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Chapter Nine— VOOP after Stalin: Survival and Decay
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Chapter Nine—
VOOP after Stalin:
Survival and Decay

In their efforts to engineer a merger with the Green Plantings Society, the new leaders of VOOP were still employing the politics of protective coloration. Stalin's "Plan for the Great Transformation of Nature" was still a watchword in June 1953, and the Society sought to link itself to a political agenda endorsed by the state power. However, protective coloration was a strategy fraught with peril for the integrity of a social movement. It required a convincing outward display of loyalty in some key areas so that a certain internal freedom as well as political freedom of action could be maintained in other areas. It required that the movement project the appearance of a group of quaint, even slightly irrelevant (from a utilitarian Soviet perspective) old-line scientists, more interested in discussing questions of faunal distribution than challenging economic or political decisions, while it quietly defended and expanded its "state within a state"—the zapovedniki —or took aim at select individual policies. Such a strategy was effective enough during times of "normal" Stalinism, but even its greatest practitioner, Makarov, had been powerless in the climate of terror of Stalin's last years. If it took a mastermind such as the late Makarov to make protective coloration work in the best of times, what could be expected of his far less gifted successors? Under Avetisian, the strategy inexorably began to overwhelm what it was supposed to protect.

Gurgen Artashesovich Avetisian's (see figure 10) finest hour was bracketed by his valiant defense of VOOP as the lone dissenting voice on the RSFSR Gosplan Commission of 1952, on the one hand, and the triumphant convocation of the "three societies" zapovednik conference of May 1954, on the


Figure 10.
Gurgen Artashesovich Avetisian (1905–1984).

other. The influx of pragmatic planters, foresters, and horticulturists into the reorganized VOOP through its merger with the Green Plantings Society, combined with closer monitoring of the Society's activities by the RSFSR Council of Ministers, however, created the preconditions for major shifts in the Society's direction and operations. In an ominous departure from the Society's traditions, even Avetisian himself began to behave in a highhanded manner.[1]

The period 1953–1955 was an interregnum for VOOP as well as for Soviet society as a whole. In contrast to the thrust of the liberalizing changes in Soviet society, however, the interregnum in VOOP ultimately led to the


suppression of the autonomous ethos of scientific public opinion within the Society and to its takeover by corrupt Communist time-servers. This new period posed an even greater challenge to the old-timers. Indications mounted that the old traditions were being supplanted by a new approach to doing business. Lush, secretive bureaucratization quickly created a barrier between the new bosses and the old stalwarts. Emblematic of these developments was the way that the All-Union Congress of VOOP was convened in August 1955.

After long delays, a decree of September 5, 1954 of the RSFSR Council of Ministers marked the official inauguration of the new All-Russian Society for the Promotion of the Protection of Nature and the Greening of Population Centers, VOSOPiONP (although I will continue to refer to the Society as VOOP, to which name it reverted in 1959) The old Organizing Committee, composed of members elected to the Presidium of VOOP in 1947 and to the Presidium of the Green Plantings Society in 195 , was replaced by a lean new committee of seven: Avetisian, Dement'ev, Motovilov, Krivoshapov, V. I. Egorov, an agronomist, A. N. Volkov, and N. B. Golovenkov.[2] A new charter was prepared under the guidance of Avetisian, who remained chair of the Society's Organizing Committee pending the convocation of the founding Congress, set for 1955. In the meantime the Society hobbled along in a state of organizational limbo. Eight years had passed since the previous Congress, and VOOP was in severe violation of its charter. The Society had repeatedly petitioned the Party for permission to hold a Congress, which was repeatedly denied. This then served as fodder for Party accusations that the Society was delinquent in upholding its charter provisions.

On June 20, 1955, the Organizing Committee met at last to set the agenda for the Congress, which needed to be submitted not only to the RSFSR Council of Ministers but to the Central Committee of the Party as well. Although activists had proposed focusing on two questions, the ratification of the charter and elections of an official leadership, the Central Committee, which had been consulted beforehand this time, recommended adding speeches concerning fundamental principles and positions that would guide the Society's work. This delicate task was entrusted to the Party group within the Organizing Committee. Reports and talks were provisionally scheduled from Tsitsin, Formozov, Kozhin, the botanist Bazilevskaia, and Egorov.[3]

On July 29 the Organizing Committee finally got word that six days earlier, the RSFSR Council of Ministers had been given permission by the Party to allow VOOP to convene its first conference. At the new campus of Moscow State University on Lenin Hills the government had set aside 100 dorm rooms for visiting delegates. The main event was to be held in the university club. After waiting for the better part of a decade to hold such a meeting, the nature protection activists were given a scant two weeks to get the word out and make their preparations.


Almost furtively, without publicity, the VOOP Congress was convened on August 15. The old-timers were not invited. One remarkable document illuminating the episode is a pained letter from Susanna Fridman, VOOP secretary from the Society's inception until 1947, to interim VOOP president Avetisian: "I was completely shocked by your totally accidental mention of the convocation of the Congress," she opened, charging that she most likely never would have heard about it at all were it not for her unrelated request for other information from Avetisian. Fridman was as much saddened as she was outraged by the slight: "We old veterans of the conservation cause have been waiting for some years now impatiently for just this Congress. We dreamed of meeting one more time, discussing many issues of concern to us, summing things up, and perhaps clasping each other's hands for one last time. Most important, we hoped to pass on our passionate commitment to conservation to the young generation."[4]

However, the Congress was called in mid-August, observed Fridman, exactly at the time when "all scientific researchers are on vacation or on expeditions." To Avetisian's excuse (in his letter to her) that it had been decided not to invite many activists so as to keep costs down, Fridman replied that it was wrong to have slighted veterans and even founders of the Society, many of whom would have paid their own way in any case. Fridman reminded Avetisian of her own decision to turn down a 1,000-ruble award from the Presidium for her work organizing the Society's archive, a decision motivated by her concern for the Society's rickety finances.

Now, five founding members found themselves "thrown overboard" after thirty years of passionate service to the cause. Fridman was especially concerned that her exclusion from the Society's Executive Council would deprive her of an indispensable credential in her continuing efforts to propagandize on behalf of conservation in the media and in society; understandably, she feared that she would be called on to explain why she was no longer a member of the Society's governing body. "Of course," she reproached Avetisian, "had the old guard been present at the Congress, none of this would have happened. Neither Smidovich nor Komarov nor Makarov would have allowed anything like this." On the contrary, they would have proposed that the five living founding members be granted lifetime honorary membership on the Executive Council.

The snubbing of Fridman and the old guard was cause for yet another disappointment. Urged on the previous year by Professor G. G. Bosse, Fridman was at work on a major history of conservation, support of which she had hoped the Congress would provide. She had counted on the official endorsement of VOOP, but now, "to her great sorrow and humiliation," she felt abandoned. Unbowed, she vowed that she and a group of veterans would continue the project, and implicitly raised the prospect of unflattering portrayals of such recent scandals as the Kuznetsov affair and the 1955


Congress. Further, Fridman promised to write to others returning from field trips to let them know of these developments.[5]

The 1955 Congress and Its Aftermath

Russian conservation history is awash in first Congresses. In 1929 there was the First All-Russian Congress of Nature Protection Activists and in 1933 the First All-Union Congress for the Protection of Nature in the USSR. In 1938 the First Congress of the All-Russian Society for Nature Protection (VOOP) was held. And on August 15–17, 1955, the First Congress of the All-Russian Society for the Promotion of Nature Protection and the Greening of Population Centers convened in Moscow. (In June 1995, I might add, the First Russian Congress for Nature Protection was held.)

With its 130 voting delegates and 201 guests, it was a decent-sized affair, overshadowing the intimate 1947 Congress with its fifty-three delegates. Yet, confirming Susanna Fridman's worst fears, its atmosphere was alien to all previous Congresses. Only three of the eleven members of the Presidium—Avetisian, Dement'ev, and Professor P. A. Polozhentsev of Voronezh—could be called old-timers; the recognizable hearts and souls of the movement—Varsonof'eva, Formozov, Geptner, Fridman, Nasimovich, Zablotskii, Protopopov, Gekker—were all absent. Their places were taken by gardeners, selectioners, and presidents of provincial chapters.

Making the keynote address was Nikolai Nikolaevich Bespalov, one of Puzanov's deputy premiers who now, it seemed, bore principal responsibility for the fate of the movement. Bespalov's remarks seemed to be a continuation of the generally supportive attitude of the Russian Federation leadership toward nature protection: "Our people rightfully demand not only comfortable and attractive housing but beautifully laid out parks and gardens, and residential quarters, streets, and courtyards luxuriating in greenery and flowers. . . . Thus far we have only a handful of cities and population centers that meet these demands," and despite the annual investment of 500,000,000 rubles in urban landscaping and greening, ultimate success would depend on mobilizing the army of citizen amateur gardeners and nature lovers.

That is why the Congress . . . is so important. We must hope that it will facilitate the transformation of nature protection and . . . greening into a truly mass movement. In this cause we must not limit ourselves to government decrees although they are, of course, necessary. Agitation and propaganda are of paramount importance, as is upbringing and explanatory work, particularly among youths and schoolchildren. This is one of the principal tasks of the Society. . . . [Despite the fact] that nature protection and greening have been engaged in here for a long time, we cannot describe the existing situation as


favorable. Rapacious attitudes toward nature and green plantings are not rarities at the present time. . . . We must say bluntly that the local soviets until now have paid little attention to nature protection and green plantings. Especially here is where citizens' organizations must mobilize the attention of the population. Citizens' oversight over the proper use of natural resources must occupy a great place in the work of the Society and its branches. . . . We should also recall that nature protection and greening pursue a variety of aims, not only economic but also cultural and esthetic.

Bespalov concluded by noting that eight years had passed since the 1947 Congress, during which time "the economic and cultural needs of the country had greatly increased." That, in turn, demanded "a decisive mobilization in the area of nature protection and greening, and, in particular, a mobilization of the work of the Society."[6]

The most arresting and disquieting moment came near the close of the gathering, when one of the few old-timers present, Professor Pëtr Artem'evich Polozhentsev of Voronezh, took the floor. "It is awkward to express [my] feelings and impressions," he reflected, at first talking around the subject. "I have in mind the absence at this Congress of the distinguished activist for the protection of nature Comrade Makarov, who has left us forever."[7] Echoing Susanna Fridman's letter to Avetisian, Polozhentsev now alluded to the other "absent presence" at the Congress—the living activists from among the generation of founders who were not in attendance. Polozhentsev's remarks revealed an incipient perception that an era in the life of the Society had ended and that VOOP, now VOSOPiONP, had fallen into the hands of "new people":

I wanted to recall the enthusiasts of nature protection, by force of whose efforts our society not only managed to survive but also to have the opportunity to convene this present Congress. Are those present here aware that our Society was on the brink of obliteration? It is with a feeling of gratitude that I now recognize the following comrades: [F. N.] Petrov, Avetisian, Dement'ev, Motovilov, Varsonof'eva, Bazilevskaia, Krivoshapov, Protopopov, and others. It is also necessary to name those comrades who, working in the [Society's] paid staff, also maintained their support, such as Golovenkov and others.

Polozhentsev made a point of thanking some of the "newer" defenders of VOOP—Avetisian, Dement'ev, Golovenkov—in recognition that political realities would never again permit the control of VOOP by the Society's founders. With those thanks came the tenuous hope that the Avetisians and Dement'evs would be able to hold the line against the Volkovs, Egorovs, Manteifel's, Malinovskiis, and other convinced or cynical transformers of nature. "There are those who are trying to accuse the Organizing Committee of poor preparation for the Congress," Polozhentsev concluded, in a final attempt to lend support to Avetisian. Implicitly he seemed to recognize that


the convocation on short notice, the unpropitious selection of the season in which to hold it, and the disturbing omissions of the founders may well have been out of Avetisian's hands, the decisions of a higher authority:

Many of the biggest defects of the Congress, though, were scarcely in the competence of the Organizing Committee. But [even so] our Congress is taking place in a marvelous building and those of us who traveled here [from afar] were able to find housing with no difficulty. And that is all the work of the Organizing Committee, . . . [work performed] particularly under those conditions, when our voice is barely heard by those who should be encouraging us in our work. [Instead], they should say "Thank you, comrades, for your love of nature, for your efforts to enrich and to beautify our Motherland."[8]

An indication of the new order within the Society was quickly revealed in the report of the Charter Editing Commission, headed by Vasilii Vasil'evich Prokof'ev of the "Znanie" society. Noting that there had been a number of suggestions for the best possible name of the new society, including "Society of Friends of Nature" and "Society for the Transformation of Nature," Prokof'ev explained that the name was already a moot point insofar as the RSFSR Council of Ministers insisted on the existing cumbersome formulation "because it believes that the Society must chiefly orient itself toward population centers." Their view, he continued, was that "the Society must not take upon itself broad responsibility for the fulfillment of governmental measures," perhaps an allusion to the former VOOP's energetic and autonomous initiatives in the creation of zapovedniki and in the enforcement of anti-poaching laws.[9]

With dues set at three rubles for full adult members and fifty kopecks for youths, the Congress completed its work by electing a new Central Council of thirty members through secret ballot. Of the core group of old-timers, only Krivoshapo, Polozhentsev, and Formozov, elected in his absence, were now represented, along with second-generation members Avetisian and Dement'ev. With a clear majority, the "new people" were in the driver's seat.[10]

The first session of the Society's newly elected Executive Committee, which met on August 19 at the conclusion of the Congress, is one of the defining moments in the history of the merged society. The presiding officer of the August 19 session was not a member of the movement at all, but the same N. N. Bespalov, a deputy prime minister of the RSFSR, who had given the keynote address at the Congress. That in itself was highly unusual at a meeting of a voluntary society with VOOP's traditions. Then, announcing the order of business, which was the election of the Society's new president and vice presidents, Bespalov let it be known that the Society's pretensions to autonomy were a thing of the past. "Having weighed the various possible candidates," Bespalov Solomonically pronounced, "we have inescapably decided to recommend as president of the Central Executive


Council of the Society G. P. Motovilov," the former USSR minister of forestry. The vote was unanimous.

Nikolai Vasil'evich Eliseev, a veterinarian and head of the Russian Federation's new Main Administration for Hunting and Zapovedniki , was unanimously elected first vice president. Aleksandr Nikolaevich Volkov, head of the Moscow Plant Protection Station and president of the Moscow oblast' branch of the Society, was elected as the other vice president. In this coronation of bureaucrats there was one small jarring note when Ivan Stepanovich Krivoshapov, one of the few old-timers left on the new council, proposed the candidacy of Nina Aleksandrovna Bazilevskaia instead of Volkov, offering that there should be at least one biologist on the Presidium. However, these were new times, and objections from the new claque of careerists forced a hasty withdrawal of the botanist's candidacy. Only Nikolai Borisovich Golovenkov, the scholarly secretary of the Society, was reelected.

Elections to the remaining five slots on the Presidium were similarly conducted under conditions of guided democracy. Avetisian was left on, presumably as a courtesy, and Krivoshapov, Tsitsin, and Dement'ev were named as well; their appointment gave the Presidium a veneer of legitimacy. The remaining choice was the hack Vasilii Ivanovich Egorov, deputy inspector of the RSFSR Ministry of Agriculture's Division of Gardens, Viticulture, Subtropical Crops, and Teas. However, this compromise did not please the extreme anti-academic utilitarian wing, which demanded expansion of the Presidium to include at least one representative of the urban greening group. Another compromise was struck; the Presidium was expanded by two, and the "greener" Aleksandr Filippovich Lukash was elected together with Professor Nikolai Ivanovich Kozhin, a representative of the fishing industry. Two Executive Council members abstained from the vote on Lukash, but they, too, were clearly out of step.[11]

As we seek to understand episodes like these in the absence of full archival documentation, we must always keep in mind the temper of the times. When the republics were faced with repeated assaults on their authority and raids on their portfolios of responsibilities, they tried to defend as much as they could. To a great extent this stance explains the patronage and solicitude of the Russian Republic's government toward the Russian conservation movement and the Russian zapovedniki when they fell under attack. Although far from liberal, the leadership of the RSFSR played a crucial role in protecting Russia's version of civil society from obliteration. That the RSFSR leadership was willing to defend VOOP in the first place no doubt had something to do with its perception of nature protection as a low-risk issue. It could take a stand, implicitly defending its sense of its own importance in the bargain, without the likelihood of being purged.

With Stalin's death, though, the pressure on the republics from the center eased. It was time to frame new compromises and to blunt the edges of


conflict. Patronage of even a remotely dissident conservation movement became counterproductive under the new conditions of rapprochement with Khrushchëv's team. Although the Russian Republic never gave up the goal of restoring its zapovedniki and even maintained a certain respect for the old-line elite biologists who had led the conservation movement, it could not allow them to remain in control of a growing organization such as VOOP. Elite biologists could work in subsidiary roles in the RSFSR's Main Administration for Hunting and Zapovedniki under politically reliable bureaucrats, but they would never again be allowed to occupy highly visible positions, which only attracted the near-fatal attention of the center to them and to their patrons in the republic's leadership.

The Lakoshchënkov Affair

History occasionally is the story of surprising reversals. Romanetskii, the police bureaucrat who participated centrally in the persecution of the conservation movement, emerged four years later as a naive idealist whose outrage at the Party's abuse of power in the environmental area led him to confront Khrushchëv himself. Another example of how one man's behavior evolved from craven denunciation under Stalin to outspoken resistance under Khrushchëv is the case of Vsevolod Georgievich Lakoshchënkov.

In 1950 Lakoshchënkov was one of several members of the Moscow oblast' branch of VOOP who signed a letter denouncing the Society's old guard for promoting corruption and stagnation. The charges were wildly exaggerated and distorted—part of a campaign to remove the independent-minded leadership of the Society and to replace it with a more pliant and loyal Stalinist cadre. Nonetheless, these tactics were partially successful, resulting in the forced resignation of Makarov in 1952 and the eventual takeover of VOOP by Party hacks between 1953 and 1956. Although they failed to eliminate the autonomous, oppositional conservation movement, which migrated to the protection of the Moscow Society of Naturalists, the Party loyalists inherited the expanding machinery of the conservation society.

Lakoshchënkov was a local activist whose star initially rose with the ouster of the Makarov group. Beginning in 1948 he had served on the Presidium and as secretary of the VOOP branch of the town of Perovo, a Moscow suburb. From January 1954 through December 1956 he was a member of the Auditing Commission of the Moscow Regional branch of VOOP, along with V. S. Iukhno, director of the Prioksko-Terrasnyi zapovednik and president of the Serpukhov branch, and I. P. Kosinets, secretary of the Leninskii regional branch.

The commission met in October 1954, but the extreme disorganization of the financial records moved the commission to declare that it could not


conduct a coherent audit. Although Moscow VOOP branch president A. N. Volkov and the branch's bookkeeper proposed that the commission return in April 1955, by which time the documents were to be put in order the commission resolved instead to conduct an immediate investigation into possible malfeasance.[12]

The scholarly secretary, S. V. Butygin, had been wearing not one hat, but five, dispersing credits, serving as cashier, and acting as bookkeeper and safekeeper besides. The cash transactions that crossed his desk bypassed the Society's bank account and were therefore never officially recorded. Chaos also reigned in other matters. No membership lists were kept by the regional branches. A close associate of Volkov's, one Korshunova, had been hired as bookkeeper; she simply sat in the office and took the work home to her husband, who was a bookkeeper.

All of this impropriety, Lakoshchënkov alleged in his letter to V. M. Molotov (now USSR minister of state control), was intentional. Preying on Butygin's weakness for alcohol and his illness, as well as his dedication to the Society, Volkov had put the scholarly secretary in an untenable position. Deprived of honest, skilled bookkeeping support staff, Butygin soon was over his head as he struggled to take over those functions in addition to his normal organizational ones. In order to balance the available cash with receipts Butygin at one point had pitched in 2,800 rubles of his own money.

Complications multiplied at a meeting of the VOOP Executive Council on November 12, 1954. Despite the absence of a report from the Auditing Commission, Volkov blamed the messy books on Butygin, whose removal he now demanded. He also demanded the exclusion from the council of P. P. Smolin for his "bungling" of "Bird Day," of M. G. Groshikov for "inactivity," and of P. A. Manteifel' on account of his overcommitted work calendar. Volkov's agenda was not simply to rout the old-line professors and field naturalists. He wanted the field cleared for an even more radical conversion of the Society. Volkov sought to remake VOOP into a profitable business.[13] True, the Society would promote a little greening here and there, but that was all beside the point. The point was profit, and that is why Volkov needed to retire even such personally honest philosophical supporters of the "transformation of nature" as Manteifel'.

As early as mid 1954 Volkov began to assemble his confederacy of wheeler-dealers. P. A. Petriaev was brought on board as scholarly secretary, with two contracts for 5,250 rubles total for "research" and an additional payment of 2,850 rubles for undocumented "lectures" on behalf of VOOP to sweeten the deal. Other Volkov allies, such as P. V. Tsibin, V. S. Iukhno, I. P. Kosinets, and Zemering, head of the Mytishchi regional branch, were also brought into the Presidium.

Commercial activity immediately assumed two lines of action. One was the purchase and resale of DDT for profit by the Moscow regional branch.


Apparently, no financial documents were kept of the transactions within the Society; information and documents bearing on the purchase did turn up in a search of other agencies' files. Nevertheless, testimony was received that the VOOP branch in Mytishchi sold the DDT at more than 200 percent of the average price. Perhaps more shocking was the second commercial operation, which got under way in October 1954. More than any other scandal, it exemplified the ethical rot that accompanied the ouster of the old-timers by the new group. Tsibin and Iukhno were the ringleaders in a scam to uproot 12,000 eight– to ten-year-old linden trees from the Prioksko-Terrasnyi zapovednik and resell them for huge sums to interested parties, including the Moscow Telephone Construction Trust. Not only were the trees being illegally pillaged, on the sly, from a nature reserve, but the operation was being masterminded by the reserve's own director, Viacheslav Stepanovich Iukhno.[14] Volkov and his people managed to combine Stalin and Lysenko's development philosophy with the moral vision of the Mafia.

Other unsavory characters were brought in to round out the commercial operation, which by 1955 involved the "sale" of 8,223 trees fetching hundreds of thousands of rubles.[15] Whereas the tree removals commenced in April 1955, official permission for the operation was retroactively provided in May and October by the Main Administration for Zapovedniki . Malinovskii himself signed on to the scam. On August 13, the Presidium of the Moscow branch of VOOP awarded V. S. Iukhno 1,000 rubles as a bonus for his successful commercial transaction.

Two more audits were held in 1955, the first conducted by Lakoshchënkov and the auditing bookkeeper, F. K. Alëkhin. Its results, published December 31, 1955, were described as "slanderous" by Volkov, deputy president V. K. Alekseev, and the other regional Presidium members. Then the Moscow oblast' Party Committee's Agricultural Sector ordered a second audit. Gagarin, deputy head of the sector, even went so far as to recommend that branch president Volkov not remain involved in the linden tree business, speaking at the Second Moscow oblast 'Conference of VOOP in 1956.[16] However, the composition of the auditing commission gave one pause; Iukhno, Alekseev, Kosinets, and Butorin (of the All-Union VOOP)—precisely those under the cloud of suspicion—formed its majority.[17] Seeking to explain Lakoshchënkov's absence from the commission, its members asserted that he "declined to serve, giving the excuse that he would be away on business . . . until April 12, 1956." According to Lakoshchënkov's own letter to Molotov, he refused to serve because of his strong objections to the participation of the officials responsible for the alleged abuses.

At the Second Moscow oblast' Conference of VOOP where the Party official warned regional VOOP leaders to abandon the tree sales, Lakoshchënkov and Alëkhin were expelled from the Moscow Regional branch of VOOP


"for slanderous activities within the Society."[18] The vote was a disheartening 146 to 2.[19]

Repeating essentially the same charges in a letter to Soviet premier Nikolai A. Bulganin written in early July 1957, Lakoshchënkov added an arresting note of emotionality to his appeal for vindication.[20] "You know perfectly well," it opened, "that there is a limit to the amount of pressure that a person can tolerate, and a limit to the social and personal sufferings that the heart is able to bear, especially the heart of a seventy-five-year-old man." Referring to his letter to Molotov, which he enclosed, Lakoshchënkov pointedly accused "the Communists A. N. Volkov. . . , V. K. Alekseev, and G. P. Motovilov, president of VOOP," of a massive cover-up, "denying everything" and "declaring war on all who criticized their improper actions." For Lakoshchënkov, the issue had now expanded from financial and resourcerelated abuses to the highly political question of Communists' abuses of power:

They are using their experience and their bureaucratic positions in their struggle against me. . . . Most troubling is that no one has stood up to their attempt to quash criticism. In their actions they, as Communists, have ceased to relate to [us] in a personal, individual, and human way; decency is a basic law of human culture. Are we not Soviet people, even if that fact is unpleasant for Volkov, Alekseev, and Motovilov? As such, we too have the right to a certain amount of respect and the right to defend our dignity. They just do not seem to understand that elementary rule, and, despite my appeals, no one else has yet pointed out their errors to them, either.[21]

The fate of Lakoshchënkov's appeals closely parallels those of other naive missives of the Khrushchëv and Brezhnev periods. Molotov himself probably never saw the first letter, which was forwarded by his Bureau of Complaints to G. P. Motovilov, president of VOOP. Maintaining the stonewalling, the May 15, 1957 reply drafted by VOOP secretary V. V. Strokov was scathingly dismissive and reaffirmed the decision of the Second Moscow oblast' Conference of VOOP of 1956 expelling Lakoshchënkov and three others for "defaming Communist citizen activists."[22]

Lakoshchënkov appealed to Molotov and Bulganin for reinstatement and declared his readiness to submit to a trial over whether his accusations constituted slander. Instead, a hearing was held by the Presidium of the national VOOP, now incensed that Lakoshchënkov would turn whistle-blower. In a confrontation with the N. V. Eliseev, vice president of VOOP and head of the RSFSR's Main Administration for Hunting and Zapovedniki , Lakoshchënkov reaffirmed his readiness for a slander trial. Eliseev rebuked Lakoshchënkov for turning to outsiders "with misinformation" instead of to the national Society's Executive Council; apparently, at Lakoshchënkov's prompting, reporters from Literaturnaia gazeta even called VOOP and asked why an old and


dedicated member of the Society was unjustly expelled and why his complaints were being shunted aside. It was all exceedingly embarrassing and nasty.

VOOP's vigilant trustees in the Russian Republic felt obliged to respond. On November 19, 1957, Motovilov and Eliseev were called in to the office of Deputy Premier Bespalov to discuss the fate of the Society. Although tightening trusteeship over the Society represented an additional burden for the Republic's leadership, no alternative was seen. Bespalov would take overall responsibility for VOOP himself, while an aide, Semikoz, of the Agricultural Section of the RSFSR Council of Ministers, would handle day-to-day affairs.[23]

With time, however, there was a broad "normalization" of the internal workings of the Society; nothing remotely resembling an internal critique against the new line was to be heard within VOOP, and the state trusteeship was lifted after a few months. For its part, the RSFSR was glad to get this responsibility off its hands. Nikita Khrushchëv was implementing his notorious plan to create putatively self-contained economic regions to replace the system of branch ministries, and the republics had few bureaucratic resources to spare for such low-priority items as voluntary societies. Accordingly, VOOP was now free to pursue its new agenda unhindered, or so it seemed. The lush bureaucratization and commercialization of VOOP swung into full gear. The Lakoshchënkov flap highlighted the degree to which VOOP had become unrecognizably different from what it had been only five years earlier.


Of all the indicators that a new ethos had taken hold in VOOP none was more vivid than the proliferation of a network of profit–oriented commercial outlets—the Priroda (Nature) stores. This chain of stores required a large amount of start-up capital from the parent society, as provincial conservation-entrepreneurs all tried to get in on the act. In July 1956, the Leningrad City branch of VOOP asked the central leadership for a loan of 100,000 rubles to be repaid by January 1, 1957. It was approved.[24]

Another emblem of the new approach was an indiscriminate campaign to recruit new members. This increasingly involved the induction of so-called "juridical members," entire factories or schools, for example, that joined as institutions. During the discussions of the budget for VOOP for the coming year at a Presidium meeting of January 19, 1956, Vice President Volkov proposed a cut in the publishing expenditures of the Society and a revved-up membership drive instead. Egorov, seconding this, proposed no less than


a 50 percent increase in membership, to 300,000.[25] President Motovilov concurred, adding only that the Society should further recruit 200,000 additional Young Naturalists, for a grand total of 500,000.

The new line also demanded leadership even more in tune with its bureaucratic-entrepreneurial goals. Only a year and a half after the imposition of a new leadership, Motovilov was complaining that, of all the Presidium members, only Volkov, Krivoshapov, and V. V. Strokov, the new secretary who replaced Golovenkov, were satisfactory.[26] Kozhin and Avetisian were denounced as ineffectual deadbeats, and they soon left the leadership.[27] The interregnum was over.

The Annual Report on VOOP Activities for 1957

In his presentation of the annual report, A. N. Volkov, deputy president, made the customary complaints about insufficient funds and organizational shortcomings. But internal factors were not the only impediments to the Society's meeting its goals. Despite the relatively small number of individuals involved, the defection of the old-timers to the Moscow Society of Naturalists (MOIP) posed a perceptible threat to VOOP's claim to represent nature protection.

Susanna Fridman, in a letter to Vera Varsonof'eva written late in 1958, again throws light on the deep wound this loss of a social "home" caused her and the old guard. Commenting on the departure of the "exiles," as she termed the old-timers, Fridman ventured that they should not have left so quietly: "It was absolutely necessary to have written an 'acerbic' letter to the new Presidium concerning our departure. . . . Our whole group should have signed such a letter; let the document remain as testimony in the Society's archives. It is too easy simply to beat a retreat. I would have typed up a letter and sent it to the newspapers."[28] Fridman also informed Varsonof'eva that she had saved an old postcard from Grigorii Aleksandrovich Kozhevnikov recommending her for membership in MOIP. In asking Varsonof'eva to admit her to membership, Fridman confessed that she "could not bring anything useful to the Society." Nevertheless, in her last months she only "wanted to be alongside you [Varsonof'eva] and Aleksandr Petrovich [Protopopov]."[29] Better evidence for the poignant place of their societies in the hearts and souls of nature protection activists would be hard to come by.

Although the defection of the Makarov-era activists was almost inevitable, given the changes in VOOP from 1952 on, Volkov had underestimated their mettle; it was difficult for hacks to grasp the intensity of the old-timers' commitment to their values and their capacity for autonomous organization.


"It is entirely incomprehensible to me," admitted Volkov, "how conservation work has been going recently. I don't like the intrusions of MOIP [into our area]," he continued.

The Moscow Society of Naturalists is a respected organization, but MOIP is convening a conference on zapovednik problems, has called a conference on conservation problems generally, that is, MOIP has gotten involved in those issues which are the province of our Society. And we are not concerning ourselves with those issues that we should concern ourselves with. [Conservation] is not the prerogative of MOIP, but a group of activists has appeared there and they are not performing badly.

At that point, a voice from the hall dared to state the obvious: "Those are our former activists!" "Right you are!" concurred Volkov, who added wistfully that "they are moving ahead while we are standing on the sidelines . . . not only not initiating [these conferences] but not even taking part." That left the field open to the elite biologists, who, "at these conferences, dump on us, as a Society, without compunction."[30]

Cleansed of nauchnaia obshchestvennost' , the Society now sought to rejoin the international conservation movement. This time, domestic obstacles were significantly reduced. Khrushchëv's foreign policy emphasized reintegrating the Soviet Union—in a managed way—into the world's economic and diplomatic systems. And the VOOP leadership was now composed exclusively of dependable Communists or those close to the Party. Accordingly, on August 11, 1958, the Presidium sent a memorandum to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) asking permission to join the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which was affiliated with UNESCO, and to attend its conference in Athens and Delphi. Professor N. A. Gladkov of MGU, a Stalin Prize laureate, would represent the Society.[31] A delegation of three, headed by Gladkov, had attended the Twelfth International Ornithological Congress in Helsinki in March 1958.[32]

The new leadership had put particular emphasis on building membership. By 1958 membership was up to 242,624, an increase over the previous year of 100,000; still, it included only 80,261 adults.[33] In response a number of strategies were advanced. One emphasis was to attract more juridical members, which now numbered 1,106: another was to lure individual members with contests and prizes.[34]

By 1959, when the Society's Second Congress convened in Moscow, one year late, membership had swelled to 916,000.[35] The staffs (including both the center and the affiliates) had grown commensurately from 24 paid staffers in 1956 to 306 in 1959, and consisted of bookkeepers, scholarly secretaries, clerks, typists, and instructors/lecturers.[36] If disbursements, including staff salaries, climbed in this four-year period, income also rose, from


1,559,500 rubles in 1956 to 3,584,900 in the first nine months of 1959.[37] Of this, membership dues accounted for only 245,294 rubles, or 7 percent of all income. Despite this impressive growth, it was calculated that to break even the Society would need 9 million members (3 million adults and 6 million youths); even the lucrative Priroda stores and the postcard, album, and literature sales could not generate enough profit to keep the operation growing.[38]

A breakdown of the delegates by age, length of membership in the Society, education, and Party membership told the story of the restructuring of VOOP. Of the 316 voting delegates, plus 37 with consultatory status who attended, three-quarters were Party members (243), Komsomols (8), or Pioneers, with only 101 non-Party delegates. The loss of the old guard was even more dramatically highlighted in the tiny number (14) of scientists with degrees of kandidat nauki or higher or with the title of professor. Finally, those who had been in VOOP prior to 1954, when it merged with the Green Plantings Society, constituted less than 25 percent of the delegation (81 in all).[39]

Much of the discussion at the Congress, therefore, was tame or even trite. There was much talk of gardening techniques, which pesticide to use on orchards, new hybrid flower varieties, and other horticultural issues. Some of the livelier moments concerned how to make VOOP a financially viable operation. Nature protection was almost an afterthought. Nevertheless, a few voices still reminded the Society of its ostensible mission. One of them was that of Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva (see figure 11), one of the Society's oldest members and vice president of the "competition," the Moscow Society of Naturalists (MOIP).

As one who "began working in the Society . . . in the first years of Soviet power," Varsonof'eva sought to claim Lenin's endorsement for a stouthearted stance for nature protection. "V. I. Lenin understood well," she asserted, "that with the development of the young socialist state a colossal exploitation of natural resources would be required," but he also knew that "for proper exploitation it was essential to understand all the complicated interrelationships that exist among elements of the landscape. . . . On this realization was based that grand scientific program . . . that was pursued in the zapovedniki . VOOP, in its original form, participated broadly in the scientific work." she continued, in an implicit rebuke to the new direction of the Society.[40]

However, now was hardly the time to slacken one's vigilance. She noted that in ten years almost 21 percent of the Carpathian forests of Ukraine had been cut, and the woodlands would last only another ten to fifteen years at that pace. In Siberia, the Siberian stone pine (Pinus sibirica-kedr, or "cedar," in the Russian vernacular) was disappearing, while pollution was engulfing more and more formerly pristine rivers and lakes, such as the Chusovaia


Figure 11.
Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva (1889–1976) . 
Vladimir Nikolaevich Sukachëv (1880–1967) is seated at right.

River in the Urals. Part of the problem was that planners and bureaucrats failed to consult with scientists, and the results were not only pollution but disastrous agronomic-engineering schemes such as that which was leading to the desiccation of Lake Sevan. "One would think," she remonstrated, "that the Conservation Society would put precisely this kind of problem at the top of its list of priorities. For this reason it is wrong to view the two questions—of nature protection and of urban greening—as equally pressing. The question of urban greening is linked with that of human health and it is doubtless important." However "it is ill-considered to view it as equal in importance to the urgent and great problem of nature protection."[41]

Varsonofeva explained that preserving nature's "untouched baseline territories" was not for the sake of an abstract Nature but for living people, and not simply for material well-being but for a more transcendent aspect of human existence: the "restoration of the moral forces of the human being." "We must preserve standards [etalony ] of the beautiful age-old nature of our Motherland," she continued, "and there, where life forces us to alter its visage, we must not leave a defaced, deformed wasteland. We must pass on to our descendants monuments of nature in their original beauty. . . . The most urgent task of our society is—the protection of nature."[42]


A Leningrad delegate, Georgii Ivanovich Rodionenko, was more direct:

I would like to pose the following question to the members of the Central Council. Have they raised even one problem of national scope, such as the fate of Lakes Sevan or Baikal or of a large zapovednik ? Nothing was uttered about these problems either in the [official] report or in the other announcements. It seems to me that we must elect to the new Central Council, in addition to those who are adept at organizational work, specialists with a broad field of vision. Without their help it will be difficult to raise questions having national import.[43]

One speaker, V. V. Tarchevskii, a delegate from Sverdlovsk oblast' , raised the relatively new problem of air pollution. Cheliabinsk made the problem not only visible but inescapable. "Over all the cities in Sverdlovsk oblast' ," said the delegate, "and there are 101 of them, lie permanent clouds of smoke. The atmosphere is polluted with toxic wastes dangerous to human beings. For this reason the question of the protection of individual elements of nature, especially the atmosphere, is extremely urgent."[44] Painting a ghastly picture of cities in the Urals surrounded by "deserts of life . . . for dozens of kilometers out from the city perimeters, where there is no vegetation," Tarchevskii complained that already in the oblast 's third largest city, Kamensk-Ural'skii, "it is impossible to breathe" owing to the waste belched forth from the monster Urals Aluminum Smelting Plant. He described clouds of asbestos and enormous, exposed waste dumps in the city of Asbest. The oblast ' branch of VOOP sought to plant them over, but what was really required was a massive national campaign to rehabilitate mined-out and degraded land and, especially, to clean the air.[45]

Another delegate, from Astrakhan', informed the Congress about bacterially contaminated rivers of her oblast ' and the writers Oleg Pisarzhevskii and E. N. Permitin cautioned that socialism ipso facto did not guarantee "safe" industrial working conditions.[46]

Despite these few brave words, the activities of the Congress displayed a monumental complacency, reflected in the election of the new president and Presidium. The Russian Republic minister of forestry, Mikhail Mikhailovich Bochkarëv, was selected to lead the Society for the next three years, while the politically reliable Andrei Grigor'evich Bannikov, a mediocre zoologist but regime loyalist, was elected first vice president. Nikolai Vasil'evich Eliseev was named, more or less ex officio, as was past president Motovilov. The only pre-1955 faces were those of Avetisian and Gladkov, who were unlikely to oppose the further commercialization of the Society.

The archive contains Vera Varsonof'eva's secret written ballot for the Central Council of the Society. Fifty-five names were listed as candidates for the Council and fifty-five individuals were ultimately elected to that body. But


Varsonof'eva only placed approving check marks next to twelve, not counting herself—the only real old-timers. Indeed, the only Presidium members she considered voting for were Gladkov and Avetisian.[47]

A few of the Society's publications did address some of the major issues of environmental ruin. An article in the Society's journal Okhrana prirody i ozelenenie (Nature Protection and Greening ) was remarkably candid about the extent and location of water pollution in the USSR and even identified some point sources with descriptions and amounts of their effluents.[48] A much more extensive brochure, authored by the botanist G. G. Bosse and the population geneticist and ecologist Aleksei Vladimirovich Iablokov and designed to coach the Society's lecturers, underscored the problems of biotic conservation that were largely ignored at the conference while also defending the aesthetic side of nature protection as an expression of patriotism.[49] However, these were the rare exceptions to the flood of pamphlets about gladiolus varieties, ornamental trees, and new pesticides for apple orchards.

Although politically, morally, and intellectually stagnant, the Society grew like topsy. By 1962 its membership had ballooned to nine million. VOOP—in 1959 it had regained its old name—had not only become the largest nature protection society in the world, but also one of the largest non-state businesses in the Soviet Union.


Chapter Ten—

A highly unusual conference on the nature reserves was convened in the spring of 1954 by three voluntary societies, MOIP, VOOP, and the Moscow branch of the Geographical Society of the USSR (MGO). The zapovednik conference is a watershed in the history of the Russian and Soviet conservation movements for a number of reasons. First, with almost geological force it thrust up the seething, formerly self-censored passions of the scientific intelligentsia to the surface of public life: its anger, its sense of wounded dignity, its unrelenting claim to a decisive role in public policy, its bitterness at the expropriation of "its" archipelago of freedom—the zapovedniki , its disdain of the values and utilities of the Stalinist bureaucracy, and its unrequited patriotism.

Second, the conference ushered in a period of ascendancy in the movement's history of the Moscow Society of Naturalists and the Moscow branch of the Geographical Society, and with it, a new, highly visible place for geographers and geologists. This occurred against a backdrop of chaos and a leadership interregnum in VOOP, so recently rocked by financial difficulties, dissension, regime persecution, and Makarov's retirement and death.

Third, even while the majority of the old activists were still determined to restore the status quo ante and hence equated nature protection with the zapovedniki , new voices were heard at the conference and new concerns were tentatively expressed that prefigured a broader agenda for the movement: the issues of pollution and of resource management outside the reserves system.

Malinovskii's new Main Administration quickly began to reorient the scientific work in the rump zapovednik system. The main orientation became


developing means of "increasing" nature's productivity. For example, at the Voronezh reserve, work intensified on replacing the "unproductive" aspen forest with other tree species.[1]

Of the total area of 1,328,700 hectares that remained in the twenty-eight reserves of Malinovskii's system, twenty-three reserves with an aggregate area of 915,600 hectares contained forests, of which actual forest cover accounted for 67 1,500 hectares. Of these, 58 percent were characterized by Malinovskii as very mature or old-growth and another 13 percent as mature.[2] Although forestry measures in twelve of the twenty-three forested reserves were limited to fire control and anti-poaching measures, in the other eleven, some of which were still quite large, "forestry measures . . . were being conducted in full measure."[3] "Full measure" included such "biotechnical means" as clearing trees from the enclosed bison range in the Belovezhskaia pushcha in order to plant new forest browse, or clearing black elm in the floodplain of the Usman' River, which had been impeding the growth of willows, the tree of choice for the local beaver.[4] Malinovskii's vision of the role and function of zapovedniki mirrored that of the Stalinist theorists of the 1930s—Arkhipov, Boitsov, Veitsman—who saw the reserves as experimental areas to create the lush, superproductive "Communist" nature of the future.[5]


"Biotechnics," the technical means to achieve a "reconstruction" of "first nature," embraced an array of disparate measures: predator control, pesticide application, the introduction/acclimatization of exotic species of plants and animals, supplementary feeding and the provision of salt licks, and the removal of existing vegetation in favor of another species mix. Motivated by a single-mindedly economic yardstick of benefit, measured in currently identified resources, this reconstruction of nature was also wedded to a voluntaristic perception of existing nature as backward, unplanned, and not having reached its productive potential. Soviet biotechnics would correct all that.

Ever since the first epic battles over acclimatization, especially those fought at the 1929 and 1933 nature protection congresses, biotechnics had acquired intense symbolic meaning for the two opposing sides. This was particularly the case regarding proposals to carry out acclimatization and other biotechnical measures in the zapovedniki . For the Stalinist nature-transformation enthusiasts, these measures were weapons in their war against the prerevolutionary, indeed counterrevolutionary, inertia of old Russia. No community—neither human nor ecological—would be permitted to stand aloof from the complete refashioning of one sixth of the earth's surface into a


gleaming, rationally planned socialist commune. Nothing would be allowed to "go its own way."

For the nature protection activists acclimatization meant much the same thing, but the proposed "great transformation" elicited not enthusiasm but horror, disdain, and ultimately resistance. Acclimatization, especially in zapovedniki , threatened the last little islands of "inviolability," beauty, and purity in the swirling and profane sea of Stalinist changes. True, the threat was ecological—portending the spread of parasites and the transformation of acclimatized species into pests and public menaces. But it was also symbolic, marking the intrusion of the Party-state and its machinery into the last holdout of the scientific intelligentsia. It was a struggle over whether there was to be any kind of "geography of hope" in the Soviet Union.

Makarov and Smidovich in the 1930s decided rhetorically to capitulate to the nature-transformers, renouncing the principle of the "inviolability of the zapovedniki " and admitting the permissibility in those reserves of "biotechnical measures." Yet their concession was an exercise in protective coloration, and Makarov tried to limit the actual implementation of many of these nature-transformation schemes for the zapovedniki to the best of his ability.

Nevertheless, it was politically impossible to stay aloof from some high-profile campaigns. Regarding the acclimatization of the muskrat, the raccoon-dog, the sika deer, and some other large game animals (especially ungulates), there was almost no choice. Although the elimination of wolves and other large predators in the reserves had greater internal support, particularly if the reserves also harbored endangered herbivores, there too the authorities exerted uncontestable pressure. All the while, campaigns against the wolf were raging outside the reserves; the last family of wolves was exterminated in the Okskii zapovednik in 1954 and in the Voronezhskii in 1955. And, depending on the reserve, foxes, bobcats, wolverines, bears, cormorants, seagulls, marsh hawks and other hawks, and owls also found themselves at the wrong end of a gun.[6]

Acclimatization intensified under Malinovskii, although not every attempt resulted in a thriving population (and consequently a biotic disruption). Nine musk deer were released in Denezhkin kamen' in the Urals, for example, but by 1959 all the animals were dead. "The results of the acclimatization of the sika in zapovedniki were various. However, in all cases where the deer survived, regular winter feeding and other biotechnical measures were maintained," wrote Filonov. Ironically, when some of the reserves to which the sika had been acclimatized, such as the Buzulukskii bor and Kuibyshevskii zapovedniki , were liquidated in 1951, the unforgiving hand of natural selection also carried off the deer.[7] The only successful sika introduction was in the Khopërskii zapovednik , where twenty-seven animals released in 1972 grew to 1,800 by 1977.[8] More "successful" attempts involved the


raccoon-dog (Nyctereutes procyonides ), the muskrat, and the American mink, but much of these efforts were now largely conducted outside of zapovedniki , in forest plantations or areas designated for legal hunting.[9]

Other measures also continued or were expanded. Hay mowing for supplemental feeding or for feeding the Mordvinian zapovednik's own stock from 1954 through 1967 reached 9.4 tons per year, and in Il'menskii (from 1937 to 1960) averaged about 24 tons annually. Twig bunches (veniki ) were collected on a massive scale in some reserves, such as the Mordvinian, Il'menskii, and Okskii.[10]

But Malinovskii's beloved preoccupation in his new reserve system was forest management. From this perspective, ungulates were as much a pest to be eliminated as an economic amenity to be promoted. In quite a few zapovedniki such as the Crimean and Voronezhskii, deer were shot or, after 1952, captured and relocated.[11]

In reserves that had been "liquidated" and turned over to the USSR Ministry of Forestry, commercial logging soon began. There were important exceptions, such as the reserves of Lithuania, now classified as "watershed" forests protected from lumbering, and areas where the commercial potential was particularly low. The former Troitskii forest-steppe zapovednik constituted such an area, and it had the relative good fortune to be handed over to Perm' State University, which rechristened the territory an "Instructional-Experimental Forest Plantation." Here, the supportive local oblast' Executive Committee declared the area a zakaznik (a protected territory established usually for a period of five or ten years) until 1961, with all economic activities or alterations of the natural conditions prohibited. Thus, with the connivance of the local political authorities, Troitskii de facto remained a zapovednik , but now of Perm' University. Perhaps the most visible change was in the kinds of research pursued. More emphasis was placed on developing strategies for pest control, reclamation of salt pans and salt meadows through targeted afforestation with appropriate tree species, and studying the relationship between tree species and soil chemistry. Basic research continued to be pursued vigorously as well.[12]

The contrast between zapovednik management in the pre–and post-Malinovskii eras, although significant, has perhaps become exaggerated in the memories and perceptions of partisans of nature protection. True, acclimatization and predator control were conducted as protective coloration under duress during the Makarov years, whereas Malinovskii promoted those policies with enthusiasm. Yet the ecological consequences of acclimatization and predator control were not discernibly different before and after 1951.[13] In the memories of scientist activists, understandably, there has been a tendency to picture the zapovedniki before 1951 as idyllic and during the Malinovskii period as degraded. Certainly, from the perspective of scientists'


input and autonomy, not to mention the more mundane question of employment, that portrait of the reserves system reflects indisputable realities. Regarding acclimatization and the extermination of predators, however, the truth is not nearly as clear-cut.

The Academy of Sciences Commission on Zapovedniki

Bright spots such as Troitskoe or Lithuania were only local responses. The first coordinated response of the scientific community following the August 1951 calamity was not long in coming. With the quiet blessing of the new president of the Academy, the chemist Nesmeianov, who had just succeeded the late Sergei Ivanovich Vavilov, and of the Academy's scholarly secretary, A. V. Topchiev, a major new commission was created on March 28, 1952, attached to the Academy's Presidium: the Commission on Zapovedniki .[14] Like Vavilov before him, Nesmeianov had to walk a fine line between official obeisance to regime policy and his own vision of the welfare of science. This is well illustrated by a visit paid to him in early summer 1952 by Aleksandr Leonidovich Ianshin (see figure 12) and Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva in their capacities as co–vice presidents of MOIP. Their goal was to try to convince the Academy president personally to join the fight to restore at least some of the zapovedniki .[15]

Varsonof'eva started to speak about the importance of the Kondo-Sos'vinskii reserve on the eastern slopes of the Urals and the Barguzinskii zapovednik on the eastern shores of Lake Baikal in restoring the population of sable. Perhaps exploiting his status as a chemist, Nesmeianov replied to the geologist: "Vera Aleksandrovna, why do we need to worry about breeding all those fur-bearing animals these days? With the help of chemistry we can produce fur of any quality, any color, and any degree of beauty. We are now living in the century of synthetics and not natural products," he concluded, refusing help.[16]

Looking back, Ianshin was convinced that Nesmeianov was using a little protective coloration of his own to avoid the opprobrium of scientific public opinion. A Party man, indeed, a member of the nomenklatura , Nesmeianov was obliged to obey and fulfill the instructions and decrees of the Party once they were adopted. For that reason he could not be openly associated with the struggle against the 1951 Party decision. Yet, his honor as a member of scientific public opinion was called into question by his inability to join this crusade. Hence the need to present his position in terms of personal aesthetics, colored by his background as a chemist, so as to avoid an embarrassing admission that to protect his position he had no choice but to refuse assistance.[17]


Figure 12.
Aleksandr Leonidovich lanshin (1911–  ).

Nevertheless, the Academy president allowed Vladimir Nikolaevich Sukachëv, dean of Soviet botanists and director of the Academy's Institute of Forests, a surprising degree of freedom to use both his Multidisciplinary Scientific Expedition on Problems of Shelter Belts as well as the new commission as havens for out-of-work zapovednik staff and activists in the area of nature protection.

With Sukachëv as chair of the Commission on Zapovedniki , Makarov and Dement'ev were named two of his four deputies, the others being the aca-


demician Andrei Aleksandrovich Grigor'ev, a geographer and conservation stalwart, and Nikolai Evgen'evich Kabanov, a biologist working in the Institute of Forests. The remaining membership was no less distinguished.[18]

Barely two weeks later, the commission had already roared into action, convening the first meeting of its executive Bureau. Preoccupied with the continuing political troubles of his interdisciplinary Shelter Belt Expedition as well as an unexpected initiative, probably with its source in the Central Committee, to move his Institute of Forests to eastern Siberia (Krasnoiarsk), Sukachëv was unable to attend. Indeed, according to his close friend and deputy director of the Expedition, Sergei Vladimirovich Zonn, Sukachëv's blood pressure was so consistently high during those days that his doctor did not know whether the academician would live to see the next morning.[19] Happily, Sukachëv had a coterie of brilliant and dependable associates whom he had either attracted to his Institute or rescued from persecution by Lysenko and others, and to them he could confidently delegate some of his important scientific-political responsibilities. One of these was Nikolai Evgen'evich Kabanov, who in the early years of the commission more often than not sat as acting chair and convener.

Under Kabanov's direction the commission developed a work plan for the first half of 1952. Among its central responsibilities was examining the scientific research plans of Malinovskii's new Main Zapovednik Administration of the USSR Council of Ministers, particularly because the new decree on zapovedniki of August 1951 specifically assigned research-related "methodological leadership" to the USSR Academy of Sciences.[20] The dogged persistence and cunning of scientific public opinion now placed oversight of zapovednik research in the hands of Malinovskii's enemies: the old guard nature protection activists and elite field biologists of the nation. Scientific public opinion would not allow its "free territories" to be dispossessed, even if it meant a protracted and grueling guerrilla war. And a guerrilla war is what the central authorities got.

At a meeting of the Bureau on July 9, 1952, with Malinovskii's deputy director for scientific research Aleksei Ivanovich Korol'kov present, the forestry plans of the Main Administration came under fire. One of the most eloquent defenses of the special function of zapovedniki as etalony was made by Makarov, who insisted that the reserves must find a way of pursuing forestry under conditions of zapovednost' (inviolability): "Here [in Malinovskii's plans] a mistake has crept in. [Research] needs to be conducted not [only] within zapovedniki , but under conditions of zapovednost' ."[21] Forestry needed to promote the "natural" regeneration of "natural" forests.

Malinovskii's plans now came under accelerated attack in the commission. At a December 10, 1952 meeting, A. P. Protopopov, who was asked


to testify, demonstrated that he had lost none of his acuity or his mettle as he subjected Korol'kov, who then held the rank equivalent to a deputy minister, to inconvenient questioning:

I want to receive an answer from the representative of the Main Zapovednik Administration how we should critique [his plans] in the future. A question has emerged: "What kinds of institutions are we looking at here? What, in fact, are the Main Administration's zapovedniki? " The Main Administration uses the term zapovednoe khoziaistvo [management of a zapovednik oriented toward the exploitation of its resources, even if experimentally]. What are the zapovedniki, scientific-research institutions or zapovednye khoziaistva? This term elicits incomprehension. As I see it, zapovednoe khoziaistvo is an impossibility. There can only be khoziaistvo zapovednika [administrative management of a zapovednik ].[22]

Korol'kov was equally outspoken:

I am shocked by the question "What is a zapovednik?" The USSR Council of Ministers has already settled this question. Comrade Protopopov will find a exhaustive response [to it] in the statute [on zapovedniki ]. . . . It must be kept in mind that there is a whole group of objects of economic interest in the zapovednik. Experience has shown that it is impossible to practice forestry without cutting and treatment [of trees]. Economic measures must be carried out.[23]

When the commission finally drafted its official assessment of the scientific work plan of Malinovskii's reserves system for 1953 it noted that the Main Administration had taken some of the criticism received at the December 10 meeting into account, which improved the plan. However, the commission continued, "a second look at the plans sent to us shows that the Main Zapovednik Administration has still not adequately taken to heart the observations and recommendations of the Commission on Zapovedniki."[24]

The target of the commission's displeasure was the entire section "Scientific and Scientific-Technical Measures for Implementing Zapovednoe Khoziaistvo." "This whole section deserves the most comprehensive and critical discussion at the Scientific-Technical Council of the Main . . . Administration," the report noted. While projected studies of the ecological effects of the flooding of the shores of the Rybinsk reservoir were praised, the attempt to call a whole slew of managerial and technical measures "fundamental research" was roundly opposed.[25]

Malinovskii sought to keep his Scientific-Technical Council completely isolated from any contacts with the old guard on the commission, a state of affairs bitterly condemned by Geptner.[26] By March 1953 the Academy of Sciences and its commission were so frustrated by Malinovskii's lack of cooperation that they tried to get relieved of their responsibilities for oversight of the scientific work done by the Main Administration. Of course, they also no longer wished to be held legally responsible for that research, a responsibility overseen by the USSR Ministry of State Control.[27]


When the nature reserve system was "reorganized" there had been zapovedniki that were already subsumed under either the USSR Academy of Sciences or one of the Academy's republican affiliates. With the "liquidation" of most of the reserves, the Academy inherited an additional contingent that Malinovskii rejected for his own system, largely because the reserves lacked significant forest cover. Thus, by February 1953 the Academy system controlled fourteen reserves.[28]

By May 1952, Sukachëv, together with corresponding member I. V. Tiurin, director of the Academy's Institute of Soil Science, tried to roll back the decree of the previous year, beginning with the case of only one zapovednik, the Poperechenskaia steppe. Writing directly to Malenkov at the Central Committee Secretariat, the two scientists argued against the transfer of the zapovednik from the Penza Pedagogical Institute to a nearby collective farm, since the total area of the reserve, 200 hectares, would hardly represent an appreciable gain for the "Proletarian" collective farm (6,000 hectares). Meanwhile, those 200 hectares were among the last parcels of undeveloped northern forest-steppe. At a meeting organized by the Penza oblispolkom of March 5, 1952, they noted, a great many local workers and specialists spoke out in defense of continued protection for the area, as did the Penza branch of VOOP and the Biology Division of the Academy.[29]

Malenkov examined the letter ten days later, and marked in the margins that A. I. Kozlov, head of the Agricultural Department of the Central Committee, should look into it. However, Malenkov significantly made the further notation, "We must act in accordance with the decision of the Government concerning zapovedniki. Report back."[30] On June 13, Kozlov's deputy V. Iakushev wrote back to Malenkov:

The head of the Main Administration, . . . Malinovskii, considers it ill advised to reexamine the decision of the USSR Council of Ministers of October 29, 1951 . . . because pristine, unplowed lands continue to be preserved in the Tsentral'no-Chernozemskii zapovednik  . . . where practical scientific work on problems of the generation of strong black earth soils is being conducted. I also spoke with the secretary of the Penza obkom, Comrade Lebedev, who informed me that the obkom  . . . did not support the recommendations of Comrades Sukachëv and Tiurin.

Neither did the Agricultural Department.[31] This time, however, Sukachëv and Tiurin did not fold, taking their case to Academy president Nesmeianov. Another attempt was made the following year.

For the short term, Stalin's death on March 6, 1953 worsened the situation of zapovedniki in the Main Administration. In the immediate aftermath of the dictator's death there was a significant rearrangement of ministerial responsibilities at the USSR level. Stalin was succeeded by Nikita S. Khrushchëv as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist


Party of the Soviet Union. Georgii M. Malenkov replaced Stalin as chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers (premier). One change entailed the abolition of the Ministry for Supplies (temporarily, it turned out), which was merged with Agriculture, with A. I. Kozlov (also temporarily) replacing Benediktov as minister of the enlarged superministry of Agriculture and Supplies. Although Malinovskii was not removed as head, his Main Administration was demoted from its status as an all-Union ministry and subsumed as a somewhat minor department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Supplies. As had happened in the 1920s, zapovedniki were trapped in the unfriendly embrace of the "economic commissariats." Little help could be expected from the minister, Kozlov, whose prior position made him Malenkov's right-hand man on the Secretariat for agricultural and land-use matters, and who was partly responsible for the reserves' current plight.

That seemed to leave only one route: to have the Academy system somehow become the nucleus of a new expansion. In his last major speech before his death, Makarov expressed the hope that the Academy would indeed prove to be the savior of his life's work. After all, the zapovedniki, he told a convocation of directors of nature reserves of the Academy system in the spring of 1953, "serve the general goals of the development of science."[32] Despite the importance of each reserve preserving its own personality, Makarov also stressed the need for common goals, common scientific perspectives, and common methods, so that the results of research at the various reserves could be compared. Here, too, the Commission on Zapovedniki had already begun work, drafting an overall statute for the Academy system "independent" of the statute on zapovedniki drafted by Malinovskii one year earlier.[33] It was crucial always to remember that zapovedniki were "a huge natural laboratory, a laboratory of nature" rather than a laboratory in nature, as Malinovskii would have it.[34] Making the obligatory rhetorical bows to "Michurinist biology" and "Pavlovian physiology," Makarov concluded by emphasizing the crucial role of the reserves also in the preparation of graduate students in their aspirantura (graduate training) and as a research base for those mature scholars seeking the degree of doctor of science (doktorantura ) both inside and outside the Academy systems.[35] A little over two months after giving this speech, Makarov died, and the commission was spurred to even more energetic activity to honor his legacy.

The new draft of the statute on the Academy's reserves was completed on September 18, 1953. The reserves were declared to be "independent scientific research institutions" of the Academy systems, with their own staffs of scientists and technical and support workers, and with goals that highlighted the twin missions of protection and fundamental research.[36]

Despite the political confusion following Stalin's death, the country also had a new atmosphere of guarded hope and of greater freedom. True, no one knew who was on top—Khrushchëv or Malenkov—but for the scien-


tific intelligentsia that was not a major preoccupation. As 1953 glided into 1954, the scientific intelligentsia mobilized to reclaim scientific autonomy and restore the "geography of hope," in many ways vastly outpacing their colleagues in literature who were creating the first "thaw."

The Rise of MOIP as a Center of Resistance

When Varsonof'eva and Ianshin went to see President Nesmeianov about enlisting him in the fight to restore the zapovedniki, they came as representatives not of VOOP but of MOIP, the Moscow Society of Naturalists, Russia's oldest scientific society.[37] To understand why they presented themselves in this fashion and to understand how MOIP came to represent a center, and later the center, of scientific public opinion, we must survey the history of that society from 1948 on.

As late as the early 1940s, MOIP still had a deserved reputation as a sleepy academic society.[38] Its library, adjacent to the Gor'kii Library of MGU's old campus opposite the Manezh, was frequented largely by older men and women poring over biological arcana under the stern gaze of a huge stuffed owl and equally lifeless early nineteenth-century portraits of MOIP's founders. The society's president was the ancient and revered Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinskii, a chemist and prerevolutionary relic who still favored the round, brimless black academician's cap, which vaguely resembled Central Asian Muslim headgear, the tiubeteika. In a word, MOIP was quaint.

Two features distinguished it from all other Soviet societies. MOIP had maintained an almost unbroken tradition of non-Communist leadership, from Menzbir to Zelinskii (although Sukachëv joined the Party in 1937, he was clearly heterodox) and now to Ianshin. Even such venerable and progressive societies as the Geographical Society of the USSR or the Mineralogical Society, two others that survived the early 1930s and that were almost as old as MOIP (f. 1805), were obliged to select Party members as their presidents. The difference was that whereas they were chartered within the system of the USSR Academy of Sciences, MOIP was tucked away under the aegis of Moscow State University, almost out of bureaucratic view.[39]

Like VOOP, MOIP united the scientific, preeminently biological and geographical-geological intelligentsia across Russia and even the Soviet Union, despite its local name. Though the society had no organizers, branches emerged on local initiative in Kalinin (Tver'), Riazan', Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), Tomsk, L'vov, Uzhgorod, Alma-Ata (Almaty), Aral'sk, and Sukhumi, among other places, constituting an informational network across the country. As Nikolai Nikolaevich Vorontsov noted recently, an entire history could be written about science "on the periphery" in Russia. This periphery was a product of many factors, including the flight of many field


biologists to distant zapovedniki and antiplague stations, to pest-control stations, and to remote research and teaching institutions, partly in the hope of avoiding the repressions that were continually sweeping the "center."[40]

In the words of Oleg Nikolaevich Ianitskii, "The Moscow Society [of] Naturalists was arguably one of the few long-established social organizations that was not taken over entirely by the state. In any case, its official structure differed from the state-determined model. . . . The organizational principles set out in its constitution were democratic, and its members did not have to be professional scientists, but were merely required to be involved in the scientific life of society."[41]

Like VOOP under Makarov, MOIP institutionally, as a community of likeminded members, embodied the ideal of scientific public opinion. Plenary meetings of the society were usually held in the Old Zoological Auditorium in the Zoological Museum on Herzen Street. It could accommodate more than 200 participants, and its acoustics were among the best in Moscow. Just before it was closed as a fire hazard, Zelinskii, then ninety-two, gave his last lecture in the auditorium. Fearing for the president's health, one of the society's vice presidents asked Zelinskii if he wanted to sit down while giving his talk, a fully justifiable break with the society's traditions. To that, Zelinskii firmly replied, "If I gave my talk sitting down, that would be a mark of disrespect to my audience," and then lectured for nearly two hours on the developmental physiology of the Mexican alpine salamander. For the old guard, breaking with its cultural rituals—rituals that embodied and symbolized the dignity of the scientific intelligentsia—would be to renounce one's social and personal identity. Zelinskii remained on his feet to the end of the meeting.[42]

In 1950, when, in connection with the construction of the new Lenin Hills campus of Moscow State University, MOIP was offered the opportunity to move to newer quarters, Zelinskii sent word from his sick bed of his intense opposition. Zelinskii reasoned that MOIP was a scientific organization whose membership was drawn from a number of different institutions and workplaces. Aside from tradition, therefore, fairness, convenience, and its social role dictated that the society remain in the center of the city.[43] The society's Presidium "categorically" insisted on remaining.[44]

Inescapably, because of what MOIP embodied, political risks and dangers were thrust upon that society just as they had burst through the thin defensive perimeter of VOOP's countercultural community. As it was for VOOP, 1948 was the decisive turning point, disrupting the serene and dignified routine of the society. And if VOOP was launched on a trajectory that would ultimately lead to its reincarnation as a huge, Party-dominated business enterprise, MOIP's fate was happier, for it was transformed within a few years into the theoretical center for biology for one-sixth of the globe and into the new headquarters for nature protection activism. Rarely have


organizations had to shoulder so much responsibility as MOIP, and rarely have they risen so successfully to the challenges that faced them.

After the August 1948 session of the Lenin Agricultural Academy, Lysenko and his allies, with Stalin's blessing, established a reign of terror in Soviet biology. Their influence permeated every school, every university, every public meeting. Even zapovednik directors were required to convene meetings to weed out "Weismannist-Morganist-Mendelian" perspectives and to replace them with "Michurinist" biology. No corner of the vast country was exempted from the new rituals of obeisance to Lysenko.

The most tragic consequences, described at great length in other works, included a wholesale purge of instructors, teachers, professors, and researchers from educational and research institutions large and small.[45] N. N. Vorontsov estimates the number of expelled university professors at 3,000. Some, such as the eminent physiologist D. A. Sabinin, committed suicide.[46] Even the Academy of Sciences was powerless before the personal endorsement of Stalin.

In this atmosphere of tragedy and calamity, the president of the Academy, Sergei Ivanovich Vavilov, called on Zelinskii. For Vavilov, the tragedy was multiple. In 1941 he had lost his twin, Nikolai Ivanovich, one of the USSR's most eminent geneticists, who had been arrested the year before as a result of his attempt to defend classical genetics against Lysenko's increasingly aggressive and ignorant claims. After Nikolai died in Saratov in near-isolation, Sergei, a prominent physicist but not yet Academy president, was forced to hold his tongue even as his twin's body was dumped into an unmarked grave. Even with the partial recovery of genetics' fortunes in 1946–1947, Sergei was compelled to continue to keep silent. Now, he was coerced into a purge of his own institution, the Academy. It was as if Stalin and Lysenko were forcing Vavilov to put a gun to his own brother's head. Vavilov had been covertly trying to help some of the marked individuals and recognized that he was faced with a terrible dilemma: he could preserve his honor and resign, thereby sealing his own fate as well, or he could remain and try to use his position to do as much covert good within the system as the situation might allow. Happily for the scientific intelligentsia, Vavilov opted for the second course, although his reputation is only now beginning to reflect the wisdom and humanity of his difficult decision.

Distraught, Vavilov turned to the superannuated Zelinskii for help, telling him that he, Vavilov, was forced to "liquidate" genetics in the Academy. He was not even permitted to allow the word genetics to remain in any institute. "I know this is antiscience," but owing to the Academy's position, Vavilov confessed, there was little he could do at the moment. However, he had a plan. Could not MOIP, with its freer atmosphere, organize a section for genetics to provide at least an intellectual haven for his brother's colleagues?[47]


Zelinskii summoned the members of the Bureau of MOIP's Presidium, recounted the conversation with Vavilov to them, and asked for support. The response was unanimously enthusiastic. Here at last was a constructive way in which the scientific intelligentsia could respond to Lysenko. As Ianshin, who was at the meeting at Zelinskii's apartment on Gor'kii (Tverskaia) Street near the Main Telegraph, recalls it, the members of the Bureau immediately called N. P. Dubinin, B. L. Astaurov, I. A. Rappoport, and V. P. Efroimson and asked them to organize the new genetics section. "We could not provide them with a lab," Ianshin later explained, "but we gave them a roof over their heads and an opportunity to read foreign journals, to hold symposia, and to give talks." Thus S. I. Vavilov helped to keep genetics alive during the darkest of years for Soviet science.[48]

It was inevitable that Lysenko would hear of MOIP's Section on Genetics. In mid-1950, when Zelinskii was still alive, news of Lysenko's awareness of the section's existence filtered back to MOIP. Hastily but without panic, Zelinskii convened a meeting of the Presidium in his apartment. Rumors have spread, he told the Presidium, that we were giving "refuge" to "Weismannist-Morganists" and that they were meeting at MOIP nearly every week. At this Vera Varsonof'eva excitedly objected: "What are you suggesting, to close down the section on genetics?" Zelinskii reassured her: "No, no, calm down. We will under no circumstances close it down. We must invite Trofim Denisovich to talk to our society. Then he will see that there is nothing subversive going on." In order to pull this off, Zelinskii had to make sure that everyone knew his or her part, for one mistake could ruin the stratagem. Over a period of weeks, groups of Moscow's leading biologists—all members of MOIP—filed into Zelinskii's musty apartment to hear the instructions: "Don't hoot, don't whistle, don't ask trick questions! We are doing this to save the section."[49]

In December 1950 the "people's academician" paid his visit to the citadel of scientific public opinion (see figure 13). Chairing the vast meeting—171 MOIP members and 600 nonmembers attended—was venerable zoologist Sergei Ivanovich Ognëv, one of the society's vice presidents. Lysenko chose his own theme, the transformation of one species into another, but despite the extreme intellectual provocation his remarks presented, there was not a hoot, not a whistle, and only one recorded challenging question. Ognëv, in fact, graciously expressed "the deep gratitude on the part of the members of the society for a thoroughly interesting and extraordinarily substantive talk on the problem of Michurinist theory."[50] Zelinskii's strategy worked seamlessly, and, for a time, MOIP continued to be viewed by the Stalinist camp as a collection of chudaki —harmless and marginal oddballs.

With Zelinskii's death, the baton of leadership in MOIP was passed to Vladimir Nikolaevich Sukachëv, who was concurrently director of the Academy's Institute of Forests as well as head of the Interdisciplinary Expedi-


Figure 13.
Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinskii (seated)
and Trofim Denisovich Lysenko.

tion for Shelter Belts, chair of the Academy Presidium's Commission on Zapovedniki, and editor of the Botanical Journal (as president of the Botanical Society). In the secret balloting conducted by the society on February 10, 1951, with 126 members present and 115 voting, fifty-seven candidates vied for forty seats on MOIP's Executive Council. In a bizarre coda to Lysenko's appearance at the society, Lysenko was placed on the ballot for a Council seat. Apparently, MOIP's leaders had decided to go with a winning strategy; why not embrace Lysenko with open arms? Perhaps then he might forget about them. Sensibly, the voting members gave Lysenko 100 affirmative votes, less than the totals for Varsonof'eva, Obruchev, Ianshin, Ognëv, Deineka, and Sukachëv, but enough to win him a seat on the Council. His allies, though, did not fare as well. Koshtoiants and Davitashvili ended up with forty votes and thirty, respectively.[51]

With the presidency of MOIP, Sukachëv also inherited de facto control over the society's Bulletin, concentrating in his hands leadership of virtually all of the surviving institutions of scientific civil society. Delegating responsibilities for the Expedition to S. V. Zonn, for the Academy Commission to Makarov, Dement'ev, and Shaposhnikov, for MOIP to Varsonof'eva and Ianshin, and for the Botanical Society to D. I. Lebedev and others, and resigning as director of the Institute of Forests when it was transferred to


Krasnoiarsk, Sukachëv used his own relatively unimpaired political reputation as a shield to protect his vulnerable colleagues.

If there was one issue on which Sukachëv gambled his political capital, it was his monumental battle with Lysenko beginning in 1951. Recent scholars have sensibly argued that Sukachëv would not have even considered such a risk had not Stalin's quizzical article on linguistics plausibly signaled, albeit indirectly, that Stalin had felt that all would-be arbiters of Soviet science—Lysenko included—had overreached themselves and were attempting to set themselves up as authorities independent of the Party, that is, of Stalin.[52]

Nevertheless, it was a big risk. But Sukachëv's own articles and those published in the Botanical Journal and the Bulletin of MOIP in 1952–1954 so resonated throughout Soviet scientific society that by 1956 Lysenko seemed to be on the ropes.[53] The example of Sukachëv's civic courage had an inestimable effect on other scientists, especially on impressionable young biologists and students just coming of age in the early and mid-1950s. A 1955 letter to the botanist from a young zoology student at Moscow University and future USSR minister for the protection of nature, Nikolai Vorontsov, illustrates this intergenerational link as well as the affection in which Sukachëv was held:

Deeply Esteemed Vladimir Nikolaevich!

I warmly congratulate you on your coming birthday. . . . Permit me, a young biologist, to express my deepest gratitude to you for that struggle against Lysenkoism in biology that you have led during the difficult conditions of 1952 and which you continue to lead to the present.

Despite administrative pressure, despite the fact that from their university chairs A. N. Studitskii [here follows a list of Lysenkoist instructors] and others try to enlist us under the flag of "new" medieval views, the majority of conscious university youth, both undergraduates and graduate students, is with you in your struggle for Darwinism, for genuine biology, and against obscurantists in our science. . . . Please know, dear Vladimir Nikolaevich, that in this struggle the ardent hearts of youth are on your side and we will remember those efforts which you have expended.[54]

Under Varsonof'eva's day-to-day leadership, MOIP in 1954 launched a second front in the scientific community's struggle against Stalinist science policy: a public campaign to restore the zapovedniki. With VOOP still struggling with political and fiscal problems and, especially after its merger with the Green Plantings Society, internal division, MOIP was the more logical


place to establish the campaign's headquarters, especially as it commanded greater prestige among scientists.

The Zapovednik Conference of 1954

The 1954 Zapovednik conference was completely ignored in the Western media. Most likely it was never even logged in the daily political summaries sent to Washington by embassy staff in Moscow. In the Soviet press there was barely a mention of it. Why, indeed, should anyone have paid serious attention to zoologists and botanists gathering to discuss the current situation and future prospects of zapovedniki in 1954? As the cream of Soviet field biology assembled on the morning of May 12 at the Academy's Moscow House of Scholars on Kropotkin Street, however, Moscow was witnessing the first public protest of the scientific intelligentsia, a meeting that affirmed a social identity of scientists-as-citizens sharply at odds with the Kremlin's definition of "citizens," and opposed the dictatorship in science imposed by Lysenko and the Party bosses. To identify the meeting for what it was, an observer would have had to know the behavioral and rhetorical codes and markers of that community, which even its insiders knew only on an experiential, not a conscious, level. Nonetheless, those who participated in the conference remembered it clearly to the end of their lives.

"Comrades!" shouted Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva triumphantly over the hum, "permit me to declare the joint session of MOIP, the All-Russian Society for the Promotion of the Protection of Nature and of the Greening of Population Centers [VOOP], and the Moscow branch of the All-Union Geographical Society [MGO] open for business!" Following the rituals of Soviet academic arcana, those present elected a Presidium and a chair for the conference.[55]

Leading off, Varsonof'eva cunningly mentioned the February—March Plenum of the Central Committee, the meeting at which Khrushchëv had announced his signature Virgin Lands program, and noted that its successful implementation depended first of all on deepening our knowledge of the natural world. And, she asserted, zapovedniki, offering unique opportunities for field study of ecological complexes under natural conditions, were an essential component of the plan. "The failure to study these complexes sufficiently will lead, in some cases, to devastating consequences for the economy," she warned prophetically, alluding to the understudied grasslands of southern Siberia and Kazakhstan. "The unthought-out, monolithic application of the travopol'e system in our southern regions may serve as an example," she noted, referring to the ill-fated, dictatorially imposed system of cropping advocated by Stalinist soil science icon G. R. Vil'iams, a figure


similar to Lysenko. "I must say," she added, "that these natural geographical conditions are far from adequately understood by us not only [in the Virgin Lands] but in other regions as well."[56] For that reason alone it was necessary to restore the former reserves and even to expand that network to include all biological and physical-geographical zones of the USSR that were not represented in 1951.[57]

As many had argued before her, wild-growing vegetation was the raw material for many commercial crops and applications. The potential value of nature, even reckoned in this way, she observed, was unknown. One example she mentioned was Professor Avrorin's use of wild plants from a number of regions for the greening of the city of Kirovsk on the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic zone. In some cases, the plants exhibited dramatically different physiological responses and potentialities than those observable in their area of natural distribution, which held great interest for biological theory. In light of this, the role of zapovedniki as reserves of such wild-growing plants was no less important than their role as pristine natural ecological communities.[58]

Varsonof'eva explained that the conference was the result of the initiative of "three of the most prominent scientific societies linked with the study of natural resources"—namely, MOIP, VOOP, and MGO—which had approached the USSR Academy of Sciences and the USSR Ministry of Agriculture (to which Malinovskii's agency was now subordinated) to send speakers "to inform scientific public opinion about the work being conducted" in the zapovedniki.[59] Although it was already highly unusual that voluntary societies in the USSR should request any kind of accounting to them by state agencies, Varsonof'eva took scientific public opinion's claims one step further, asserting the societies' methodological leadership on the question of nature protection. Diplomatically but assertively she concluded by expressing "the conviction that this conference will assist the Main . . . Administration and the Academy . . . to find the way toward future development of this great cause."[60]

Despite the dignified and restrained tone set by Varsonof'eva, it was not easy for Aleksei Ivanovich Korol'kov, Malinovskii's deputy, to face the largely hostile audience, many of whom had lost their positions in 1951 Commencing on a defensive note, Korol'kov announced that he would not discuss the history of the zapovedniki before 1952, although he reminded the audience that 200 inspectors were dispatched in 1950 by the Ministry of State Control and that the 1951 decree flowed from the Kremlin's belief that the system of reserves had become "unjustifiably overblown."[61] He also mentioned that the zapovedniki had been accused by the government of conducting work that was useless to the larger society, backing up his contention by citing the 1951 decree, which stated plainly that "the scientific re-


search in the majority of zapovedniki is pursued in a way disjunct from the practical interests of the economy."[62]

After going into some detail regarding the various research and biotechnical projects conducted in his system, Korol'kov noted a number of quantifiable indicators of improvement. State funding of the system rose from 14 million rubles in 1952 to 17 million for 1954, including an increase from 3.7 million to 4.8 million for research. From 1952 to 1953 the number of candidates of science in the system had increased from nineteen to thirty-six and, equally important in Korol'kov's eyes, their affiliation with the Komsomol or the Party rose from 31 percent to 41 percent.[63] At the end of his speech Korol'kov came to the question that had brought the big crowd together in the first place. "We believe," he pronounced, "that the question of increasing the number of state zapovedniki must be decided not as part of a general reassessment of the whole system . . . but on an individual basis," renouncing in advance any support for a strategic reconstitution of the system.[64] Finally, Korol'kov tried to reassure the scientists that the most recent transfer of the reserve system to the USSR Ministry of Agriculture would not be fatal to serious scientific research. Studies would begin in 1955 on intra–and interspecies relationships, as well as comparative studies on reproduction, such as the effect of light. Moreover, there would be experiments on the hybridization of closely related species and an extensive campaign of acclimatization was to commence, with kulan (onager or Asiatic wild ass) and pheasant brought to Barsakel'mes Island, musk deer to Denezhkin kamen', roe deer to Prioksko-Terrasnyi, and European bison to the Khopërskii zapovednik.[65] But Korol'kov's examples were precisely the kind of science that most disquieted this particular audience: hybridization and acclimatization without regard for either the genetic prerequisites or the possible undesired ecological consequences of these "biotechnical" measures. These programs in field biology vividly symbolized the dictatorship of Lysenko and the Baconian-Timiriazevan-Stalinist vision of total control, which the scientists rejected.

The second major address was delivered by Nikolai Evgen'evich Kabanov, acting chairman of the Academy's Commission on Zapovedniki. Kabanov's speech was a strong defense of the scientific intelligentsia's traditional program of nature protection. Invoking the names of some of the founders of that program—Kozhevnikov, Borodin, Zhitkov, Buturlin—Kabanov signaled that the Academy was now ready to support the commission's plans for a radical expansion of the Academy's network of reserves, a stance that implicitly marked the commission's aim to wrest the status of effective center of nature protection from the Ministry of Agriculture Main Administration. Although the preparation of a volume, Zapovedniki of the USSR Academy of Sciences and of the Academies of the Union Republics, was a first step,


Kabanov now revealed movement on the more important front of creating or restoring protected territories:

I wanted to inform you that the Presidiums of the Academies of Sciences remain interested in the status of their zapovedniki. Individual Presidiums . . . such as the Estonian now are actively raising the question of creating zapovedniki in their republics. Similar information regarding the Latvian Academy of Sciences has reached the commission as well, and there are also reports from the Academy of Sciences of Georgia. . . . All of this clearly shows that the existing network of zapovedniki is not the final word on the issue, not bottled up in its present scale, but it will and doubtless must change in connection with the needs of the economy and culture of the various oblasts and republics of the Union.[66]

Kabanov asked the audience for the help of scientific public opinion in editing and publishing the rich manuscript materials in the hands of the commission, materials that would not see the light of day if they had to depend on Malinovskii's Main Administration. Further, he asked the meeting to support a group of recommendations, which, taken together, constituted a declaration of war against the Main Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture.[67] He declared, "We hold that any zapovednik, be it state or part of the system of the Academy of Sciences, must be by its nature a specific kind of scientific research institution which must develop its specific themes for study . . . linked, principally, with the . . . scientific principles of nature protection in the USSR under conditions of inviolability."[68]

Kabanov explicitly noted that the practical tasks outlined by Korol'kov, particularly under the influence of the Ministry of Agriculture, did not represent "full-blooded" science and that zapovedniki ought to be devoted to other tasks. "For that reason," he exhorted, to the applause of the delegates stirred by this bold public rebuke to their enemies, "the time has come when we need to raise the question, 'Doesn't the general regulation of the whole cause of nature protection and zapovedniki demand raising the question of organizing under the USSR Council of Ministers an authoritative agency for nature protection and zapovedniki?'"[69]

Korol'kov was brought back to the podium to answer questions, which Varsonof'eva had asked to be submitted in written form, evidently to minimize the chance of the meeting getting out of hand.[70] However, many of the emboldened scientists made a point of signing their names to the written questions (which in Soviet practice were usually anonymous), demonstrating that they were submitting written questions in deference to the wishes of their respected colleague, Varsonof'eva, not out of fear.

Korol'kov mentioned that he had received numerous questions all asking the same thing. The most strongly worded were those of Formozov and Nasimovich. Those scientists demanded to know what was happening to the


resources—the plants, animals, and minerals—of the former zapovedniki liquidated in 1951. Korol'kov admitted that oil was being drilled in the Kronotskii reserve on Kamchatka and that lumbering and hunting operations were going on in other formerly protected territories.[71]

Questioners asked about the scale of logging in the Belovezhskaia pushcha and the Khopërskii zapovednik, about the amount of income actually cleared by the exploitation of resources in the former reserves and the net amount saved by the government as a result of the liquidation, and whether Korol'kov's talk was preapproved by the Main Administration. Korol'kov informed the audience that in all existing reserves of his Main Administration during 1953 234,000 cubic meters of wood were logged, including 55,000 that went into production (delovoi les ).[72]

Some questions were acidly or testily phrased, such as the one that asked why Korol'kov mentioned that "the forests were still not inventoried in the Kyzyl-Agach reserve when in fact there was not a single tree there." Another wanted to know why the eider duck was not considered an economically important enough object to support its study in the Main Administration's research plan. But the question that rocked the session was one that challenged the whole political basis for the 1951 liquidation: "What attitude ought we to hold today to the investigations of the activities of the zapovedniki carried out under the leadership and on the instructions of the enemy of the Motherland Merkulov?" The implication was that because Vsevolod Nikolaevich Merkulov had been discredited, tried, and shot, the fruits of his political activity should likewise be reevaluated, if not completely reversed.

Korol'kov, however, remained one step ahead of the questioner. "The activities of the zapovedniki were investigated by two hundred Soviet people," lectured Korol'kov, "who worked and even now work in the Ministry of State Control. In the government commission worked comrades admired by all, including Comrades Khrushchëv, Kozlov, Bovin, Benediktov, and Chernousov. For that reason the [basis of the] question is simply in error." Korol'kov was able to trump his clever adversary because the system had, as it were, prepared for the contingency by spreading the responsibility for the liquidation of the reserves across a broad spectrum of prominent political figures. Nonetheless, Korol'kov continued to be hammered by questions. One of his most dogged adversaries was A. N. Formozov.

Aleksandr Nikolaevich Formozov (see figure 14) was one of the acknowledged leaders of Russian biology. His monograph on the role of snow cover in animal ecology, published by MOIP in 1946, was nominated for a state prize. Another volume, An Essay on the Ecology of Mouselike Rodent Vectors of Tularemia , was also published by MOIP a year later.[73]

At the end of the war the director of the Institute of Geography, Andrei Aleksandrovich Grigor'ev, offered Formozov the opportunity to create a


Figure 14.
Aleksandr Nikolaevich Formozov (1899–1973).

department of biogeography in the institute. Formozov accepted, and from March 16, 1945 on he served as the head of the new department, even though his main employment was at Moscow University.

Formozov's postwar research focused on the ecology of the steppe and desert regions of Eurasia. New research problems imposed themselves on him with the announcement of the Stalin Plan. Those who drew up the blueprints for the shelter belts failed to take into account the response of wildlife. It turned out that the massive seeding of oak trees attracted huge numbers of rodents, which were appreciatively eating the acorns.

Formozov's outspoken defense of the importance of natural selection on the basis of intraspecific competition got him in trouble. On Novem-


ber 4, 1947, he was one of three (D. A. Sabinin and I. I. Shmal'gauzen were the others) who appeared before a sympathetic crowd in the huge "Communist" auditorium at Moscow University—the university's biggest—as part of an unprecedented public series of talks and debates pitting Lysenko against his critics. Immediately afterwards, the university published the three talks as Intraspecific Struggle in Animals and Plants , a significant show of support for the partisans of Mendelian or classical genetics and the "Great Synthesis" in evolutionary theory.[74] After the August session of 1948, however, the situation radically deteriorated, and on November 4, 1948, Formozov decided to go on half-time status at the university. Before the start of the next academic year he requested permission from the Biological Faculties dean's office to leave altogether, but for his own tactical reasons the new dean, I. I. Prezent, Lysenko's right-hand man, refused, keeping Formozov under his jurisdiction while he awaited an opportunity to discredit Formozov. Nevertheless, the focus of Formozov's energies now was the Institute of Geography, where there were many whom he considered close colleagues and even friends. Formozov was given the opportunity to build up the institute's department of biogeography, and he now hired many experienced biologists, including former college classmates, colleagues, and students. Many who joined the department had lost their positions as a result of the post–August session developments in biology or were unable to get work elsewhere.[75]

Aside from serving as a zapovednik for rare and endangered Mendelian-oriented field biologists, the Institute of Geography became a crucible where the two disciplinary intelligentsias formed personal, intellectual, programmatic, and ultimately political alliances, with Formozov and his circle at the nexus. From an institutional point of view, the presence of Formozov, Nasimovich, and a band of other zoologists and botanists in the Institute of Geography as full-fledged members allowed them to enter and authoritatively participate in the Moscow branch of the Geographical Society of the USSR as well. Formozov and Nasimovich particularly enjoyed influence with I. D. Papanin, which continued into the 1960s.

At the 1954 conference on zapovedniki , Formozov responded to Korol'kov's address:

Aleksei Ivanovich [Korol'kov] gave us a detailed talk about the situation in currently existing zapovedniki , but the presentation he offered did not deal with the issues we would have liked to hear about. . . . We would have been interested to hear [from Korol'kov] about the future prospects of zapovedniki as a whole, what directions they must go, what they are currently lacking, what shape the network should attain in the future, but we did not hear a single word about [the big picture]. . . . We are first concerned about whether any positive results were in fact achieved by the . . . reform of the past few years. We are concerned with the question of what is going on now in the territories of


the liquidated zapovedniki . I posed this question to Comrade Korol'kov and he failed to respond. Evidently, the Administration is completely indifferent to the fate of those territories, [despite the fact that] they hold great interest for science and culture.[76]

Although he had not made a special study of the question, Formozov had received disquieting information from a number of sources about the conditions of the Ministry of Agriculture reserves and the ex-reserves. A full third of the forests of the liquidated Lapland zapovednik had burned, and the fires had also spread to the iagel' (lichen meadows that served as the principal food base for the reindeer of the region). The iagel' requires decades to regenerate in Arctic conditions, and so the reindeer herds that the zapovednik had so successfully enabled to recover were once again under threat.[77]

Formozov had also heard that on the territory of the former Altaiskii zapovednik a party of geological prospectors slaughtered more than thirty maral deer, taking only a small amount of meat and leaving the bulk of the carcasses to rot. "Is this not an example of barbarous squander of natural resources?" he asked angrily. From the Far East, K. G. Abramov, the dean of zoologists and conservation activists there, had informed Formozov that the goral and sika deer of the former Sudzukhinskii zapovednik were on the brink of extinction. "Comrade Korol'kov informed us that the Administration was contemplating establishing a series of game preserves for especially valuable animals," Formozov archly noted, pausing to deliver the punch line. "However, while they are contemplating this there will already be nothing left to protect. For those animals that find themselves in the most threatened situation it will all be over, and this will be an irreplaceable loss not only for the economy but also for science and culture."[78]

Formozov pressed Korol'kov on the issue of whether or not there was any demonstrable benefit from the liquidation of 1951. Practically refuting the idea that the Party-state possessed some kind of superior wisdom, Formozov challenged Korol'kov's repeated assertions that changes in the zapovednik network could and should only come about through government decrees and that consequently there was no sense talking about reversing the effects of 1951. "We know that [argument] perfectly," Formozov continued,

but we are interested in something else: what, in reality, did that decree achieve? Is it not so that recently, for example, a decree on the merger of a group of ministries was issued? However, practice proved that this was ill advised and the decree was replaced with another. And what has practice shown concerning the liquidation of a group of our finest zapovedniki , which we had regarded as a significant cultural achievement in the recent past of our country? . . . Are you sure that without those forests [of the zapovedniki ] our forest industry would be sunk?[79]

Formozov taunted Korol'kov and Malinovskii, alluding to the shortcomings of lumbering and forest culture in the USSR's forests outside the reserves,


which would furnish far more usable timber, if lumbering practices were even partly improved, than the available cut in the former zapovedniki . "We should have pursued precisely that route," Formozov acidly quipped, "and not run after essentially insignificant forested areas of the zapovedniki ."[80]

Formozov agreed with Korol'kov on one point: that protected territories alone could not save endangered species. "If we will protect valuable animals on 'postage-stamp tracts' while everywhere else we have picked the land clean, then the result will be pitiable indeed," he warned.

Recounting his experience at the meeting with then USSR minister of state control Merkulov, which, he said, could be confirmed by Professor G. V. Nikol'skii, also in the audience, Formozov revealed that

all of the determinations of scientific public opinion were rejected without basis owing to his political assignment; the decision to liquidate . . . was taken before any materials were received from the 200 investigators. Even pleas from local authorities were disregarded. Given the situation, it is entirely possible that the government was led to blunder by the deliberately biased materials prepared for its perusal. What the role of the Main Administration was in this is still not clear to me, but history will sort this out and each will receive according to his deserts.[81]

Repeating his accusations that Korol'kov had insulted the audience of scientists by presenting a Pollyannaish "bureaucratic presentation," Formozov called on his listeners to compile a data bank regarding the fate of the former protected territories subsequent to their liquidation. But he closed with a call for struggle: "We must expand the network, increase the areas, and demand that the government reexamine the course that it has adopted." The audience roared its approval; scientific public opinion was standing tall.[82]

For today's readers, the statements made at this meeting may not seem lurid or shocking. For the participants, though, hearing this public censure of officials (some of whom were present) by representatives of scientific society must have been thrilling political theater. And for more than a few, these revelations of Kremlin goings-on told by one of their own—demystified, unawed, uncowed—was a kind of public speech that they had not heard since Stalin's Great Break of the early 1930s.

We have seen how zapovedniki resonated for the scientific intelligentsia as symbolic and tangible free territories. Additionally, they embodied and symbolized other values of the intelligentsia, including "responsibility." No speech better underscored that aspect of Russian nature protection than the remarks of I. E. Lukashevich. For him, leaving some areas untouched was a mark of a sense of responsibility to the future, and the fate of what people protected—or failed to protect—today would affect how they were viewed by people in the future. Maintaining this sense of community in time was an important value of the movement, and, at least for Lukashevich, our degree of responsibility was the greater because the future was powerless to affect


decisions in the present. "However," he noted, "the impression has been created that these questions are not being viewed from that perspective and this has upset many of us." He proclaimed that "an exact and clear depiction of what we have heard today in the first [Korol'kov's] talk" was furnished by Formozov's off-the-cuff descriptor "cold indifference." "This indifference," he cautioned, "cannot lead to anything except the worst possible consequences not only for the present day, but for the far future as well."[83]

Lukashevich argued that scientists were far from knowing the potential of each species both for practical economic benefit but also for increasing scientific knowledge per se. "We cannot even suspect what [secrets] one or another life form carries within itself: Only in the future can the full importance of [these] forms for practice and theory be appreciated; obviously, this cannot be gauged by their current market values."[84]

No less than Formozov, Lukashevich enunciated the political claims and political dignity of scientific public opinion. Even while stating that it was the scientists' "sacred duty" to provide the government and the Party with essential information, he also had a different, more radical message: "The obsessive references to the decrees of the Party and the government in no way free the broad mass of scientific public opinion and official authorities [concerned with nature protection] . . . of responsibility not only toward the present generation but to future ones as well. At our cultural level it is already impermissible to hide behind excuses of ignorance, as our predecessors still could." Here Lukashevich injected a remarkable addendum: "We must recall that we are responsible for incorrect decisions regarding zapovedniki not only to our own people but to humanity as a whole for all time to come and that to isolate nature behind state boundaries, to be sure, is an incorrect framework of understanding."[85]

Restating the claims of scientific public opinion to possession of the key expertise on the question of nature protection, he insisted that "problems of zapovednost ' must not be decided by bureaucratic means or by chance people with no connection to the cause. I am greatly agitated because, in contrast to the speaker [Korol'kov], I am unable to treat these questions with indifference," concluded Lukashevich, again to the applause of the crowd. Scientific public opinion had not only had found its voice; it was shouting itself hoarse.[86]

The passionate Lukashevich had warmed the hall. Now, the dryly acerbic and unmovably dignified Vladimir Georgievich Geptner took the podium. "I must state at the very outset," he confessed, "that I was not completely satisfied by the report . . . of the Main Administration." Daring the officials, Geptner sarcastically ventured that he had "counted on the probability that the three years that had elapsed since the reorganization of the


system of zapovedniki would be enough to be able to demonstrate the superiority of the new system . . . as compared with the old."[87]

As a result of a uniquely developed theoretical framework as well as through trial and error, a number of features came to characterize Soviet zapovedniki , explained Geptner. One was that they should represent each and every major natural historical province of the great country. Another was that they should be as large as possible, individually. A third was that the reserves were, first and foremost, to be considered scientific research institutions that would also serve as field research stations for researchers of institutions outside the reserves system. "In that way," emphasized Geptner, "specific features were developed in our Soviet zapovedniki , in our attitude toward zapovedniki , which strongly set them apart from attitudes to [protected territories] in foreign countries [emphasis in original]."[88]

Geptner noted that the emergence of this new type of institution, the zapovednik , helped to give birth to a new kind of research, whose field observations were station-based, not helter-skelter and performed "on the run." "A whole new branch of zoology was created that hadn't existed before," he added, referring to advances in community ecology and more. "Now, we have grown used to the contributions that the zapovedniki have made"; all this, he stressed, "was done by our zapovedniki , specific to our own conditions, and not by national parks, dedicated to leisure . . . as has been done in other countries."[89] Geptner seconded Lukashevich's assertion that zapovedniki were "cultural institutions called upon to preserve models of pristine nature for future generations." Calling the 1951 reorganization "a step backward," Geptner noted that the state-run protected territories accounted for just 0.06 percent of the overall land mass of the Soviet Union. "That is totally unacceptable!" he exclaimed. Indeed, "the very idea of zapovednost ' has been demeaned. Externally," he continued, "this at the very least has been reflected in the fact that [before] we had an Administration for Zapovedniki attached to the [RSFSR] Council of Ministers with good scientific staff, with a scientific-technical Council, and which elicited tremendous interest on the part of public opinion. . . . Now there is merely a department of a ministry and, naturally, the authority of this ministry cannot be compared with that which had been before."[90]

Next, he lashed out at Korol'kov's information about logging in the current Ministry of Agriculture reserves. The assistant director's figures of 234,000 cubic meters, or 0.1 cubic meter per hectare, did not appear too egregious, but statistical averaging might be deceiving: "Sergei Sergeevich and I want to eat, but I eat two sandwiches while he has none. [If you average it out] it turns out that we're both satiated!"[91] "What I'm interested in knowing," he continued, "is how much forest was chopped down in the Belovezhskaia pushcha . Averages don't tell us anything. There is a noticeable


utilitarianism in your work," he went on, apparently looking at Korol'kov. "I repeat: zapovedniki must work in the interests of the economy, this is beyond doubt. However, they may not be objects of economic exploitation, and this must be stated unambiguously."[92]

An unmistakable note of patriotism rang through Geptner's remarks, but it had a rueful tinge. He and fellow biologists wanted to be proud Soviet patriots and to be recognized as contributors to their country's greatness. However, the authorities continued to push them away, accepting patriotism only on the terms of the regime, not those of scientific public opinion.

The zoologist Georgii Vasil'evich Nikol'skii was next to take the floor. Departing somewhat from previous remarks, he offered that "perhaps it is not entirely right to limit our discussion only to questions concerning the system of zapovedniki ." Nikol'skii saw a larger issue at hand, that of the protection of nature generally. "Unfortunately," he observed, " it must be said without mincing words that we do not have a system for the protection of nature . . . . Water quality protection is inadequate; the situation with forest protection is downright disgusting; the protection of our fisheries is a total fiction; and the situation with the protection of animals and birds is an outrage."[93]

We pour half a million tons of oil and petroleum products into our waters annually, he charged. We lose the equivalent of one quarter of the wood in the forests of the zapovedniki in the form of logs that sink to the bottom of our rivers after cutting. "Naturally, such a situation cannot be tolerated," he declared. Nikol'skii told the convention that during the past year he had worked on some questions concerning forestry. "I came across outrageous facts regarding the protected forests of watershed areas." These facts "need to be presented to the public at large." The only way that the country could begin to forge a necessary integrated policy for environmental protection was by creating a new Administration for Problems of the Protection of Nature and Natural Resources under the USSR Council of Ministers.[94]

Sergei Evgen'evich Kleinenberg pointedly began where Georgii Vasil'evich left off, expressing his "enormous sense of satisfaction at the circumstance that, finally, questions about the work of the zapovedniki are receiving some kind of airing before scientific public opinion, because in recent years, since the liquidation of the [Scientific] Council of the Main Administration, no information about the activities of the zapovedniki has reached nauchnaia obshchestvennost ' and no one knows what is going on there. This [meeting] is an extraordinarily gratifying fact and for that we must thank our society," he declared.[95]

Kleinenberg, another respected zoologist, tackled the charged question of acclimatization. Twenty-five years after the violent battles over that question of the late 1920s and early 1930s, acclimatization still possessed the symbolic resonance that made it an explosive issue for the scientific intelli-


gentsia. Acclimatization symbolized the wanton, arbitrary, and, for them, wrongheaded way in which the Bolsheviks thought they could disregard all science and social science in order to rearrange nature and human society. Acclimatization had become a symbol of what had happened to the country: its threat to endemic life forms symbolized Stalinism's threat to the "endemic" intelligentsia; its basis in doctrines hostile to genetics symbolized the Party-backed ignorant dictatorship in biology. Acclimatization was an affront not only to the scientists' biological expertise, but to their ethical vision of social relations as well.

Kleinenberg now declared, "I believe that acclimatization is no game. We must approach this technique with extreme seriousness and acclimatization for the sake of acclimatization must not be permitted."[96] Here, Kleinenberg played off the rhetoric of the old accusations against the conservation movement: that it engaged in the "protection of nature for its own sake." More than that, the charge leveled by Kleinenberg of "acclimatization for its own sake" showed a clear recognition of the symbolic and ideological uses that "biotechnics" had acquired in the hands of the Stalinist nature-transformers. Repeating warnings that acclimatization was "pregnant with very serious consequences," some of which were dangerous, Kleinenberg ended with a description of the Main Administration's plans as "hodgepodge, unserious, and ad hoc, . . . the results of which could be quite injurious not only to us but to the economy of the whole country."[97]

At this meeting the terror that had paralyzed a whole country for thirty years had taken a holiday. All were burning to have their say. Georgii Aleksandrovich Novikov spoke on behalf of "hundreds, even thousands of Soviet scientists and patriots of our Motherland" who were "alarmed" at the course of developments in the area of nature protection. "I must say," he declared, "that as a former, old researcher in the zapovednik system and having, to a great extent, developed as a zoologist through the . . . system, I have the impression that the current Main Administration is pushing us—nauchnaia obshchestvennost' —to the margins and is trying to operate alone, from its own [secret] cells. Perhaps this is more convenient, but I do not think that it is correct." Even here, "face to face with the representatives of Soviet scientific public opinion," the bureaucrats of the Main Administration refuse to speak openly and honestly about their shortcomings, he charged.[98] Calling for the Main Administration genuinely to submit to the methodological leadership of the Academy, Novikov twitted the Main Administration: "Really, now, is it that hard to contact the Leningrad Academy institutes? It's not hard, and it wouldn't hurt you to come over."[99] Then, correcting any false impression about why the scientists had converged on Moscow, he added: "We have enthusiastically responded not to your invitation, but to the call of the Moscow Society of Naturalists . . . and the leaders [of my institute] enthusiastically sent me off to take part in this meeting."


Novikov now took on Korol'kov's rhetorical support for interdisciplinary research and coordination: "You have mentioned Nesmeianov. Well, he says that neighboring disciplines in science must develop together. You, on the other hand, make contracts only with economic organizations. And under those conditions there will never be any sense [to your research program], the more so since the leaders of the Main Administration—I believe for many of those sitting here—the leaders are rather poorly known as scientists." With this withering aside, the hall erupted in laughter, causing Novikov to pause until things were brought back under control.[100] Novikov returned to the attack with a lacerating indictment of the Main Administration's undistinguished publishing record since 1951 noting that even the publications the officials claimed credit for were actually either done before or published by other organizations. "One cannot engage in a living cause with a cold heart and cold hands," he lectured Korol'kov and Malinovskii. "You must radically alter your entire style of operations. Only then, and not by yourselves alone, but together with all of us, may we solve the essential and venerable task of the protection of nature in our Soviet Union," he concluded, again to the enthusiastic hurrahs of the scientists.[101] Not in anyone's memory had high officials been subjected to such a relentless barrage of withering criticism. Scientific public opinion had waited thirty years for this moment, and now it was loath to let the opportunity pass it by.

After V. V. Krinitskii, the director of the Voronezh zapovednik , finished his remarks, Varsonof'eva interrupted for an announcement. Fourteen had asked to speak and only seven had done so already, and time had run out. She also had to provide time for the speakers to respond to more questions, for concluding remarks, and for voting on resolutions. The meeting's schedule was getting out of hand. What was to have been a one-day meeting had become a historic event. Someone from the audience suggested extending the conference another day, and Varsonof'eva put it to a vote. Regardless of whether the vote was indeed unanimous as the record states, it seems likely that there was a massive majority in favor of extending the conference; accordingly, Varsonof'eva set the beginning of the next session for 7:30 A.M.

Day Two

The next day brought a headliner to the speaker's platform—Aleksandr Vasil'evich Malinovskii. Having sat through much harsh criticism the previous day, Malinovskii decided to answer in kind. "It must be noted," he said, warming to his topic, "that the debates that unfolded [yesterday] . . . followed an error-ridden line that was adopted beforehand. In fact, those who spoke, as a result of their hotheadedness, tore themselves away from life, based their comments on rumors and on unproven facts, and reach con-


clusions and recommendations with which we can never agree."[102] Malinovskii challenged his critics to defend their comments in light of their not having set foot in his reserves over the past two years. (If some had visited, Malinovskii was supposed to have known about it, and therefore such furtive visits were "contraband.")[103]

Thus far, the zapovednik conference had been distinguished by the extraordinary tone of some of the speakers, bordering on lèse-majesté. As the senior Soviet official present as well as chief intended target of these remarks, Malinovskii had an obligation before the Party to respond.

People have stated here that the operations of the zapovedniki are conducted on an isolated, secretive basis by people with hearts of ice. But what about the comments of Comrade Novikov, who spoke with such a hot heart and a hot head that it was terrifying to listen to him! Allow me to ask you, Comrade Novikov, over the past three years have you been to the Main Administration or to a zapovednik? If you have noticed something [some abuse or shortcoming], come to the Administration and tell us. But did you do anything of the kind? . . . Over two years there have been only outcries from this auditorium. . . . I decisively announce that work in the zapovedniki has in no way been conducted "in secret" as was charged here, and reject that in the most decisive fashion.[104]

Malinovskii next turned to the question of the boundaries of the reserves. Some had pointed to the Caucasus zapovednik , reduced from almost 300,000 hectares to 100,000, as an example of particularly wrongheaded boundary-setting, because seasonal pastures of some of the most important ungulates were excluded. Malinovskii hastened to correct the impression that he was the one at fault:

One hundred thousand hectares. This was set by a decree of the Government and beyond that, I have neither the right as director nor the duty to audit that decision. People here referred to the decree signed by . . . LENIN. I am in agreement with them. But look, the last decree was signed by Comrade LENIN's pupil and disciple I. V. STALIN, and for you it is no secret that it was he who named the overall figure of 1,300,000 hectares [the total for the surviving zapovedniki] . When I increased the area of the Pechoro-Ilychskii zapovednik , the [USSR] Ministry of State Control wrote that I had violated the decree of the [USSR] Council of Ministers and that I might not be aware how that might all end.[105]

As he turned to the question of reviving the Main Administration's publishing activities, he noted that the old RSFSR Main Administration's publications were shut down in 1949, and he asked Formozov to tell the conference what had precipitated that. However, Malinovskii was interrupted by a shout from the crowd: "It was closed under you!" Malinovskii rebutted that he had just arrived from his service in the Soviet Administration in


Germany (SVAG) and started only in January 1950. "[That remark] is on your conscience," he retorted to the heckler. The only related material Malinovskii inherited, he claimed, was 120 tons of recyclable paper scrap, which he finally wrote off as a loss. Nevertheless, Malinovskii argued, the publication record of the Main Administration under him exceeded the publications of zapovednik research of the Academy system. He understood the scientists' feelings about the liquidation, "but it is impermissible to accuse indiscriminately and to state that the entire system is in ruins."[106] "Why don't you want to look to reality, Aleksandr Nikolaevich?" said Malinovskii, addressing Formozov. "Are we really going to hold up the economic development of the country because there is some zapovednik someplace?"[107]

Someone called out, "Then you must [develop] next door!"

Despite the catcalls, Malinovskii wanted to reach out to these scientists. He had already told them that Stalin, not he, was primarily (and personally) responsible for the general contours of the 1951 decree. However, what kept getting in his way was his ideology of transformism and economic development, which was irreconcilable with the vision of development and society embraced by scientific public opinion. Nature and zapovedniki were central symbols in this clash of social and economic visions.

Despite the gulf that separated them, Malinovskii did make an important overture: he offered to join in a petition to restore the Lapland zapovednik . He also proposed establishing three new reserves: one in the Briansk forest to commemorate the partisans who lived there, one at Shushenskoe, where Lenin lived in exile, and one at the Tul'skie zaseki, which would gain support because it included shelter belts.[108]

Coming to the end of his time, though, Malinovskii could not let Lukashevich's offensive address go unchallenged. "It seems to me that it is impermissible to speak out that way and that it is not allowed to state that a decree of the Government . . . must be reexamined at its roots," he warned the activist.[109] From the floor, however, a listener interrupted: "That is not how it was phrased." Malinovskii responded, "It is nonetheless necessary to have respect when dealing with this situation." He then directly answered Geptner's question of how much timber was cut per hectare in the Belovezhskaia pushcha : it turned out to be on average one cubic meter, with an annual increase of biomass of four cubic meters.[110]

Again, in a surprisingly conciliatory mode, Malinovskii promised to consider the "critical comments made here" and to analyze them thoroughly. "I have detained you a long time," he confessed, "but I think that we shall resolve this important question conjointly. . . . I hope that we will be able to come to some agreement." The only deflective note was his expression of the hope that, in the future, their discussions would have less of a "philosophical" hue and would be "closer to real life." Malinovskii proposed that the conference delegate its Presidium to continue a working relationship


with him and his agency after the conference, with an aim to generate concrete proposals for improvement and reform of the reserve system.[111]

For historians of the Soviet Union, especially those who study a period still so close to the tyrannical rule of Joseph Stalin, Malinovskii's address is perhaps even more remarkable than the extraordinary speeches made by angry scientists before him. First, the very fact of Malinovskii's appearance to give an accounting of himself and his agency—in Russian, otchityvat'siato representatives of the mobilized scientific intelligentsia was a striking indication both of the scientists' power and of how much had indeed changed in the space of a year and two months. I would argue that this was the only constituency that was fearless enough and mobilized enough to compel such an appearance at such an early date. Second, Malinovskii's attempts to legitimize his authority, to exculpate himself (here at Stalin's expense), and to make concessions to public opinion are nothing short of astonishing. If Stalin's and Khrushchëv's Soviet Union were nothing but a successful totalitarian regime, such acts of legitimation would be utterly incomprehensible. Yet we know that schools cannot run without teachers, universities without professors, sanitation departments without garbage collectors, and so on. And a zapovednik system, even one as imbued with short-term pragmatic economic goals as Malinovskii's, could not exist for long without sympathetic, capable zoologists and botanists. The diehard guerrilla war that scientific public opinion began to wage against his agency was viewed by Malinovskii as a serious enough threat to warrant all reasonable efforts to end it, even to the point of making concessions.

As the rest of the meeting would demonstrate, however, the road to compromise would be long and hard. Lev Konstantinovich Shaposhnikov, academic secretary of the Academy's Commission on Zapovedniki , immediately challenged Malinovskii's view of the proper regime and research concerns of those institutions, as set out in his 1953 article "Zapovedniki of the Soviet Union."[112] There it was in black and white, in Malinovskii's words: "The basic task of the zapovedniki is [resource] management geared to solving problems in agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing." Shaposhnikov contrasted this to the classic view of the tasks of zapovedniki .

By the middle of the second day, Varsonof'eva was getting weary. When S. D. Pereleshin came to a discussion of 1951 and said: "There is also one very painful, unpleasant, and ticklish question. . . . At this conference someone mentioned the name of Merkulov," he was immediately cut off by Varsonof'eva with a forceful request "not to broach that subject. This is beyond our competence," she continued, "is not our task, and we will not discuss it here."[113] However, the assembled scientists wanted to have their full say. Mikhail Aleksandrovich Zablotskii, a widely respected figure who brought the European bison back from the brink of extinction, restarted the political theme. Countering Malinovskii's appeal to respect government and Party


decrees that were already in place, Zablotskii cited recent editorials in the journal Kommunist and articles in Pravda and Izvestiia that called on Soviet people to criticize incorrect decisions. "And this, sad to say," concluded the zoologist, "is still applicable in our Soviet science."[114]

With an unmistakable allusion to Lysenko, Zablotskii began a bold and extended political commentary:

In particular, we should note that up to now the phenomena of monopolies and of heavy-handed bureaucratic misrule in science have still not been rooted out and still confront us, not to mention a whole slew of other deficiencies. . . . [T]he most recent decisions of the Party and government have subjected to sharp criticism the hackneyed approach to the introduction of the grass-field system of agriculture, whose introduction a while back took place not without the awareness by that same Party and government. You and I have borne witness to the fact that a number of workers who spoke out against the indiscriminate application of [that] system were persecuted and tossed out of a number of agricultural institutions . . . [T]he shutdown of a number of zapovedniki  .  .  . was also carried out according to a decree of the [same] Council of Ministers . . . and that has inflicted a great deal of harm to the cause of protected territories. It seems to me that it is permissible to state here that in that decree too we may find the selfsame hackneyed approach.[115]

Doubtless Varsonof'eva breathed a sigh of relief when Zablotskii ended his overtly political commentary to discuss in depth the implications of the new, smaller post-1952 boundaries for the Caucasus zapovednik , which he knew well in connection with his work with the restoration of bison in that part of their former range. The subject of bison gave Zablotskii an opportunity to challenge Malinovskii's attempt to refute the charge that his Main Administration had sealed itself off from nauchnaia obshchestvennost' . The director of the Belovezhskaia pushcha had spoken to the meeting on the previous day, and he was peppered with all sorts of questions about the status of the bison herd in his reserve. Such dialogue was a good thing, but the flood of questions, explained Zablotskii, could only be explained by the fact that "for the past few years we haven't been able to locate a single informational dispatch concerning the work with bison" there. Zablotskii was able to relate firsthand how, in 1952, the Mammalogical Section of VOOP had scheduled three invited talks on the European bison, including a talk by Zablotskii. However, the Main Administration forbade two of the speakers to present talks, allowing only one presentation from among their staff. "Would it have been so horrible," Zablotskii asked Malinovskii rhetorically, "if the comrades could have heard about bison from the mouths of speakers directly?"[116]

Zablotskii now harpooned the whole work environment of the Main Administration: "The operative principle that underlies the department is


that scientists of the zapovedniki and the staff of the Main Administration must . . . fulfill decisions [from above] more and discuss and evaluate them less. And those comrades . . . who permit themselves a modicum of independence of judgment, as G. A. Novikov so aptly observed, if their judgments do not coincide totally with the opinion of the Main Administration, risk having themselves cut off."[117] Zablotskii was interrupted by approving cries of "It's an Arakcheev regime" from the audience, the reference being to the rigid, dictatorial style of administration of military colonies under Alexander I's general, Count A. A. Arakcheev, which in Russian parlance had come to stand for the worst kind of bureaucratic authoritarianism.

Resuming his remarks, Zablotskii explained: "Sometimes it's done surgically, sometimes by a whole series of indirect ploys that create for researchers such moral conditions that force older scientists, unable to abide the 'new' demands, to leave by their own decision." Despite his recent face-to-face talk with Korol'kov and Malinovskii's seemingly conciliatory remarks, Zablotskii remained profoundly skeptical about any improvements under this administration.[118]

In his second turn at the rostrum, Formozov advanced ecological arguments against what he believed was Malinovskii's simpleminded approach to the presence of "surplus" resources in the reserves. "We have heard talk here," he began,

that it is stupid not to clean up fallen trees in zapovedniki after a windfall, etc. But this question is not so simple. Under these fallen tree trunks capercaillie and quail make their nests, and marten and sable mate there in winter. I know of instances when ducks and capercaillie have made their nests under one and the same downed tree trunk for a number of years in a row. That means that this trunk is a valuable resource for them. Malinovskii has said here that around Moscow there is not much wildlife. That is true. But it is true because the woods have been cleaned excessively. . . . In forestry plantations often they conduct cleanups of the forests without taking into account the interests of other branches of the economy, which is wrong as well. But in zapovedniki such measures are simply impermissible.[119]

For Formozov, Malinovskii would never be able to emancipate himself from his narrow training in commercially oriented forestry. The zoologist drove home his main point. "Your speech, Comrade Malinovskii, proved that those who said that the Main Administration did not have a clear, correct understanding of its tasks were right," Formozov concluded to applause.[120] There seemed to be no letup to this barrage, but then, could the pent-up rage of thirty years be drained in one morning, or even two?

Andrei Aleksandrovich Nasimovich pointed to international practices that, he argued, put Soviet efforts to shame, and indicted the Main Administration for anti-intellectualism as he recounted how portions of manuscripts


soggy from improper storage were brought to the Prioksko-Terrasnyi reserve and consigned to the fireplace. Nasimovich and a few others were able to rescue from the flames some valuable materials from the Tul'skie zaseki reserve. "I'm sure you agree," Nasimovich said to the audience, "that this adequately reflects the style of operations of the Main Administration and its attitude toward scientific research." Someone shouted "What a shame!" Malinovskii rose to his own defense, shouting back, "That's not true, they were duplicates." Nasimovich retorted, "That's not difficult to determine," and noted that the deterioration of records had become a universal problem in the system. Geptner jumped in, asking where the other scientific materials from the liquidated zapovedniki were being stored.[121]

Among the most passionate retorts was from Lukashevich, whose initial speech had also been among the most barbed:

There has been an accusation made against me, which I simply am unable to ignore in light of its stupidity. . . . It is difficult for a person at the end of his life, who has worked as a propagandist for decades, to agree with your claim that in my remarks there was some sort of disrespect for the decrees of the Party and the government. . . . The fact is that the all too frequent references to the decrees of the Party and the government seemed to me simply to be an intentional design on the part of . . . Korol'kov . . . to shunt responsibility both from himself and from the official leadership [of the Main Administration] for what they have done.

"That's how we understood you," voices from the audience called out, providing Lukashevich with a needed opportunity. "It turns out that the entire auditorium understood me," he went on, "and only two persons interpreted my remarks tendentiously. Why is that so? It is my opinion that this is a reflection simply of inadequate respect. Who in the world am I? Do I occupy an important position? [Evidently] my name didn't ring any bells for you, and you [permitted yourselves] to fling stupid imputations my way, accusations that people usually do not throw around."[122]

Even the normally more reserved Avetisian, who followed, expressed his "amaze[ment] at the bureaucratic attitudes on the part of the leadership of the Main Administration toward the initiative taken by the scientists. It seems to me," he continued, "that the Administration should be gladdened that such Soviet scientists as Professors Formozov, Turov, Nikol'skii, Dement'ev, Geptner, and many others . . . wish to provide assistance to the . . . Administration. . . . The Administration should heed the voice of scientific public opinion and not hole itself up in its bureaucratic shell."[123] Avetisian, in a long and at times historically3 referenced address, joined his scientist colleagues in calling for a complete turnaround in reserves policy: not simply restoration of what was lost, but an energetic expansion, while there were still large undeveloped territories:


There was a period of time when problems of nature protection were not thought to be sufficiently important. Some leading figures in the ministries and a segment of biologists believed that since the goal of the transformation of nature was posed that meant that there was no reason to protect nature . . . There were even those extremists [peregibshchiki ] who thought that agitation for nature protection was not necessary either. And it is no accident that when the question of truncating the network of zapovedniki was decided, at the very same time some leading [political] figures, not without support from the leadership of the [Main] Zapovednik Administration, posed the question of liquidating the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature as well.[124]

Avetisian recounted how he was the only dissenting opinion on the Gosplan RSFSR commission that was created to decide the fate of VOOP. "[T]he RSFSR Council of Ministers agreed with that [dissenting] opinion," he triumphantly noted, however, "and I can gladden you with the news that the Society for the Protection of Nature will continue to survive," as a wave of applause rolled through the auditorium again, causing yet another noisy interruption.[125]

Endorsing all of the big demands voiced by the scientist activists, Avetisian concluded that "the time has come" for a decree by the Supreme Soviet on nature protection generally, and that this complex of issues should be institutionally represented by a Main Administration for the Protection and Rational Use of Natural Resources and Zapovedniki attached directly to the USSR Council of Ministers. To keep a narrowly focused Main Zapovednik Administration under the aegis of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture was like "letting the cat guard the lard and the goat the hay."[126]

The time had now come to try to bring closure to an exceptionally tense two days. Understanding her role as a voice of reason, and afraid, perhaps, that things were now really getting out of hand, Vera Aleksandrovna Varsonof'eva, the conference chair, decided to intervene. She tried in a creative way to make the agenda of the scientists, seemingly so distant from the concerns and methods of Malinovskii and his team, not only intelligible but even attractive to the latter. According to her approach, the bitterly divided camps at the conference were actually mired in an apparent contradiction, because what the scientists were proposing was in their eyes just as much for the well-being of the society, the economy, and the state as the program of the Main Administration. The differences lay in methods of activity and in broader or narrower definitions of utility and benefit.

Varsonof'eva sought especially to avoid fatally alienating Malinovskii. Diplomatically, she recognized that "one did not get the feeling that [in] the comments of Aleksandr Vasil'evich there was an effort to oppose so sharply [these differences] or to so sharply condemn the opinion of the scientists." Addressing him directly, she assured him that "we consider it valuable and


necessary to attain mutual understanding and to work together in close contact; criticism and self-criticism is one of the methods by which we work in our state. For that reason, no one should be personally insulted by criticism." "Perhaps," she admitted, "there was too much emotionalism in some of the talks and comments. Some questions were even touched on here that do not enter into our competence. It is not necessary to bring up the question of the role Merkulov played in that commission. The government will figure that out on its own. That is not our concern." She took pains rather to emphasize that it was "the sincere desire to help correctly orient this great cause that guided us, and it would be unwanted if our conference and our goals were understood in some other way."[127]

Finally, she said that it was her understanding that Malinovskii was now in agreement on the question of increasing the number of zapovedniki . She saw a possibility now to build bridges and a working relationship between the Main Administration and scientific public opinion.[128] She argued against the conference hastily voting on resolutions, especially with the atmosphere so emotionally charged. It would be wiser to elect a Commission and delegate it to propose resolutions, which could then be submitted to the votes of the three societies that convened the conference.[129] Yielding to Varsonof'eva's authority and her image as a kindly but strong old aunt, the conference dutifully elected a Presidium of eleven.

Not all the rancor had subsided, however. Korol'kov had unwisely described the attempts at compromise as a "kind of blackmail," prompting a last-minute speaker from the audience, Tsapkin, to renew calls for a Council of Ministers investigation of the reserves and the Main Administration.[130] This, in turn, elicited the response of Malinovskii, who now retreated to the position that "if criticism is baseless, then we will not accept it. . . . The government has provided the basic principles and the practical direction." Two voices from the audience sought to put Tsapkin's ideas to a vote: that the Council of Ministers should turn to representatives of scientific public opinion for assistance in reexamining the whole question of the zapovedniki , which would include a new investigation of the Main Administration and its reserves and also include the zapovedniki of the Academy of Sciences.[131] The vote for Tsapkin's proposal carried by a huge margin. In a huff, Malinovskii asked to be removed from the Commission.[132] Arguments continued inconclusively for quite a few minutes before Varsonof'eva ultimately brought the meeting to a close with an expression of thanks to all for their "active participation."

The "Three Societies" Conference of 1954 was a grand stage on which the scientists could brandish publicly their sense of professional dignity, for so long hidden in the recesses of their marginal socium. Central to the drama were the honor, dignity, and integrity of the scientists' and activists'


social identity as embodying "certified public opinion." Only viewing the conference in this light may we appreciate the importance of what would otherwise seem petty, the parade of speakers rising on the second day to refute the characterizations of themselves made that morning by Malinovskii, himself rebutting the scientists' prior accusations made against him. Indeed, the battle had only just been joined.


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