In her interview, Tatiana Nefedova, a Chief Researcher at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, tells about her research interests that had formed already in childhood and brought her to the geographical faculty of the Moscow State University, and about her further professional development. As a true geographer, the author traveled a lot all over Russia and the world, participated in different interdisciplinary geographical projects, and at first they were not agricultural. Nevertheless, T.G. Nefedova made a significant scientific contribution to the study and development of rural post-Soviet Russia. At the same time her cross-cultural comparative studies of rural Russia and other countries of the world—Europe and Asia—are no less important. In her interview, she also focuses on various methods to study the spatial development, on the perception and reflections on the poly-scale nature of space, on the diversity of regionality as the most important factor of rural development, and on the ratio of quantitative and qualitative research methods. One of the special topics of the interview is the relationship of the scientist and the authorities. Should a scientist seek power and strive to in fluence the state decision-making with his findings despite the threat of turning from a scientist into a politician or an official? In conclusion, new plans and projects of geographical studies of rural Russia are discussed, for instance, the study of such a combination of factors of social development as the long-inhabited territories, social capital, social mobility, agglomerations, summer residents, and cultural heritage.
In his biographical interview for the Russian Peasant Studies, Vasily Yakimovich Uzun remembers the milestones of his life from the hungry peasant childhood in the Gagauz village to the mature agrarian scientist working in one of the leading Russian research institutions, and considers issues of efficient interaction of theory and practice, economics and politics in ensuring the sustainability of rural-urban development and norms of social justice. In his memoirs, the scientist reconstructs events of his rural war and post-war childhood related to school years and peasant and collective-farm labor, years of studies at the agricultural institute and work as an agronomist on a collective farm, decision to start a scientific career and study economic-mathematical methods of agricultural management that were actual in the 1960–1970s. Then V.V. Uzun focuses on the political and economic events of the 1980s with their dramatic attempts in the period of both stagnation and perestroika to develop a system of comprehensive measures for the effective agrarian reform of the Soviet economy. The interview provides a detailed review of the post-Soviet period of the Russian rural development, in particular of the Nizhny Novgorod experiments on the market reform of large collective farms. The scientific analysis of political-economic issues of rural development is accompanied by characteristic personal examples and anecdotes from the life of Vasily Yakimovich Uzun.
In the interview to the Russian Peasant Studies, the Governor of the Belgorod Region, Doctor of Economics, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yevgeny Savchenko refers to his life trajectory to consider the history and the present state of the agrarian and social policy in Russia and the Belgorod Region. The interview focuses on the role of the state in developing a responsible agrarian policy that establishes the rules under the market economy and regulates economic and social interaction of large and small forms of agricultural production, the social development of the village, innovative trends in agriculture, and takes care of environmental challenges, problems of local self-government, and training of personnel for agriculture. The governor emphasized the significance of agroholdings in agriculture and in the Russian society in general, identifies possible directions of agroholdings participation in the development of rural areas. In the Belgorod rural programs, particular attention is paid to restoring soil fertility, environmental development of the “Green Capital” project, and barriers to the spread of bioenergy and alternative energy. The governor notes that despite the catastrophic trials in the life of the Russian peasantry in the 20th century, which determined the loss of peasant mentality, in contemporary Russia there is still a need for preservation and development of the culture of rural communities and territories that seamlessly combine rural traditions and innovations, for example, in the form of ancestral estates and homeowners’ associations. In the conclusion, the interview stresses that by the will of fate rural Russia often had to be a pioneer.
In the interview to the Russian Journal of Peasant Studies, Elmira Nikolaevna Krylatykh, an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a famous researcher of the agrofood sphere in Russia and Europe, an author of more than 250 scientific works, a professor that supervised more than 30 doctoral and PhD theses, considers the milestones of her life and scientific career, and defines the key thematic and institutional transformations of the Soviet and post-Soviet agrarian science. Thus, she describes the Soviet scientific approaches to the study of agrarian economy that determined the strong points in the research of the All-Union Institute of Agricultural Economics, in which E.N. Krylatykh studied the costs of the collective farms production. The interview also focuses on the development of economic and mathematical modeling of agrarian economy in the All-Union Research Institute of Cybernetics of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture, in which E.N. Krylatykh wrote and defended her doctoral thesis “Agricultural production planning based on the system of economic and mathematical models”. E.N. Krylatykh makes interesting estimates of scientific developments and their authors when considers the features of organization and development of science at the Faculty of Economics of the Moscow State University, the Agrarian Institute of the Lenin’s All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Academy of National Economy that later turned into the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Throughout the interview, E.N. Krylatykh emphasizes the significance of random circumstances that determine the fate of the scientist.
The journal “Russian Peasant Studies” starts a new section “An interview with a researcher” to discuss with the leading Russian and foreign scientists the interdisciplinary problems of the history and the current issues of peasant studies and agrarian science. The first interview was conducted by Alexander Nikulin, the editor of the journal, with the Russian historian Alexander Gordon, the head of the East and South-East Asia section of the INION RAS. He made a significant contribution to the development of Russian peasant studies and their integration in the world historical and cultural tradition. The interview questions consider the relationship of agrarian science and peasant studies, the role of regional factors in the development of peasant studies in France, the Middle and Far East, Southeast Asia and Russia, the contribution of Russian and foreign scientists, writers and intellectuals to the institutionalization of peasant studies, and the current strategies in their development. However, the interview rather focuses on the scientific biography of Alexander Gordon—a researcher and a historian who emphasized the importance of the commune in peasant culture and of the peasant identity as a land owner and a hard worker.