In Defence. A journalistic investigation of the criminal case No 376062 “on Grabovoy’s fraud”. (Interview with E.B. Yegereva) / 2007-03-25 23:07


Text: Larisa Bochanova

Pavel Vinogradov, pilot-cosmonaut of Russia

Question: Pavel, what was your reason for getting to know Grigori Grabovoi?

Pavel Vinogradov: I got to know him on quite a serious occasion. It was the year 1999, Mir was still in flight, and a new expedition was being prepared. At that time, the station was in unmanned mode, and the Mission Control Center noticed a drop in pressure on the station, although it was small, but nevertheless. And a sort of, I wouldn’t say feverish, but rather quick search for causes began, because a decision had to be made quickly to launch the crew. To launch or not to launch? And then General Meshcheryakov brought Grigori to our Center and I started telling him how the station was set up, what we suspected, how in general a leak could happen, how it could be dealt with, etc. And Grigori just pointed his finger: β€œthe leak is here”. I was very surprised then, because this was the section where nothing should leak at all. But it was in that very place, six months later, that the crew found a microscopic gap, they found it after disembarking to the station, with the help of special instruments. One of the valves had not been screwed in very well, and it was just through it that the leak was occurring. And the fact that Gregory showed us this area, quite definite – it was really a fact.

Question: To what extent human ability to diagnose technology through clairvoyance is used in the space field today?

Pavel Vinogradov: It is an extremely difficult question. And here is why. After all, when we as specialists, flight managers make a decision to terminate any operation or transfer them to other modes, we always base on those real data that we have. And this is not even a question of how much we can trust human capacity, but we have no mechanism for applying it – neither legal, nor governmental, nothing. Imagine such a situation. We have received an unfavourable forecast and it, for example, starts to coincide. The ship starts up and our systems do not work properly, some kind of deviations take place, etc. But until we get real confirmation, until the system starts working badly, I do not know a single person in our command structure who would say, “We will not take off.” Why not? Huge resources, including financial, are spent on preparations for the launch. How can I explain to a person that I had a bad dream about something and therefore, let’s not do it?! The whole established system, including the state system, simply does not understand this today. If this concerns me personally, then I can not get into my car, but take a taxi or call a service one. But when we are talking about such huge, complex systems, especially space systems, I can’t imagine how this mechanism can work. We know a lot of cases like this, especially in aviation, that yes, they warn and that, yes – it does happen. It’s just that the frequency of flights there is very high and it’s easier to track. But it is only when it happens that it is dealt with. But up to that point, I don’t remember, I don’t know of a case where someone went for such a decision. These forecasts can be taken into account when making some decisions. And to cancel flights on the basis of some forecasts, even fairly strong ones, is very difficult. There is no such mechanism.

Question: So then it turns out that our society simply does not value the Man and his life on the one hand and his abilities on the other?

Pavel Vinogradov: The thing is that if you take the sum of all our knowledge about the Man and the World and try to build it in the form of a ruler or pieces of brick, then, unfortunately, there is no good logical chain, no integrity. Somewhere we know a lot, somewhere we know a little, somewhere we assume. And what concerns us, the higher nervous activity of man, his system of thought, the science is only now beginning to get to this point. And the problem is that our whole previous history did not provide a mechanism for describing these processes. Take Newtonian physics. Is it capable of describing human consciousness, for example? Or today’s understanding of mathematics ? After all, mathematics is essentially a formal description of the world, or what we have learned. And we have tremendous descriptive power. We can describe everything mathematically, including language – Russian or English. And mathematics is becoming completely different now, we began to describe a lot of things, which we did not know before. And as soon as we can formally describe processes that take place in the world and in people, only then can we study and model them. This is the future. After all, man, in essence, is such a powerful, very complex electromechanical machine. So everything that happens to us can be viewed in terms of electrochemistry. If you look at what processes go on in the cells, then these electrochemical processes are very complex. They are described, and we understand how they happen. And the pharmacology that is so powerfully at work today is trying to influence these processes, to regulate them somehow. But so far we have very little understanding or knowledge of how these processes are initiated and how they are born. What is the birth of life? How is information transmitted from mother and father to child? We’re just getting to these things. Genetics is working on it. But even geneticists can’t figure it out, after all, apparently it’s a rather complicated thing. And since it is so, since every cell is subject to electric and magnetic influence, and informational influence is a component of both, it turns out that the most powerful influence on the man is through the information. Another thing is that biology has put a lot of barriers to the perception of this today. For example, one person is suggestible, the other is not, one feels with his hands, the other does not understand anything. We understand that there are very complex mechanisms of adaptation and it seems to me that it will take many years to understand all of this. Although we are beginning to understand many things. We are getting into genetics now. In orbit we are growing proteins that you will not find anywhere else on Earth. They are 1,000 times larger than those that grow in gravity. This raises a lot of questions and I think the problem of biological life is very complex. And consciousness is an endless area to explore. So we are still learning, and although we play with muscles, like – we can do everything, but nothing like that. We are at the very beginning of normal development of our civilization. But little by little we are on it. It would be faster, of course, if politicians did not interfere πŸ™‚ Andrei Sakharov was a man of genius, and he died for it. In the sense that the system did not accept him. He was the first and at that time the only one who was against technocratic development of society. And he said that the society should be ruled not by politicians, not even by economists, but by scientists. Of course, all the CPSU Central Committee was on the ropes: “And who are we?”, as well as the Politburo: “Are we fooling around here?”. And the conversation with the authorities was on different planes. Sakharov was telling them one thing, but they were thinking about something else entirely. It was impossible to get through to these people. In my opinion Sakharov was let down by his punctuality of physics. He dropped all the minutiae and started saying 100% armour-piercing things, and no one understood it. If he had started to talk from a distance, maybe they would have understood him.

Question: May be the problem is that these people are too far ahead in their consciousness to be able to tell the people these things in a language they understand?

Pavel Vinogradov: Probably. We are still to learn listening and hearing, or at least trying to do it. Unfortunately, there are few examples of this in our society. The same church that does not want to hear or listen to anybody else. And that is strange. Their appeals to the fact that you should not listen to this infidel, but listen to us, the righteous – it is also a sign to all others.

Question: What is the politics behind this?

Pavel Vinogradov: I think it is not even politics. Here is the money, struggle for the flock. What is going on in Ukraine? People are dividing the churches. What is the problem? Go and build a new temple.

Question.: Are you a believer?

Pavel Vinogradov: I have my own attitude to faith. Faith, in my opinion, is a degree of ignorance of surrounding world – physical, spiritual, any other. For me faith is something internal, built, first of all, on knowledge. I do not know something, let’s call it faith, I have no time for it, I do not want to, etc. And this is an indicator. When I see a former party secretary standing in a church, what is it? One faith replaced by another? I didn’t believe him then, and I won’t believe him now all the more so. Why is the Orthodox Church afraid of unification? It’s not the fear that Catholics, for example, will bring something destructive, nothing like that. It is the fear of losing power and huge funds. There is plenty of evidence of this. How many missionaries come to us. As if they are fighting for minds, but in fact they are fighting for money. I have been in America and watched Baptist churches. It’s a real show, after all. We were in a church in South Texas and watched as domestic problems were being worked out – a wayward wife and her husband were reconciled, they were put in a circle, a prayer service was held, money was poured in, large sums were raised … And it would seem that it would be easier for two people who love each other come to an agreement. That’s why I think that now comes the way of knowledge, including knowledge of own history. I have studied the history of religion and I am amazed how far it is from what the church presents us today. Apart from the fact that in 70-80 years we have been weaned off everything, but we have never known our history well. This is one of our major woes – we don’t know our history. We do not know this time scale … They say 2000 years of Christianity, but what history ends there? And what was 5 thousand years ago? Our whole education system does not help people to perceive the world more comprehensively, to accept other points of view. It seems to me that the only thing we can do now is to bring up a new man and educate him differently. And for that we need Knowledge. New Knowledge.

Question: In your opinion, why does money rule the world today?

Pavel Vinogradov: I won’t say about the whole world, but I found the answer why it is possible in Russia. Unfortunately, we live in pathologically sick society. We can talk about the reasons that have to do with socialism, with the transitional processes that followed the 90s… This whole story with Grigori shows that the society is really very sick. And it seems to me that we have to get over it. And it can’t be accelerated, it can’t be stopped, you can’t stop it. When we lived in the socialist system for 80 years, there was never grey. It was either black or white. It was either white or red. I wondered for a long time why this was the case. And I found a fairly simple answer. In such a structure it was very easy to manage. It’s like chess. There was a black square and a white square, you could go here and not there. And the whole system was supposed to go this way. Go either white or black, with us or against us, bad or good. And there’s not supposed to be any middle ground. But life, it is neither black nor white, it is always with some shades. And what happened to Grabovoi is a clear indicator of the manifestation of such things. Of course, many people and agencies just took advantage of him. It has always been like that. Many people who do not think in a standard way, who have unique opportunities – and I know dozens or hundreds of examples – they were caught in similar situations, and even worse. I do not know all the details of the criminal case of Grigori Grabovoi, but I am sure that this man first of all wanted to help. He had completely different purposes. Perhaps, there were people who said “Yes, he can help you, but you have to pay”. I cannot say that Grigori is bad, because someone said that he was a fraud. The fact is that he is not a scoundrel as he is portrayed by the media today – I am sure. He simply cannot be. And if it is not so, it means that everything is not so simple, everything is more complicated … We can have different perceptions, but we cannot have such a Soviet attitude. Because we have made so much trouble during these 70-80 years just because of our simple attitude. And here we must also talk about our Russian mentality. These things would hardly work in America, for example. There is a completely different approach and completely different legislation. I am not saying that they are all so good there and do not earn money, but everything is systematized there, it is all prescribed in some legislative acts and so on. The thing is that a person goes and brings the money himself. No one asked him, did not take away his money, he came and gave it himself, and this principle of voluntariness, it works everywhere in the world. In America, for example, you came, gave the money, did not get what you wanted and said, come on, I will not go back to them. In Russia, it’s different. I gave the money, I didn’t get the pleasure, and the condition is: either give me the money back or punish the person from whom I didn’t get it. It doesn’t matter where: at the cinema, at the theatre, anywhere. That’s our mentality. I, for example, will never go to see any magicians, and I will never give money to be cheated. And if I go and I don’t like the magician, I won’t demand my money back. I think this is not a problem of Grabovoi himself, this is a problem of our society.

Question: I think it is a problem of people who are used to going for a β€œpill”. Grabovoi had a different approach, he gave knowledge and did not promise to have an instant effect. I mean that people should learn to solve their problems themselves.

Pavel Vinogradov: I agree, this might be just the result of our socialistic upbringing. By no means do I mean that socialism is bad. Here we have lost more good than bad. But this simplicity of ours, which is known to be worse than theft – it has remained. I have come to the doctor – the doctor has to cure me. And it is, as it were, my constitutional right. And the fact that it is necessary to work on yourself – we have not been taught. In the West, of course, the attitude is completely different and it is worth learning from them. They come there mostly for help, for advice. What is an advice? It is a transfer of knowledge of some kind. A professional of any field gives it, he tells you how you should behave and what to do. And then everything depends on you, on how effectively you do it. And these attitudes have to be laid from early childhood, and then we will become different. But there has to be a state program for that. After all, the main task of public authorities is to make their people better, to help, guide them somehow. But here, I repeat again, there is black and white. They just hang a label saying Grabovoi is bad, let us “make” him… There were offended immediately. They were people who wanted something and did not get it. Now they want to punish him. And the law enforcement system works in much the same way. If you steal a loaf of sausage you get 10 years, if you steal 100 million you get the same 10 years. Again this is an unwillingness to distinguish, an unwillingness to see nuances. Why? Because it is always, firstly, complicated, it requires work and reflection. And secondly, you need personal, internal human responsibility. And we are not inured to taking responsibility.

Question: This seems to be the way the ROC works, which does not see the essence behind the form. First, its representatives say on TV that the Resurrection is impossible, that it is false and fraudulent, and a year later they announce the beginning of the Universal Resurrection! This hypocrisy, unsteadiness of position, “pulling the blanket over oneself”, replacement of concepts, confusion in terminology, is very typical of the current situation for different parties, do you think?

Pavel Vinogradov: Today we all speak different languages and do not try much to understand and hear each other. I think it is necessary to understand that many non-traditional currents use their terminology taken from some definite systems of knowledge. So they have taken a word and they start using it and interpreting it in their own way. And in my opinion, this is where the negativity manifests itself the most. When something is understood completely unambiguously, when it is interpreted, and maybe not exactly as it was originally intended by the founders of certain religions? To what extent has this line of transmission survived and how pure is it today? Grabovoi certainly tells in his school how he understands the same term “Resurrection”, and how this term is interpreted from his point of view. But then everything that he tells, all this goes aside, because all this has to be somehow turned in the brains, somehow realized and thought over. And they take it all away and leave the term that Grabovoi uses and add their own understanding, which does not correspond at all to what people imagined. They took his whole chain of reasoning and cut it off; they threw it away somewhere. And then they exclaim: what on earth is he saying and spinning about? There are dozens of such examples. Take the well known theory of torsional fields that is being actively developed by scientists in Novosibirsk by the way. Why do they get beaten and kicked? Because many things were taken from basic physics, but some physicists interpret it this way and other scientists start seeing it in their own way. That’s the difficulty. That’s the problem with a lot of scientists. Although the questions they raise are obvious. It is clear to everyone, not only theoretical physicists, that our physics today is stalled, and cannot adequately explain many phenomena. We’re currently standing on the verge of a climb or a tear, which means we’re falling to nowhere.

Question: You know, it is rare today to meet someone who can think on a grand scale and even rarer to talk about this openly. Do you have it after the Cosmos :)?

Pavel Vinogradov: Of course, not exactly so, and in my childhood I sometimes wondered… πŸ™‚ Though, of course, a lot of things have changed for me after those flights. My own philosophy that emerged… After the first flight in particular. You realize that mostly everything we do on Earth is so trivial, generally. So out of step with what humanity should be doing. My spouse says to me, God knows where you are going?! I say, I am very close to here – 400 km, the distance from Moscow to St. Petersburg is 650 km. So, a completely different understanding of the horizontal and vertical alignment emerges. In other words, 2 meters on the horizontal is nothing for us, but two meters in height is already too much. It would seem – a trifle, but it sits inside us, and it is the psychology of man, his inner world. That is many people think just linearly. And if at least these three of our measurements grow in scale, we will feel ourselves differently. So when you look at the Earth from above, it seems so fragile, so small, so vulnerable that you realize that what we are doing on the Earth is simply not acceptable. I brought back 56,000 images from space last year. My partner, American astronaut James Williams, took 90,000; he and I exceeded our goal for all expeditions. I just really enjoy filming. Almost every week I visit schools, I show the kids photos and tell them about Cosmos and how our blue planet and human activities in it are seen from there.

On my last mission, back in ’97, I took a lot of pictures of South America, last year we took pictures of the Amazon basin. And there’s gigantic, just fantastically gigantic areas of relic forests that are being destroyed, the destruction is growing, they’re just almost gone. It is clear that people earn money, but nature will not restore it by itself. And there are a lot of such phenomena. If you look at our Kursk magnetic anomaly, you know, it is such a hole in the Earth! Or in Yakutia – open pits, mines. Or in Uzbekistan all these open pits – it is just a pestilence on Earth. It should be seen. In many European ports the Earth is not blue, it is grey. Although Europe has very strict laws on ecology, it is immediately visible where people live. And when you see this, after this everything becomes different, another philosophy – everything is different, you perceive life in a different way, I even started to drive the car in a different way :).

Question: Nowadays, scientists are seriously discussing space security issues. In your opinion, how realistic are the space threats for the Earth?

Pavel Vinogradov: You know, this is probably the only objective for which the whole civilization should consolidate. There is nothing more terrifying and more powerful than the cosmic forces. We just do not understand the scale of it all. We are only now beginning to realise these threats. We’ve always been told that here, the probability of an asteroid hitting is extremely small. Yes, of course it is small, but if that small probability does occur, then even a small asteroid can kill 4-5 billion people on Earth, not millions of people, but billions… It is a question of the existence of life on Earth in general. And if we want our civilisation to exist, it is the only goal of earthlings to realise this threat today and start working in this direction. Because when this threat comes, nothing will save us, not even nuclear weapons, which we have accumulated for I don’t know how long. There have been cases like this, we fly a lot and shoot the so-called ring-shock structures that exist on Earth. There are hundreds, thousands of them. And the famous crater of Yucatan… For the history of the Earth, it was quite recently, some 200 thousand years ago, when an asteroid fell down and all fauna of the Earth disappeared, or 65 million years ago, when almost all living things died on the Earth. Now, these facts… Well, as we say: “Until the thunder breaks out, the peasant will not cross himself”? This idea, with today’s level of development of mankind, it requires not only gigantic material expenses, it requires another understanding on the Earth. What we are now sharing religions, borders, oil reserves – this is such a trifle, it is so unworthy of our civilization… Well, you have to explain, you have to explain it all.

Question: The natural security of the Earth has been created by magnetic field?

Pavel Vinogradov: Magnetic field – yes. Due to the atmosphere. But it is a small blue layer, only 90 km. So, when we talk about the asteroid, it is able to pierce our atmosphere just in an instant. And the magnetic field works at 120-140,000 km. This solar wind, huge radiation coming from the Sun, is held by the Earth’s magnetic field. God forbid, the magnetic field changes, we will be like on Mars.

Question: Regarding tourist space travel that is offered today, how much does this pleasure cost?

Pavel Vinogradov: It used to cost 22m dollars, now it costs 25m. As a professional, I can only say that if it does not interfere with some professional business, of course, people will fly and in the future many of them will fly. We just have a completely different situation in Russia now, we are trying to make money out of these tourists today. Yes, they pay a lot of money, but even this money is not enough, it is a small fraction of what is needed. And often we have to cut our young guys from the crew, who should further improve their skills, fly there and this problem is growing. It has nothing to do with the tourists, they are generators of these difficulties, but these are difficulties of another rank. Difficulties of our economy, of our management in general. In general, tourist is not a very good word, we do not call them tourists, we say spaceflight participant. We have professional astronauts, pilots, commanders, flight engineers and there are spaceflight participants. After all, a tourist is somewhat of a passive participant, the one who is shown and told about, while here, as a rule, people are well prepared, they are high professionals, each of them, of course, in their field. I was accompanied by Anyusha Anzari from the United States who is a brilliant programmer and has made millions working on telecommunications systems and it was a pleasure talking with her because she is a top-class professional. Now Charles Simonyi, the man who set up Microsoft with Bill Gates, is flying. They are not just people who made millions. They are professionals of the highest class, although there were different candidates and we had to use Interpol to select them.

Question: What is it about space that really attracts people to it? Closed space, any restraint, you can see Earth in photos… What makes you pay so much money and what is so attractive?

Pavel Vinogradov: The most important thing about space that attracts and entices you is weightlessness. It’s quite a unique condition – there’s nothing to compare it with. There is nothing similar on Earth. It may be reminiscent of scuba diving with a well weighted scuba diver, something similar… But water is resistance, the hydraulics are completely different. Weightlessness is a sensation of flight all the time and some kind of inner freedom. For the first seconds, after separation from the booster, you get a strong kick and the first sensation is that you feel as if you are falling. You know, like when you parachute into a plane, you start falling, falling, and for a few seconds it is like falling, then you realize that this fall lasts a minute, two minutes, half an hour, an hour… Then, of course, this feeling flattens out, it somehow transforms into this feeling of flying. As if you are flying all the time and there is nothing to compare it with. That’s why you always want to go back. It turns out that there is an interesting regularity – the lighter a person is born, the easier he or she tolerates weightlessness. That is, if one knows how the process of human birth took place, then it is possible to suggest how a man will feel in the Cosmos. Because, after all, the beginning of our life is in the mother’s womb, it is hydro weightlessness that we, astronauts, train for every day. After all, many living forms that exist on Earth, they emerged from the state of weightlessness. Who knows, maybe the fact that we live in gravity is some nonsense. Maybe gravity for humans is not quite right.

Question: So, is the Cosmos a kind of doping for you?

Pavel Vinogradov: As my wife says, you’re like a drug addict, there’s nothing to cure you, you can only be sent back to Cosmos πŸ™‚ Literally everybody wants to go back to space. Valentina Tereshkova was celebrating her 70th birthday recently and she says she would have flown tomorrow if she had been allowed to. Although they, the first cosmonauts, did not have as much trouble as we did. We are, you could say, flying in comfort. Our station weighs 270 tonnes – it’s a huge mega-machine.

Question: Tell me, do you believe that the world is a little bit bigger than we perceive it in physics?

Pavel Vinogradov: I want very much to believe that it is more… πŸ™‚ Sometimes I am asked, do I believe in aliens? I do want to believe very much, because it would be boring to live in this world alone, just boring… Certainly, the world is much more complicated than we imagine or think up. I’ll be honest, in the two flights I didn’t see any unidentified phenomena, any difficult to explain. Everything that seemed unusual was related to the Earth’s atmosphere and the Earth itself. Above the atmosphere it’s hard enough to find something like that… It’s hard to explain it, because you see it for the first time. And the knowledge that you have, it just doesn’t give a normal explanation right away. Sometimes you think, well, this is something supernatural. And when you start to look into it, you realize that it is not supernatural, it is something that we knew something about, but that we have just never seen. And there are a lot of such phenomena. For example, we know very little about the dynamics of our atmosphere, we know very little about the magnetic field and how it interacts. For some reason, we think that the atmosphere ends at 90-100 km. But in fact, the processes go further, and we can see them using special equipment. And very interesting things are happening there. We simply do not know practically what our Earth is, let’s talk about it this way. Now, scientists are seriously working on this subject, there is a serious programme to find some planets like ours. We do not even know what we are looking for yet, frankly. We are trying to look for people like us, but it’s not necessary. Take our body and change the carbon in it to silicon and it will be something else entirely. Although it may walk, think, laugh, it may even look like a human being, but it will be completely different. And here you begin to think that perhaps we are not alone in the Cosmos, after all. Once again, I say that I really want to believe it.

Question: Do you miss the Earth? Or more on the Cosmos?

Pavel Vinogradov: I always have double feeling. The closer you get to the landing, the more you want to go home, to your family, to your relatives, to eat herring, dumplings normally πŸ™‚  On the other hand, you always leave with a heavy feeling… In the sense that there is not much hope to come back, how will your luck be? And leaving the station feels like home. It feels like you’re saying goodbye to your own home. I do not know a single person who would not like to go back again, to Space…

Interview recording: March-April, 2007, Moscow