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Chapter Seven— In the Throes of Crisis: VOOP in Stalin 's Last Years
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Chapter Seven—
In the Throes of Crisis:
VOOP in Stalin 's Last Years

Nature protection's high-water mark in the postwar period was 1947 and the first few months of 1948, when the network of reserves was still expanding, republic and local governments were reasonably supportive, and the "center" had not yet begun to covet the forests of the reserve network or to view nature protection societies as political centers of infection.

A letter written just days before the August Session of 1948 from Makarov and VOOP secretary Zaretskii to the RSFSR Council of Ministers reflects VOOP's valor during its heyday.[1] Not long before, activists of the Crimean branch of the Society had reported with alarm to the VOOP Presidium in Moscow that units of the Ministry of State Security's Defense Administration (Upravlenie okhrany ) were leveling the distinctive, spirelike cypress trees on the southern coast of the Crimea. Although this paramilitary "campaign" is one of the most inscrutable expressions of Stalin's arbitrary rule, an anecdotal explanation soon made the rounds. Apparently—perhaps after a sojourn in the south—Stalin was said to have complained that "the cypress tree is the tree of death; it belongs only in a cemetery."[2] The dictator's offhand remark was construed by his entourage as a policy injunction, and soon detachments of blue-epauletted state security troops were scouring the resort towns of the Crimea with chain saws, on the lookout for the dendrological threat.

"To try to clarify the cause for this mass logging, we sent inquiries to the Defense Administration of the Ministry of State Security and to the Main Resort Administration," wrote the VOOP officers. However, as they informed the Russian Republic leadership, their letter was not dignified with a response, which is why the Society now sought the help of the RSFSR government:


The Presidium of the Central Council of the Society asks you to issue instructions to the Crimean oblispolkom [regional government] to create a special Commission to find out the causes and extent of the logging of cypress trees. Included in the work of this Commission should be the president of the Crimean branch of the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature, Comrade Studenkov, the director of the Crimean zapovednik , Comrade Rvbal'chik, and the director of the Nikitskii Botanical Garden, Comrade Kaverg.[3]

The archival paper trail vanishes at this point, making it impossible to trace what happened afterward. Nevertheless, even this short document lights up, if only dimly, the mental and social worlds of the nature protection activists. We see them challenging the prerogatives of the dreaded secret police, acting on the dictates of personal and collective honor and of civic duty. Perhaps on some level they realized that their social marginality, the authorities' view of them as chudaki , provided some modicum of political protection. It even seems reasonable that their presentation of self, when it rose to the level of consciousness, sought to accentuate this harmlessly eccentric public image. Yet writing the letter above, not to mention lodging a direct "inquiry" with the secret police, took unimaginable courage in 1948. For the activists, saving those trees was not a trivial question, but precisely the kind of public-policy question they felt entitled, even obligated, to address as scientific experts and citizen activists.

Previous support by the RSFSR Council of Ministers and the fading pre-August 1948 hopes for a renewed cultural liberalization also promoted an attempt by Makarov in early April 1948 to gain approval for a merger of VOOP with the newly reconstituted kraeved societies (voluntary societies for the study of local lore, crafts, folkways, and nature), its old and "natural" allies. The Bureau of the Council of Ministers met April 2 but decided to put off their decision for a week. Although Deputy Premier Gritsenko supported Makarov's proposal for the merger, his recommendation, presented as a report, was turned down. Makarov was urged to re-edit the draft. The activists were reminded that they were still operating within the constraints of the decree on kraevedenie of June 10, 1937, which forbade any unification of their forces.[4]

The rebuffs to the merger proved to be precursors to even worse news for the conservation society. On July 2, 1949, the first of a series of investigations into VOOP's activities was launched by the RSFSR Ministry of State Control following reports that VOOP had exceeded its statutory authority to conclude contracts.[5] Twenty days later Makarov, Dement'ev, Nikolai Borisovich Golovenkov (the senior editor of VOOP publications), Mikhail Petrovich Beliaev (the senior bookkeeper), and Sergei Vasil'evich Kuznetsov (the


scholarly secretary) were all brought in to meet with N. V. Savitskii, the deputy minister.[6] What most disturbed the investigators was the alleged "overstepping by VOOP of its publishing rights and the payment of significant sums of money to nonmembers for the completion of work not sanctioned by the charter of the Society."[7] The recommendation to RSFSR premier Chernousov was mild by Soviet standards: that "the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers hear out the leaders of VOOP and give them appropriate directives on putting their publishing activities in order."[8] The conclusions of the republic-level authorities reached the desk of acting USSR minister of state control A. S. Pavel'ev on August 10, 1949: "VOOP factually overstepped . . . its rights and, with the aim of increasing its own funds, completed work that was not sanctioned by its Charter and did not have any direct link with the goals and tasks of the Society. "[9]

Seeking to explain the circumstances under which the Society was driven to violate its charter, Makarov argued that "experiencing great difficulties with funds and having weighed its options, the Society for the Protection of Nature agreed to the proposal by the All-Union Military-Hunting Society to do a rush publication of brochures. . . . The Society was materially interested in taking this order because the All-Union Military-Hunting Society promised to pay the bill immediately; the Society was experiencing extreme fiscal difficulties."[10] Makarov further admitted that the Society had identified "the possibility of a quick turnaround on printing postcards." This led the Presidium to "approve the printing of postcards with flowers, even though that had no direct connection with the Society's tasks."[11] Regarding the payment of outside jobbers, Makarov argued that the "diversity of publications of the Society, the large print-runs, the absence of our own printing facilities, . . . the urgent deadlines for some of the publications (nature calendars, literature for Tree Day, for Bird Day, etc.) of necessity forced us to use some workers . . . and to pay them, in the opinion of the Society itself, higher fees than would have been the case during the normal course of publishing."[12]

After receiving "an appropriate oral directive," the Society reported to Savitskii on December 30 that all extraneous publishing activities by the Society had ended, with the exception of work contracted for before the July investigation.[13] In August 1950 the VOOP Presidium decided to stop the printing of sixteen postcards of the series "Michurinist fruits" with an attempt to recover the paper purchased by VOOP for that purpose.[14]

In a letter to Premier Chernousov of September 16, Bessonov reported that he had reexamined the question of VOOP's publishing activities at Chernousov's request. After meeting with Makarov, Dement'ev, and Kuznetsov, he decided to permit the Society to publish materials already prepared, some of which were already at the printers, on condition that the


work would be done by staff released by the Society. Simultaneously, he ordered the Main Administration for the Printing Industry, Publishing, and the Book Trade to examine the question of allowing the Society to continue publication. His final request was that Chernousov remove this issue from the scrutiny of the Ministry of State Control.[15]

With this reprieve VOOP leaders intended to use 1950 to put their house in order. According to a report sent by Makarov and his colleagues to the Central Committee Department of Propaganda and Agitation in April 1950, VOOP listed sixty-five regional organizations (thirty-six chartered and twenty-nine organizational bureaus) with a total membership of more than 30,000, with an additional 40,000 in its youth section. Active members, as identified by Makarov, numbered 2,265, mostly in Moscow and Sverdlovsk.[16] Attached was a list of all Presidium and Central Council members, their places of work, and their Party membership. Significantly, six of twelve members of the Presidium were non-Party; indeed, they had now become a majority with the exit of VOOP secretary Kuznetsov from the Presidium.[17]

At the plenary meeting of the Central Council, Dement'ev noted "a positive shift" in the general operations of the Society. In particular, he welcomed the appearance of so many provincial branches and expressed the belief that "the periphery has been created."[18] Nevertheless, the larger Soviet reality could not but intrude on this hopeful assessment. The incremental expansion of the Society was a tactical victory, but the Society was still sustaining strategic losses.[19]

Makarov told the group that he had been trying to convene another congress of the Society for April 1950 but that the question required permission from the Central Committee of the Party. "When I was called by Central Committee secretary Comrade [P. K.] Ponomarenko and I described to him the tasks of the Society and its work, he recommended not to rush but to postpone the congress to a more propitious time. In March, he noted, were the elections, and in April was already the spring sowing campaign. However, he offered help with the organization, providing the Society could supply him with the agenda, written summaries of the Society's activities, etc."[20] Makarov resolved to try for September.[21] Protopopov, who, like others, was doubtless surprised to hear any reports of Central Committee support for the Society, had this to say: "Of course this news is to be welcomed, . . . but if they want to really be helpful to us, [let them recognize the creation of] an All-Union Society."[22] It was not the attitude of grateful, cowering subjects.

A letter of July 1950 to Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov, one of the deputy chairs of the USSR Council of Ministers, appealed to him to help with a curious and infuriating problem. Although local governments, such as the Kalinin oblast' Executive Committee and the Kabardinskii ASSR Council of Ministers, had agreed to help the Society by funding staff positions for the


Society's new branches, "for purely formal reasons" the State Staff Commission repeatedly rejected their requests on VOOP's behalf.[23] Where adequate staffing had been approved, as in Moscow and Sverdlovsk, the Society prospered, argued the VOOP leaders; where permission for a permanent staff had been denied, as in Stalingrad oblast' , work went poorly. Even the oblast' Executive Committee's deputy chairman, who served as the president of the branch's organizational bureau (in existence since December 1946) did not have an effect. It was calculated that each oblast' branch would require about two or three paid staffers. If it did not receive permission to maintain such salaried staff, VOOP warned that it might have to close down its local initiatives. "The Society is not asking for any money from the state budget nor from local budgets," they underscored. "All this will be constructed on the basis of the funds of the Society itself."[24] If the Society chafed under the Party-state's tutorial strictures that hemmed in citizen activism, it used every available opportunity to mount a challenge to them.


One of the most interesting aspects of VOOP's increasingly besieged institutional existence was the fate of its ties with similar foreign organizations. Ties with the Poles had been maintained since 1930, when the Lódz[*] Center for Natural Science had publicized Soviet nature protection activities in its Czasopismo Przyrodnicze . During World War II, much of Poland was transformed into a killing field, and, as far as can be judged from the archives, all contacts with the Russians were severed for several years. With the conclusion of the war, though, Polish civil society began slowly to rebuild. Again Lódz[*] became a center for the nature protection movement, and it was there that the Polish League for Nature Protection was founded.

In June 1950 this league now sought updated information about the Russian society. Its president, E. M. Potega[*] , was particularly keen to know about the organizational character of the society and what its relationships were to the kraeved and natural science societies of Russia as well as to the trade unions. The Poles also requested information on whether conservation was being taught or promoted in educational institutions, and asked for a package of available literature.[25] VOOP did not directly receive Potega's letter; rather, it was sent to Makarov from the East European countries division of VOKS, the Soviet agency that supervised all cultural contacts with foreigners.[26] Maintaining the impersonal remove that the times demanded, Makarov obligingly prepared a package of recent numbers of the VOOP journal, the Society's charter, and other materials for the Poles, but sent them all back through VOKS without a personal reply.

Such was the climate of suspicion that even contacts with a like-minded


organization of a fraternal ally needed to be kept at arm's length. It goes without saying that contacts with nature protection organizations of neutrals, let alone those of the "Western" bloc were fraught with even greater dangers and complexities. These were well illustrated by the example of the tortuous attempts by Austrian nature protection activists to make contact with the Russians. On January 23, 195 , a package arrived for Makarov from L. Kislova, a member of the board of VOKS. In addition to some German-language journals there was a Russian translation, dated December 11, 1950, of a letter originally in German from the Austro-Soviet Friendship Society. This letter, addressed to VOKS, was itself a reworking of an antecedent letter from the Austrian Nature Protection Movement, which apparently was filed in the Vienna offices of the Austro-Soviet Friendship Society. "In Austria," the Friendship Society's letter began,

there exists a large and popular movement of a nonpartisan character . . . supported by a significant fraction of teachers, the so-called "Austrian Nature Protection Movement." They forwarded to us four copies of their journal Thierpost for re-forwarding to you and expressed the desire to receive information . . . on wildlife in the Soviet Union for publication in this journal. We assume that a similar nature protection movement does not exist in the USSR; however, your representative has made mention of such organizations as "Friends of Birds," embracing mostly schoolchildren. On their advice we ask you, at the first opportunity, to send us photographs . . . and other materials. This could have great significance, not least because American and English propaganda targeted at the Austrian schools has quite diligently and skillfully used such innocent and guileless formats as information about protection of wildlife in their countries.

For this reason, wrote Dr. Otto Langbein, secretary of the Austro-Soviet Friendship League, it would be useful to obtain analogous information about the Soviet Union, "which would be a desirable counterweight to the lying propaganda of the capitalist countries."[27] Aside from herself urging Makarov to send Langbein the desired materials, VOKS's Kislova included the following admonition: the materials were to be sent via VOKS and should be of the kind "not to raise objections."[28]

In contrast with VOOP's response to the Poles, in which the Society—via VOKS—provided (and continued to provide) their Polish counterparts with information and materials though eschewing the political risks of attempting or encouraging direct communication,[29] VOOP sat on its hands respecting VOKS's request that VOOP lend its efforts to Cold War propaganda efforts in Austria. This dawdling—or noncooperation—did not go unnoticed. In a note to Makarov dated June 30, 1951, the acting director of the Central European division of VOKS, T. Solov'eva, reminded Makarov that six months had gone by since the initial request.[30]


Revealingly, VOOP leaders in October 1951 evinced a completely different response to the Austro-Soviet Friendship Society upon receipt of an entirely different kind of communication from them. Through VOKS, the Society received a letter from Helmut Gams, a botanist who was also on the board of the friendship society. Active in the newly created International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN), Gams sought Soviet participation in the society, even hinting that there was sentiment for electing the Soviet representative a vice president of the international organization.[31] VOOP had sent in a membership application in July 1948, but lack of permission from the Party had stalled its attempt to join. Now the VOOP leaders hoped that they could turn the Cold War to their advantage. After all, didn't the renewed invitation come from a leader of the Austro-Soviet Friendship Society?[32]

Hobbled by the treacherous international atmosphere and the requirement that all contacts with foreign scientific and activist organizations be handled through VOKS, the VOOP leaders adroitly pursued a nuanced strategy of keeping international links open while remaining aloof from Cold War campaigns to demonize the West. Nature protection, as they tried to present it, was an ideal that transcended class struggle and the rivalry of international blocs; for Soviet scientists it was another instance of their credo that the "International" of world science had moral injunctions that transcended everyday politics.

"On the Sidelines Where Important Tasks Are Concerned"

On August 31, 1950, an article about VOOP, "On the Sidelines Where Important Tasks Are Concerned," appeared in Kul'tura i zhizn' . The main charges leveled at the Society were that it had been slow to provide practical help for the "Stalin Plan for the Great Transformation of Nature," that it lacked a "mass character," and that its scientific sections suffered from "academism." The Society's Presidium decided to acknowledge the essential validity of the charges. However, they cunningly blamed these shortcomings on lack of funds, lack of space, their continued frustration in gaining permission to merge with the Green Plantings Society (discussed below), and the refusal of the State Staff Commission of the USSR Council of Ministers to allow VOOP to fund central and local staff positions using its own funds, a right possessed by other voluntary societies.[33] Gauging the real attitudes of the core scientist activists to the prospect of converting VOOP into an authentically "mass" society is difficult. Doubtless the activists were torn between actually becoming effective, which necessitated transforming the Society into a broad-based mass movement, and maintaining the comfortable,


clubby haven for the "lost tribe" of the prerevolutionary intelligentsia. Each choice had drawbacks. Even were the scientific activist elite to retain control over a mass organization, should it become too effective, that effectiveness could change the regime's perceptions, dislodging activists from the "safe" category of chudaki into the more dangerous one of political malcontents. On the other hand, maintaining a smaller membership continually laid the Society open to charges that it had lost its links with "the masses" and with "life itself." True, those charges tended to be raised only at annual review time (otchët ), but no one knew when such an accusation might be used against the organization. VOOP's solution was to try to keep membership high but heavily stacked with schoolchildren and "juridical members," who could be counted on not to involve themselves in the Society and therefore would not alter the organizational culture.

Even in this time of crisis for nature protection, some of the old spunk of the Society was evident. Unfortunately, the old activism did not issue in "activity" that could endear the Society to its critics. Recalling the similar letter of 1948, the Society sent a letter to the RSFSR Council of Ministers in February 1951, under the signatures of Dement'ev and Kuznetsov, informing the republic's leaders about reports coming from the Society's members in the Kolyma GULAG of northeast Iakutiia, the northeast part of Siberia. There, in a huge part of the USSR under virtual direct rule by the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs (the secret police), suppliers of the Dal'stroi and Kolymtorg GULAG empires had been destroying huge numbers of waterfowl annually every year since the end of the war.

These hunters, without any kind of controls on them, are taking tens of thousands of molting ducks on contract with kolkhozy . [However], the shooting of molting wildfowl is prohibited by law. . . . The organs of the Ministry of Supplies and the MVD [the Ministry of Internal Affairs] pay no attention to such rapacious and barbaric slaughter of wildfowl. As the citizen hunting inspectors—members of VOOP—tell us, the representatives of the MVD, on business trips to places where game is procured, failed to bring a single charge against anyone for poaching and failed to bring the malefactors to justice.

The Society demanded a ban on the hunting of geese in the Kolyma River delta, where the birds nest and gather for migrations, calling the practice both "predatory" and "illegal." Supplementing the charges of barbarism and poaching, the Society's argument came down to people: if these practices continue, they warned, they could undermine the food base for some of the small peoples of the far northeast, precipitating an ethno-demographic catastrophe.[34]


A Question of Merger

Despite the Society's risky critiques of the environmental practices of the state security system, it had no death wish. Especially after finding itself the target of investigation in July 1949, VOOP's leaders turned to the tried and true strategy of protective coloration. In particular, VOOP leaders intensified their efforts to merge with the All-Russian Society for the Promotion and Protection of Urban Green Plantings (VOSSOGZN), founded in 1947 under the auspices of the RSFSR Ministry of Municipal Services. At least twice in 1950, in January and in September, VOOP tried to revive the merger plans.[35] Deputy Premier Bessonov, who seems to have been given responsibility for VOOP as well as the Main Zapovednik Administration, turned out to be maximally supportive. Urging Premier Chernousov to write to the Central Committee in support of VOOP's request, Bessonov in an October 5, 1950 note reminded his chief that in January a decision had been taken by the RSFSR government to do so and that the appearance of the critical newspaper article had made the situation more exigent.[36] Bessonov even prepared a draft of such a letter to the Central Committee for Chernousov's approval and sent a follow-up note with the encouraging data that VOOP's membership as of November 1 had grown to 54,000 adults and 72,000 in the youth section, while the Green Plantings Society included 60,000 members.[37]

In the meantime Chernousov had, through his aides in the "Forestry Group" attached to the RSFSR Council of Ministers, solicited additional opinions and information on the question. From the president of the Green Plantings Society, G. I. Lebedev, who was also director of the horticulture pavilion of the All-Union Agricultural Exposition, he received a brief history and status report on the Green Plantings Society.

The critical juncture in the emergence of that society was Leonid M. Leonov's article in Izvestiia in December 1947 "Vzashchitu druga " (In defense of a friend), which elicited "an unprecedented lively response both in the local press as well as in letters to the editor of Izvestiia ."[38] Local organizational committees of the Green Plantings Society sprouted everywhere: Kuibyshev, Novosibirsk, Sverdlovsk, Ivanovo, Tula, Kislovodsk, and other places.[39] Like VOOP, the Green Plantings Society ran up against the unyielding barrier of the State Staff Commission, which allowed the society to retain just two paid full-time employees, a deputy president of the organizational bureau and a secretary-typist.[40]

Such a paltry staff could not cope with the massive enrollment into the ranks of the society. In Leningrad, tens of thousands of adults and children joined up, and more than seventy enterprises enrolled as "juridical members" in a three-month span. The dues potential alone was enormous.


However, not having a single full-time paid staff member, the Leningrad organizing committee was forced to cut off the processing of new members. After a "categorical" denial by the State Staff Commission of its request for at least one such worker, the Leningrad organizing committee shut down. In Kuibyshev, the local branch of the State Bank refused to pay out deposited membership dues to the organizing committee on the legal technicality that the committee had no bookkeeper, because the State Staff Commission refused to allow the organizing committee to create such a position. On similar technical grounds financial authorities in Kislovodsk shut down gardening classes run and paid for by the local branch of the society.[41] Only where powerful local politicians ran interference, such as in Northern Ossetia, where the president of the organizing committee was the chair of the Presidium of the Autonomous Republic's Supreme Soviet, was there even a chance of successful operations.[42]

Where allied organizations and affiliates had staff, Lebedev argued, they blossomed. The Society for the Promotion of the Greening of Moscow counted more than 100,000 adult and junior members; it also had twenty-six full-time administrative units. The All-Georgian Society "Friend of the Forest," led by that republic's chair of its Supreme Soviet, V. B. Gogua, and with eleven full-time staff, had more than 800,000 individual members and 4,000 "juridical members."[43] Although Lebedev did not comment on the proposed merger, his report could only strengthen the argument that the mass character of the membership of the Green Plantings Society would be an excellent tonic for that chronic VOOP deficiency, and that the intellectual resources embodied in VOOP's membership would provide a splendid complement to the enthusiasm and numbers of the Green Plantings Society.

A radically different note was struck by A. V. Malinovskii, who was asked by Bessonov to provide an evaluation of VOOP. Not only was he against the merger, he was against the very existence of the Society: "My negative attitude to this Society flows from the fact that, judging by the draft charter, it will not have real possibilities to participate actively in carrying out measures for transforming nature." Conservation, he argued, was already built into the Soviet system, and therefore no special societies or institutions were needed. In the best case, the Society on the initiative of individual members will send up plans for the transformation and protection of nature to agencies and ministries. However, individual Soviet citizens already had that right, and so there was no need for a middleman.[44]

Worse, VOOP's charter "awards many far-fetched and unrealizable functions to the Society." Singled out among these by Malinovskii was VOOP's self-appointed mission to attract broad sectors of the population in support of organizing zapovedniki "when that is the prerogative of the Main Zapovednik Administration."[45] Another was the Society's declared aim of organizing scientific expeditions studying natural resources in order to iden-


tify rational uses for them.[46] A third was VOOP's intention to enlist citizens to check permits for culling of populations of protected species; again, argued Malinovskii, such goals presumptuously usurped the functions of existing state institutions.[47] Malinovskii's bottom line was that VOOP was "distracting a number of specialists away from active participation in measures for the transformation of nature in line with fulfilling the state's economic plan."[48] He opposed the continuation of the Society in any form, merged or not. In that opposition Malinovskii perceptively identified VOOP's insubordinate role in defending and expanding the domain of scientific autonomy from the Party-state. Meanwhile the merger plans remained on hold.

The Nature Almanac of 1951

The continuing crisis of VOOP's publishing operations, however, overshadowed all other matters. On December 23, 1950, at a small meeting in Makarov's apartment, it was revealed that Kuznetsov's story that the almanac had been delayed by Dement'ev (who, Kuznetsov alleged, still had the manuscript), was a brazen lie. Dement'ev stunned the small group by saying he had never laid eyes on the manuscript until now, in Makarov's apartment, where a carbon copy was brought. "I was forced to bother Comrade V. N. Makarov, who was dangerously ill, three times during this whole period," Bel'skii said in despair. "It is my opinion," he concluded, "that the question of this deliberate . . . undermining [of the will of the Society] must be investigated."[49]

S. M. Preobrazhenskii added that "as soon as . . . Makarov got sick, one arbitrary act followed another by S. V. Kuznetsov. . . . [He] refused to take anyone else into account. Such shenanigans are impermissible in a civic organization!"[50] This sentiment was strongly held in the democratically oriented society, as evidenced also by Krivoshapov's admonition to Kuznetsov that "the question of publication . . . is one to be decided by the Presidium and not by a single individual."[51]

The tension between the two ideological camps had become so intense that personal relations even among Presidium members were strained to the breaking point. Kuznetsov was detested by a good percentage of the Presidium. And Molodchikov, whose politics had already alienated him from the Society's mainstream, felt the need to correct a misimpression that he was involved in the sabotage while conceding that his review of the prospective issue was indeed negative. After his review, Molodchikov complained, "Comrade S. M. Preobrazhenskii pretended not to know me and turned away when we ran into each other." This was doubtless only a small portion of the human fallout of the Society's protracted crisis.

In addition to demonstrating that VOOP could keep its commitments


to a production plan—thereby deserving to retain and gain expanded publishing rights—publishing was also a matter of honor for the old-guard activists. However, the Society's bookkeeper reminded his colleagues that publishing entailed risks that were at least equally weighty: 46,000 rubles had already been spent on the almanac, and printing and paper costs would run another 125,000 rubles. Moreover, given its tardiness, its distribution and sales might founder; poor sales of the 1948 almanac caused massive losses and served as grist for the investigative mills of the Ministry of State Control.[52]

Using some imagination, Krivoshapov proposed a limited almanac, to cover a half year beginning in June, but the Presidium voted to nullify all editorial changes and print the volume in full as it had been constituted in September. Kuznetsov was isolated with his lone abstention against eight ayes (although Krivoshapov's approval was qualified, calling for a reduced print run).[53] The Presidium had voted to uphold the honor of scientific public opinion.

A meeting of the Presidium in May reopened the thorny question of renaming the Society. A veteran master of "protective coloration," Makarov himself initiated the discussion, suggesting that "the Society may not stand on the sidelines regarding the tasks of transforming nature," and that consequently the Society should be renamed the All-Russian Society for the Promotion of the Transformation and Protection of Nature. (Makarov neglected to say that he had promoted almost the same name change in 1930, but permitted a reversion to "the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature" in the late 1930s once scrutiny of the Society's affairs diminished.)

Two old veterans, Protopopov and Preobrazhenskii, had no objections, as they were aware of political and rhetorical expediencies. Others, like the younger Gladkov, objected that whereas many organizations were involved with transforming nature, only VOOP was dedicated to protecting it. "'Protection of nature' should occupy the leading position in the Society's name," he said, supported in this by Krivoshapov.[54]

Sincere transformers of nature, such as Molodchikov, also spoke out in favor of the name change, but not as an exercise in protective coloration. If the Society "cannot move in step with the new demands [of the times]," he warned, "it should be liquidated." P. A. Manteifel' had a slightly different understanding of the matter: "Transformation and preservation are one and the same thing." That is, the only "nature" that will be preserved under Communism is that which has been transformed. Makarov tried to remind Manteifel' that to transform nature intelligently one needed to have a broad base of protected raw materials. If all the vegetation were destroyed, we would use up our original raw materials.[55]

Ultimately, two variants were considered by the Presidium: the All-Russian Society for the Promotion of the Protection and Transformation of Nature,


and the All-Russian Society for the Promotion of the Transformation and Protection of Nature. Predictably, the first—putting "protection" ahead of "transformation"—received seven votes to the latter's four.[56] It was around such symbolic and semantic questions that the old-guard activists, frustrated in the real world of politics and public affairs, reaffirmed their values and social identities. In these minor battles they could experience surrogate victories for the success that eluded them in the fights for the zapovedniki and the protection of the Moscow green belt. Their rhetorical concessions were always reluctant and ultimately revocable, measured out word by word.

Events, though, continued to outstrip the anxious activists' fears and responses. Perhaps driven beyond the threshold of decency in part by the violent polemics, Kuznetsov, who was also secretary of the Party organization within VOOP, and P. V. Ostashevskii, his deputy, wrote what can only be described as an out-and-out denunciation of Makarov and the old-timers to RSFSR deputy premier Arsenii Mikhailovich Safronov, who was also then occupied in the investigation of the zapovedniki . In four typewritten pages, the denunciation raised the most serious political accusations against the guardians of scientific public opinion. Singled out as "undeserving of trust and meriting dismissal" were longtime VOOP recording secretary Susanna Fridman and a former director of publications.[57]

The literature published by the Society was "apolitical," charged Kuznetsoy and Ostashevskii, "particularly the nature almanacs." Despite the severe criticism of the almanacs in the press since 1948, Makarov not only "failed to understand the essence of the criticism" but "even defended the . . . almanacs."[58]

From the perspective of Party spirit (partiinost '), Makarov, although formally a Party member, was glaringly deficient as well. Although the Party organization numerous times asked him to present a report on the Society's activities to a meeting of the Party organization, he declined to do so, using every excuse in the book and considered such reports . . ."unnecessary."[59] Similarly, despite repeated entreaties both oral and written to call meetings of the Party members of the Presidium in advance of full Presidium meetings so that key issues could be discussed and positions set, Makarov likewise refused to accommodate the Party group.[60]

Kuznetsov exploited Makarov's difficult decision in the late 1940s to have the Society design and produce postcards as an example of how Makarov had turned VOOP into a commercial operation.[61] The age of the leaders of the Presidium and Central Council also testified to Makarov's preference for those "who had fallen behind contemporary realities" and who were unfit for hard work. All of this boiled down to one conclusion: "V. N. Makarov has irrevocably lost his political face. . . . All of the activity of the Society is contained within the narrow confines of nature protection measures, but nothing is done to promote the practical realization of the Stalin Plan for


the Great Transformation of Nature."[62] The letter writers sought Safronov's help to reorient the goals of the Society and to remove their opponents.[63]

The political pressures began to mount. That summer in closed session the Party organization of the RSFSR Main Zapovednik Administration examined charges against Makarov for his introductory article to the anthology Zapovedniki Sovetskogo Soiuza .[64] Makarov's article, it was alleged, failed to outline clearly the basic tasks of the zapovednikieconomic and scientific—while it raised esthetic issues, which should be "secondary," to the same level of significance. Other accusations asserted that Makarov went on at "too great a length about the history of the question of nature protection . . . in Tsarist Russia and in capitalist countries" and that his article was pernicious "from the perspective of the Marxist-Leninist worldview"; by highlighting some of the environmental achievements of prerevolutionary and capitalist societies it would "mislead the public."

Those charges were sent to the Party organization by Malinovskii in the form of a written denunciation. This was particularly bad faith in light of Malinovskii's fulsome public praise of Makarov just two months later, in September 1951, when he wrote on Makarov's official employee evaluation (kharakteristika ):

Comrade Makarov is a genuine enthusiast in the cause of zapovedniki . He enjoys great authority among employees of the system . . .  and in scientific public opinion. A number of published works of Comrade Makarov illuminate the tasks and content of the scientific work of zapovedniki  .  .  . Comrade Makarov is politically literate, ideologically solid, and works on raising his intellectual and political level. He takes an active part in the work of the Party organization and for a number of years has served as an unpaid propagandist, leading a discussion circle on the history of the VKP(b) [Communist Party] and is currently leading a circle on the study of dialectical and historical materialism.[65]

Bravely, the Party organization, while slapping Makarov on the wrist, rejected Malinovskii's harshest and most damaging accusations.[66]

Most ominous of all, Romanetskii, who formally was attached to the RSFSR Council of Ministers as head of the group attached to the Expediters' Desk, and Svetlakov, another aide, in late spring had provided a nineteen-page report on the history and current status of VOOP for the RSFSR leadership.[67] The report could not have been more ruinous in its charges and implications of political unreliability. An analysis of the nature almanac for 1950 yielded a verdict that "extreme apoliticism characterized all the articles. . . . Nowhere do we see mentioned the fact that capitalism is incapable not only of organizing planned activity in the transformation of nature but of preventing the rapacious abuse of its resources."[68] The report also discerned a lack of Soviet patriotism.[69]

The nature almanac for 1951 was no better. Authors' attempts to be po-


litically correct landed them in trouble anyway. Thus, when one contributor placed Stalinist science charlatan Ol'ga Borisovna Lepeshinskaia at the head of a list of scientists that also included Lomonosov, Mendeleev, and Miklukho-Maklai, the authors of the report described such a ranking as "incomprehensible." [70]

Each journal/anthology (sbornik ) issued by the Society was scrutinized for stylistic and political lapses and errors of emphasis. Makarov was savaged for his article in the first anthology, "Nature Protection in the USSR and the Tasks of the Society." "From this article," wrote the investigators, "we may come to the conclusion that [international] priority in the field of nature protection belongs not to Russian scientists and to the Soviet state but to scientific figures of Western Europe and, in the first instance, America"; they concluded that there was a "need immediately to prohibit this society from engaging in the publication of such 'scientific' works."[71]

Capping the charges was their observation that Makarov and VOOP cited the work of I. I. Shmal'gauzen (whom Makarov was forced publicly to denounce in late 1948), the great genetics theorist whose career was virtually ended by Lysenko.[72] It is hardly astonishing that Romanetskii and Svetlakov saw no future for the Society. Their conclusion, to recommend "liquidation" of VOOP, flowed seamlessly from their litany of the Society's political errors and transgressions.

VOOP's leadership was informed about the Romanetskii report by Makarov himself, who had attended the recent meeting chaired by Bessonov at which Romanetskii presented his conclusions. It was not an easy task for the VOOP chief, whose health was beginning seriously to decline. Makarov was, as usual, diplomatic. "The speaker did not mention the positive aspects of our society's activities," he said, "only noting [its] shortcomings and mistakes. The report was tendentious and [I] alone was blamed for everything." [73]

Makarov explained that he did not speak in rebuttal because he was caught unprepared by the vehemence of the attacks and could not speak without supporting materials. Kuznetsov, who was also present, likewise declined to respond. Bessonov as chair was left no choice but to pass along Romanetskii's conclusions: "The Society was not capable of real work [and] did not contribute anything of benefit. . . . The need for the Society for the Protection of Nature has passed and for those reasons the Society must be liquidated."[74] By sometime in July, RSFSR deputy premier Safronov had already drafted a memorandum to Malenkov entitled "On the Liquidation of VOOP."[75]

With the fate of the Society hanging by a thread, Makarov wrote a long memorandum to Premier Chernousov, defending the Society and asking for an opportunity to argue its case before the RSFSR Council of Ministers.[76] At a meeting of the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers on July 27, with


Bessonov chairing, two decisions were taken: to accommodate Makarov's request for a large meeting and to initiate an investigation into VOOP's finances by the RSFSR Ministry of State Control.[77]

At 1:00 P.M. on August 2, 1951, twenty-five individuals gathered in the offices of Deputy Premier Bessonov. Thirteen represented VOOP, although Kuznetsov, Molodchikov, and Manteifel' could hardly be called "friendly witnesses." The remaining twelve included not only Bessonov, but also P. S. Melikhov of the USSR Ministry of Forestry, Malinovskii, and Romanetskii, no friends of VOOP.[78]

Manteifel' was only partly damaging, on the one hand conceding that Makarov was "not a bad person" and that "the Society was needed," but on the other, repeating his accusation that the Society was out of step with the times. "There is a respectable number of people whom I would call preservationists [konservatory] ," he said. "But it is time to replace these people, and it is not necessary to close down the Society on their account. That reconstruction . . . the Stalin Plan . . . can never succeed without input from the Society."[79]Zapovedniki , analogously, were also needed, but they had to be transformed from "passive" institutions to "laboratories of living nature, in which we study ways of reconstructing nature," he insisted.[80]

Romanetskii again presented his arguments for shutting down the Society: apoliticism, obsolescence, uselessness. This time, however, the activists were not caught off guard. The feisty Krivoshapov immediately responded with a lecture on the importance of an activist public: "In our country the decrees of the Party and government are carried out by attracting the participation of the broad mass of the people. To ignore the existing . . . voluntary societies would be a mistake."[81] Boldly Krivoshapov interrogated the hostile functionary: "You say, Comrade Romanetskii, that the Nature Almanac is apolitical. I do not comprehend [your accusation]. In what does its apoliticism consist? Could it only be in the fact that the names of naturalists are set on a par with those of political figures? . . . The question, in the form that Comrade Romanetskii has posed it," he concluded, "should be swept aside."[82]

Dement'ev mounted a surprisingly strong defense of the word protection . "This term shouldn't frighten us," he explained, "because there are things in nature that we are unable to produce. We need to protect them."[83] Reminding the government leaders of the practical benefits contributed by voluntary scientific activism, Dement'ev pointedly recalled that the commercial viability of the beaver, moose, and sable was attained only with the central participation of VOOP. In a decree of 1946 there were instructions to carry out systematic censuses of the basic commercial species in the republic. However, the decree did not specify who was to carry them out. VOOP processed the data and provided the crucial recommendations for


the Main Hunting Administration. If anything, concluded Dement'ev, the Society should be upgraded to all-Union status in appreciation.[84]

Perhaps the most dramatic expression of civic conscience among the defenders of VOOP was uttered by the seventy-year-old Aleksandr Petrovich Protopopov. A manifesto of the ethos of obshchestvennost , its particular power was that it was delivered in the halls of power. "I am a member of the Presidium of the Society," Protopopov began. "This civic position [eto obshchestvennoe polozhenie] compels me to speak out with candor before the [government] leadership to which we have been called to give an accounting. I . . . listened to the talk of Comrade Romanetskii with a great feeling of pain. . . . It was written with an intention to smear Comrade Makarov, who is the founder of this cause, and to present . . . fundamental accusations."[85] Protopopov had only derision for the accusation that personal material interests motivated leaders of the Society:

There are interests, but not of that kind. I have worked for more than twenty-five years. I have an interest only in organizing the public for constructive tasks [obshchestvennoe stroitel 'stvo ], in helping our state to create a well-run econom. . . . You have cut to the quick of the honor of a public activist [obshchestvennik ]. And I will not permit anyone to smear either myself personally or other members of the Presidium, who have been working honestly for many years, by alleging that we have been bearing all of the burdens of work simply in order to see our names in print. All of our publishing activity . . . is a great cause and our backs are straining under the heavy burden we carry.[86]

For the first time, noted Protopopov, VOOP was being investigated by the Council of Ministers. However, he offered, this was not "an in-depth" effort but a superficial one, "unworthy of the Council of Ministers apparat ."[87] Protopopov finally tackled the issue of political unreliability among the activists. "There are no conservative elements among us," he declared, perhaps intentionally "misunderstanding" the epithet konservator , which was used by VOOP's accusers to denote preservationists. "All of us are people of Soviet ideology, with Marxist training. . . . We do not accept conservatives in our midst and if we discover them, then we remove them ourselves."[88] This was more than a diversionary half-truth. Of course there were konservatoryin the sense of nature preservationists—in VOOP, and Protopopov himself was among their leaders. Yet all of these scientists and activists were more or less loyal Soviet citizens (or at least reconciled to Soviet power) and many were even patriots. None overtly promoted political ideologies antagonistic to "Soviet ideology" and a few, including Makarov, were perhaps even sincere Marxists. Nevertheless, Protopopov's statement was objectively subversive, for it claimed for citizen activists a sphere of honor, dignity, and autonomy of action that transgressed all boundaries set by the regime.


The deputy premier had the last word. Although a stenogram was recorded, it was Bessonov's prerogative to interpret the consensus of the meeting. Stretching the truth somewhat, he asserted that "all of those comrades who spoke expressed support for the preservation of the Society, proposing a reorganization of [its] work . . . and a change of its name, in order to orient the activity of the Society to serving the interests of the state, and to serving the interests of those measures pursued by the Party and the state with respect to the transformation of nature."[89]

Although most of the comments were "correct and incontestable," Bessonov, particularly in the presence of such operatives as Romanetskii, Shcherbakov, Koz'iakov, Malinovskii, and Melikhov, who either worked directly for Kremlin agencies or whose ultimate loyalties might lie with the Kremlin rather than with the RSFSR government, needed to single out Protopopov's intervention as "incorrect" and even "having an insulting quality." Addressing the aging activist, Bessonov prodded:

You consider all of the work of the Society to be completely faultless, crystal pure. That is not so. . . . There were scoundrels in the Society who pilfered money. . . . You heaped praise on Comrade Makarov; you said that he was worthy, businesslike. But don't you see? Comrade Makarov also suffers from a whole series of fundamental errors. Comrade Makarov knows what they are and must correct them. I personally regard your observation in connection with this as not completely correct.[90]

Bessonov admonished the Society to take seriously the errors revealed at the meeting and "take very severe steps to avoid repeating them, particularly in the publishing sphere." Closing with self-criticism, Bessonov admitted that he had given the Society too loose a tether and did not press the Presidium to confront some of the "fundamental questions." The next move, he indicated, was the Presidium's, for it would have to develop a plan for the reorganization of the Society and its work.[91] That would give Bessonov political room to help to save the Society.

Five days later, Bessonov summarized the meeting for his colleague A. M. Safronov, another deputy premier. On the archival copy, the key sentence of this document was underlined in red pen, presumably by Safronov: "All who spoke at the meeting . . . spoke out against the liquidation of the Society." Further, Bessonov reported on his instructions to the Presidium of VOOP to submit a reorganization plan to the RSFSR Council of Ministers by August 20, 1951. Finally, he noted that on orders of the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers, the financial activities of VOOP were still under investigation by the RSFSR Ministry of State Control.[92]

Many of VOOP's fiscal travails had their roots in the unreliable commercial environment in which the Society was forced to operate. As of October 1, 1951, thirty-two prepared manuscripts were awaiting printing, twenty-


two of which were physically at the typographers, some of them since 1948. The system provided no consumer protection from the lethally irresponsible sluggishness of the printing houses or the corruption of the State Arbitration Bureau, which ruled against the Society in an important case.[93] Precisely 494,027 rubles and 39 kopecks had been spent on the publications, most of which was unrecoverable. To revive attempts to publish these works, which included two sborniki (the journal-anthology Okhrana prirody ), R. Gekker and V. Varsonof'eva's work on the protection of inanimate nature, works on forest and garden insect pests, gardening tips, and the notorious postcard series, would involve additional expenditures of 200,000–300,000 rubles. Altogether, the works currently stalled could have produced an income of 2,000,000 rubles; even discounted 25 percent, they could have netted the Society 500,000 rubles after taxes. However, the Society had current bank assets of only 110 rubles, with further expected expenditures through the end of the year of 345,000 rubles.[94] P. S. Bel'skii summed up everyone's gloom: "The collapse of the Society is at hand."[95]

Unanticipated and legally dubious taxes levied by the state also contributed to the debacle. Reinforcing the Alice-in-Wonderland nature of the situation, the state had imposed the taxes precisely because the literature of the Society was not for sale: because of printing delays, VOOP had lost its tax exemption.

Desperation pushed VOOP's leaders to take some decisive steps. They would petition the USSR Ministry of Finances to return the 25 percent of all profits seized as "taxes," which would net 151,000 rubles. They would temporarily stop all new publication activity. They would ask the branches to eliminate their debt to the Central Executive Council. They would temporarily end payments to lecturers for the organization of exhibits, conferences, meetings, and scientific expeditions. And they would call a plenary meeting to report to the Society's activists in mid-November.[96]

VOOP was reviewed again by the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers on September 5, this time with the RSFSR minister of state control, N. Vasil'ev, and Premier Chernousov present along with Bessonov. Bessonov and Vasil'ev were charged with preparing a draft resolution for putting VOOP's affairs in order," as Chernousov's order had it.[97]

Soon afterward, Chernousov sent Georgii Malenkov a substantial letter on the situation with VOOP.[98] Although VOOP had failed to attract the masses to its society and had neglected to reorient its work to the transformation of nature, wrote Chernousov, "these shortcomings . . . do not serve as a basis for labeling VOOP a useless and obsolete organization." Indeed, the Russian premier continued, "the RSFSR Council of Ministers considers that the existence of a mass citizens' organization that could render assistance in solving the imposing tasks of the transformation and protection of nature is exceedingly valuable and desirable." Chernousov closed with a


request that the Central Committee permit the RSFSR Council of Ministers to continue to oversee the reorganization of VOOP and to allow a congress of the Society to be held in Moscow in October 1951 for that purpose.[99]

Chernousov was again occupied by VOOP's problems when the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers held its fifty-fourth session of the year on October 10. With Makarov present as well as Deputy Premier Safronov, N. Savitskii from the RSFSR Ministry of State Control presented the report on VOOP's fiscal troubles. State Control, working with Safronov, was to prepare a draft decree for action by the government within a five-day period.[100] By October 13, the draft, "On the Illegal and Fiscally Improvident Disbursements of Funds in VOOP," was prepared, undergoing a slight change to replace the Main Zapovednik Administration, now upgraded to all-Union status, with the RSFSR Ministry of Forestry as the agency charged with supervising the Society.[101]

On October 26, the Bureau of the RSFSR Council of Ministers considered the draft decree. Still running interference for the Society, Chernousov, it appears, made the final changes himself. Stricken from the text of the decree at that meeting were clauses that called for Makarov's removal as the acting president of the Society (although he was blamed for its plight) and assigning the future supervision of VOOP to the RSFSR Ministry of Forestry. A last instruction to the Society was to identify those culpable for mismanagement and to take appropriate measures against them.[102]

Published on October 31,[103] the decree was discussed at a meeting of VOOP's Presidium on November 13 and again on December 19, as members sought to gird the Society for another year of trial. Gurgen Artashesovich Avetisian, appointed to chair the commission to investigate the "failings" of the Society, was now again thrust into the limelight. Makarov, in declining health, urgently appealed to the Presidium to select a second deputy president of the Society. Nominated by Dement'ev, seconded by Makarov, and supported by the unlikely duo of Protopopov and Kuznetsov, Avetisian was elected unanimously.[104]

A litany of the Society's mistakes and oversights with a generous dollop of contrived self-accusations, Avetisian's report was a long one. Its length assured that it would satisfy the recondite requirements of the Soviet political game of self-criticism. All the Society's dirty linen was aired: the nonparticipation of Presidium members; the feud between Makarov and Kuznetsov over the past year, which interfered with normal activity; the choice of some authors and artists on the basis of nepotism; an oblique reference to an overpayment to one of Makarov's sons for some artwork; and a problem with the formal office of president (Tsitsin temporarily resigned in 1950–1951 owing to illness, and had not been active before and after his temporary resignation). The main problem, though, was the failure of the Society to involve itself with the great transformation of nature.


The showdown came at the Presidium meeting of December 19, chaired by Varsonof'eva. First to speak was Avetisian, who presented the VOOP commission's report. Although Makarov had seconded Avetisian's nomination for deputy president at the previous meeting, the entomologist hardly returned the favor. His recommendations included suing Makarov's son, among others, for the overpayment made to him, and removing Makarov as deputy president. They also included changing the name of the Society, asking Tsitsin to return to an active role as president, appointing Dement'ev acting president, assigning greater personal responsibility to individual Presidium members for specific functions, and petitioning the USSR and RSFSR governments for renewal of the Society's tax exemption, a change in staffing rules, and other pressing needs. Miraculously, Kuznetsov emerged almost unscathed.[105]

Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva was among those stunned by the singling out of Makarov. "How did it happen," she asked, "that only Makarov has ended up bearing the full responsibility?" She called for the entire Presidium to shoulder the burden of responsibility. However, someone else immediately rejoined that "the entire Presidium cannot be permitted to step down, because that would be seen as a [political] demonstration against the Council of Ministers."[106]

The Society was caught on the horns of a dilemma. To remove Makarov from the leadership would be a surrender of the treasured autonomy of their citizens' movement. Worse, it constituted an affront to the central values of the activists' fiercely defended independent social identity: honor and loyalty to friends and colleagues even under the pressure of regime threats or blandishments. Not to remove Makarov, conversely, seemed to the activists to imperil the very survival of the Society, one of the handful of institutions remaining in the Soviet Union in which these values of civic activism and autonomy could be affirmed, expressed, nurtured, and propagated.

The ever-cautious Dement'ev counseled that "the Council of Ministers is not interested in subjective reasons [for what happened]. We must furnish a solution for putting our future work in order." P. P. Smolin added that "to acknowledge that we were not up to the job and to resign en masse is not an option. . . . We have to go the path of sacrificing individual members."[107]

Clearly upset by these options, Krivoshapov, who was on the commission, tried to find a way to reconcile the moral imperatives of obshchestvennost ' with the Society's survival: "The government has entrusted [our] organization itself with finding the people responsible for allowing the violations and to put forward its own recommendations." Agreeing with Makarov, he noted that "the Society cannot rely on membership dues alone for its survival." For that reason, Makarov's emphasis on developing sales of publications as a source of income was fully understandable. Moreover, Kuznetsov kept the Presidium in the dark as to the actual mechanics of the contracts that were


concluded with the artists and compositors, so that even if Makarov's son had been overpaid it was the responsibility of the staff to place the issue before the Presidium in a timely way. "The apparat let us down. They undermined the whole Presidium." Therefore, he announced,

It is impermissible to single out only one person to walk the plank. The great work done by V. N. Makarov for the Society is a matter of common knowledge. Yet, we are bound to carry out the decree of the Government. V. N. Makarov should not remain as president; we need to name a fresh face to that office. But the Presidium and the apparat are also responsible [for the Society's problems]. V. N. Makarov's reputation remains untarnished. The entire Presidium should accept flll responsibility for everything and S. V. Kuznetsov . . . bears no less responsibility.

Now recommending that the Society attempt to salvage its sense of honor by spreading the responsibility broadly, even while removing Makarov as acting president, Krivoshapov more than anyone personally embodied the tortured contradictions experienced by the old guard.

If removing Makarov was a political human sacrifice to save the Society, removing Kuznetsov was a fully deserved punishment for betrayal and ethical malfeasance. Noting that "the moral responsibility of a civic activist is different from that of a white-collar worker receiving a salary for his work," contrasting the cases of Makarov and Kuznetsov, respectively, Krivoshapov had no trouble concluding that the paid secretary, Kuznetsov, was guilty at least of gross negligence and ought to be removed without regret.[108] Where Makarov's blunders were committed out of his sense of dedication to the Society, Kuznetsov's were the result of khalatnost' (total irresponsibility) and ignorance, if not active ill will toward the movement that paid his salary.

Another old-timer who was distraught at the choices confronting the Society was Protopopov. He proposed what he believed was another, marginally adequate moral compromise. Because three officers handled the finances of the Society, those three—Makarov, Kuznetsov, and Dement'ev— should pay the political price demanded by the authorities: removal from their positions as officers. Clearly pained, Protopopov apologetically concluded: "We have all said our piece and we must come to some resolution. We feel extremely awkward regarding Vasilii Nikitich Makarov. But I believe that the three . . . should resign their offices." Seeking to retain a shred of honor, Protopopov proposed retaining Makarov as deputy president, even while removing him as acting president.[109] Curiously, Avetisian was able to impose his own resolution of the problem over the attempts by Protopopov and Krivoshapov to spread the blame more broadly. This was likely a consequence of his recent election as the Society's deputy president.

Betraying his completely different mentality, Kuznetsov bluntly offered that "our society is not a parliament. We are not required to put in our res-


ignations. We need to identify concretely those responsible. . . . I do not reject my responsibility. You propose to fire Kuznetsov as a person ignorant of nature. But I am really unsuitable in your eyes because I helped to uncover deficiencies in the work of the Society."[110] Both views were correct, and they overlapped more than Kuznetsov realized. Kuznetsov's inability to empathize with the ethos of the Society, which included a love of nature, led him to uncover "deficiencies" in the Society's work. These "deficiencies" stemmed from VOOP's desperate attempts to protect and promote its members' own vision of human society and of environmental responsibility. And that represented an active divergence from the Stalinist vision of utilitarian transformation of nature and society, a vision that Kuznetsov fully shared, and which led him to blow the whistle on this tribe of academics and activists so out of step with official values.

A. V. Mikheev brought in one more discordant element of Kuznetsov's style: in contrast with the Society's openness, Kuznetsov created a climate of fear among the salaried workers. "They fear Kuznetsov like the fire," charged the old activist, "and are afraid to speak out against him."[111] Kuznetsov proved the point by charging that Mikheev was not officially a member in good standing of VOOP any longer, having failed to pay his three-ruble membership dues.[112]

Long silent, Makarov now confronted the awkward and ethically difficult task of responding to his friends and colleagues. "I know," he began, "that I permitted a number of mistakes to be made, but I do not intend to be the scapegoat. We have mixed up the principles of an official state institution with those of a citizens' organization," he continued, referring to what he believed was the unfair demand by the government that he take "political" responsibility for contracts that were concluded by the entire Presidium, and not by him alone. "It is terribly sad that, after fifty years of service, I have come to this end. Morally it is not right to heap all the blame onto one person. The Council of Ministers instructed the Presidium to find others responsible as well, and on this account I am not in agreement with the conclusions of the commission."[113]

Rising to support Makarov was Varsonof'eva who, inter alia, criticized "the formulation of P. P. Smolin that there had to be [human] sacrifices." "We, the entire Presidium, all of us, must bear the responsibility for the work of the Society," she insisted. Acknowledging that Varsonof'eva was right, Smolin quickly qualified his prior statement by adding that he had not intended his words to mean that Makarov alone should shoulder the blame. Indeed, Smolin supported the idea that he should remain deputy president, even while giving up the acting presidency of the Society. But neither should the whole Presidium resign. Smolin felt that the difficult choice of naming a few names was essential in order to save the Society.[114]

Sensing moral censure from the old guard, Dement'ev unexpectedly now


offered to resign as first deputy (and currently acting) president. Protopopov wanted to summon a plenary meeting of the Central Council to resolve these thorny problems. The meeting threatened to stall in the quicksand of moral confusion and helpless paralysis.

At this juncture Avetisian revealed his tough and pragmatic political will: "We cannot elect a new Presidium. . . . Our tasks are great and our resources and opportunities are meager. The Council of Ministers insists on the removal of V. N. Makarov and we must submit."[115]

The commission's recommendations were adopted with only one change, but it was a significant one: the additional recommendation that S. V. Kuznetsov be removed as the Society's secretary. It was also decided to call a full meeting of the Central Council and to confirm Dement'ev as acting president. Makarov, who was removed as deputy president, remained on the Presidium and in the Central Council. Nevertheless, with Makarov's release from the post of acting president, the Society's sense of honor had been wounded. Was sacrificing its leader of twenty-two years really the price the Society had to pay to stay in business? Was there a price that might be too great? An authentic crisis of the spirit was gripping VOOP.


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