The Carnegie Council's U.S. Global Engagement program gratefully acknowledges support for this project from the Alfred and Jane Ross Foundation and Donald M. Kendall.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Hello. I'm David Speedie, director of the U.S. Global Engagement Program here at the Carnegie Council. Thank you for joining me for this installment in our interview series, "The End of the Cold War."
In this series, we take you back to a truly dramatic moment in Russian political history, when a group of U.S. private businessmen visited Russia to promote their idea of democratic capitalism.
In this installment, I interview Gavriil Popov, mayor of Moscow in those turbulent days of the early 1990s, who extended an official welcome to the American delegation, and whose key appointees—as we see in other episodes of this series—played key roles in the end of the Soviet Union. I hope you enjoy the program.
DAVID SPEEDIE:I'm David Speedie, director of the End of the Cold War Project of the Carnegie Council in New York. We are in Moscow, and our guest today is Mr. Gavriil Popov, president of the International University of Moscow.
Mr. Popov, thank you for being with us today.
Let us begin at the beginning. You were a political economist by training.
GAVRIIL POPOV: [via interpreter] I graduated from the Department of Political Economy, but I'm an accountant by training. I serve with the chair of accountancy.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Throughout the 1980s, leading up to the momentous events of 1989 to 1991 and beyond, you were involved in quite a range of economic analyses, theory of management, questions of economy. You were editor-in-chief of the journal Questions of Economy and also wrote materials on socioeconomic reforms, perestroika, et cetera.
GAVRIIL POPOV: That is true.
DAVID SPEEDIE:Then in March of 1989, you were elected people's deputy to the People's Congress of the Soviet Union, and you became involved at that time with the Inter-Regional Group of Deputies. How did this come about? In fact, you were co-chair of the IRG, so you held a leadership position.
GAVRIIL POPOV: From the very beginning, when people were elected to the seat of the deputy of the People's Congress, Gorbachev, for the first time in history, introduced alternative elections. So by definition, most of the deputies who became members of the Inter-Regional Group were alternative deputies who represented an alternative to the official course of the Communist Party. I was part of this group.
One day before the first meeting of the Congress, there was another meeting, and at that meeting deputies representing the Communist Party tried to convince us that we should be following the party line. But we said that we were not going to listen to the instructions from the Central Committee of the Communist Party, but we will uphold the commitments before our voters.
When the Congress began, there was a fraction of deputies, primarily from Moscow, who had an alternative position, and then they were joined by people from other regions, about 150 deputies. That became the Inter-Regional Deputies Group. The reason we called it the Inter-Regional Deputies Group was that deputies were representing particular locations, like districts, regions, oblasts, whatever. This was the way by which the Communist Party tried to manipulate and control these people. They represented different regions, and that is why it was called the Inter-Regional Deputies Group.
DAVID SPEEDIE: And what range of people were involved with the IRG, the Inter-Regional Group? I think Mr. Murashev, whom we spoke to earlier, was a leadership figure. What was the range of people involved?
GAVRIIL POPOV: It was a very diverse group. It was very difficult to trace the history of how people had been elected. The key positions there were Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, the head of an organization, an NGO called Moscow Tribune, and then there was Mr. Yeltsin, who was elected from the city of Moscow, and Mr. Sakharov.
When the first meeting of the group was held, we decided not to have one leader, but to have five co-chairmen. So they were the first three people. I was the fourth, and Professor Palm from Estonia became the fifth one. We elected the Council of the Inter-Regional Deputies Group, and Arkady Murashev, whom you just mentioned, was the secretary of this.
DAVID SPEEDIE: You may have already indicated this to some extent, but what were the ideas and principles behind the formation of the Inter-Regional Group, beyond just not taking directions from the old nomenklatura, as it were?
GAVRIIL POPOV: It is a very serious question that you have just asked, because this question helps explain what happened later at the Congress and to Russia as a whole. We could have tried to develop a common program. Academician Sakharov even offered the draft of the new constitution.
However, any attempt to agree on a consolidated position had failed, because different deputies stuck to different positions. During the entire history of Russia, the opposition always took ten to 20, even 50 years to agree on their differences. When we finally realized that we cannot agree on all the issues, Academician Sakharov made a very useful proposal.
He said, "Let us consolidate, not about the positive aspects of our program, but about what we think is unacceptable. There is one issue that unites all of us and on which we all agree: The Communist Party has to go, and Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution, which said that the Communist Party is the guiding force of Soviet society, should be abolished."
Nobody questioned that. That is why we managed to unite under our umbrella [inaudible]. Some people believed they were true Leninists. Some of the people were advocating the return to the teachings of Marx. There were anarchists. There were monarchists as well.
So we consolidated all the opponents of the Communist Party. As a result of that, we created a very robust and strong anticommunist [inaudible].
The strength of this faction was that it enabled the collapse of the communist system, but the weakness of this faction was that it disintegrated the next day [after] the Communist Party collapsed. After the question arose of what we should do going forward, everything fell apart. This situation was used by the strongest part of this faction, the former communist nomenklatura, headed by President Yeltsin.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Yes. It seems strange that so diverse a group could in any way come together, except in one particular theme. But let me ask you personally, Mr. Popov, when did you, as an individual, decide that reform of the status quo was not acceptable or sufficient, but that there has to be radical change?
GAVRIIL POPOV: This happened before the election. In 1987, President Gorbachev realized that the Soviet system had to go. But he wanted to build a more humane "Gorbachevian" socialism. But I concluded for myself that the system had to be abolished altogether.
DAVID SPEEDIE: In the next couple of years, some very momentous things happened. I would like to take them one by one.
First of all, from Moscow City Council, you were the first democratically elected mayor of Moscow. But you were only in that position for about a year, I understand. Why was your tenure as mayor so brief?
GAVRIIL POPOV: My tenure was about two years. For year one, I served as chairman of the Moscow City Council, and in year two I was elected Moscow mayor. The major controversy and my eventual retirement—the reasons for those were that after the Soviet Union had collapsed, President Yeltsin adopted a program that I was not happy with. We had several discussions. We had very good personal relations, but politics is politics. I told him I believed that his program was acceptable, but the worst of the possible ones. So I tendered my retirement and he accepted it.
DAVID SPEEDIE: By the way, in my previous question about when you came to be convinced that the system had to be replaced, not reformed, you said as early as 1987. That seems very early in the process. I assume that this may have been from your thinking and writing on economics and economic reforms in the 1980s that you came to this decision perhaps earlier than some.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I wouldn't say that I had come to this conclusion earlier than the others. Different people came to this conclusion based on their background. I was dealing with economics; you are absolutely right. My conclusion was based on economic analysis. Those who dealt with social issues, those who dealt with science and culture, with interethnic relations, with political analysis came to this conclusion at one point or another. For example, Alexander Yakovlev came to this conclusion based on social analysis. Eduard Shevardnadze came to this conclusion based on the need to reform inter-ethnic relations; Yuri Nikolaevich [phonetic], based on social issues.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Another aspect of our interest in this whole period, as an American organization—with an international audience, however—is the role of the Krieble Institute in training and providing training and seminars for reformers around this time—of course, Robert Krieble, Paul Weyrich.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I have no idea who Mr. Krieble is. I haven't heard of any workshops and seminars.
DAVID SPEEDIE: That's interesting, because there is a book about the Krieble Institute, where it is mentioned that you were present at the first training session in 1989 and that you welcomed them to Moscow. But that may be a mistake.
GAVRIIL POPOV: As the mayor, I welcomed very many people to Moscow, but I don't specifically remember Mr. Krieble. I believe that any attempt to depict our revolution—and it was a revolution—as something that had been inspired from outside the country is totally unfounded.
There is an excellent piece of prose written by a dramatist, Shvarts. It's called The Dragon. When the dragon was finally slain, there were very many candidates for the role of the victors of the dragon.
I believe that the decisive role in the victory over the Kremlin was played by Mr. Gorbachev. But he was only able to do this because socialism as a social system was completely corrupted, and it was mired in controversy, and most of the population decided for themselves that they didn't want it anymore. It was largely driven by the people who fought in the Second World War against Hitler, defending socialism. But by now they have a totally different position.
DAVID SPEEDIE: This is interesting. Again, for a non-Russian audience, a Western audience, you seem to be giving a more, shall we say, kind interpretation of Gorbachev's role than some others that we have spoken to, that he, as you say, was perhaps most responsible for slaying the dragon, even though his plan was imperfect or incomplete. I just want to make sure I understand.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I must say that I have been a Gorbachev opponent throughout the years, so my point of view is quite objective. I have been accusing him of very many errors and misdeeds. But now that time has passed, we have the time and the wisdom to make an objective assessment.
In the times of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev was the only person who could actually lead the struggle against socialism. If it had been any other person, they would have been crushed immediately. Actually, he, as a person, was not ready to topple socialism. As I said, he wanted to replace the old socialism with the new socialism. But at the stage of this replacement, he had to destroy the old socialism first, before building the new one. And he did it. But it was not his objective to eliminate it completely. But it was his historical role.
The best example to illustrate this is Columbus, who was headed for India, but discovered America. Mr. Gorbachev traveled to a new socialism, but he destroyed the old socialism first.
DAVID SPEEDIE: A vivid image, thank you.
You said a few moments ago that one should not overstate or claim any great foreign influence in what happened in Russia. Clearly the impetus for change came from within Russia itself. However, there is an international dimension to this and to yourself, in that since 1991 you were president of the Russian Division of the World League for Freedom and Democracy. I'm interested in how, in all respects, you engaged Russian émigré communities who shared your views—for example, the Russian Alliance of Solidarists, which we call the NTS.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I must say that I had many years of interaction with the United States. I visited the United States for the first time in 1966. Then I went there very many times, probably more than other Russian academics. My trips were organized in two ways. One was the United Nations, in which I served as an expert, and also the Ford Foundation.
The Ford Foundation provided a lot of support and conducted a lot of training and workshops for Russian academics. When I served as the dean of the Economics Department of Moscow State, they provided a computer for our students. The Ford Foundation later formalized all these relations, and there was an Institute for Applied Systemic Analysis that was based in Austria. It was a joint undertaking between the Soviet Union and the United States. It actually existed on the money provided by the Ford Foundation.
Thanks to the Ford Foundation, I repeatedly visited Harvard and Sloan and Columbia and Stanford. It was through the Ford Foundation that I made acquaintance with Edward Kennedy. I had a long-lasting relationship with the Kennedy family. In fact, Edward came to Moscow once, and he visited my dacha. We had a meeting there. He was the greatest opponent of my resignation as mayor. He sent me a telegram saying, "Under no circumstances should you quit the post of the mayor."
My family also loved Edward Kennedy. Both of my sons studied in U.S. universities, thanks to the grants provided by his family.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Again, if I may come back, not just to the American ties, which are considerable, but to the ties to Russian émigrés who were concerned with Russia's future at that time, the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists—Radio Free Europe, of course, was giving a lot of voice to a vision for a new Russia. There was the journal of glasnost and so on and so forth. In other words, there was an international groundswell of efforts that I think complemented your own.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I believe I never had any personal contacts with the émigré community, although during my trips to America, I read all the books by émigré writers, including those of [inaudible]. I have been listening to Radio Liberty for many years, and I'm still listening to it. I believe that it played a great role in the life of the Soviet Union and in the preparations for [inaudible].
But I believe it's time to move to new technologies and to set up an online TV channel so that we couldn't just listen to the radio, but also watch "TV Liberty."
DAVID SPEEDIE: I was talking about then, not now, of course.
You were kind enough when I came in to give me this remarkable book, Mr. Popov, Summoning the Spirit of General Vlasov. This is a remarkable enterprise.
First of all, I'm interested in how you came to be interested in General Vlasov, but also in the approach in the book. It is not simply a biography. It is, in fact, almost a spiritual coming-together of yourself and the general. Please elaborate on this a little.
GAVRIIL POPOV: First of all, I would like to say that the metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States held the Evangelistic Council which made the historical decision to rehabilitate General Vlasov. They [inaudible] his decision, and I shared my book with them.
As regards General Vlasov himself, unfortunately, I started to get acquainted with all his programs after I had become mayor, and I found two things that I couldn't explain to myself. Stalin was a great believer in open trials. He wanted to be the director of those trials. The trial of General Vlasov was a closed one. This was the only exception.
My assumption was that Vlasov and his colleagues did not admit to their guilt, and that's why Stalin avoided an open trial. But when I became mayor, I got an opportunity to read all the papers from this trial. I found that Vlasov and the others admitted that they had been guilty. So I asked myself why Stalin did not want to show the trial. I analyzed the materials and arrived at two conclusions.
Stalin discovered that the main accusations against General Vlasov were not really important. He was said to be Hitler's agent. In fact, Hitler specifically did not want to see or ever meet with General Vlasov. The main collaborators of General Vlasov were the German opposition, including Graf von Stauffenberg, who organized the attempt on Hitler's life. Stalin understood very well that Vlasov was not interacting with Hitler. Hitler used to say the German general staff spent millions of Reichsmarks to assist the Russian Revolution. Do you want me to repeat this experiment?
The second accusation against General Vlasov was his alleged cooperation with the United States of America. But, in fact, it was the United States authorities that actually gave him away to Stalin.
I looked at the General Vlasov program, which was [inaudible], and it was very close to the program of Russian Solidarists. It occurred to me that if we in the Inter-Regional Group of Deputies could have sees this program before, this would have made our lives much easier.
So you have the book. I won't elaborate.
DAVID SPEEDIE: I have only had, of course, the opportunity to read very briefly a few excerpts from the book. But two things. First of all, as you have just said, the reason that General Vlasov chose to surrender to Stalin was precisely because he suspected there would be a closed trial. The only thing I need some clarification on is that you said, I think, that General Vlasov was cooperating with Germans who were opposed to Hitler, but at one point it says here—you are quoting, I think, the general—to remove Stalin, the only chance was to join forces with the only person who was resolutely fighting Stalin, namely Hitler.
That doesn't seem to be consistent.
GAVRIIL POPOV: We see that the situation was very special. Before the Battle of Moscow, General Vlasov had been on Stalin's side. He hoped and believed that, in order to fight Hitler, Stalin would undertake tremendous reforms, like giving land to the peasants. At least he hoped so.
By 1942, it had become obvious that Stalin was not going to change anything in the Soviet system. In this situation, the only choice left for General Vlasov was to use Hitler to fight Stalin. It was a very difficult decision for the general, but I must say that during the war, 1 million Russians fought on the side of the Germans. It was the first example in history when so many Russians were fighting other Russians, because the Red Army counted 10 million men. The Napoleonic Army didn't have a single Russian fighting for them.
I believe that millions of Russians thought that the war with Hitler was actually a continuation of the civil war. If Hitler had not the objective to eliminate Russia and the Russian people, then the outcome of the war would have been completely different.
DAVID SPEEDIE: I'm sorry, if I may come back again, just for a moment—because we left it incomplete—to the discussion of the World League of Freedom and Democracy, what was previously known as the World Anti-Communist League. Can you tell me how long you were involved?
GAVRIIL POPOV: I made the first acquaintance with the League when I became the chairman of the Moscow City Council. It was still the period of dominance of the Communist Party. I believe that it was necessary to unite with everybody opposed to the Communist Party, including this League.
Frankly speaking, very many organizations in Europe and the United States had a very positive attitude to Mikhail Gorbachev at that time, and they did not support us as a position. That is why we had to look hard for supporters. I was in South Korea at that time, and Taiwan. It was in Taiwan that I met the leaders of this League. I decided that we could use them. They did not have any contacts with Gorbachev, unlike the Western leaders.
DAVID SPEEDIE: You did have some outreach, then, to international networking, as it suited your purposes best.
Also I think our mutual friend, Jack Matlock—you had a good relationship with Ambassador Matlock when he was here. He has written about, of course, the famous conversation you had with him in June of 1991 about the putsch that was in preparation.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I believe that Mr. Matlock was the most outstanding U.S. ambassador to Russia. In a very difficult situation, he managed, on the one hand, to maintain good relations with Mr. Gorbachev and, on the other hand, to establish good relations with the Inter-Regional Deputies Group and the entire opposition.
I had my sources, I had my channels, I had my friends, and through them, I knew about the preparations for the putsch many months before it actually happened. When I had a more or less complete picture, I understood that they were going to strike in the next couple of days. At that time, Mr. Yeltsin was in the United States. Of course, I couldn't have contacted Boris Yeltsin. But I understood, of course, that the U.S. embassy would have very good communication channels with [inaudible].
So I went to Ambassador Matlock. We spoke about the U.S. embassy building. I was writing notes on a piece of paper, and he was writing in response. We couldn't be sure that the embassy and his personal residence were not bugged by the great experts from the KGB. I asked him to immediately inform Mr. Yeltsin that a putsch was in the pipeline and he had to come back to Moscow really soon.
Of course, I don't know what he actually communicated to the United States, but I know for a fact that when, the next day, the prime minister requested extraordinary authority, Mr. Gorbachev came to the Supreme Soviet and disavowed Pavlov's request.
Later, reading the books of Ambassador Matlock and many Russians involved in this situation, I learned exactly what happened. I think that the United States did a very bad thing. Ambassador Matlock sent information to Secretary Baker, and he communicated this information to the president [George H.W. Bush]. The president called Mr. Gorbachev the same night and said, "You have a putsch in the making. You have to do something about it."
Gorbachev asked, "How do you know this?"
President Bush was wise enough to say, "This information comes from Moscow Mayor Popov."
President Bush used to be head of the CIA, so he knew exactly what he was doing. In the Soviet times, I would have been shot for that. Of course, Gorbachev wouldn't shoot me. But he was warned by President Bush, and he therefore could not support the putsch. So he had to speak against it. The next round of the putsch was without him.
DAVID SPEEDIE: You said you first came to the United States in 1966. Are you still involved in any Russian-American exchanges? In the course of this visit, we have learned about a new movement for rapprochement between the United States and Russia. There is a meeting at the end of March in Washington. Are you involved in any of these initiatives?
GAVRIIL POPOV: No. I believe that the United States of America made a tremendous mistake here in Russia, because the United States made a policy decision to maintain contact with the rightist opposition, like the Gaidar group and the others. We are not invited there any longer. It is only representatives of the right-leaning opposition who go there. That is why the United States' influence in Russia is shrinking, as is the influence of the right-wing opposition.
We hoped that the situation would change with the coming of President Obama. When Edward Kennedy was still alive, he told me that new times were just around the corner. But Edward is lamentably dead. Obama, I believe, has failed in the job of developing a New Deal like President Roosevelt did.
DAVID SPEEDIE: You mentioned Mr. Gaidar in passing. He was a student of yours, yes? Also, on what I think you are characterizing as the rightist group here that maintains contact are people like Mr. Murashev and Mr. Savostiyanov, who I think were your appointments when you were mayor.
GAVRIIL POPOV: I believe Mr. Gaidar was a talented economist, but he belongs to a school of thought that is directly opposite to the one I belong to. He is the leader in free monetarism and free economy. I'm a neo-Keynesian. I believe that modern society cannot be managed with money alone. This was proven by the crisis of 1997 and the crisis of 2008. I believe that free market is a great achievement of human civilization, but social concerns are as important.
As regards Mr. Murashev and Mr. Savostiyanov, when we were colleagues, as mayor, everything was fine. One was appointed by me as head of the Moscow police and the other as head of Moscow KGB. They did a very good job.
DAVID SPEEDIE: And that's all you wish to say.
One other name I'll just mention is Mr. Ed Lozansky, Russia House in Washington, D.C. You have no contact there?
GAVRIIL POPOV: I know Edward Lozansky very well. I just wrote a book about world war, not about General Vlasov [inaudible]. Nobody wanted to publish it in Russia. I was summoned to courts and to the prosecutor's office. For the first time, it was published in the United States in the Russian language. Ed Lozansky helped me a lot. Ilya Levkov helped me publish it, but Ed Lozansky actually took the manuscript to the United States.
DAVID SPEEDIE: I can't let you off completely, sir, with Mr. Murashev and Mr. Sevostiyanov, the appointments you made. To what extent were they qualified for these positions? They seem to come from a background that did not necessarily mean that they would be logically considered Moscow police chief and head of KGB, although they are very intelligent men.
GAVRIIL POPOV: It was enough to destroy both systems. They were smart guys.
DAVID SPEEDIE: You mean erode from within or destroy from within?
GAVRIIL POPOV: They were fired immediately, because other people knew exactly what their stewardship of police and KGB would lead to.
DAVID SPEEDIE: I see.
GAVRIIL POPOV: What I'm saying is that you couldn't just abolish the police force and the KGB, and throw them into the streets, burn their houses. You had to erode it. You had to identify those who could work and who couldn't, find jobs for the good people, and only smart people can do the job.
DAVID SPEEDIE: And Mr. Gaidar, another smart man, whom you may not agree with, as you have just said, in all elements of economic theory—did you have any role, in the beginning, in bringing him into the government, where he rose to be prime minister?
GAVRIIL POPOV: I was very strongly opposed. It was exactly after Mr. Gaidar had been appointed by President Yeltsin that I resigned.
I had a very serious conversation with the president, and he asked me what I thought should be done. I told him that no shock therapy was possible until winter, and shock therapy may only be a step to be implemented within half a month, probably, but not for long. He asked me how much time would I need if I were the head of government. I told him that the maximum was 20 years, the minimum was ten years, and the average was 15.
He said, "Gaidar is telling me that everything will change by the fall."
I told him, "Gaidar might say anything he likes, but you, Boris Nikolayevich, have been the head of Moscow, the head of the Sverdlovsk oblast, and you know that our country is one gigantic defense plant."
He said, "I fully appreciate it. But the United States told me that if I were to hire Mr. Gaidar as prime minister, I will get 37 billion U.S. dollars. What would you do if you were in my shoes?"
I said, "I would accept Popov's resignation, I would retain Gaidar, and I would take the $37 billion."
This is the kind of money that can facilitate the reforms in Russia.
I don't know whether these promises ever took place. I know for a fact that they have not been delivered on. But I witnessed a very interesting episode. When Yeltsin celebrated his 75th anniversary, he was in retirement already. There was a reception in the Kremlin. My wife and I were invited, because, as I said, we had very good relations. On the one side of Yeltsin was Chancellor Kohl and on the other side, President Clinton.
As usual, Yeltsin drank a drop or two. He looked at me, and he probably recollected this conversation that we had. He took Clinton by his tie and asked him, "Where is the money you have promised me?"
Then he slapped Chancellor Kohl on his shoulder and said, "This guy delivers on all his promises."
DAVID SPEEDIE: May I ask what President Clinton replied?
GAVRIIL POPOV: He just laughed.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Any final thoughts on the last 20 years? We are calling this the End of the Cold War project. It's been 20 years, remarkably. How do you feel about Russia's trajectory since those momentous days?
GAVRIIL POPOV: I believe that many opportunities have been missed by both Russia and the West over these 20 years. After the 1991 putsch, I especially traveled to the United States and other countries, and I spoke to Secretary Baker and Prime Minister Thatcher and the pope [John Paul II].
I said, "There is only one solution. We need a new Marshall Plan. This plan should cover both Russia and Central and Eastern European countries and post-Soviet countries. And the United States has to do what it had done back in 1946."
Many years are needed to grow the middle class, to grow the business community, to grow the forces that will be able to resist bureaucracy. I told Secretary Baker that the United States had tremendous experience in demilitarizing Japan. The Japanese monopolies were broken down into smaller companies and a competitive market was created. The United States supported different political forces in Japan, including giving money to the communists so that there would be a competitive political system in Japan.
So people listened to me, but nothing was done.
The pope, who was a very smart person, said, "This is the only right way, but they will never follow it. They suffer too much from the Cold War." He told me that they would prefer to destroy the Soviet Union. My response was that if they destroyed the Soviet Union, then there will be no buffer or wall between the West and China and the Arabic world. That's what happened. So the chances were missed.
DAVID SPEEDIE: Say just a couple more words about your relations with His Holiness, the pope. That's an interesting relationship. What did you discuss, other than just general principles of freedom and post-Cold War lessons?
GAVRIIL POPOV: The pope came from Poland, as you know, and had a very good understanding of what was happening here. I believe that he had a very good understanding of how difficult it would be to create a post-Cold War world.
In Europe, given the neutrality of the United States, the main focus was not on the big states, but rather on smaller states, because they wanted to integrate them into the European Union, like Belgium and the Netherlands, so that they could successfully contain big players like Germany and France. The United States became focused on Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. I believe that the priority avenues of international development were overlooked and replaced with secondary ones.
DAVID SPEEDIE: On that reflective note, Mr. Popov, thank you very much for your time and your hospitality. It has been a great pleasure.