G.N. Lepeshkin: When I was invited to Moscow, I was interviewed. And an offer was made to me, as a scientist and specialist with a candida... with a candidate's degree, to go work in Obolensk, at the Institute of Applied Biotechnology. But I didn't want to go there, I wanted to go to Omutninsk, the settlement of Vostochny, because it wasn't far from my home, and my thinking was this: that I would commute to work from Kirov, and from work I would commute to Kirov, to help out. And this area was familiar to me. And just in general, that's where I wanted to work...
But they said to me: "Gennadiy Nikolayevich, there is no job there that matches up with your rank. The position there is lower. Are you willing to take a position that's lower?" At the time I was already a lieutenant colonel...
I said no. Then one of the people there said: "Would you like to go to Stepnogorsk?" I said: "Where is that?" He said: "In Kazakhstan." I thought about it – why not go? I said: "Yes, I would." I was told that the position there was for a colonel. A department head. I agreed.
Slava Paperno: Could you repeat that, I cut you off.
Lepeshkin: I said: "Yes, I would." They explained to me that the position there was a department head. And that enabled me to make the right decision. I decided to move there. That person said: "You've done the right thing, you should move there, it's nice there, it's a new city, you'll like it a lot." I said: "I hope so."
I came back to Kirov with the news, and there my mother-in-law burst into tears: "Where are you moving to, Kazakhstan is so far away, I feel sorry for you." But I said: "Everything will be fine." And two, or rather almost eight months later I received my appointment and made the move. I received my order and had to appear in Stepnogorsk.
That was 2004, it was August.
Paperno: What year?
Lepeshkin: 1984, August.
Well, I arrived in Stepnogorsk with my wife, and from Stepnogorsk we had to travel another 15 kilometers. We got there... we arrived by plane, and in the evening arrived by bus at the Progress plant, there was a hotel there.
It was a comfortable hotel, I went out onto the balcony, and there was an enormous steppe spread out in front of me, very similar to the steppe at the testing ground.
I was feeling unhappy and upset: "Where have I ended up?"
Lepeshkin: Well, I thought, night brings good counsel, I'll sort things out tomorrow.
In the morning I took my papers and went to the plant.
And the first person who saw me was Alibekov. The security desk called him to the entrance, he greeted me, took me to his office, and he and I had a conversation there, a chat. And after that I went straight to look around at the offices... the work areas...
My wife's reaction to... to the move, in general, was not bad. She was an officer's wife, she knew that I had to serve, I had to work. And we got an apartment and she got a job. She was also a microbiologist. Her qualifications were just the right fit for the job. She also liked her work a lot. Little by little we got used to Stepnogorsk, we took a liking to living, working and relaxing there. That was a very interesting time.
The living conditions were very good, we got a three-room apartment. I drove my kids there from Kirov.
Paperno: So initially you just moved with your wife?
Lepeshkin: Yes, later we went to get the kids and came back.
Paperno: How old were the kids?
Lepeshkin: The kids... the youngest was in first grade. The oldest was in eighth grade.
Paperno: Was this an adventure for them?
Lepeshkin: Yes, an adventure. An adventure. It was an adventure for them, they liked it a lot.