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The road to riches

Yermilov: In the old days people
had a better life
Programme 6

Russia: Changing times

Valery Yermilov, manager of a textile factory in Ivanovo, near Moscow explains how life has changed in Russia.

Q: Does the factory make a profit, and does it matter these days?

Yermilov: Yes, our profit matter s a lot for us. In fact it's the main aim of our production, is to make a profit. And every month we get the profit, in the region of one million roubles.

CLICK HERE for an excerpt from a Soviet propaganda film about early Ivanovo industry

Q: Is it easier or harder to manage the business now, than in the Socialist period?

Yermilov: It's more interesting to work now than in the Soviet days. In that time, all the direction came from the Party, and you never had any chance to develop your own initiative. You would get all your supplies, according to the Plan, and then you had to arrange production according to the Plan. Now, work is much harder, but you can see the results of your own work. We have very good staff now - engineers, designers, and other workers - all of them are interested in making a profit.

CLICK HERE for the second clip from the Ivanovo propaganda film - this time showing a reconstruction of Cossacks attacking workers

Q: There is a joke that in the Soviet period, workers said they pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work. Was that a fair description?

Yermilov: I can say that life at that time was quite hard, because we were given a plan, which never corresponded to real life, because we never had enough cotton and other raw materials, half-finished fabric and so on. So we couldn't really fulfil the plan. And we couldn't go out and buy what we needed on the side, because that was illegal as well.

Q: What sort of life did people have in the Soviet era? What living standard did they have, what recreations, what did they do when they were not actually working in the factory?

Yermilov: I can say that in the old days, people had a better and easier life than now. They had more spare time for leisure, they also had somewhere to go for their holidays - to their houses in the countryside. There were also organised holiday camps for children, and the equivalent for adults, where they could stay together and spend their holiday. Now it costs a lot of money so they can't afford it. So life is harder now.

CLICK HERE to watch the third excerpt showing Ivanovo workers signing up with the bolshevik army and being addressed by Lenin

Q: Would people prefer to go back to the old days?

Yermilov: Yes, to be honest with you, people would want to go back to the old days. I would say about 80% of people.

Q: But I notice that you have a picture of Lenin, hanging by your desk. Why is that?

Yermilov: I consider him to be a national hero, like Roosevelt or Lincoln. At school we used to study his works, and I think he is a genius.

Edited highlights of a recorded interview.

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