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HomeLatest NewsHow the Druzhba pipeline was built - Rossiyskaya Gazeta

How the Druzhba pipeline was built – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Date: June 16, 2024 Time: 03:26:40

Andrey Nikolaevich, just a few years ago the story of the Druzhba pipeline would hardly have seemed so relevant. But today terrorists blow up existing fuel lines and the search for those responsible is reminiscent of a detective novel. Recently, the President of Hungary promised terrible punishment for anyone who wants to destroy the gas pipeline that supplies the country. If you look at the years of construction of Druzhba from a modern perspective, what would you pay attention to?

Andrey Artizov: “Druzhba” was built between 1954 and 1974. It will soon be 50 years since oil pumping along the pipeline began. But it still works and benefits the economies of the former socialist countries. In the meantime, let me remind you that this is the longest oil pipeline in the world. Its system includes 8,900 kilometers of pipelines, 5,000 of which are located in foreign territory. It was built thanks to the joint efforts of the members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CAME). These are the USSR, Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Furthermore, each country’s contribution referred to both labor resources and equipment production. The collection contains documents about how distinguished builders, including representatives of foreign countries, were awarded in the Soviet Union.

Head of the Federal Archives Agency Andrey Artizov. Photo: Sergey Kuksin/RG

Who benefited from “Friendship”?

Andrey Artizov: It was a joint venture that met the economic interests of all participants. The Soviet Union understood the role that the oil and gas complex played in the country’s economy. And in particular, oil exports. By the way, the construction of oil pipelines did not stop even during the Great Patriotic War. 1.3 thousand kilometers were built.

Click to enlarge. Secret letter from the secretary of the Tyumen regional committee of the CPSU, B. Shcherbina, addressed to LI Brezhnev. September 24, 1974. Photo: Documents from the book “Druzhba trunk pipeline”

However, European countries also had a great need for fuel. Due to severe irrigation, Hungary reduced oil production. Then Romania announced the same thing. In the late 1950s, due to the accelerated introduction of diesel engines and the expansion of the tractor work program in popular democracies, a shortage of oil and oil products arose. They hoped to cover it with supplies from the USSR. And the representative of the GDR proposed to consider this issue at the upcoming tenth session of the CMEA in Prague. We presented to the Soviet delegation very interesting documents on how the directives for this forum were prepared. It is worth paying special attention to the role of the leaders of the USSR (Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Suslov, Tikhonov, Dolgikh) in the formulation and adoption of the final decision.

Photo: Sergey Kuksin/RG

Did the West of that time respond in a friendly manner to the construction of “Friendship”?

Andrey Artizov: The successful progress of construction and its influence on the development of the economies of Hungary, the GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia caused, I am not afraid of this modern term, “sanctions pressure” from the West. In violation of international trade relations, Germany, supplier of large diameter pipes, breaks the contract and refuses to supply the USSR. They began to be produced at the Chelyabinsk plant. Read the documents.

However, not everything went well. The collection contains, for example, an explanatory note from the deputy chairman of the State Committee for the Gas Industry of the USSR, Smirnov, to a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Kirilenko, about “the unsatisfactory implementation of the work plan for the construction”. By the way, “Druzhba” was built by Gazstroy, and for the first five years the pipeline was operated by the gas production department, and then it was already handed over to oil workers. There is an act of transferring the pipeline from gas workers to oil workers.

Click to enlarge. Note to the Central Committee of the CPSU on the proposal to entrust the operation of the Druzhba oil pipeline to the gas department. May 28, 1964 Photo: Documents from the book “Druzhba trunk pipeline”

Why were all these documents, including decisions on awarding orders and medals, classified almost until the moment of their publication?

Andrey Artizov: The fact is that most of the articles published in the collection are located in the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History. The archives of the Central Committee of the CPSU are kept there. Important decisions related to the construction of the gas pipeline were made at the highest political level. All documents emanating from government bodies such as the Politburo or the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPSU are classified as “secret” or “top secret.” Even decisions about rewarding people. From the point of view of modern legislation, these issues do not fall into the list of state secrets. Unlike documents related to geology, natural resources and various studies. Why does everyone need to know our well reserves? These data directly influence the formation of the price of oil or gas, and the price is the economic security of the country.

How is it possible that archival documents are declassified as planned and suddenly become so relevant?

Click to enlarge. Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU on the award of orders and medals of the USSR to the builders of the Druzhba oil pipeline. July 12, 1967. Photo: Documents from the book “Druzhba trunk pipeline”

Andrey Artizov: Of course there is a plan, but life is richer than any plan. She mentions current stories and we understand that we need to open our containers. The declassification is carried out by the interdepartmental commission for the protection of state secrets. Experts from different departments work there and, in general, support us. Often, when preparing a large scientific publication, we come across documents that are directly related to modern events. This was the case, for example, when work was underway on the collection of documents “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” We found notes by the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Vladimir Shcherbitsky, which dealt with issues of national politics, relations between the State and the Church, and the development of democracy. Naturally, all of these documents were quickly declassified and included in the publication.

Do you think this book about “Friendship” can be of interest to the West when friendship no longer exists?

Click to enlarge. Telegram to the Soviet ambassadors in the GDR and Hungary about the intention to reward the citizens of these republics who distinguished themselves in building Friendship. Photo: Documents from the book “Druzhba Trunk Pipeline”

Andrey Artizov: In the “hostile countries” we have our allies: scientists, archivists, who have a normal attitude towards Russia and understand what is happening now. For them, the documents of CAME, Gosplan and macroeconomics in the USSR and its countries are objects of scientific study. And from an applied point of view, they are very important. Because a good owner, with all the laws of a market economy, has business plans and forecasts. And the collection is a treasure trove of management decisions. The experience of creating the largest pipeline transportation projects, such as the Druzhba pipeline, is useful and educational for an attentive and thoughtful reader, regardless of political views.

Andrey Nikolaevich, the other day inaugurated a new archive building in Veliky Novgorod. At what point is the state-declared transfer of our archives from churches and cathedrals to buildings most suitable for them?

Andrey Artizov: In just over 20 years we have returned to the Russian Orthodox Church the churches occupied in the 1920s in 15 regions. At the time of the collapse of the USSR, Russia had the largest number of archival storage facilities in religious buildings. In Ukraine at that time there was only one archive in an old church.

The Central State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan was located in the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kazan Kremlin. Photo: Alexey Danichev/RIA Novosti

Archives occupied our churches in all ancient cities. I will use Kazan as an example. In the Kremlin’s Annunciation Cathedral, today the cathedral church of the Metropolitan of Kazan, there was the Central State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan. Today they fulfill their purpose. The process of liberating churches and moving archives to new buildings has not yet been completed. At the end of August, the richest archive in Veliky Novgorod, one of the capitals of ancient Russia, was abandoned by the former Holy Spirit Convent and received a new location. We must leave the things of God to God. And the archive will be located in a beautiful building with an area of ​​approximately 11.4 thousand square meters, where both documents and people will feel comfortable.

The archive building in the Holy Spiritual Convent of Veliky Novgorod. Photo: wikipedia.org

The next step is ancient Vladimir, where more than one and a half million ancient manuscripts and evidence of the modern era are kept in inadequate premises of the ancient Church of the Resurrection of the Word.

You highlighted that in Ukraine only one church was occupied by an archive during the collapse of the USSR. It turns out that in Soviet times they treated religious buildings more carefully, protecting them from “non-basic use”?

Andrey Artizov: Come on, everything went wrong. As in Russia, the archives were occupied by architectural monuments of churches. But after the war, as part of planning in the USSR, archival storage facilities began to be built in this republic. All archives were transferred from the churches. The only one left in the Kamenets-Podolsk temple. The rich Soviet republic could afford everything to preserve culture and develop the economy.

Photo: Sergey Kuksin/RG

But during the years of “independence” not a single new building was built. In Sevastopol they began to build a municipal archive, they raised the building and abandoned it. It stood for two years, then, to finish construction, two floors were sold. But the money was still dispersed. They never opened it. Russia completed it within the framework of the socio-economic development program of the Republic of Crimea.


“RG” congratulates the respected author and newspaper expert on his anniversary.

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Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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