“Observations Expounded in the Letter Differ on Several Points from the Official Opinion”: A Provincial Scientist on Research and Development Policies of the USSR in N.S. Khrushchev's Era

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УДК 94 (47) 084.9

Yury S. Nikiforov

Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University, Yaroslavl, Russian Federation

“Observations Expounded in the Letter Differ on Several Points from the Official Opinion”: A Provincial Scientist on Research and Development Policies of the USSR in N.S. Khrushchev's Era


The article continues a series of studies on interactions of the center and the periphery at all levels, those of the elite and of the ordinary participants, throughout contemporary Russian history. It analyzes the memorandum of a Yaroslavl chemist addressed to N. S. Khrushchev, which is introduced into scientific use for the first time. It describes research and development policies in the USSR in early 1960s as seen by a provincial Soviet scientist. The memorandum was written by A.M. Kutin, who in 1962-1976 was a deputy director for research in the Research Institute of Monomers of Synthetic Rubber (NIIMSK) of Yaroslavl. The history of the memorandum, which has been found in the Documentation Center for Contemporary History of the Yaroslavl Region, is incidental to Khrushchev’s unexpected visit to Yaroslavl in June 1963. It was one of many memorandums written by the economic and party elite of the region, as Khrushchev demanded. This note, addressed to N.S. Khrushchev, was written on August 28, 1963. It was ostensibly on means of improving management of the regional industry research institute, while for all intents and purposes it purported to criticize official research and development, personnel, educational and economic policies in the USSR in the end of Khrushchev's era. The document expounded such subjects as problems of carrying out a single research and development policy; need for competition in the USSR science; non-coordination of work of Soviet scientific institutions; their misguided research targets; culture of scientific research and industrial efficiency. Kutin analyzed resource-related problems of supplies and utilities, organization and staffing in research, issues of training future engineers for purposes of the industry. Academic institutes, bureaucracy in science and role of the Sovnarkhozes (regional economic councils) in communication of scientists and factories were criticized in harsh terms. He advocated multipronged approach in state research and development policies and its intercommunion with the higher education system. He criticized higher school training programs, pointing out the need to instill in future engineers a high standard of research procedures. He brought into light the issue of social security for holders of academic degrees working in the industry and proposed an increase of salary and duration of leave on full pay and an establishment of a five-day work-week. While reviewing financial and logistical support of research and development, he indicated a deficit of laboratory furniture in the USSR.


Archival document, research and development policies in the USSR, regional elite, research institute, research culture of a scientist, higher education, resource problems, lobbyism, N. S. Khrushchev, A. M. Kutin.


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About author

Nikiforov Yury Sergeevich, PhD in History, assistant professor, National History Department, K. D. Ushinsky Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University, Yaroslavl, Russian Federation, +7-920-115-99-15, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Submitted 1.02.2017, published:

NIKIFOROV, YU. S. “Izlozhennye v pis'me soobrazheniya v ryade sluchaev raskhodyatsya s ofitsial'noi tochkoi zreniya”: provintsial'nyi uchenyi o nauchno-tekhnicheskoi politike v SSSR epokhi N. S. Khrushcheva [“Observations expounded in the letter differ on several points from the official opinion”: A provincial scientist on research and development policies of the USSR in N.S. Khrushchev's era. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arkhivista / Herald of an archivist, 2017, no. 3, pp. 227-236.

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