Russian Scientists in the USA

Human fate: We don't know what good is, but we still scold when we lose it

It happened so that there are two implacable antagonists among PRAVDA.Ru authors. On the one hand, we regularly publish interviews with former and present leaders of military structures and think their stories are important for understanding of the past and the present of our country. On the other hand, we also actively cooperate with those people who are considered ideological enemies of the special services.

In particular, we are proud that our compatriot, outstanding and talented scientist Alexander Bolonkin is a permanent author of PRAVDA.Ru. It was he whom Viktor Cherkashin meant in his interview about recruiting of intelligence agents; the interview is a reflection on the problem why Russian scientists are strengthening the power of our enemies in the most secret fields.   

Alexander Bolonkin used to work in the Soviet missile industry, later the KGB forced him out of the country, the scientist worked in NASA; at present, Alexander Bolonkin is working at the scientific laboratory of the US Navy Base in Florida. Certainly, he is well informed about the problem in question. But before the interview with the scientist, we would like to tell his biography which will certainly explain the emotionality of the author.

Alexander Bolonkin was born in the Russian city of Perm, in Ural; he revealed his extraordinary abilities at the early age already. In his childhood he modeled aircraft constructions, he fixed several records in the Soviet Union and even broke world records in aircraft modeling. In the years of his studies at the institute, Bolonkin was awarded with diplomas and prizes for his scientific developments. Alexander Bolonkin defended a Ph.D. thesis and a thesis for a Doctor’s degree and worked at the Oleg Antonov aviation design bureau, then he worked as a head of the safety department in the Academician Glushko missile bureau.

At the end of the 1960s, a dissident movement started in the Soviet Union. In 1972, Bolonkin was arrested for his “anti-Soviet activity” and sentenced to four years in camps and two years of exile. At that, the scientist was threatened that he would never get back from prison. And the threat actually came true: Alexander Bolonkin was released only in 15 years, in 1987, when perestroika began in the country. Being in prison, the scientist was constantly tortured with the only purpose to make him repent. The name of Alexander Bolonkin became known abroad; Academician Sakharov and outstanding scientists of the world spoke in his support several times.

After the release, Alexander Bolonkin was evicted from the country; he was deprived of his accommodation and property, and the scientist had to pay 4.000 dollars of ransom.

The scientist left for the USA where he worked in the US Air Force Central Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio for two years and two years more he worked on important armament projects of the USA in NASA (NASA, DFRC, California). Alexander Bolonkin is the author of over 60 scientific works, books and 16 inventions, many of which are secret.

Alexander Bolonkin: I read the interview of Mr.Cherkashin that you’ve mentioned and felt the epoch of communist propaganda in his words. There is no opportunity to sort out the heaps of lies and hypocrisy that we heard within the 70 years when  the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ruled the country. I would like to mention just several moments.

Viktor Cherkashin says that people who refused to serve the communist regime were “traitors” and “parricides”. I would like to ask him who were the Germans who refused to serve Hitler, escaped to the USSR and started exposure of Hitler’s malicious intentions. As is seen from the communist propaganda popularized by Cherkashin, they can be called heroes, patriots, fighters for the ideals of freedom and democracy. 

Fatherland for Mr.Cherkashin is first of all the regime that he loyally served. But former KGB officials now call “traitors” and “parricides” those people who refused to serve the regime and exposed the crimes committed by the KGB, the hypocrisy of the communist and post-communist regimes. My opinion is that such people like Mr.Cherkashin, who shut the eyes to extermination of people in this country, betrayed the people. Fatherland means first of all wellbeing and happiness of the people, but when people have no opportunity to work for happiness and wellbeing in the country where they were born, they have to escape from it and try to help the fatherland from abroad.

Such people like Viktor Cherkashin still repeat over and over again the old communist story about the intrigues of evil imperialists, the CIA and FBI, ideological diversions, you say the cold war is not yet over and blame the USA for breakup of the USSR. You probably regret that the communist coup failed in 1991.

If the same had happened with the USA, Soviet tanks would have immediately rushed to English Channel shores. And what did evil Americans imperialists do? They saw that robbed Soviet people starved and supplied thousands of tons of foodstuffs free of charge. Former party bosses sold the foodstuffs to the Soviet citizens and promised Americans that money obtained from the sale would be given to the poor, but instead, they put the earnings into their own pockets.

There are displeased opinions that specialists, academicians and even children of former communist party secretaries escape from the native land and “sell” some technical secrets to the USA, to the enemy. It is strange that Viktor Cherkashin invented some American law in accordance with which people coming to the USA from Russia are obliged to reveal technical secrets of the sphere where these people worked in their native country.

I worked in the Soviet aviation and missile industry for many years and know perfectly well that our activity mostly focused on stealing technical achievements of the USA in order to reproduce them in the Soviet industry several years later. But the Soviet industry had neither materials, not electronics that Americans used for production of their innovations. Certainly, this kind of activity was thoroughly classified as secret. As a result of it I can mention the blast at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that covered half of Europe with radioactive fallout, the explosion of its own torpedoes on board the Russian submarine Kursk and numerous catastrophes of Russian missiles (it was only the sixth Soviet rocket that managed to launch the first satellite). Does Mr.Cherkashin mean these very secrets? This would be the same if Afghanistan started blaming its refugees fleeing to Russia for carrying off technical achievements of Afghanistan. 

There was mentioned some mythical American law that obliges people claiming for American citizenship to reveal technical achievements and secrets of their native countries. Trust me, I know that there is no law of this kind. In the former USSR I was allowed an access to all missile and aircraft design bureaus, to secret close research institutes, I contacted with my friends working in other secret institutions and organizations of the country, in a word, I knew quite a lot. But when I was evicted from the USSR and came to America, the CIA evinced no interest in my “secrets”. You may object and say that Americans engaged me into development of advanced military technique. Yes, they did so, but it wasn’t the CIA, but the US National Science Board that engaged me in this work (they don’t even know that I’m a former political prisoner). However, I was given this honor not because of some Soviet “secrets” but because at the competition with Americans I suggested new revolutionary ideas that could be applied in aircraft and missile construction.  

Viktor Cherkashin mentioned that the son of the former communist party secretary Nikita Khrushchev, who worked in a secret missile institute, “had to reveal secrets concerning activity of the institute” when he came to the USA. I am sure that even if the son of the Soviet party leader intentionally wanted to tell the CIA Soviet secrets, it is unlikely that his story about attempts of the Soviet institute to copy America’s cruise missile 40 years ago, the attempts that resulted in construction of a poor copy of the American missile, would be interesting for American special  services. The man in question is currently working as a Sovietolgist at an American institute; he is trying to rehabilitate his father who signed death sentences and put people telling anecdotes about him into Stalin concentration camps.  

You say that an academician (I understand that you mean academician Sagdeyev, the former director of the Institute for Space Exploration), “a specialist in the sphere of nuclear weapons, together with his works and secrets came to the hostile country (theUSA) to strengthen the power of our enemies.” I know perfectly well the institute where the scientist worked. Neither Sagdeyev, nor the institute where he worked made researches with nuclear weapons, the institute mostly explored conditions in the space, the problem which has always been open in all countries. It’s a pity that conditions in this country are such that even specialists and scientists are so much poor here that they prefer to be unemployed in the USA that be at head of the Russian “secret” scientific institutes.

Viktor Cherkashin is indignant at the brain drain from Russia. But do you see how Russian authorities treat these “brains”. I would like to mention the example of my own fate. As a former political prisoner who spent 15 years in a Soviet prison, concentration camps and in exile, I am completely rehabilitated at present. In accordance with the Russian legislation, I must get back my apartment in Moscow. I appealed to Boris Yeltsin and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov several times in connection with the problem, however I got no adequate response to my letters. After 32 years of my work in the USSR, I am rejected a pension; after 15 years of torments, no compensation for my troubles has been paid; the authorities also refuse to give me my Russian passport. When Lenin and Hitler came to power, they immediately released their followers, restored their property and nominated them on the top managing positions. But former communist party members, “democrats” like Yeltsin, who came to power through the blood of dissidents, they rejected the rights of those people who advocated democracy and didn’t allow them to get back to Russia. 

You may say that incumbent president Vladimir Putin radically differs from Yeltsin. Putin came to America, delivered a speech in the UN, talked with the Russian community in the USA; he appealed to the people and asked them to get back to Russia. He promised wonders to them and said a special commission for return of compatriots from abroad was created. Well, I wrote a letter to the Russian president and said that realization of the presidential law must be started first of all (I mean that I must get back my apartment as I was rehabilitated). But no reply followed to my letter. Is it possible that this commission was created just on paper? Recently, Vladimir Putin asked politicians not to give idle promises. But why he himself gave idle promises when he was in the USA and now he doesn’t wish to observe the Russian legislation?

Do you think that I need this fatherland where all my rights are rejected? The problem was wonderfully settled in China. When they saw that students sent to study in America wouldn’t get back, they started offering them free apartments, cars with personal drivers and wages of the same level they would get in America. So, Mr.Cherkashin, when authorities in Russia get cleverer and the quality of life improves, brains (even including American ones) will wish to remain here and consider the country their fatherland, not a stepmother ruled by former communists and KGB officers.

Viktor Cherkashin says that “the USA imposed restrictions on travels of people who hold state secrets” and appeals for introduction of the same restrictions in Russia. But it is nonsense. I would like to mention an example from my own career. I worker at the US Air Force central base in 1994, where all basic secrets of the USA were concentrated. But I faced no problems when I traveled about different countries, including Russia; neither the CIA, nor the FBI evinced interest in my tours. My friends in Russia often complain that even now the FSB prohibits them to communicate with foreigners.

In conclusion I would like to mention a dangerous tendency that has recently outlined in the Russian press: the Russian people are forced to understand the myth saying that the FSB (former KGB) is the only honest, non-corrupt and efficient part of the state administrative machinery. Over the 15 years of my torments in camps and prisons I got to know many of KGB officials who are currently working in the FSB. But I never met a KGB official who was clever and intelligent, not to speak about conscience. Absolutely all of them are unscrupulous men who are ready to commit any mean deeds if they are paid good for it.

Alexander Bolonkin
Doctor of Technical Science, USA
Special for PRAVDA.Ru

Picture: Alexander Bolonkin

Author`s name Michael Simpson