E. Howard Negroponte,
INTERVIEWER: I mean he came really begging to Moscow didn't he I mean he's
YURI PAVLOV: Well he had more hopes of course and nothing was bad tempered, Ambassador Alexander Pasov who I came to know later, he later was appointed Ambassador in Australia when I worked there. So Ambassador Pasov was a kind of a Soviet functionary, party official, who would report to Moscow what they wanted to hear in Moscow. So he was not helping much in making people in Moscow to understand what the real situation was and yet at the same time he was a cautious man and after the military coup d'Útat he even advised Moscow against breaking diplomatic relations with Chile. Of course Demasieto, Bwere not going to break relations with the Soviet Union. So it was a political deciunder the international section of the communist party committee, out of solidarity with the Chilean communist party, the decision was taken to break relations, diplomatic relations with Chile and they were re-established only 17 years later in 1990. But then of course the failure of the Allende government to survive and it was well understood in Moscow that although the CIA had a lot to do with the coup d'Útat, it was not the main reason. The main reason was that Allende lost support with the majority of the population, probably never had it, and the Chileans were not used to suffer economic deprivations and hardships. But then again it was Yusuf Baskabygaston in his turn to say to Moscow, now look what's happened with your peace organization, you can never trust these imperialists. That was the only case when socialists came to power by vote and look what happened. So we were right in saying that's only revolutionary way of doing things, only armed struggle. And Allende had revolutionary armed forces that had never happened.
INTERVIEWER: Moving, now, actually one question, what did you think of Allende as a person, what did you really think of him?
YURI PAVLOV: Working as a devoted socialist, I would say a rather moderate socialist and from what I have heard about him and I met his widow, his daughter was *** each year, he still remembered revered by a large section of the population in Chile, as much as he is still hated by the other sections. And he was kind of a not down to earth person, idealistically minded, motivated by noble ideas and easily persuaded to do things which were not reasonable, economically or politically, and to take some gambles, which he lost. But no one ever actually doubted his honest intentions as a person and his integrity as a politician.
INTERVIEWER: Moving now to Central America, when did the Soviets actually start to support the Sandinistas and why did you decide to help the Sandinistas?
YURI PAVLOV: Well actually the Soviet Union started to support Sandinistas only after they had taken power, there were practically no contacts with the Sandinista revolutionaries before that happened, one reason being that the Nicaraguan Communist party a very small, entity, group of people were actually not in a position by they did not support the Sandinistas revolutionary struggle, considering it was kind of a blanket way of trying to seize power, that it would not work. Something similar to the position of the Cuban Communist party when Castro began his struggle in Cuba and these Sandinista revolutionaries were kind of a group of people from different left wing tendencies, from radicals to more moderate ones and there were some social democrats. There were some Marxist Leninists like Omar Borgia and there were just some radical revolutionaries which had nothing to do with Marxism Leninism so Sandino, Sandinismo as they called it was a blend of these ideas, like Cuban communism was a blend of ideas of Marxist Lenin, JosÚ Martinez and some other leftist ideas and ideologists, therefore the support came only after the Sandinistas took power and it was of course strong advised by Fidel Castro to support them, and then Soviet military began transporting not only small arms, but also heavy arms with tanks, to Nicaragua, and while it was always from conviction of the Soviet military leader that if the united States decided to intervene militarily and also the assistance would help much, but the idea was to make the price of the US military intervention in Cuba I mean in Nicaragua, so high that it would be politically unacceptable for the United States to intervene. The losses would be too considerable if they tried to occupy the Nicaraguan territories physically and this is why tanks, Soviet tanks could not be used in the mountainous areas of Nicaragua, they could be used on the plain a kind of logging into the earth to support the ground troops with their canons and it was also a morale boost to the Nicaraguan military. So in that sense it made it more difficult for the United States to intervene militarily directly in Nicaragua. That was the thinking behind the post.
INTERVIEWER: How did you get those weapons into Nicaragua?
YURI PAVLOV: Well there were two ways, one was heavy weapons, artillery pieces, tanks were shipped directly from Soviet ports of Nicolaev and other from the black sea or from Baltic Sea all around the world to Nicaraguan ports. But small arms, weapons and munitions and other small things were shipped first to Cuba and then shipped from Cuba on smaller vessels to the Nicaraguan ports and this policy was actually coordinated closely with the Cuban government and the Cuban military and there was a commission with Cuban and Nicaraguan and Soviet military commanders, .. and so on military establishments, meeting and discussing problems of strategies and tactics of the military survival of the Sandinista revolution.
INTERVIEWER: Okay we're going to put another tape up.
End of roll #10481
INTERVIEWER: Tape 10842 continuation of the interview with Mr. Yuri Pavlov, could you now Mr. Pavlov tell us about your I would imagine quite fascinating experiences in Costa Rica when you were ambassador there in relation to the cold war policy.
YURI PAVLOV: Well first of all Costa Rica is a marvelous country. That's the first time I witness such things like you can go into the supermarket and meet the foreign minister there and talk to him as you come out. It was very homely and although the liberation is so, Liberacion Nacionale party who were in power there, president Molter had nothing to do with the communists, the youth communist leaders quite well personally, met with them at receptions in the Soviet Embassy or elsewhere and for us in the embassy it was easier to maintain contacts with the whole spectrum of political opinions in Costa Rica and also to meet many Nicaraguans including Nicaraguans from the opposition who came to visit Costa Rica and thus to know at times more what was happening in Nicaragua than our embassy in Managua was able to know because the Soviet Embassy in Nicaragua was unavoidably limited in their contacts to Sandinistas. The Sandinistas would never understand the Soviet Ambassador for instance meeting any of the leader of the opposition, and that was the general situation. So in this sense our reports from San Jose were probably more to the point than many reports from Managua, to say nothing of the fact that its also a matter of, lets put it this way, psychological influences. When our diplomats in Managua dealt on a daily basis with Sandinista revolutionaries with their, saw their devotion to the cause and the gleam in their eyes, they unavoidably became part of that, they couldn't be totally objective. And in their reports they were pushing Soviet government towards more and more involvement and I remember the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation coming to Nicaragua to advise the Nicaraguan leaders on their constitution and legal policies and saying "You shouldn't allow much freedom for opposition, why should you do that? We did it away in the Soviet Union a long time ago and we're much better off. Why do you tolerate that?" So there were members of the Soviet government who were in fact counseling the Sandinistas to take more radical steps, yet I must say that the Soviet leaders had never gave any explicit support to some pronouncements by Daniel Ortega talking to them in Moscow for instance that Okay we're thinking about announcing that Nicaragua will opt for the socialist way of development and declare publicly that we're in favor of building socialism in Nicaragua. And the only thing that the Soviet leaders would say was now, "don't you think it's a little bit too early, the conditions are not quite right for that, be more please be more cautious." This might calm but that was the general idea that the Sandinista revolution might become, might establish a prerequisites for later socialist transformation. But its not possible to think in these terms as thiare now. So in that sense as our policy evolved throughout the world we came to understand that particular in the view the situation in Nicaragua for instance, in my reports to Moscow I was pointing out now look what the Sandinistas are doing is fine in terms, in ideological terms, but if you take the costs in terms of human sufferings, economic deprivation of human lives while the position of many peasants take up arms, they had nothing to do with politics before but they fear that if the Nicaraguan government follows for example Cuba then peasants will lose their land and things like that, so they are taking up arms. And then of course it was understood in Moscow that the Soviet Union just could not afford economically to support another socialist country in Latin America, to support Cuba, was almost unbearable burden already at that time., And we warned the Sandinista leader that with the more and more well later on it was called stagnation in the Soviet economy, but clearly expansion of the Soviet economy stopped in the late 80s and it was more and more difficult, particularly in oil production to supply the Sandinistas with the oil they nee
INTERVIEWER: So you were trying to put the breaks on the Sandinistas.
INTERVIEWER: So you were trying to put the breaks on the Sandinistas.
YURI PAVLOV: In fact yes, yes.
INTERVIEWER: There was a time wasn't there when you agreed to supply the Sandinistas with MIG fighters and then you never delivered them, although they were beseeching you to deliver the fighters. Why was that, why didn't you do it?
YURI PAVLOV: One reason was that it was thought that while it would not change much in strictly military terms..
INTERVIEWER: Sorry could you start that one again, one reason why the...
YURI PAVLOV: One reason why the Soviet leaders changed their mind with regard to supplying Nicaraguans with Mig fighters, was that the Soviet military by that time understood quite well that Migs will not change much in terms of military balance. The Nicaraguans to fight the type of war they were fighting against the contras needed not Migs but helicopters. AS for Migs they might be useful to intimidate Nicaraguan neighbors like the Hondurans, but again it wasn't a thought in Moscow that it would help much the Sandinista cause to antagonize these neighbors more than they were already and in that sense. Another fact of course was that the simple fact that leaders in Moscow did not want to provoke the United States into giving more military aid to the contras and to the Honduran government, because to supply Migs to the Sandinista government would have immediately led to US government reinforcing Honduran airforces, and also thinking well what can we do about Costa Rica, which had no air force at all. And therefore these requests were politely denied every time the Sandinistas brought it up in Moscow.
INTERVIEWER: Moving now to Salvador, El Salvador. Your support to the FNLM was pretty minimal, I mean this could have been another friendly government in a Central American area, why didn't yousupport the FMLN to a greater degree?
YURI PAVLOV: Well for one thing there was really not much need for the Soviet Union to give military support for the Feruonto mate front for one simple reason that the Cubans were doing that quite successfully. The Cubans and the Nicaraguans. The Soviet Union did help, in the earlier stages of the conflict, for instance by allowing the American weapons captured in Vietnam to be transported throughout the Soviet Union, to Cuba and to Nicaragua and then delivered to El Salvadoran guerillas. But not Soviet made weapons. Another thing was that again the Soviet leaders understood that the United States could not afford politically to suffer military defeat in Salvador. And they would go to great lengths including direct military intervention if the El Salvadoran government was in danger of being overthrown by force by the Ferabundamate Fronte forces. And again, for example, the Salvadoran leader repeatedly asked for ground to air missiles to be able to cope with the US made helicopters, Salvadoran air power, and they were never given, these weapons by the Soviet military, just to avoid further involvement of the United States into the conflict and also it was kind of a way of encouraging FMLN leaders to seek solution to the conflict through negotiation, and our policy when we started our exchanges with the US government on Central America was and we actually suggested this to the American side and they accepted it, that both sides had to try to persuade their friends in Salvador to seek negotiated solution. And neither side, should avoid, both sides should avoid any steps which might lead to further escalation of military conflict. Now this was despite the fact that the US government thought it possible to supply such weapons to the underground rebels of the in Afghanistan. Despite this, the Soviet military and the Soviet government resisted this pressure on the part of this. Sandinistas and the Cubans, and the Salvadorans **** .