Evgeniy Velihov

Picture of Evgeniy Velihov

Date of Birth: 02/02/1935

Age: 81

Place of birth: Moscow

Citizenship: Russia

Interview with Academician Yevgeny Velikhov

- Yevgeniy Pavlovich, your science and the public career, as I imagine, was in Soviet times, it is a success?

- In general, yes, though I have never longed for power. I`m after school entered the Moscow State University Department of Physics, after which in 1958 was sent to work in the Kurchatov Institute, and the diploma came here two years earlier. So since I work here. Well, he defended candidate and doctoral dissertations - in one go, 20 years was the vice-president of the Academy of Sciences. I was sent "on the farm" - I have built, in particular, the scientific community of Troitsk, lived there, formally remaining Kurchatov.

- You are 39 years old became the academician - entered the top ten, or even one of the five "young so early" Sakharov became an academician before all - 32 years Sagdeev - 34, Keldysh - 35 and so on. But your biography, I noticed such a thing: rather late, at age 36, you joined the party. What for? For the director of the Kurchatov Institute three times Hero of Socialist Labor Academician Anatoly Alexandrov was a non-partisan, that is not considered that the non-membership in the Communist Party hurt his career ...

- At the time of which we are, I actually led the branch of the Academy of Sciences in Troitsk. And the question was this: either appoint the head of the party, or I myself have to join the party. there was no other way out. We consulted with the guys, we decided that I should join, the wife with me on this occasion almost divorced. As for Alexandrov, then became director of the institute, he immediately joined the party, and he was immediately elected to the Central Committee. Position Director required party membership. This is a remarkable physicist, academician Leontovich was not a party member, but he never held any administrative positions.

- Now you - the President or Director of the Kurchatov Institute. And continue to enter the management of the Academy of Sciences?

- Two years ago, I left there. Why? Firstly, I stayed there for twenty years - ample time, and secondly, I left in a conflict situation. I announced his candidacy for the presidency, while presenting his program. Members of the Academy, having considered this program, it was rejected. Nevertheless, I did not take off his candidacy, he lost the election.

- Yevgeniy Pavlovich, a year passed since the disaster of the nuclear submarine "Kursk". The reactor developed your institute for her. He`s all right, he drowned?

- There is an excellent reactor behaves perfectly.

- Let`s go back 15 years ago. Chernobyl has affected your outlook?

- Chernobyl affected my fate. I`m up to this atomic affairs was not engaged: my specialty - plasma physics, fusion and the like. In Chernobyl, I came by accident. My friend, an American physicist at Princeton, immediately after the accident at the station gave me a telegram that the irradiated children should be given iodine tablets. I went to this telegram to the government meeting, and Ryzhkov (Council of Ministers at that time) immediately sent me to Chernobyl.

- On what day after the accident you got there?

- On the fourth. I left a note to his wife was leaving for three days, and stayed there for a month. Call us by phone from there forbidden, she could not understand what was happening, but official reports that everything is fine, do not believe it.

- Academician Legasov committed suicide because of feelings of guilt? What he had to do with Chernobyl reactor?

- Direct relationship to the accident he had, just that he was the first deputy director of the institute - Alexandrov. And positions promoted this reactor, preached this direction. He first went to Chernobyl, I just met him the next day after the incident at the door - we were close - with a suitcase in his hand. He, like me, had no idea about what happened there. And so he said, "I`m going to Chernobyl, there is something wrong." The reasons for his suicide are many, including personal, discussing them is unethical.

- Your institute carried out the scientific management of the creation of reactors like Chernobyl, right?

- Yes, and the designer was academician Dollezhal. One reason for the accident was a lack of scientific and organizational level in the country in general for the operation of such a thing. Happened set of errors, which should not be under normal circumstances. But the reactor itself was not perfect, we are in many respects it is now altered, improved design, so now can not happen like this. But it had to be done before the accident in Chernobyl.

- Why is it not done?

- We have in those years had the euphoria caused by the successes in the construction of the first nuclear power plants, Gagarin`s flight, and so on. We have come to believe that we are all available. And our ability to actually have been limited to technologies that have been developed somewhere in the late 60s. It was a good technology, but when we decided that we can all make ourselves alone, we have failed, not only in the nuclear industry, but also in space, computers - everywhere failed.

- Academician Alexandrov found Chernobyl?

- Yes, and it`s all very worried. He`s accustomed to act in other Soviet conditions, such as the penetration of the media was not at all the case. But freedom of the press but positive there, you see, and negative points. Among the journalists there are quite a number of people who have other interests other than the interests of the business, so the result of "light" can be a negative event. Having risen in the press noise is very far from being traumatized young Anatoly Petrovich, in this, in fact, his career scientist and President of the Academy of Sciences, I note, is quite successful, it ended. After him there was no such presidents.

- Before it was Keldysh - a prominent scientist. And what he was President?

- It was broken by their failure, he had the strongest crisis in modern words, stress.

- I`ve heard it too, as Legasov, passed away on their own.

- I`m not sure, but he died in his personal "Volga", in the garage ... I saw him shortly before his death, it was a broken man. At the same time, I must say, it is attracted to the work at the academy are very interesting people, the Presidency has been very strong: Artsimovich Konstantinov, other scientists.

- What position Kurchatov Institute now? When I came to you on the campus, I saw a lot of dilapidated buildings ...

- I recently visited the MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. The biggest opening there being made in shabby, shabby, as you said, the buildings. We can spend the money - and we have them! - To repair buildings, offices, and can - on science.

- Well, that with the salary of scientists?

- From the beginning we decided that we will not raise the salary due to the reduction of other employees. The person should receive as much as it earns. Academician Leontovich said that justice - is the realization of a feeling of envy. Therefore, we do not conduct special monitoring, but who earned under different contracts, agreements, and some of whom received grants. Many employees are often in business trips abroad - it also increases their salary. If a person gets only a state salary - it`s sad, but all tend to have extra income. If you are on the edge of some problems at the moment, you can earn from $ 500 to $ 1000 per month. For Moscow, it is good money. Harder theorists, we`re trying to help, driving is something which, little reallocation of resources. Great redistribution of conduct can not be - then we undermine the initiative of energetic employees.

- Many employees go abroad, Evgeny Pavlovich?

- No, not much. But the mass of employees working abroad on contracts, sometimes leading the whole institutes, trends, it is done in the framework of international agreements. Another thing is that the influx of young scientists in the Institute decreased - they immediately look for a job abroad, where the pay is much larger than ours.

- Where does makeup young professionals?

- We have our own high school, after which students enter the Fiztech, Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, Moscow State University. And then use the PTI System: a third-year students come to us, write here degrees and remain working. 10-12 people we train with the first course here in the Research University, which has a state license.

- You dacha in Zhukovka, where they lived, I am not afraid of loud words, the great scientists: Aleksandrov, Zeldovich, Khariton, Keldysh, Sakharov. Why do not you arrange a house-museum there, if one at all? After all in Peredelkino has been operating for three houses - the museum: Pasternak, and Okudzhava Chukovsky ...

- Such a thought I had. I even spoke to Yeltsin`s administration with a proposal to buy back Sakharov`s summer residence and a museum there. But he was giving someone urgently bought, then bought up, it went from hand to hand. I have this idea is not discarded, but in this case the state should participate.

- Press A to help do not want to resort?

- The press is more interested in scandal than a particular good deal. There is a theorem to messages funds should be treated the media as a deliberate lie, if you have a good reason to regard them as true (laughs).

- Could offense of colleagues, if it had not considered it a joke. Tell me, how do you feel about Zhores Alferov? He`s a communist, but it somehow does not fit with the modern ...

- First of all, Jaures - beautiful scientist. Secondly, with the majority of its specific socio-political situation, I agree - they are such, I would say, of constitutional and democratic, not a Bolshevik wing. Its because first dragged into the party in power: Our Home - Russia. He quarreled with them, went into the Communist Party. Two of my grandfather were also, by the way, the Cadets - one shot in `30, the other - in the 37th. At first I thought that, too, belong to the Cadets, and when figured out, dug into the history, realized more - Octobrist because radical views Cadets damaging to the state, to build in Russia a normal liberal society. I see no reason not to communicate with Alferov due to the fact that he was a Communist.

- Well, you can talk with Zyuganov?

- No, I can not, but for a different reason (laughs). With functionaries do not communicate with the same Yazov - please.

- Many years ago, one of my friends asked me: "Do you want to go to a meeting with Ehrenburg then went to the recreation center Kurchatov Institute?". We domchalis here by the end of the meeting, Ehrenburg answered questions. I remember one question: "How do you feel about Stalin?" and the answer Ilya G. "used to be afraid, no longer afraid I`m not at all afraid of the dead.". Who arranged these meetings?

- No matter how painful to talk about it, but it died down. I do not know who is to blame, can blame the time.

- You have grown up children, what do they do?

- Two sons - computer scientists, she was the daughter of a musician, to retrain as a lawyer.

- What do you like, apart from physics?

- Poetry. Of course, Pushkin, but more can, Lermontov, Tyutchev, AK Tolstoy. All the silver age: Gumilyov, Voloshin, whom I consider the greatest Russian poet. Of particular relevance to my bards: Okudzhava, Galich, whom I knew well, Kim, Gorodnitsky ...