G.N. Lepeshkin: It's impossible to compare the Soviet period with the post-Soviet period. The Soviet period was a very interesting one. It was a time when the country was working and was aware of how it was doing. Now all work has to do with surviving. Well, first of all, I'm not as young as I used to be. There's less demand for me, that's one factor. Second, it's very hard to find a good job now. Very hard, especially for young people. Because for the most part, the big enterprises aren't operating at full capacity, they aren't assured of receiving government procurement orders. As for the small businesses, they're under private ownership, and every chief executive is trying to cut people's salaries. It's rare that you will find a good... Well, take some companies, foreign companies, the pay there is more or less stable. But again, the jobs there are not secure. It could go bankrupt, it could drop out of the industry. In other words, what is harder now is precisely that part, jobs.
Slava Paperno: More specifically. You said that the country was working well, it knew what it was doing and what it needed. How was that manifested in your life? How did you know that the country was working, that everything was running well?
Lepeshkin: That's an interesting question. Previously every worker, every student who had graduated from an institute was guaranteed a job. No matter what school he graduated from, he was given a job assignment if he wanted to work. If he didn't want to work, he could find a job somewhere else. The same went for a graduate of a vocational-technical school, he was, he knew in advance that he had a spot at a factory where he would be working. Now a student graduates, and he doesn't know where he will go. He's not in demand, nobody needs him. He goes to an outdoor market to sell things, he does everything under the sun, but not in his specialization. Well, isn't that true? Yes, it's true. You see, people had confidence, they had a future. A guy was working at a plant, he was working at an institute, he knew that he would have a wage and he would receive it. Do your work and you get paid for it. I could plan to buy a car, for example, to go off with a tour group, or a vacation somewhere. I could plan everything, but now you can't do that. Now everything is difficult, everything's a problem, since at any moment you can be laid off from your job because the boss says: "Here's the way things are, I'm bankrupt and that's it, I'm laying off people and I'm shortening the work week, and so on." It's very hard. Besides that, our laws now, Russian laws, are aimed, in my opinion, not at providing social protection for people, but the opposite. Prices are constantly going up, [prices] are constantly going up for services, for rent, constantly, I'm referring to gasoline, food, rent. In other words, it's constant. At the same time wages remain the same, they don't change. And so this anxious.., this dissatisfaction, people are frightened. This was never the case before. We used to be sure of things. Now we're not. Most people I have run across have the same view, the majority of them. Of course, there are people who are very successful, you can't deny that, they work hard, somebody helped them get started, that is, maybe their friends or their relatives helped them to start a business. Some people are having success in business. But there are very few of them. Most people who... they have been left behind.