was a rare encounter in the forest that concluded without the use of force or some other sort of extreme action, and there were shoot-outs."[18]

The authorities had little use for the student raids, either. "We would frequently hear such outbursts [from them] as 'You what? Defend nature? From whom? From our Soviet person?'" Many officials even considered their cause "harmful."[19]

Even in the Biological Faculty itself, the stronghold of scientific public opinion, some questioned the wisdom of letting the students go off into the woods to catch poachers. Rebutting these misgivings, Tikhomirov emphasized the larger social meaning of the students' activities: "But it was precisely [these questions] that demonstrated that [the critics] had completely failed to understand that our foremost task was the socialization of these future specialists, forging their intellectual and political outlooks as well as molding them as citizens."[20]

By the group's official first anniversary in December 1961, a conference had been organized on the emerging problems surrounding Lake Baikal, a rather large and impassioned meeting held on the forestry experiment "Kedrograd" in the Altai, and four wall newspapers published. And Tikhomirov thought that it was time to create druzhiny in other higher educational institutions around the USSR.[21]

The next year's activities saw the New Year's tree campaign move to


Moscow railroad stations where, with the knowledge and cooperation of the stationmaster and militia, buyers and sellers alike were apprehended; in all, 800 trees were seized. It also marked an inconclusive attempt by the Komsomol of Biofak to disown the druzhina by preventing it from delivering its annual report. This and an investigation in November 1962 by the Party Committee were potentially damaging.[22] But the druzhina weathered these squalls, mainly thanks to the support of Naumov and his faculty, again demonstrating the ideals of obshchestvennost' in action.[23]

By the following year, the Party Committee of Biofak was showering the druzhina with compliments despite a few uncomfortable moments in early 1964 when apparently drunken druzhinniki on a trip to the Kyzyl-Agachskii zapovednik in Azerbaijan even engaged in some poaching themselves. Routines developed as komandiri and other posts were rotated every year. The campaigns netted increasing numbers of violators (see figure 22), and the druzhina became a visible and important institution in Moscow University's student scene, even if membership remained modest.

Like its parent, the druzhina was a counterculture. Dmitrii Nikolaevich Kavtaradze, a former leader of the group during the early 1970s, compared it to a "military unit." "Some people were influenced by it to such an extent that the whole course of their lives was altered."[24] Group loyalty was especially great in the druzhina (see figure 23)—partly because so many of its members had already been socialized in the VOOP and MOIP youth groups and in KIuBZ. The geologist Pavel Vasil'evich Florenskii, who had been in KIuBZ, speculated that this powerful bonding ethic had its origins in the brotherhood of the Tsarskoe Selo Lycée and in later traditions of solidarity within university student culture (studenchestvo ).

In the words of Oleg Ianitskii, the druzhina and its later offshoots were spreading "the 'small is beautiful' virus" in a system based on gigantomania. Inevitably this generated tension between the druzhiny and their official sponsors in the Komsomol and VOOP. As Ianitskii notes, "Under our conditions, these contacts did not in any sense amount to a compromise between the two sides; each was playing its own game. The people from the system considered that the independent organizations could be held in check, and that they were a useful valve for letting off the steam of popular dissatisfaction. The club leaders hoped that as they gained more muscle, they would gradually reconstruct the System from within."[25]

The Kedrograd Experiment

In Leningrad another influential youth group arose during the Khrushchëv "thaw" of the mid to late 1950s. Ever since the first Five-Year Plan, the Soviet state had been taking large numbers of workers' and farmworkers' children


Figure 22.
V. N. Tikhomirov detains poachers.


Figure 23.
Druzhinniki  at leisure, perhaps singing songs of Bulat Okudzhava.

and propelling them into new lives after their training in technical and engineering schools. As Sheila Fitzpatrick has observed, despite the privations of their school years, these students were often grateful to the regime for the opportunity for significant upward mobility. They were the system's, and Stalin's own, loyal constituency.[26] A discernible sociological gulf emerged between the mass of poorer students at the technical universities and the jeunesse dorée and hereditary intelligentsia at Moscow and Leningrad state universities and other elite schools.

At the Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy, one of these students of modest background was called "the dreamer." Described as a serious, "greyeyed, slightly wild-looking Siberian who, according to his passport, [was] called Fotei," Sergei Shipunov was rechristened by his classmates, who asserted "that such a name did not exist."[27] Although a silent, intense young man habitually "glued motionless to a book in the evenings,"[28] Shipunov became popular because after graduating from technical high school (tekhnikum ) he had worked a stint as a forester and knew the forests better than any of his peers. He also accrued greater authority owing to his independence and to his severely categorical judgments. Classmates also envied his habit of taking from books and lectures only what he needed. It was machismo with an angry Russian twist.


Shipunov and his friend Vitalii Feodos'evich Parfënov were elected to the faculty bureau of the Komsomol, where Shipunov became secretary. Soon, though, Shipunov was generating sparks. "He was excessively unbending and dealt with people too highhandedly," wrote the journalist and novelist Vladimir Chivilikhin. "He wanted to remake too much his own way and this frequently generated conflicts in the faculty." It was not long before he was called into the dean's office because he had announced that the students were being taught subjects that had little bearing on their future practical work and even had leaflets printed and distributed at nearby forestry plantations. "You're taking a lot on yourself, Shipunov!" snapped the dean. "In short, we have given the order to return your underground leaflets from the leskhozy [Soviet forest plantations]."[29] Shipunov did not bend. His response was to publish a biting article in one newspaper on how forests were being improperly cut in Leningrad oblast'and on the poor preparation of new foresters.[30] His friends tried to tone down his contentiousness, but it proved resistant to alteration right to the end of his life.

In the fall of 1957 Sergei was elected to the academy's Komsomol Executive Committee. By this time, he had become inextricably associated with his "dream" to establish a model forest plantation in the Altai Mountains in order to harvest the secondary products—squirrels, sable, deer, and some game fowl, as well as mushrooms, berries, and pine nuts—of the Siberian stone pine or "cedar" (kedr ) forest there. Only sick trees would be logged to preserve the health of the forest complex. Although some derided his dream as "utopian," others such as Parfëno, Lesha Isakov, Kolia Novozhilov, and Vladimir Ivakhnenko shared it.[31]

More than thirty years earlier, there had been similar plans for the sustainable utilization of the Altai's "cedar" forests. Sometimes called "chudoderevo " (wonder tree), "khlebnoe derevo " (the bread tree), "derevo-korova " (the tree-cow), or "derevo-kombinat " (the multiproduct/multiple services tree), the Siberian stone pine has long been known to be a good source of pine tar, bal'zam (resin), vitamins, nuts, wood, bark for corks and pigments, roots for wickerwork, and a prime habitat for economically valuable plants and animals.[32]

Cedar nuts constituted 50 percent by weight of all the trade traffic heading toward the iarmarki (fairs) of Irbit and Nizhnyi and constituted more than one quarter of the traffic by weight on the Trans-Siberian Railroad before the First World War; average yearly shipments were 189,000 puds (6,840,000 lbs.) during the period 1899–1908.[33] The "wonder tree" had also attracted the attention of curious lay polymaths such as V. Tatishchev in the eighteenth century—he described them in his journals—and later of a number of professional botanists and academic forestry specialists, including Sukachëv. Obviously no ordinary tree, the "cedar" had already be-


come a symbol of Siberia's economic potential and the richness of its natural resources by the time the Bolsheviks assumed power.

The Bolsheviks' early rhetorical commitment to rational resource management emboldened those who sought to restrain the accelerating tempo of resource exploitation.[34] At the end of the 1920s inside the system of consumer co-ops seven multiple-use cedar plantation-complexes were planned but only one, in the Gornyi Altai (Altai Mountains)—the Karakokshinskii cedar plantation—was organized, and that only lasted two years, going down in 1933. One reason for the failure of the venture was that there was not enough work year round; the project's planners had failed to diversify.[35]

When, after a hiatus of more than twenty years, the students of the Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy returned to the problem of the sustainable use of the cedar forests, they did so armed with their professional training as foresters but also with the knowledge of the cause of the previous venture's failure. Their plan for multiple use, which they dubbed "Kedrograd" (cedar city), included tapping spruce sap (for turpentine), grinding pine-needles to produce vitamins, bee-keeping, gardening, some agriculture, and limited logging, predominantly sanitary. This was the base for year-round activity on which the superstructure, based on harvesting nuts, berries, mushrooms, and pelts, would be erected. Logging would be allowed only if it enhanced, rather than undermined, the overall sustainable economic regime, and could not be done when it would disrupt the reproduction of wildlife. "All this was impossible to attain given existing practices, where the numerous forest users . . . worked autonomously, guided only by their entrenched bureaucratic interests," noted Parfënov; he and his young colleagues were going to reform the system, however, and help it regain the true path to Communism.[36]

Professionally, the students' ideas about forest structure were strongly influenced by the holistic ideas of Georgii Fëdorovich Morozov, Sukachëv's teacher and a proponent of the idea that there existed "forest types" that were relatively closed and self-reproducing, not unlike Sukachëv's later elaboration in his concept of the "biogeocenosis."[37] The cedar forest, accordingly, was considered one such bounded "type." Unlike Sukachëv, however, the students absorbed the post-Stalin Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy's commitment to the principles of rational resource use (sustainable use) and rejected the idea of "placing nature under lock and key." This pragmatic orientation distinguished the graduates and students of the Leningrad Technical Forestry Academy from the druzhinniki of MGU Biofak.[38]

Shipunov's "dream" was not subversive; he and his fellow students were seeking only to make Communism arrive faster by making production less wasteful and more efficient. Shipunov's vision of nature was a workshop, not a temple. His dream was that of a Soviet patriot. Seeking support,


Shipunov went to Moscow. Not wanting to alienate the ardent young students, officials extended their support; they included A. F. Mukin, head of the Forest Division of the RSFSR Ministry of Agriculture, as well as P. F. Kaplan of Gosplan RSFSR. Sergei Andreevich Khlatin of the Main Forestry Administration of the RSFSR in particular became the student's patron.[39]

Back at the Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy, some professors also gave the students warm support. One respected and popular professor of geodesy and surveying, Gubin, offered one month's salary to help pay for the reconnaissance expedition. In addition, Professor Gubin wrote a letter supporting the expedition to select the specific territory for the forest plantation. Alas, Gubin, who was too solicitous of the students' living conditions, went over budgetary allowances in his division and it was decided to remove him for "gross violations of financial rules."[40]

Sergei Shipunov, as a member of the Komsomol Committee of the Academy, decided either from "pigheadedness" or from "inexperience" to defend Professor Gubin. Despite intense pressure from the head of the Central Committee of the Komsomol, Oleg Maksimovich Poptsov (who later became editor of Sel'skaia Molodëzh' and after 1993 served for a time as director of Russian TV), as the member of the Committee with responsibility for student life Shipunov continued publicly to speak out. In fact, he provided his own "interpretation" of the meeting of the Komsomol Committee, making it appear that the committee was much more militantly opposed to Gubin's dismissal than in fact it was. Responding to Shipunov's call and organized from within the faculty where Parfënov was Komsomol representative, within twenty-four hours at an agreed-upon time almost all the students walked out of classes in protest at the professor's dismissal. Some instructors walked out with the students.[41]

However, the case did not end there. The district committee of the Komsomol intervened, "frightened that, in the academy, some sort of student 'circle' [gruppok ] had organized. Not getting down to the details, the bureau of the raikom expelled Sergei as well."[42] A week later, Shipunov's baccalaureate thesis defense was scheduled to take place. When he arrived, he read an order on the door expelling him from the academy, and was told to report to the Komsomol district committee. He was asked to surrender his Komsomol membership card, refused, and disappeared. Even his father did not know his whereabouts.[43]

A "political conspiracy" was alleged. "This is what the thaw has turned into," complained irate administrators as they kicked Shipunov out of the academy. Parfënov was given a warning from the deputy director of the USSR Federal Forest Service, who was on the faculty bureau. Gubin was falsely accused of "incitement."[44]

After graduation Parfënov organized the expedition alone; all the other


students received their diplomas and went home. However, all was not lost. They indicated a readiness to go to the Altai when called. So, when Parfënov arrived in the Altai in the summer of 1959, Sergei Shipunov showed up in September along with Ivakhnenko. And when Sergei Khlatin traveled to Choia to supervise, the young graduates knew that things were really underway.[45]

At first, local officials in the Altai as well as the faculty were supportive, either out of conviction or because they sought to humor the students and graduates, thinking that nothing would ultimately come of their scheming and dreaming. Among the genuine supporters was Roman Aleksandrovich Dorokhov, deputy chairman of the Altai kraiispolkom , who soon became the provincial Party first secretary of the Gorno-Altai oblast' . Sadly, he died in 1963 and was replaced by an enemy of the project.[46] Another important source of support was the Scientific Council of the faculty of the Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy, which met on March 6, 1959 and gave the project its blessing too after hearing a presentation by Shipunov.[47]

Of course, there were some early nay-sayers, such as academic forester A. D. Kovalevskii, who worked in the Central Black-Earth zapovednik , who wrote an article in Nash sovremennik that Kedrograd was all too theoretical and abstract.[48] This was countered by Feliks Kuznetsov, who defended the students (he later became the head of the Union of Russian Writers), and by Parfënov, who was given space in the journal two issues later.[49] Articles defending Kedrograd appeared in the student newspapers of the Moscow Aviation Institute and the Sverdlovsk Technical Forestry Institute, to name two.

As the saga of "Kedrograd" gained wider notice in Komsomol circles, in part owing to Shipunov's notoriety, the science editor of Komsomol'skaia pravda , Vladimir Alekseevich Chivilikhin, a Siberian, decided to cover the story himself. While Chivilikhin was preparing his story for press on December 28, 1959, the RSFSR Council of Ministers issued order no. 8285-R, setting aside 71,400 hectares for the experimental plantation. It was a huge victory for the students.[50]

Meanwhile, romance intervened to commingle the two very different traditions of student activism exemplified by the Moscow and Leningrad groups. At an all-Union conference of biology students, held at Moscow State University, which Parfënov and Shipunov attended, Shipunov made the acquaintance of Maria Valentinovna Cherkasova, a twenty-one-year-old zoology student at Moscow University.[51] Cherkasova, daughter of an engineer and a music teacher, was a child of the Moscow intelligentsia and was socialized to scientific public opinion. "When I was ten years old," she told Oleg Ianitskii in an interview, "I joined KIuBZ, of which Aleksei Iablokov, Nikolai Vorontsov, and other well-known biologists were members. My first


teacher was the unforgettable Pëtr Smolin, who had an amazing knowledge of birds and a great love for them—all my life I've remembered the excursions we made with him into the woods in springtime."[52] It was almost inevitable that she should enter the Biology and Soil Sciences Faculty of Moscow University after graduating from high school. She could not have picked a more intense time of intellectual ferment, and Biofak was at its epicenter. Recalling her conversion to nature protection activism, Cherkasova said: "My enlightenment came during the so-called Khrushchëv 'thaw.' I attended the lectures of David Armand, who had returned from imprisonment and had quickly published his first brilliant book on nature conservation, For Us and Our Grandchildren . These lectures were a revelation to me. I'm also greatly indebted to Vadim Tikhomirov, who played a huge role in educating the students of biology at the university."[53]

Shipunov's family, on the other hand, was decidedly nonelite; his father was a forester in Siberia and lived simply. Despite their differences in background, they became romantically involved. In February 1960 Cherkasova led six other biology students from Moscow University to Uimen', the plantation's first "capital," where they conducted a census of maral deer, registering 200. In that group of Moscow University students were some of the core organizers of the druzhina , including Cherkasova, which was officially inaugurated in December.

Official approval was not enough to secure the project. It took seven visits to Moscow by Shipunov, plus countless trips to Barnaul and Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the province (krai ), to get the boundaries set and the local loggers off the territory. But after the publication of Chivilikhin's passionate saga of the birth of Kedrograd, "Roar, Taiga, Roar!" in the February 14, 1960 issue of Komsomol'skaia pravda , public opinion began to respond in an unexpectedly big way. Letters came pouring in from scientists, hunting experts, students, and workers, as well as members of the military.[54] Gifts came too, such as the 100 rubles from an anonymous engineer "to sweeten things up a little for the young kedrogradtsy ."[55]

On April 7, 1960 at Moscow University's Biology and Soil Sciences Faculty a small conference was convened on Kedrograd with talks by S. A. Khlatin, Maria Shipunova-Cherkasova (who had married Shipunov), and G. V. Kuznetsov, attended by the academician A. S. Iablokov of VASKhNIL (the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences), a big supporter.[56] Soon thereafter, in the fall there was a "tumultuous" Komsomol meeting on Kedrograd at Moscow University, where future druzhina members dominated with speeches supporting the experiment.[57] When the druzhina of Moscow University was formally organized later in the year, it officially pledged its methodological assistance and leadership (shefstvo ) to Kedrograd, a move that, although welcomed, may also have been perceived by the Leningraders as annoyingly patronizing.


Particularly striking was the reaction Kedrograd stirred among students of the USSR's other engineering and technical schools. That first year, students of the Moscow Aviation Institute organized an aid convoy to the Altai, while the next year the baton was passed to the Moscow Energetics Institute. Technical schools in Leningrad, Biisk, Voronezh, Krasnoiarsk, and other cities rallied as well. Thousands participated in the "Movement to Help Kedrograd." Summer student brigades formed autonomously, arranging travel to the Altai through the Central Committee of the Komsomol. It was nicknamed the "Virgin Lands of the Taiga" in the spirit of Khrushchëv's much-touted campaign to the west. Competitions were held to select the students best at wielding an ax and a rifle. Hundreds came during the summer. Nikolai Pavlovich Telegin, a talented forester, transferred from Perm' and was named official project director for three years by the government. Iurii Nikolaevich Kurazhkovskii, an Astrakhan' professor who had pioneered a movement there for "rational resource use" (ratsional'noe prirodopol'zovanie ), worked in Kedrograd as deputy director for science in 1960–1961, and in 1962–1964 as an instructor in the Gorno-Altai Pedagogical Institute, at the invitation and pleading of the kedrogradtsy . Kedrograd was a social phenomenon capable of motivating established professionals as well as students to uproot their lives and to live in the most rudimentary conditions.[58]

Paradoxes abounded in the opening year of Kedrograd's operation. After the komandiri of the Brigades to Aid Kedrograd of the Moscow Aviation Institute and of the Forestry Technical Institute traveled to Uimen', they, like Shipunov, were thrown out of the Komsomol. Yet funding for their travel came from the Komsomol's Central Committee.[59] On the surface, the forestry bureaucrats supported the plan, but they often failed to adopt practical measures to effectuate it, revealing their true attitudes. "After the appearance of Chivilikhin's 'Roar, Taiga, Roar!' the really serious complications in our lives began in earnest," recalled Parfënov. "The bureaucrats understood that they would either have to accept the blame for mismanaging forest resources or destroy Kedrograd." Consequently, the years from October 1961 to 1975 constituted a protracted "bloody war."[60] There were a number of causes of the "progressive paralysis" (Chivilikhin's expression) of Kedrograd, "but the main one was that the essentially progressive idea of multiple use of the cedar forests could not fit into the organizationalplanning structure of the economics of that time, when all around sectorialbureaucratic monopolism held sway in the area of resource exploitation."[61]

However, the young forestry graduates' education about the system had only begun. Not even a year had gone by when the first "knockout punch" was delivered by the bureaucrats in December 1960. One frosty day a commission drawn from oblast' organizations showed up at the "Kedrograd" encampment at Uimen' and announced a lawsuit against Kedrograd for illegal


nut-harvesting. First, the commission charged that Kedrograd was paying workers a higher price per ton than the rate set by the oblast' government, a disparity that could draw workers away from neighboring plantations and constituted illegal competition. (Strangely, the commission did not take into account that the only harvesters were members of Kedrograd or those who resided in its territory.) Second, the commission pronounced that "foresters" had no legal right to harvest ancillary forest products such as pelts because harvesting was the monopoly privilege of consumer cooperatives (and later, from 1961, of Glavokhota RSFSR and its local agents). With the backing of provincial authorities, the commission sequestered the harvest of cedar nuts in Kedrograd's storage sheds and the project's income flow dried up.[62]

Chivilikhin reported the incident with quiet fury in "The Taiga is Roaring," published in 1961. He let the actions of the authorities speak for themselves:

In Uimen' there were some violations of harvesting regulations. Rather than correct these mistakes of the young komsomols in timely fashion the oblispolkom kept silent until December. And then suddenly there was a decision: to sequester all the nuts and to impose a fine of 400,000 rubles on the enterprise, in the meantime seizing the 257,000 rubles that the kedrogradtsy had in their account. The acting director, Anatolii Malakhovskii, and chief engineer, Vitalii Parfënov, went to Moscow —to the State Arbitration Bureau [Gosarbitrazh ] in the Ministry of Finance After a lengthy review, the violation was found to be trivial and an order was given to erase the fine and rescind the sequestration. But how to return the 257,000 rubles now that the financial year had ended? "Clever" folks knew when to impose a fine. The youths did not receive their salaries for two months and organized debt lists in the cafeteria. For them it is a time not willingly recalled.[63]

Indeed, one participant recalled the incident thirty-five years later only with great pain:

The consequences for the kedrogradtsy were tragic. The deep wound bled for many years and it is difficult to overestimate the moral blow inflicted on these young people who had come to tame the "virgin lands of the taiga." The legal action initiated by the financial organs of the oblast' led to the immediate imposition of a fine of Kedrograd's entire property and money on hand—404,000 rubles. As it later was revealed, this money went to pay employees of the oblast' , while the kedrogradtsy were left without a cent on the eve of the New Year and hadn't received salaries in months. . . . Hunger began to stalk this inaccessible taiga settlement in the mountains. Lack of experience and deep snow cover thwarted their efforts to catch maral deer for food. With no way out, the youths were driven to catch and eat dogs.[64]

With no expectation of this kind of persecution, the kedrogradtsy were at first bewildered and terribly hurt: "There was no answer to their ques-


tions: Where were the authorities? Where was the Komsomol? Where was the concern about the human being, propagandized at school? Where was common sense in the capricious actions the authorities permitted themselves? Attempts to demonstrate the stupidity of the bureaucratic claims . . . and to convince the leaders of the oblast' to rescind the fine and return the money, to not allow the faith in Kedrograd and the [youths'] patriotism to be lost came to nothing."[65]

As the representative of the Kedrograd Komsomol Committee, Parfënov had to go to Moscow, where a conference attended by the press and the public pressured the State Arbitration Bureau to rescind the fine and to return the nuts and the money. "Justice seemed to triumph, but the financial organs [of the oblast' ] never did return the money, noting that the financial year had already ended," commented Parfënov. The oblast' authorities "exploited their monopoly of bureaucratic power to enrich their coffers." Dozens of disillusioned youths quit the project and abandoned the taiga.[66]

Such an eruption of aggressive local bureaucratic opposition—from forest plantations, other land users, and provincial bosses—proved to be the first phase of the real, "hands-on" education in Soviet political economy for these ardent, sincerely devoted Young Communists:

This history, however, permitted us—and not only kedrogradtsy —to reach a number of fundamental conclusions. The awareness that in the depths of the conservative economic system based on bureaucratic foundations exist economic, social, and moral contradictions demanded a focused analysis of decisions taken in the area of resource use. It was obvious that Kedrograd touched on bigger questions than simply a responsible approach to the resources of the cedarwoods taiga, and could not succeed without help from the center.[67]

The kedrogradtsy's faith in the system, in the "center," in the existence of a "good tsar" was still unbroken. That faith was sustained by a number of decisions taken in Moscow. The RSFSR Council of Ministers now ruled that the all-Union consumer cooperative Tsentrosoiuz had to allow Kedrograd to harvest and sell ancillary products of the taiga as an exception to its monopoly. At the same time, Uimen' was legally given over to Kedrograd from the neighboring Karakokshinskii plantation. Kedrograd's territory was increased to 298,000 hectares and later that year to 400,000. Protests from loggers were dismissed by the Russian Republic government.[68]

Infuriated, the local bureaucratic interests wanted more than ever to eliminate Kedrograd. Desire for revenge intensified after Chivilikhin's reportage, which inflamed public opinion and created a wave of sympathy for the students. A flood of letters inundated the Gornyi-Altai obkom provincial committee) of the Party protesting the unfair treatment of the youths. Even more impressive, monetary and material contributions were sent to


the kedrogradtsy from people across the USSR. One woman from Voronezh wrote that her family circle decided to send 2,000 rubles in savings to the youths "because we love our country's nature." From contributions a library of 3,000 books was assembled.[69] At Moscow State University, other universities, and a host of engineering schools, committees sprang up in defense of Kedrograd. Perhaps the most flamboyant gesture of support came from cosmonaut Iurii Gagarin, who selected "kedr " as his "handle" in his first flight (a gesture doubtless lost on foreign commentators and intelligence gatherers). "Gornyi Altai unexpectedly became the center of attention of the whole country, and the Altai cedar the symbol of an honorable relationship with nature."[70]

But the center's support for Kedrograd lacked conviction. The year 1962 should have been very profitable. When the kedrogradtsy went to total up their first profits, however, they found that the bank account was empty: their earnings had been expropriated by the deputy director of Glavleskhoz RSFSR (the RSFSR Main Forestry Administration), Nikiforov, to support a group of specialists from Moscow working on a "minor problem" involving the use of cedar forests. As a result, the enterprise sustained a small loss for the fiscal year.[71] At the start of the season, the Altai Regional Forestry Administration, in whose jurisdiction Kedrograd had been placed by the RSFSR Main Forestry Administration, cut off all operating funds. By way of "compensation," the head of the regional forestry administration, Vashkevich, dispatched about two hundred people to Kedrograd "from steppe forest plantations who had not laid eyes on a cedar since they were born. The nut harvest was subverted," or at least that was Vashkevich's hope.[72]

In Barnaul, Vashkevich tried to abort an interdisciplinary conference of scientists, foresters, and planners to put the basic elements of the technical plan for Kedrograd into final shape. "Vashkevich flatly announced: 'There will be no such "plan." Everyone go home!' The conference, of course, took place anyway. However, Vashkevich did not give up."[73]

Aside from this act of resistance, there were defectors even among Vashkevich's subordinates. One specialist, N. Zhideev, volunteered to become the director of the new enterprise "so that I will have done something good for the forest before I retire," he told Chivilikhin. Even in the face of Vashkevich's attempt to undermine the nut harvest, Kedrograd registered a profit of 78,000 rubles in 1963 as against losses of 150,000 and 400,000 rubles for the neighboring timbering concerns.[74]

This kind of success was hard to ignore, and chief forest engineer Parfënov was awarded a certificate of merit by the Altai kraikom (regional committee) of the Party. (Shipunov, who balked at accepting the post of deputy director of Kedrograd, had already parted company with his brainchild.) Parfënov was even the star speaker at a major conference in Moscow on the cedar forests along with experts such as Prof. Boris P. Kolesnikov, who


warned that those forests would soon be wiped out if practices outside of Kedrograd did not change.[75]

Speaking for the collective, Parfënov proclaimed Kedrograd's resolve to resist in the national press. Writing in Komsomol'skaia pravda , he described chopping down a living cedar as "the same as doing in a cow for the sake of its bones. For that reason it has lately become the symbol of the struggle for the rational exploitation of the taiga."[76] "One particular complication," he explained, "has been the fact that from the get go we have been directed to fulfill a production program." Even so, he noted, with skillful adjustments the settlers had been able to make the timber cuts, hunt, and harvest nuts, taking 1,000 sable and 10,000 squirrels in just the calendar year 1962.[77] The kedrogradtsy still pinned their hopes on the central authorities, who they hoped would rein in the local logging interests and eliminate the production quotas. Ultimately, they saw Kedrograd as a heroic model for forestry, "a laboratory in nature, a base from which innovations can spread all across Siberia." However, they were beginning to suspect that the central authorities might not be as sincere supporters of Kedrograd as they had once assumed:

If the Main Forestry Administration does not want or cannot immediately organize one or several multiuse plantations in Siberia, it is still within its power to put an end to the attempts of several local authorities . . . to extend logging in the cedar taiga, to force us to increase our timber cuts at the expense of living trees, to cut us down at the knees. . . . And is it not high time for Glavleskhoz not only to take notice but to take steps to defend the cedar taiga from the saw and the ax?[78]

Parfënov's article ended with Komsomol bravado: "Whatever may come, our Kedrograd will live, for we are now firmly on our feet." But not even the most attentive of kedrogradtsy suspected how institutionally isolated they really were.

"At the very moment that V. Parfënov addressed the conference," wrote Chivilikhin, "Kedrograd for all practical purposes had already ceased to exist. The head of the RSFSR Main Forest Administration, Comrade [ Mikhail Mikhailovich] Bochkarëv, signed a decree directing the transfer of the richest cedar taiga to logging enterprises. The brand new settlement, the technology, the roads, and, most important of all, the marvelous cedar groves were handed over to the Karakokshinskii forestry plantation."[79] These stands were densely stocked with squirrel, sable, and maral deer; their loss devastated Kedrograd's ancillary hunting sector. "Despite protests, and pleas from the kedrogradtsy , wrote an embittered Chivilikhin, "Comrade Bochkarëv was unshakable. The order was signed and discussion was closed." The only compensation offered by Bochkarëv was to permit Kedrograd to relocate to Koldor, a place of inaccessible cliffs and a swampy delta—"no place to even


pitch a tent."[80] At that point Parfënov asked to relocate to Iogach, which had run up the 400,000-ruble deficit. "M. Bochkarëv graciously acceded," noted Chivilikhin facetiously.

The bureaucrats tried to force the kedrogradtsy to abandon their experiment by tormenting them in every possible way. A week after Bochkarëv agreed to the relocation, his local vicegerent Vashkevich showed up, removed the sympathetic Zhideev as director and demoted Chief Engineer Parfënov to a humiliatingly minor position in Iogach. "Then he set to work on the other specialists," wrote Chivilikhin.

He called them in one at a time, spreading slander and using threats and flattery, he offered them higher salaries and bigger apartments, but . . . in other leskhozpromy [forestry plantations] of the region. Not going along, our fellows stood like a rock. Here in front of me is a declaration signed by thirteen engineers of Kedrograd. They turned down these higher salaries and apartments because they "came to Gornyi Altai in order to create a multiuse enterprise" and ask (ask!) that they be allowed to work together in one place. It is impossible to hold such a document in one's hands without becoming incensed. My goodness, we should be nurturing such people, not breaking their spirit![81]

To add insult to injury, "Vashkevich haughtily served the [Kedrograd forest engineers] an infeasible production plan of cuts, forcing them to shave bare the upper reaches of the Bii River and part of the Teletskoe lakefront."[82] He was able to do this because the Altai krai was the only region of Siberia where commercial logging was carried out by forestry organs, which were normally supposed to concern themselves with forest protection . In the Altai, where the protective and extractive bureaucracies were merged into one, the logging mentality thoroughly dominated. Politically dependent on the major economic and political bosses of the region, local papers were pressured to label Kedrograd "a kindergarten for adults" (vzroslyi detskii sad ) and other names.[83]

To justify the expropriations, demotions, and harassment, Bochkarëv charged that Kedrograd was unable to pay its own way, despite its track record of the first three years. He even encouraged a correspondent from the popular newsmagazine Vokrug sveta to go to the Altai and to write a story on the experiment, casting doubts on its viability. The reporter asked to be able to spend six days in the field on the lower slopes. He was shown everything and, once back in Moscow, he decided to write what he saw. As a result of his personal revolt of conscience he was fired from Vokrug sveta and went unemployed for a number of years.[84]

Despite the privations, the alliance between local and central bureaucrats, the relocations, demotions, and expropriations, the young forest engineers hung on. They were supported by a massive wave of public opinion, led by the journalist Vladimir Chivilikhin. And they increasingly understood their struggle to be one between "good" and "evil."


Whereas initial local opposition to their project had provided an introduction to the political economy of the Soviet system, the collusion of Mikhail Mikhailovich Bochkarëv and the RSFSR Main Forestry Administration, which was supposed to be the forests' defender, raised the kedrogadtsy's education to a more advanced level. In a biting piece on the fifth anniversary of Kedrograd, published in Literaturnaia gazeta in January 1965, Chivilikhin raised the troubling possibility that the entire system was incapable of organizing the truly rational use of the country's resources:

How could it happen, for instance, that forests—which are the property of the whole people and the state—have now become parceled out in an almost unmonitored state to republican, inter-oblast' , and oblast' organizations and into the hands of specialized logging enterprises and co-ops? And why was it several years back that half a dozen forestry vuzy and many tekhnikumy were closed down? Can it really be that the astronomical figures of annual forest growth, which the logging agencies up to now have officially manipulated so as to justify current rapacious levels of logging, have convinced us all that the Russian forests will never be exhausted?[85]

Reticent to criticize the center, Chivilikhin still had to point the finger at the local extractive interests that were manipulating data. Yet, who gave them the latitude to create these pernicious fiefdoms? Who allowed the institutes and technical schools to close down? How deep did the sickness go? In his 1967 speech to the fifteenth Komsomol Congress, Chivilikhin revealed that the once idealistic youths of Kedrograd had also begun to ponder why their experiment was foundering on the shoals of Soviet realities. Their conclusions, it seemed, now pointed to a pervasive malaise of Soviet official culture:

The forest engineers of Kedrograd, serious, hardy lads fully devoted to our ideals, write to me: "On the basis of our six-year experience we have come to the definite conclusion that no 'cedar problem' exists in Siberia, but there is a problem of institutional narrowness and bureaucratism, a struggle with those who hide from taking responsibility for their actions and with the spinners of red tape. That is, the scientific and economic problem is fused with a social one."[86]

Bureaucratic obstructionism and, at times, outright malice had taken the luster off Khrushchëv's attempt to breathe new life into the Communist ideal. Idealists frustrated or crushed by the system now dared to question the structure of the Soviet social order. For many of the kedrogradtsy and their supporters, the "battle for Kedrograd" catalyzed their eventual transformation from Soviet patriots and Communist idealists to Russian nationalists and even embittered chauvinists. The best embodiment of this redirection of loyalties may be found in the subsequent career of Vladimir Chivilikhin, who wedded the protection of the taiga, archetypal "Russian nature," to the preservation of a Russian culture thought to be under mortal threat.


Vladimir Alekseevich Chivilikhin

"Have you turned your attention to the way in which Vladimir Chivilikhin ends his essays on the Siberian woods?" asks Aleksandr Petrovich Kazarkin, a critic and docent at Kemerovo State University. "Double and triple afterwords and epilogues—that is, a chronicle of ever-mounting calamity. Is that not why the two-volume Pamiat 'exploded in the popular consciousness, because the novel struck a nerve regarding a superproblem—the prehistory of the ecological crisis?"[87]

Like the ethnographer Lev Gumilëv, Chivilikhin believed that the major sources of life and hope and meaning are the people's national memory, especially their shared environmental experience. "The Russian people have never lived without forests and can never do so," insisted Chivilikhin.[88]

Chivilikhin was not always the Russian nationalist–environmental determinist of his later works, particularly Pamiat , which won him a USSR State Prize in 1982. He began as a Soviet patriot, in the very thick of the Komsomol movement—a journalist and then editor of the newspaper Komsomol'skaia pravda . Nonetheless, his provincial Siberian background provided the seeds of Russian chauvinism. Born in the coal-rich Kuzbas of southwest Siberia, he studied in Mariinsk and Taiga before completing his education at Moscow State University. One of his earliest literary heroes and models was Leonid Leonov, who began to smuggle in themes of "Russian" nature from the late 1940s.[89] Chivilikhin was already influenced by an incipient body of works in Russian letters voicing the tragic trope of the desecration of the Russian land and of heroic efforts to save that land. But, like Leonov, Chivilikhin had not yet disentangled the two not always compatible ideologies of Soviet patriotism and Russian nationalism. Only as a result of the bruising struggle over Kedrograd did the Russian element come to full consciousness.

Later, Chivilikhin would identify Leonov as the fount of his new ideology of literary Russian environmental nationalism: "In the novels of Leonov we may first notice the linkage between national character and the forest. . . . The books of Leonov breathe 'Russia' . . . and in them are the cast and logic of the Russian mind."[90] One only need look at the list of contributors to the various anthologies dedicated to and honoring Leonov's opus to appreciate his position as the godfather of this current.

Like Leonov, Chivilikhin was not actually against exploiting the taiga; the question was how : "Logging the taiga is necessary: there are trees rotting in it, and priceless national wealth is going to waste—marvelous construction materials, irreplaceable chemical raw materials and food supplies. But the time has come when we need soberly to weigh the resources of the taiga and to give serious thought to how to operate in that environment so that the taiga will produce the most benefit for the people."[91]


Kazarkin writes that "the works of Chivilikhin from the mid-1950s have sketched a scene of a thoughtless and therefore terrible process of the destruction of forests over a great territory from Arkhangel'sk to Vladivostok." By the late 1960s, Chivilikhin began to see this as nothing less than a struggle for the cultural and physical survival of the Russian people: "This foundation is the reserve of national ecological ideas, the people's perceptions about the land as their fate and about history as a link between the generations."[92] The deciding battle would be fought in Siberia.[93]

Like Gumilëv, Chivilikhin developed a notion of "the ecology of culture." Such an ecology was, in the words of Kazarkin, "that which insures its stability, a reserve of resilience of its way of life, an unsullied consciousness of one's identity, which is oriented toward things vital and permanent. One wants to call his historical conception a 'forest' conception."[94] The forest, for Chivilikhin, was the key to the survival of the Russian people during the years of Mongol-Tatar rule. Only forested Rus' preserved the pure genotype of the Russian people and their cultural heritage. Vladimir Chivilikhin was the "writer-intercessor  . . .  sent by the Siberian forests to plead the case for living nature." "The natural environment creates what, poetically, we call the soul of the people and in reality determines the salient characteristics of national culture. In preserving our traditional natural environment the people can count on preserving their creative originality. A writer as far back as N[ikolai] Leskov said it—the Russian character is impossible to imagine without [Russia's] expanses of forest."[95] This struggle to preserve the alleged aboriginal arboreal environment of the Russian people also took place in Siberia, according to Chivilikhin; he held that as far back as the first centuries of this millennium proto-Europeans there (Di, or Dinlins) had been in conflict with the Huns. Their descendants today, Chivilikhin claimed, are the Ket.[96] If the Russian people were to survive, they needed to preserve not one but two key elements undergirding Russian culture: the (Siberian) forest and cultural memory. For Chivilikhin they were intertwined, for at the center of the people's memory was the memory of the forest. And when a people forgets its folkways, Chivilikhin believed, echoing Gumilëv, it becomes a "a rapacious mongrel-group" (khishchnaia khimera ) bringing environmental (and then cultural) collapse upon itself.

By 1967, when he was awarded Komsomol's special medal for his reportage on Kedrograd, Chivilikhin openly paraded his urgent concern for the survival of the Russian people. At the time, it took a bit of daring to cast the ethnic Russians as an oppressed group, particularly in an organization officially dedicated to promoting Soviet patriotism, which strove therefore to replace ethnic particularism with a "supraethnic" Soviet nationality, even if the cultural forms of that nationality, including language, were derived in good part from the Russian one. "The past of our people, our fathers and mothers," the Russian past—the embodiment of historical memory,


that organ of national survival—was under attack from within and without, warned Chivilikhin. With pain and resentment he spoke of "attempts to insult and denigrate, to devalue that which is dearest to us."[97]

Chivilikhin did seek to soften the Russocentric core of his message. "I am introducing this subject," he continued, "because in several works of literature, and, unfortunately, not only in antisocial [podonochnye] underground publications, there is a tendency to paint Russians, for example, as a meek people, passively enduring torments, weak, without will and dull-witted, incapable of attaining the heights of culture and at the same time nationally self-centered, and there are attempts as well to belittle other nations inhabiting our Motherland."[98] Above all, Chivilikhin was concerned to refute the "Western," cosmopolitan assessment of Russia as backward and especially as weak:

At the beginning of this century my people, allegedly willing to put up with any suffering, under the leadership of the Bolshevik party and the great Lenin, together with other peoples . . . made three social revolutions and [then] saved the world from fascism. The Russian people gave the world Pushkin and Lenin, built Rostov and Kizhi, and in our day the Soviet people . . . built Magnitka and Dneproges, Bratsk and Rudnyi, . . . and were first to go to space! Meanwhile, heroes of stories and films pronounce even such words as ancestor or patriot with a kind of loathing snickering intonation![99]

To these snickers of the cosmopolites, Chivilikhin quoted Voronezh poet Vladimir Gordeichev's response:

And when over the ashes of patriots
Foreign wits amuse themselves
I stand up to meet their barbs
Baring my boils unflinchingly.[100]

Later, after his epic Pamiat'appeared, Chivilikhin provided an emotional credo in response to an interviewer who wanted to know why he had "focused precisely on the history of the soul of the people":

I am a Russian and my heart overflows with love for my homeland, for the path she has trod, and I am grateful to her for the happiness of living on Russian soil. Our people—builders and warriors—has something to be proud of. It is the only people on the face of the earth that has withstood three world-scale invasions. And my duty before the past, before the land that has sustained me and raised me, is to dedicate myself to studying the history of my people.[101]

The highest contribution anyone could make was to preserve and disseminate the nation's history. Sounding like a Stalinist cultural boss of the late 1940s, Chivilikhin said that the historian's task was to remind the people of Russia's greatness, of its innumerable priorities: "Memory is one of the strongest weapons on earth."[102]

Throughout Chivilikhin's writings the tincture of an anti-steppe, anti-


steppe peoples, and anti-Asian bias is discernible, as is Chivilikhin's conviction that ethnic differences are deeply engraved: "Yes, humans have only one Earth, but if we try to apply this standard to our theme, then what disorder and confusion we discover in our common human home, the biosphere, what a complex, variegated, and changeable picture of the world emerges, what striking dissimilarities exist among the historical, geographical, social, and other conditions of life for every people!"[103]

Contra Gumilëv, whose accounts softened the destructive impact of the Mongols, Chivilikhin restores the Mongolian invasion to the level of an epic historical trauma.[104] One region, however, escaped the burden of Russia's traumatic history. During an interview the journalist Ol'ga Plakhotnaia once told Chivilikhin: "Vladimir Alekseevich, I know that you have a special feeling for Siberia, your homeland." Chivilikhin's response again reflected his belief that the Siberians were the purest, the most "Russian" of Russians, to the extent that they had evaded the effects and aftereffects of the Mongolian yoke, serfdom, and the taint of Western invaders and immigrants: "Siberians are a punctual, hardworking, and knowledgeable narod .  .  .  . Almost every summer I come down with a 'Siberia' attack and travel to my homeland, to Baikal, the Sayans, the Altai." Siberia, a land of "strong characters and uncorrupted language," with its forests, was the new hearth of Russia.[105] As a prototype and standard of Russian nature, Siberia remained at the center of Chivilikhin's concerns even while the "battle for Kedrograd" was still raging.

After Chivilikhin's first articles, a flood of letters came to Kedrograd from all over the USSR complaining of other abuses. Among the topics most frequently brought up by his correspondents was that of the threats to Lake Baikal. In 1962 while still in Kedrograd, Chivilikhin wrote his "Sacred Eye of Siberia" (Svetloe oko Sibiri ) dedicated to the lake's problems, one of the first wake-up calls on the threat to Baikal from military-related nylon and cellulose mills on the lake's southern shore.[106] Chivilikhin also turned his attention to the problem of land use, seeking to publish a long essay called "Land in Trouble" (Zemlia v bede ). Here, however, Chivilikhin began to run up against the hand of the censor, who banned half of the manuscript and the title besides. The remainder of the essay was eventually published under the title "The Land—Our Food-Giver" (Zemlia -kormilitsa ), an alternative suggested by the helpful censor.[107]

With his critique of economic structures such as the Baikal plants and the sovnarkhozy it would seem as though Chivilikhin were inching toward a critique of the Soviet system based on an analysis of its political economy. However, a culturally and ethnically based critique proved easier and more attractive to him (and others). In contrast to a seductively slick cultural model based on "Western cunning," Chivilikhin praised the honest young people like the volunteers of Kedrograd, who were continuing the fight for the soul of Russia:


The voting folk don't complain; whining and skepticism is alien to their nature. . . . Our everyday heroes think, they struggle, and they are accumulating experience in the social defense of our natural resources. They don't intend to . . . use cunning or chemical trickery to win their cause. . . . To remain on the moral high ground, to maintain their lifelong youthful ardor for work, to keep their principled political attitudes—that is the task for them and for all of us! And meanwhile I have faith that the economic reforms taken on the initiative of the Party will be extended to other spheres, in particular to that of resource use, or else we shall impoverish our native land and consequently impoverish ourselves, both materially and spiritually. . . . Love of nature, like love for the Motherland, is not only in the sphere of feelings but in the sphere of deeds as well. And here, facing the Komsomol, is an enormous unplowed field, virgin lands in every direction.[108]

Despite his Komsomol background and his opposition to the "fetishizing of nature," Chivilikhin's attitudes toward modern mechanized society remained ambivalent:

Does the introduction of such good things as electricity and residential neighborhoods obligatorily have to be accompanied by the crushing of the flowers? Must industrial beauty replace natural beauty? . . . Why then were the people of Krasnoiarsk able to preserve a large tract of "wild" taiga right in the middle of their city? Why haven't they leveled the taiga, then, in Angarsk and Akademgorodok, but instead integrated their residential areas into it? . . . All of that, however, amounts to a few small islands of good relations with nature in a sea of evil.[109]

In another work Chivilikhin's antiurban feelings were more explicit, as he quoted Le Corbusier's observation that "cities were dangerous and unworthy machines for life in our epoch." Indeed, Chivilikhin himself added, "the specter of urbanization hangs like a black shadow on the horizon."[110]

The question was how to allow those islands of good to triumph over that sea of evil. Was it simply a matter of culture, or was that evil embedded somehow in the structural aspects of the system? "My lifelong and difficult love—the cedar—the symbol of powerful and generous Siberian nature . . . to this day mercilessly is being logged out with impunity all across Siberia despite a special clause banning that in the Law on Nature Protection," he protested.[111] True, writers could make a difference; "by its urgency the problem of nature protection is the theme of the age," he declared in 1978.[112] Yet, as he complained to Leonov, the rapacious bureaucrats and managers did not read, or at least were not affected by what they did read.

To improve the environment, in the last analysis, human societies needed to be harmonized and humanized, argued Chivilikhin. The "fullest development of the human personality," as he understood it, needed to take precedence over industrial production. That meant taking the road back to the Volk . "The aggression of 'mass culture,' the total illiteracy of almost a bil-


lion people, the standardization of life, violence, the spirit of acquisitiveness [priobretatel'stvo ], the forgetting of the principles of humanism, cosmopolitan stereotypes in art," as well as the arms race and the greed of the well-off countries were at the root of the global environmental and cultural crisis. Beckoning as a lone, arduous way out was "the tormented processes of national, creative, self-expression . . . the only guarantee of the spiritual development of the world."[113]

Chivilikhin's ideological odyssey was repeated by Fatei Shipunov and resembled the attitudes of Soloukhin, Rasputin, Viktor Astaf'ev, Proskurin, Shukshin, and a host of others. These represented a new set of social actors—journalists, writers, foresters, engineers, and other ordinary people—distinct from the "lost tribe" of ecologists, botanists, zoologists, and geographers who were still fighting on behalf of "pristine" nature and the zapovednik ideal. This new group was composed of upwardly mobile beneficiaries of the system who had conformed but who felt disillusioned and betrayed. What pushed these otherwise average Soviet subjects into environmental activism was the sense that their environmental "homeland" was being destroyed and that the system on its own would not stop it. Whereas the Moscow-and Leningrad-based naturalists looked to their Western colleagues for information, solidarity, and new approaches, seeing themselves as part of an international community tackling global problems, the new stratum of activists concerned over the despoliation of Russia regarded that cosmopolitan, "Western" orientation as one of the main sources of the problem. For ethnic Russians, ironically, the nationalist-environmental movement was more democratic and inclusive; ethnicity, not erudition, was the only criterion for membership.[114]

United in their outrage over the bureaucrats' wanton and heedless attitudes toward such rare and disappearing habitats as the Altai "cedar" forests and Lake Baikal and over their treatment of the students, the cosmopolites and the nationalists joined together to give these struggles unusually high visibility in the early 1960s. The MGU druzhina and the kedrogradtsy worked together, despite the strains generated by their vastly different backgrounds. These "camps" continued to cooperate on such other major issues as the river-diversion project of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but this cooperation tended to occlude an important underlying reality: the existence of not one, but several environmental movements. The divorce of kedrogradets Fatei Shipunov and druzhinnik Maria Cherkasova is a metaphor for the eventual fate of the temporarily unified strands of the Russian environmental movement.


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