Combine harvester "Yaroslavets" on the "bureaucratic fields" of the late Soviet era

 
PIIS086956870015596-6-1
DOI10.31857/S086956870015596-6
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Affiliation:
Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University named after K.D. Ushinsky
Vologda State University
Address: Russian Federation, Yaroslavl
Journal nameRossiiskaia istoriia
EditionIssue 3
Pages275-287
Abstract

         

Keywords
AcknowledgmentThe study was supported by the Russian Scientific Fund, project No. 19-18-00269 "Transformation of Russian society in 1950-1990: class genesis and evolution of economic structure". This article is a translation of: Ю.С. Никифоров. Комбайн «Ярославец» на «бюрократических полях» поздней советской эпохи // Rossiiskaia Istoria. 2021. № 3. P. 168-181. DOI: 10.31857/S086956870015470-8
Received27.06.2021
Publication date27.06.2021
Number of characters51665
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1 The turn of 1970s and 1980s was the period of the most severe crisis of the agricultural industry in the USSR. One of its most obvious signs were catastrophic transport and technological problems. "There still was lack of combine harvesters and tractors required for harvesting. In 1980, examination of 1,249 absolutely new agricultural machines revealed that only 8 of them met technical requirements"1. Major domestic scientists pointed out the poor mechanization of the Soviet agriculture2. Facing the deficiency and low quality of agricultural machinery, leaders of some regions of the RSFSR tried to solve the problem of agricultural mechanization using their own resources, through co-operation of local production structures. For example, in the second half of 1970s, the leadership of Yaroslavl Region came forward with the initiative of entering the batch manufacturing of forage harvesters suitable for waterlogged soils of this region. The production of "Yaroslavets" self-propelled forage combine harvesters (YASK-170) was arranged in close co-operation with directors of the largest production facilities on the site of Avtodizel Motor Plant. These harvesters were later recognized to be among the best in their class3. 1. S. Schattenberg Leonid Brezhnev. The greatness and tragedy of man and the country. Moscow, 2018. P. 348.

2. L. N. Denisova Dying Russian countryside: the Non-Black Earth Region in 1960-1980s. Moscow, 1996; M. A. Beznin, T. M. Dimoni Personal >>>> // >>>> . 2019. Vol. 1. >>>> . P. 84–96.

3. M. A. Rutkovsky, L. M. Rutkovskaya Fifty years of the economics of Yaroslavl: early 1960s until 2010. Yaroslavl, 2011. P. 49.
2 The initiative of development and introduction of a new, high-performance combine harvester directly resulted from the instructions of the USSR leadership. Several sections of one of the most important documents of the 25th Communist Party Congress "The main lines of the USSR national economy development for the period from 1976 until 1980" referred to the necessity of developing the production of quality agricultural machinery. Thus, the provisions of Section II "Development of industry" related to the development of tractor and agricultural manufacture stated: "To arrange for production of agricultural machinery for crop farming for the amount of 2.8 billion rubles in 1980. The particular attention should be paid... that harvesting machinery manufactured should allow to preserve the quality of farm products. Develop the production of powerful machinery for... forage wafering". The document section related to union republics specified for "increasing of the volume of industrial products by 35–39% in the RSFSR. To arrange subsequent development of manufacturing of livestock and crop farming machinery, tractors and agricultural machinery. To increase the production of high-performance grain combine harvesters and potato harvesters"4. The problem retained its significance five years later. M. A. Suslov's archive collection contains an interesting document – "Draft report to the Politburo concerning the five-year plan. October 3, 1981". It listed the differences between resolutions of the recent 26th Party Congress on the agricultural machinery ("Main areas" section) and assignments of a new five-year period: "Let's just turn to the draft plan and we will see there a number of significant deviations from the "Main areas". The Plan does not provide for production of a high-duty cultivating tractor and a new grain harvester"5. 4. Materials of the 25th Communist Party Congress. Moscow, 1976. P. 190, 224.

5. Russian State Archive of Contemporary History, collection 81, list 1, file 224, sheet 32.
3 This article seeks to reconstruct the mechanisms of technological decision-making in the late socialism period6. The process of furthering of technological initiative (arrangement of batch manufacturing of "Yaroslavets" forage combine harvester) from the regional level to the union republic centre was studied in terms of regional lobbying phenomenon using comparative analysis of archive documents and verbal historical data. Such combined analysis of classical historical sources and interview data7 is to reveal new aspects in study of scientific and technological policy8 and mechanisms of interaction of regions and the centre in the late Soviet period. 6. The term "late (or late Soviet) socialism" is interpreted as "the period of about 30 years of the Soviet history from the end of Stalin's era until the beginning of perestroika (restructuring) (early 1950s – mid-1980s) when the Soviet system was considered by the majority of Soviet people and foreign observers as a powerful and solid system" (A. Yurchak >>>> . Moscow, 2014. P. 36).

7. Yu. S. Nikiforov Synthesis of classical and interdisciplinary methods in study of regional problems of the contemporary Russian history (1950–1980s) //Vestnik of Kostroma State University. 2019. No. 2. P. 79–85.

8. For example, see A. B. Bezborodov The power and scientific and technological policy in the USSR in the period from the mid-1950s till the mid-1970s. Moscow, 1997.
4 The source base of our study consists of several main groups: unclassified archive documents of the Contemporary History Documentation Centre of Yaroslavl Region, the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History that were introduced into scientific discourse for the first time. First of all, these are documents of management and record keeping related to operation of both supreme party and state authorities of the union republic level (decrees of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, minutes of meetings of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, official letters of ministries and reports of departmental commissions) and regional soviet and party structures (official notes and letters of Yaroslavl regional committee and regional executive committee to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR and the Council of Ministers of the USSR, "Folder of a deputy to the Supreme Soviet").
5 I conducted non-formalized semi-structured interviews9 of five representatives of local soviet and party leadership in 2017–2018 as part of the study. They were the Chairman of the Regional Council of Veterans T. N. Kolpakov (regional committee secretary for agriculture in 1970–1980s), the Chairman of office of the Russian Children's Fund S. N. Ovchinnikov (deputy chairman of the regional executive committee in 1970–1980s), I. A. Tolstoukhov (the first secretary of Yaroslavl city committee in 1979–1985, the first secretary of regional committee in 1986–1990), the Director of the Museum of Yaroslavl History V. V. Velichko (regional committee first secretary assistant in 1970–1980s), the professor of pedagogical university N. P. Voronin (rector of Yaroslavl State Pedagogical Institute named after K. D. Ushinsky, regional committee secretary for ideology in 1980s). The data obtained allow to reconstruct multiway combinations, which preceded management decision-making at the highest authority level and which are not often reflected in archive documents. 9. Audio records and transcribed texts with acknowledging signatures of interviewees are from the personal collection of the author. They were published in the form of educational book for students of the history department of Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University: Yu. S. Nikiforov The contemporary Russian history reflected in the interviews of regional elite: from the USSR to Russia through the lens of cultural memory. Yaroslavl, 2018.

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