A story about Russia's development ways.
|Power, Church and a Clerk
Every year on August the 2nd Russia celebrates of the Russian Airborne Troops Day. They are rightfully considered to be a specially honored arm of the service. They have added many bright pages to the history of the Armed Forces. Their valour, courage and selfless devotion to Motherland is forever covered with the everlasting glory.
The main celebration is traditionally held in the Moscow Central Park of culture and recreation named after M. Gorky. But on memorial days dedicated to various jubilees the military-sports festival is held on the Tushino airfield. As a rule the program consists of the exhibition airborne landing and a military hardware parade. Airborne troops officers come there with their families in full dress uniform decorated with all their orders and medals. Many guests are invited for the celebration. Military brass bands play uplifting music. Lots of visitors crowd near the cafeterias.
In 1995 we tested our encryption device in some airborne troops units. Colonel K. whom I worked with directly invited me to Tushino for the Airborne Troops celebration. I accepted his invitation with pleasure. It is always interesting to attend military festivals especially of the elite unites like the Russian Airborne Troops. There was a problem I intended to solve at that festival. General N. the chief of the South African Information Security Agency, a former commander of the South African Airborne Troops, planned to visit me. He wanted to meet our paratroopers and jump with a parachute if possible. That’s why I wanted to make an acquaintance with high-ranking Airborne Troops officers to get a permission for a foreign citizen to jump with a parachute on one of the firing grounds.
It was a sunny day on August 2, 1995. There were many people in Tushino. The regiment commander K. met me at the entrance where the guests’ passes were checked and led to the tribune to watch the event. A lot of orders and medals decorated Colonel K.’s full dress uniform. He received some of them as far back as for the Afghan war. Some of them were given to him not long ago for combat operations in Chechnya.
I made myself comfortable on the tribune and watched the exhibition paratrooper sport fighting, armed fighting, combat karate and cracking bricks with a bare hand.
An hour later colonel K. returned and asked me to go down.
- General A. Lebed has arrived, but there’s a secret order of the Minister of defense P. Grachov not to come up to the general. A. Lebed is now retired. There was some conflict between them. Can you come up to him and congratulate with the holiday? I’ll go with you and congratulate him later on, - he asked me.
- But it is an Airborne Troops Day today! It’s a holiday! There are no official events today and I think it’s permitted to congratulate anyone with the holiday – those who served in the Airborne Troops and those who serve in the army now, - I replied.
- That’s right, but you know P. Grachov’s tough character. He is a minister of Defense, you know. He’ll keep it in mind if something is wrong! There may be difficulties in the office, but I want to congratulate A. Lebed. We fought in Afghanistan together, – the colonel’s voice was sad.
- Of course, no problem. I don’t care what P. Grachov will think about me, – I said. – Let’s go and congratulate him.
We approached the general. He was standing alone in a full dress uniform no one beside him but his wife. I introduced myself to the general and said:
- Comrade General, I congratulate you with the Airborne Troops Day. I wish you health and happiness.
The general wasn’t acquainted with me. He noticed colonel K. behind me, kept silent for a while, then shook my hand firmly and said:
- Thank you.
He bended towards me a little and pronounced in a low voice:
- See you.
Colonel K congratulated A. Lebed. Then the other paratroopers started to move up to congratulate him…
On August 31st, 1996 in Hasavurt general A. Lebed signed an agreement on the end of the combat operations. The debates on the reasonability of that document haven’t ended up till now. I prefer not to go in for details concerning these political problems. Lots of documents had to be coordinated in Moscow urgently to sign the agreement. They were sent via open communication lines, so the Security council Secretary A. Lebed ordered to use my encryption device to encrypt them…
Sometimes it happens that a very distinguished person honored with state awards for courage capitulates in front of his boss who negatively treats the subordinates. I’ve witnessed such a situation. The status of those people doesn’t matter. They may either still be working or may be already discharged. Usually they are dismissed after a conflict with a boss if they dare to object to his stupid and sometimes even harmful orders. People mostly understand it but prefer not to make a complaint to escape the fate of those who have dared to oppose the boss openly. These people prefer not to meet the “social outcasts” even on a day off. Later on when the chief is removed from the office or retires on a pension the colleagues’ attitude towards him changes drastically. They aren’t afraid any more to condemn him!
Naturally, it happens more often in state establishments, especially in military organizations. Once in the times of socialism I spoke to a distinguished person. He fought in the Great Patriotic War from the beginning till the end, he was wounded several times and had orders and medals including medals for courage. I asked him why he was afraid to vote against his chief at the party meetings. The answer was simple:
- I’ll retire in a short while.
- But you’ve told us so much about the war! You were awarded with the Red Star order for blowing up a tank with a grenade! You weren’t afraid to face a fascist tank and survived by a miracle! And now you are afraid of a nothing short of a chief!
- That was during the war, – the veteran replied and turned away from me.
Pension is a magic factor in Russia. It was the reason why many generals and officers remained in their offices in February 1917. They hoped the new government wouldn’t forget to pay them pensions. Something similar happened in August 1991 when lots of Soviet generals and officers expected the new government wouldn’t forget to pay them pensions in time.
The legislation of the tsarist Russia and the USSR in respect to the apostates dismissed from the state service was practically similar. If a state official was discharged with a blacklisting he was deprived of a pension and it was a great problem for him to find a job. Sometimes it was even impossible. (Remember A. Chekhov’s story “The Death of the Civil Servant”. Civil servants were so afraid to make even a smallest mistake not to lose the job.) It was practically the same in the USSR. State officials did their best to keep a low profile and that was the cause of immense bureaucracy. The coordination of every problem required a long time mainly not to offend some Jack in office. Suppose he recollects it sometime later?
The law was strictly observed those days: dirty linen shouldn’t be washed in public. It was prohibited to discuss violations outside the office. If a person became “a social outcast” and was discharged his former colleagues treated him negatively until the boss who had fired “a social outcast” left the office once and for all or withdrew from business. Only then the colleagues weren’t afraid any more to communicate with him and discuss in public all the vices of the former chief.
A feedback is the main factor of any system, biological, ecological, social or any other. A chief-subordinate feedback is very vague in a bureaucratic interaction. An official isn’t able to influence a chief’s decision - he may lose the job if he dares to.
The Communist Party of the USSR used to regulate the bureaucratic activities. Clerks could criticize any high-ranking official at party meetings. After all the bureaucratic party system linked up with the bureaucratic state machinery system and destroyed that feedback.
A clerk became twice as much unprotected in front of the two powerful bureaucratic bodies. As a result both systems collapsed.
We can’t say there’s no bureaucracy in contemporary Russia. Clerks have more freedom now. They can retire and find another job in any Russian or foreign commercial company. The feedback is still not really effective. Maybe that’s why many interesting ideas are hampered.
Is it possible to overcome this situation?
At the present stage the existing parties can’t influence the bureaucratic apparatus because they form that organ. The opposition parties are weak and disintegrated due to constant conflicts.
After the long-term tyranny and atheism the Church is wisely gaining strength now.
It has taken only the first steps in the revival of its former grandeur in Russia. Many churches and monasteries destroyed by order of communist leaders have been reconstructed. The Church is now accumulating finance to solve the most complicated and significant problem. It has to teach and train the necessary number of highly professional priests to carry to people the Christian testimony and the ideal of indisputability of the evangelic moral. Not without reason Jesus Christ told the apostles that the main task of the Church was to go and preach.
Today the Church doesn’t have enough qualified priests. It is the heritage of the past and the result of financial problems. The Orthodox Church hasn’t resolved that problem to the full extent. It’s hard to demand that the Church should accomplish all the tasks at once. The slow, correct and well considered progressive movement is more effective than a loud and quick as lightning advertising campaign aimed at momentary success. Russia’s future will mostly depend on the solution of this problem.
According to the Russian legislation the Church is separated from the state. I hope that in the nearest future it will completely restore its might in Russia, use its independent opinion and reasonably manage the congregation. Thus it will become a reliable social partner of the state. The Church will help the country to overcome the depression caused by the present and past mistakes.
Due to its independence the Church may fulfill the most important mission – provide a feedback between the Russian people and the administration of this country. They can and jointly form the consciousness of the Russian people in a spirit of love for the neighbor and create a harmonious state.
The present day political organization of the Russian society may be compared to the Japanese model of state administration. In fact there’s only one strong party in our country and a few opposition parties. They weakly influence the most important political decision-making. It may be important for the Russian government to adopt the appropriate laws taking into consideration Japan’s broad experience in the fight against corruption and bureaucracy. The State Duma prepared special laws in this sphere. I wish they don’t have a dual interpretation!
I suppose alongside with the fight against bureaucracy it is also important to fight against numerous informers, like it is practiced in Japan. In compliance with article 172 of the Japanese Criminal Code disinformation or complaint aimed to punish a person under criminal or administrative law is strictly punished. The guilty person is sentenced to hard labor for three months up to ten years. The regular rotation of Japanese clerks is also worth consideration – it’s also a means of anti-bureaucracy fight.
The active influence of the church on the South African policy may be considered as an example. In 1990 a wave of violence escalated in the Republic of South Africa and posed a great risk for the constitutional negotiations. The problem was who would stop the approaching crisis. The Churches took the lead in the peaceful process. All Christian religious organizations except two participated in the National Conference of Church Leaders held in November 1990. The Conference was a historical step towards reconciliation.
The Dutch Reformed Church admitted its guilt and responsibility for apartheid. Under the strong influence of that repentance the delegates issued a Rustenburg Declaration denouncing the apartheid and urged the adoption of a democratic constitution and a more fair distribution of the national resource. They appealed to the Churches of the country to condemn all the forms of violence and decided to hold a peace conference. That Church movement resulted in the organization of the Consultative Business Movement that consisted of the representatives of large corporations. Step by step more and more progressive people in the South African Republic united to support the peaceful initiatives of the Churches. As a result of an intense anti-apartheid fight for freedom the African National Congress won 63% of the vote in the elections on April 26th-29th, 1994. This is an example of a great role the Church played to solve the most complicated political problems and to find a peaceful way out of an acute crisis.
The South African Republic had an interesting experience those days in the development of modern technologies. A completely isolated country could develop unique technologies, in particular in the field of armaments. A CH2-2 Rooivalk combat support helicopter designed by the South African constructors and process engineers was considered those days to be one of the best combat helicopters in the world. Not a single army in the world was armed with small arms like a 40-mm MGM machine gun. It was immensely effective. I tested it myself on a firing ground in South Africa. The results were beyond all expectations. The development and the production of electronic equipment occupied a large sector in the defense industry of the country. In that respect South African specialists didn’t lag behind the leading world manufacturers. The flare-up of the political situation in the country was due to the necessity to overcome apartheid; the isolation of the country made the progressively minded South African leaders seek the new markets for mutually beneficial cooperation. The main task was to keep excellent technical specialists from leaving the country.
The situation in the South African Republic was very complicated when a delegation came to Moscow from that African country for negotiations on cooperation with my company. General N., the chief of the South African Information Security Agency was at the head of the delegation. His assistants and the leading South African cryptographer professor K. accompanied the general. The negotiations on our main business were successful. I intended to show the guests as more places of interest as possible and we prepared a wide cultural program for our respected guests. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a permission for the general to jump with a parachute, in spite of the fact that he had brought an official invitation from the Minister of Defense to a Russian Airborne company to visit South Africa for joint exercise. The South African side intended to bear all financial expenditures for the journey. The procedure of handling such a letter to the high instance wasn’t fulfilled. It was specified that military delegations could go abroad only according to the approved form. Formally the state officials were right though sometimes it’s worth coordinating such an interaction on a high level quickly because in future it may result in a mutually beneficial cooperation.
We compensated the refusal of the Airborne Troops command with a Russian party. Colonel K. attended it with his friends. It turned out that general N. and colonel K. had fought against each other during the civil war in Angola when they served as military consultants. General N. consulted the UNITA partisans and colonel K. consulted the SWAPO partisans. Neither of the partisans could fight - foreign instructors did all the job for them.
I was anxious the two men could feel hostility to each other, but the meeting was fine. The guests enjoyed the Russian cuisine with the traditional snacks, river sprat, salting, salads, fried piglets, king fish and naturally with world-famous Russian vodka. At the end of the evening colonel K. sang “Katyusha” and general N. cheerfully sang along mangling the Russian words he had managed to memorize. The South African general and the Russian colonel realized that the war was inane. I think those people who are responsible for a war should be sent there as consultants. Maybe then they can realize how dangerous and foolish a war is and revoke their orders until it isn’t too late…
In conclusion I’d like to say that we have successfully worked with the South African cryptographers. Their technical specialists are excellent!