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Chapter Five— Liquidation: The Second Phase, 1950
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Chapter Five—
The Second Phase, 1950

In all likelihood Malinovskii was not acting particularly cynically when he promoted reduction of the reserves of his system; in his opinion, his scientists did not need all of those good woodlands for their research, and they did not have the right to lock up the resources of the Soviet state. Only if we understand Malinovskii's vision of his new post in this way can we make sense of his support of both the reduction of the system and the upgrading of the salaries and conditions for the scientific researchers in it. Malinovskii was not a villain but a Soviet bureaucrat whose visionary plans for a reconstructed, "souped-up" nature were utterly pragmatic. He had a hard time comprehending the abstruse and murky doctrine of the biogeocenosis, and could hardly be expected to agree that this doctrine, which seemed to him an unproven scientific fetish, should constitute the justification for the whole regime of inviolability in the zapovedniki . Nor could he be expected to sympathize with the symbolic meaning of that inviolability for the scientific intelligentsia: that an "archipelago of freedom," a tangible geography of hope saved from the profane clutches of Stalinist transformation, still persisted in the Soviet state.

Although Malinovskii apparently prepared the draft legislation in secret and consulted with none of the old guard, by early February 1950 they were acquainted with some of its elements and by late spring the veteran activists had premonitions of a crisis.[1] One confirmation came in April, when provisional approval for a projected zapovednik near Nal'chik in the Kabardinian ASSR of the North Caucasus by the RSFSR Council of Ministers March 1, 1949 was abruptly rescinded by that same body on April 6, 1950.


The reason given was that the alpine landscapes to be protected in Karbardinia too much resembled those already protected in the Caucasus zapovednik .[2]

Only on March 4 did Malinovskii deliver his plan for "eliminating the shortcomings" of the Main Administration to the RSFSR government itself, which was where he should have sent the draft in the first place. The note to Bessonov advised the Russian deputy premier that "for a radical improvement of the work of the zapovedniki we need a certain change in the principles that govern the management [khoziaistvo] of the zapovedniki , improvement of the material conditions and amenities of their scientific workers, and an increase of funding for scientific work."[3]

The plan was divided into four sections, addressing scientific research, the territorial extent of the system, finances, and general measures. Part 1 proposed a more rigorous selection process for research projects and deadlines for their completion, as well as a review of the quality of the scientific research staff, which was to be conducted before July. The plan also provided for a reorganization of the membership on the Scientific Advisory Council and the Scientific-Methodological Bureau of the Main Administration. These measures were delegated to the deputy head, Makarov, and to A. V. Mikheev, the head of the Scientific Department of the Main Administration. On the crucial point about an alteration of the principles of reserve management (as well as on the territorial issue) Malinovskii informed Bessonov that he had already reached an agreement with the USSR Ministry of Forestry, before whose governing collegium he was to personally present his plan in three short weeks.[4]

By this time, RSFSR premier Chernousov must have wondered whether Malinovskii was a stalking horse, at least inadvertently, for the Kremlin, particularly the USSR Ministry of Forestry; it appeared that Malinovskii's primarily loyalties lay there and not with the RSFSR government. In the byzantine intrigue that superficially controverted the politics of bureaucratic institutions, the Russian cabinet chief now became the agency's chief defender while the agency head continued to act as the sometimes willing agent of its executioners.

Chernousov fired the first shot of resistance on May 26, 1950 in a long letter to the USSR Council of Ministers protesting a decree by that body of April 28 inspired by Aleksandr Ivanovich Bovin, USSR minister of forestry (since November 20, 1948), that mandated the geographical relocation of the Central Sakhalin zapovednik to the northern portion of the island. Justification for the relocation was found in the USSR Council of Ministers decree of June 16, 1948, which permitted the USSR Ministry of Forestry to assert authority over the forests of that reserve, founded one month before.[5]


Chernousov based his arguments on a memo of May 13, 1950 from his deputy, Bessonov, who wrote, "I consider it essential to petition the USSR Council of Ministers for the preservation of the Central Sakhalin zapovednik within its current boundaries." Bessonov asked his chief to write a letter to Stalin personally once Chernousov was able to forge a common position with the Main Administration. Notably, in his protest Chernousov overturned the conclusions of his "own" bureaucrat, Malinovskii, who had included the Central Sakhalin zapovednik on his list for elimination. Malinovskii, still obedient to his nominal chief, sent a memo on May 9, 1950 supporting the retention of the reserve.[6]

Arguing that the "territory of the zapovednik had great value for science because it was representative of Sakhalin's natural conditions as a whole," Chernousov pointed out that the tundra where the Kremlin sought to relocate the reserves had "no scientific value . . . whatsoever." He added that the RSFSR had invested one million rubles on the reserve's organization, money that would now be thrown away. Finally, he observed that the forested areas coveted by the ministry were located in scarcely accessible alpine areas far from any rivers along which cut timber could be floated. "It is not expedient" (netselosoobrazno ) to move the reserve, stated Chernousov in the accepted formula, concluding his note with an appeal to preserve it in its current boundaries.[7] For the time being Chernousov managed to hold back the tide.[8]

To mitigate the larger threat to the system as a whole, namely, the audit of the system ordered and conducted (jointly with the RSFSR) by the Central Committee's Agricultural Department, Chernousov held a meeting of his cabinet's Bureau on May 24 with Malinovskii present, and prepared an official decree to address the revealed deficiencies of the Main Administration. Published on June 8, its most stringent provision was that the Main Administration repay its debts and remain debt-free. Its thrust was to address the damaging charges against the reserves and thus disarm them.[9]

The assault on the institutions of nauchnaia obshchestvennost'in the area of nature protection emanated not only from behind the forbidding Kremlin walls but also from inside. Malinovskii was rapidly remaking the Main Administration along the lines of his pragmatic, even anti-intellectual inclinations. Scientists turned to Bessonov and Chernousov, their political defenders. In one agitated letter of June 16, 1950, the academician A. A. Grigor'ev, director of the Academy's Institute of Geography, claimed to have information that the Main Administration had eliminated its position of director of publications and had virtually done in (svernulo ) its publications activity. After arguing that the kind of interdisciplinary field research done in zapovedniki was unique, Grigor'ev wound up with an appeal that was at once pragmatic, patriotic, and based on a defense of science as an unquestionable good:


In the interests of the further development of geography here in our homeland we consider it essential to continue regular publication of the works submitted by the scientific researchers of the zapovedniki , who work in difficult, often dangerous conditions in sparsely settled arctic, taiga, and high mountain regions far removed from the cultural centers of the country. . . . The liquidation of publication activity by the Zapovednik Administration will elicit unfavorable conditions for the development of the detailed geographical study of our country. It is urgent that this question be reconsidered.[10]

After Bessonov sent on the letter to the Main Administration to ascertain the veracity of the charges, Makarov, who reviewed the letter, cleverly tried to turn the issue from intellectual norms to finances. Presumably before sending it on up to Malinovskii, the lame-duck deputy head penned in the margins that the Main Administration should raise the question of a subvention of 500,000 rubles with the RSFSR Council of Ministers and also be permitted to restructure publishing activity on a self-financing basis. Such a request from the Main Administration, however, is nowhere to be found in the archival record. Malinovskii sat on his hands, digging in for a long siege against Makarov, the entrenched field biologists of his agency, their allies, and their alien culture. Chernousov, evidently, had little operational control over Malinovskii's management of the Main Administration itself and was certainly powerless to remove him; presumably Malinovskii answered to higher authorities.

Sensing the limitations of Chernousov's political reach, Makarov now sought new patrons, this time at the all-Union level. In June 1950 he composed a letter to the head of Gosplan USSR, Maksim Z. Saburov, explaining why zapovedniki had become "a fully equal and essential link in the system of scientific research institutes of the Union." He emphasized their role as "a marvelous school for the training of young new researchers of nature" and mentioned that in the Il'menskii zapovednik alone three hundred university students did their summer practice. Makarov repeated the old arguments about the need for undisturbed etalony (baselines of natural processes) and, while admitting the existence of many deficiencies, argued that they resulted more from a lack of adequate support for the reserves system and official limitations on its freedom of action than from any shortcomings of the system itself. High turnover of staff, he explained, was the almost inevitable result of miserably low salaries and indescribably primitive living conditions. Moreover, the administrative fragmentation of the reserves among republican systems was "abnormal, as they all pursue common goals and share the same methods of work, . . . require a single set of goals and conditions, . . . and they interact more with ministries and agencies on an all-Union level than they do with those on the republican level."[11]

Makarov requested that the reserves be designated scientific research institutes and be placed under the Department of Education and Culture of


the USSR Council of Ministers. Additionally, he petitioned for the creation of a State All-Union Committee for Zapovedniki and Protection of Nature with a Central Research Institute for Zapovedniki and Protection of Nature subordinated to it. "Carrying out these measures," he concluded, "will make our zapovedniki institutions worthy of the great Stalin epoch." Malinovskii signed the draft letter, although it is impossible to say with what degree of enthusiasm.[12]

Sensing an opening, USSR forestry minister Bovin in July sent a detailed letter to the USSR Council of Ministers as a whole, requesting a full review of the principle of inviolability of the reserves across the Soviet Union.[13] Vladimir Boreiko, who has also investigated this episode, explains that Georgii Malenkov was then in charge of forestry in the USSR and it was "apparently at his initiative that as early as July 20, 1950 the USSR Council of Ministers asked the republican councils of ministers and Gosplan of the USSR to submit proposals on . . . measures to improve the activity of the zapovedniki ."[14]

As a result of Bovin's lobbying, an all-Union committee to investigate the reserves was created, headed by Gosplan USSR chairman Saburov.[15] Saburov attempted to provide a fair hearing for a wide range of constituencies, in particular the republics and oblast ' levels of government. In six months the plan to truncate the reserve system progressed from the draft decree of Malinovskii to the constitution of a Union-wide committee.

Disturbed by the turn of events, RSFSR deputy premier Bessonov asked Malinovskii to convene a meeting of leading staff members of the Main Administration who were also Party members to discuss the fate of the reserves. This meeting took place in early August and was attended by the shadowy figure of A. V. Romanetskii, a functionary of the RSFSR Ministry of State Control, who was almost certainly also colluding with the Kremlin authorities.[16] At first glance, Malinovskii's report to Bessonov that the leading staff had no objections to the reduction of territory of a number of reserves seems incredible. However, here again we see the hand of "protective coloration" and Aesopian language at work. Instead of voicing overt opposition to the plan, particularly with Romanetskii present, the majority offered the opinion that final territorial boundaries of the reserves should be set by the local oblast' governments. They counted, probably correctly, on the sympathies of local Party and government machines; these were people to whom they had ties and who felt proud to have these scientific research bases in their bailiwicks. Makarov, Bel'skii, and Mikheev did voice their opposition to the transfer of zapovednik territory to game farms, however, and once again raised the question of creating an all-Union administration for the reserves. Doubtless the old-line activists were convinced that to save the zapovedniki they would have to go over Malinovskii's head.[17]

With trembling hand, on August 3, 1950 a horrified Makarov scribbled


out a note to the VOOP scholarly secretary Sergei Vasil'evich Kuznetsov. "The Society [VOOP] cannot stand on the sidelines on this question," he wrote, "for many of these zapovedniki (Moskovskii, Tsentral'no-Lesnoi) were established at the initiative of the Society. I ask you urgently to retype my rough draft, to collect signatures, and to send them off to the addressees."[18]

Makarov's letter, officially signed by Kuznetsov and G. P. Dement'ev, Makarov's co–vice president, was sent to Saburov the following day in the name of the entire VOOP Presidium.[19] "VOOP has received information," the letter opened, "that under your leadership a commission to review the network of zapovedniki  .  .  . has begun work, and that, in particular, the question of the complete liquidation of the following zapovedniki  .  .  . has been posed."

The marked zapovedniki were defended case by case. Arguments were drawn from history as well as from science. The authors reminded Saburov that many of the reserves were deeply connected with the general history of Russian science, such as the Verkhne-Kliazminskii reserve, where the Academy of Sciences' Hydrobiological Station, Russia's first, was established in 1891. The Visim reserve, created on the initiative of Sverdlovsk University and approved by the USSR Council of Ministers, contained the west-slope Urals landscapes depicted by Mamin-Sibiriak. The Tsentral'no-Lesnoi zapovednik's forests "served as a secure haven for partisans" during World War II. The letter concluded with a plea to spare the reserves: "To destroy them is easy, to resurrect them will be impossible."[20]

Makarov's mobilization of scientific public opinion was successful. First to speak up was the Far Eastern branch of the Academy of Sciences in distant Vladivostok, with a telegram from the acting chair of its Presidium addressed to VOOP: "The Far Eastern Branch of the Academy . . . considers the closing of the Sikhote-Alinskii and Sudzukhinskii zapovedniki inexpedient and impermissible. We insistently ask you to take all measures in your power to block this liquidation. We are sending a detailed justification in a longer official letter."[21] The telegram was promptly sent to Saburov with a cover letter in the name of the VOOP Presidium.[22] Across the country scientists and their allies were closing ranks to defend these scientific institutions.

Meanwhile the all-Union authorities were speaking through their deeds. A decree of the USSR Council of Ministers of July 24 ordered the Main Administration to have the Caucasus zapovednik make available alpine pastures to local kolkhozy (collective farms) of the Adler raion .[23] Even when their actions seemed outwardly beneficent, as when the USSR Council of Ministers ordered the Main Administration and the Council of Ministers of the Iakut ASSR to create three special reserves in that huge region by 1953, they portended deep changes in the functions, management, and meaning of the reserve system. Significantly, the three Iakut reserves bore the strange


designation "zapovedniki/rezervaty ," reminiscent of the old "okhotnich'i zapovedniki " of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture system in the 1920s. Their chief function was to serve as preserves for valuable commercial fur-bearing mammals, notably sable and arctic fox.[24] This shift infuriated the nature protection activists, who had spent thirty years battling against any kind of utilitarian profile for zapovedniki . (Interestingly, Malinovskii felt that the overtly commercial purposes of these Iakut reserves warranted their subordination to the RSFSR Main Hunting Affairs Administration rather than to his unit, since for him, "zapovedniki " connoted bases for scientific research, even if they were not inviolable.)[25]

Taking advantage of Malinovskii's temporary absence from Moscow, Makarov, as acting director of the Main Administration, sent a letter to Bessonov on October 24 requesting a general meeting of the various staff of the zapovedniki in Moscow for February 1951. Makarov anticipated an attendance of fifty and requested 36,500 rubles for expenses. All the pressing questions were to be on the table, and eight directors were lined up to speak.[26] Three days later, the deputy expediting secretary of the RSFSR Council sent a terse reply: "the Council . . . deems it inadvisable to convene the active staffers of the zapovedniki at this time."[27] Evidently Bessonov and Chernousov believed that speaking out could only worsen matters at this point.

Saburov and his committee completed their work on November 18, when the report "On Rectifying the Work of Zapovedniki " was sent to the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers. Boreiko has justifiably characterized Saburov's recommendations as "quite liberal," particularly when they are compared with the decree Stalin eventually signed. In Boreiko's judgment, Saburov had "attentively studied the opinions of the republics, the USSR Academy of Sciences, and the major oblast 'executive committees," most of which rallied to the defense of the reserves with greater or lesser forcefulness.[28] The Gosplan systems had historically been havens for all sorts of specialists and as a result they exuded more liberalism and intelligentnost' (intellectual gentility) than most of the other bureaucracies. This relative liberalism was also made possible by Gosplan's relatively low importance in the Kremlin hierarchy.

Concretely, Saburov proposed the elimination of only three zapovedniki in the RSFSR (instead of the twenty-six that ultimately were abolished) and in Ukraine only the reduction of the area of the Chernomorskii zapovednik (as against the elimination of nineteen). Although Saburov proposed to eliminate eleven reserves, they represented a minuscule portion of the systems' total area: only 341,000 hectares out of a total area of 11,596,100 hectares for all reserves subordinated to the various republics' councils of ministers.[29] However, fourteen of the surviving zapovedniki , stood to lose 3,860,000


hectares, leaving all USSR zapovedniki with a total area of 7,395,000 hectares. (Saburov did not mention how many of the 1,864 employees of the various republican zapovednik systems would be dismissed.)[30] Saburov's ax cut most sharply into the giant Siberian reserves, but even here no reserve was fatally debilitated.

Saburov's plan was friendly to conservationists in other respects. First, Saburov unequivocally recommended supplanting the republic-level agencies with an all-Union Main Administration for zapovedniki , directly attached to the USSR Council of Ministers. Second, he supported activists' insistent demands for their own publishing house to disseminate the scientific findings of research in the reserves. Finally, sensitive to the conservationists' concern for the autonomy of science, Saburov recommended that the USSR Academy of Sciences maintain supervision over the reserves' research programs; as Saburov doubtless understood, the alternative was direct political oversight or technical supervision by the USSR Ministry of Forestry.[31]

Unhappily for the nature protection activists, Saburov's proposals fell victim to new political developments in the Kremlin. For reasons still obscure, on November 24, 1950 the matter was abruptly transferred by the Bureau of the USSR Council of Ministers from Saburov, a Malenkov ally, to the newly appointed minister of state control V. N. Merkulov, Beria's right-hand man, who was charged with developing final recommendations for the reserves.[32] Merkulov, formerly Beria's deputy in the NKVD, was, to put it mildly, a man with a past. On October 27, he finally gained command in what had evolved into a rough Soviet equivalent of the FBI. As Boreiko has written, one month into his tenure the "Case of the Zapovedniki " landed in his lap, a made-to-order vehicle for proving himself in his new job.[33]

Serving on the committee alongside Merkulov were Nikita Khrushchëv, then head of the Moscow Committee of the Party, I. A. Benediktov, the USSR minister of agriculture; A. I. Kozlov, deputy chair of the USSR Supreme Soviet, head of the Agriculture Department of the Central Committee, and Benediktov's successor in Agriculture after Stalin's death; N. Skvortsov, who became first deputy minister of state farms; as well as USSR deputy minister of forestry V. Ia. Koldanov and A. Safronov, who had both served on an earlier commission investigating the reserves. After close examination of the archival documents, Boreiko identified Merkulov's deputy, Pavel'ev, the ministry's chief state investigator, A. Kalashnikov, and his aide Fetisov as the ones who ran the case day to day. Fetisov organized a working group that included various apparatchiki , including Malinovskii.[34] Malinovskii may not have known about this ahead of time; he sent a note to Bessonov on November 27 abruptly canceling his month-long vacation until the following year on account of the new investigation.[35]

Merkulov wasted little time. Two hundred investigators (kontrollëry ) from


the USSR and republican ministries of State Control were assigned to the campaign. By the end of the investigation in mid-December, more than sixty zapovedniki , including some of the most remote ones, had been visited by State Control agents.[36] Nature protection had finally made it onto the radar screen of the Kremlin's most powerful politicians.

An eleven-point guide to the investigation had already been generated by Kalashnikov on November 24 for Merkulov's final approval.[37] In addition to compiling histories and profiles of all zapovedniki , the "Program of Investigation" prodded the State Control agents to learn whether kolkhoz land had ever been transferred to the reserves and taken out of use, whether zapovedniki were illegally renting out land or resources for private exploitation, and whether there was excessive turnover or "infiltration" (presumably by anti-Soviet elements) of reserve staff; every employee's background was to be checked. Agents were to try to clarify the absolute minimum amount of territory necessary for the zapovednik to fulfill its function. Investigators were to find out how subjects of research were chosen and who approved them. They were to scrutinize finances and look for wasteful spending. They were also to determine whether the reserves had fulfilled the logging and forest management goals set since 1948 by the USSR Ministry of Forestry. Finally, investigators were to elicit and record the opinions of local, oblast' , and republic-level leaders about the reserves.[38]

A number of individual documents survive from this campaign. One extant "akt " or bill of findings and accusations shows how one reserve, the Verkhne-Kliaz'minskii zapovednik of Moscow oblast, was investigated. A team of three agents from the RSFSR Ministry of State Control, two relatively senior, began work on November 28, the day after their ministry was mobilized.[39] Over the next ten days, they learned that while the reserve exceeded its 1949 quotas for sanitary cutting, it fell more than 50 percent short of its quota of construction-grade timber.[40] Even more serious, reserve director G. P. Kornilov and his bookkeeping and forestry staff were accused of illegal sales of cut timber to local kolkhozy and lespromkhozy (logging enterprises) and other actions to the detriment of the state's coffers. Finally, the inspectors seemed to hold the reserve responsible for the seventeen recorded incidents of poaching and other injury to zapovednik property; more troubling yet was that the perpetrators in only ten of the incidents had been caught and brought to justice.[41]

On December 9, the day after the inspectors had written up their findings, Director Kornilov responded with his own letter. He pleaded ignorance of the admittedly complicated fee schedules for sales of timber (he sold the reserve's timber to kolkhozy at a lower rate than he should have, based on the stumpage values) and took immediate steps to restitute the state for the lost income. As for the poaching incidents, Kornilov explained that


because his reserve was located in a densely populated region, the overall number of such incidents was in fact relatively small. It was ironic, he implied, to be accused of indifference when he had written an article about this very problem in a Moscow newspaper six months earlier. The exemplary record of his reserve in preventing forest fires for three years running had been ignored, he charged. Mistakes connected with the sales of wood were largely the work of the zapovednik 's undertrained forester, who had been dismissed in March. Last, Kornilov complained that the investigators said not a word about the scientific, cultural, or educational work being done by the reserve; "evidently," he noted with cynicism, "[those things] did not warrant mention in your evaluation."[42]

Resistance to the investigation also was voiced by political patrons of the nature protection movement. Responding to a Central Committee request to familiarize themselves with the results of a damaging series of charges against deputy director Basalaev of the Altaiskii zapovednik , the RSFSR premier's office agreed with some of the charges but refuted others. Most significant, the RSFSR letter flatly contested Basalaev's countercharges (an attempt by the reserve deputy director to exculpate himself) that the scientific workers of the reserve were "anti-Michurinists." "The director of scientific research . . . Comrade Dul'keit/candidate of science/himself works on the problem of 'Animal Ecology . . . in Connection with Snow Cover.' The very title of his research theme is already proof positive that Dul'keit does not detach life from its environment," the letter argued. Interestingly, it then appealed to the scientific authority of A. A. Nasimovich, "who assessed [Dul'keit's] work as satisfactory" and who "did not identify any Weismannist orientation" in it. The letter's authors accepted the charge that the scientific findings of the reserves were not leading to practical applications but pointed to a sharp shift in research themes in the RSFSR zapovednik system since 1950 to address this objection. By refuting accusations, strategically acknowledging some shortcomings, and promising improvement, the RSFSR government hoped to soften and blur the image of failure painted by the State Control investigation and thereby save the system.[43] Even more notable is that the RSFSR leaders turned to leading scientist-activists such as A. A. Nasimovich to muster scientific arguments in defense of the reserves.[44]

By far the most dramatic attempt to halt the evisceration of the reserves system was made by the core group of activists themselves. Led by Moscow zoologists A. N. Formozov, S. I. Ognëv, G. P. Dement'ev, G. V. Nikol'skii, and others, activists requested a meeting with Merkulov to present their case. Astonishingly, Merkulov agreed to the encounter, which took place in the early afternoon of December 28. However, he was careful to balance the presence of activists Formozov, Dement'ev, Nikol'skii, E. S. Smirnov,


A. A. Rode, N. E. Kabanov, and P. A. Manteifel' with foes of the reserves: academician A. I. Oparin, USSR minister of forestry A. I. Bovin, and USSR deputy minister of agriculture S. V. Potapov.[45]

No record of the meeting has survived except some brief notes of Formozov's. Nonetheless, these convey the activists' realization of how little they could influence events. "I know for a fact," wrote Formozov, "having participated in that meeting personally and having personally argued with Merkulov (Prof. Nikol'skii can substantiate this), that our conclusions were not even considered. We know precisely and can find witnesses to the fact that the decision was taken before the findings of the 200 investigators were received. . . . What role the Main Administration played in this is unclear. History will sort it out, and each will receive according to his just deserts."[46]

Precipitating the meeting with Merkulov was a convocation of an expanded plenary session of the Main Administration's Scientific Council three days earlier, almost exactly one year from the day Malinovskii took the helm of the agency. Malinovskii, as chair, opened with the understated observation that "the Main Zapovednik Administration is living through a rather interesting moment." According to him, the first historical phase of the Main Administration's activity was devoted to the "preservation of parcels of land, of fauna, and of flora," which he characterized as a "passive stage" whose time had already come and gone. "The zapovedniki may no longer continue along that path." The very survival of the Main Administration, he explained, depended on joining the movement for the "active intervention in nature" now sweeping the land. In particular the direction of scientific work would have to change. In fact, Malinovskii himself had prepared a new scientific work plan for 1951. This was a direct challenge to the old intelligentsia's ideal of scientific autonomy, to which Smidovich, Makarov, and Shvedchikov had always deferred.[47]

Until now, Malinovskii acknowledged, scientific plans had been developed by the reserves themselves:

The directors of zapovedniki in most cases, devoted perhaps little or, at the very least, insufficient attention to science. . . . Each scientific worker . . . drew up a plan for him/herself in accordance with his/her wishes or inclinations, and sometimes the sum of themes pursued . . . did not accord with the profile of the zapovednik .  .  .  . In this . . . lurked a basic and fundamental mistake, namely, that plans drawn up by the zapovedniki were thought to reflect local needs. . . . [T]his, regrettably, was not always the case and for that reason this year we have tried to compose the plan from the top down.[48]

Malinkovskii also criticized the overly "descriptive" and insufficiently applicable character of previous research. In some cases, he charged, researchers had not even developed reliable instructions for counting some


commercially valuable species of mammals. True, this information might be contained in articles, but practical folks in the economy needed accessible instructions as such .[49]

Malinovskii raised another drawback to allowing scientists to draw up their research plans independently of a controlling, coordinating center: "harmful parallelism" of research conducted by other institutions.[50] And if the zapovedniki are distinguished from all other classes of institutions by the multi– or even interdisciplinary nature of their study of nature, should that quality not be assured by central planning?[51] From Malinovskii's perspective, a logical corollary of eliminating anarchic independence in the development of research themes would be the elimination of the scourge of "mnogotemnost "' (too many different and uncoordinated themes); he had already reduced that number from 192 themes in 1949 to 85 in his first year on the job.[52]

Malinovskii, an outsider who had not adopted the values and perspectives of the old-line conservation activists, subjected many of the scientific claims of the activists to stringent, unsentimental scrutiny and saw what he considered fuzzy concepts, self-indulgence, and internal contradictions. He applied his own standard of "common sense" to the reserves and their work and found them wanting. But to the activists he could appear only as a scheming, evil hangman of their cause; Makarov was reported to have described Malinovskii as "the evil genius of the zapovedniki ."[53]

So far, the question on everybody's mind had not yet been uttered or addressed. Sergei Ivanovich Ognëv, a doyen of the old zoologists, finally broke the silence by asking whether the system would expand, contract, or stay the same. Malinovskii did not shrink from responding. "I don't have any connection with this particular question, but fully share the alarm of many of you present about the future development of this cause."[54] He explained that he had no information about which reserves would be made smaller, but added that the question of "whether it makes sense to retain all the zapovedniki that have been organized" in the past was indeed on the table.[55] Malinovskii argued that the regime regularly approved new proposals for zapovedniki on the basis of individual cases; at no time, however, did the principled questions emerge of whether the network as a whole made sense or whether the principle of inviolability was valid and justifiable. Now, however, "Life has gone forward and everything has changed."[56]

As an example of inviolability as a dysfunctional regime Malinovskii pointed to the experience of the Tul'skie zaseki and the Tsentral'no-Lesnoi zapovednik . In both, lack of forest renewal led to steep decline in the moose population. "Tul'skie zaseki must be characterized by high-productivity oak stands, and only then will the reserve fulfill its designated task, if all of our wishes were bent on restoring these stands. But a regime that is established for the


good of forestry would not permit a rapid accompaniment of aspen and lime trees along with the oak stands."[57] Malinovskii was right; everything depended on one's definition of the ultimate goal of the reserves and on one's time horizon.

For Malinovskii the Tsentral'no-Lesnoi reserve was an example of redundancy. When in 1936 the State Forest Protection Service was created, protected forests of the first category were created in all of the surrounding woodlands. The question naturally arose: Is the Tsentral'no-Lesnoi zapovednik still necessary? This was not a cause for despair:

The question of the zapovedniki is being resolved in a positive way. Everything will be preserved, but the network of zapovedniki will be reexamined to make sure that there is no parallelism, there are no superfluous units, and . . . the issue of the improvement of the future work of the zapovedniki will be addressed. . . . [A] certain portion of the zapovedniki  .  .  . will be liquidated. Which ones, I simply am not able to say, but I must state directly that, as director, I personally believe that a number of zapovedniki are indeed superfluous.[58]

Malinovskii implied that the decision was not entirely his.


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