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APRIL 29, 2012



SHOW APPEARANCES:  June 10, 2012  April 29, 2012  August 19, 2012
Today's guest: Arkady Faktorovich



About Arkady

Born in Kiev, Ukraine.
Enrolled in Moscow State University of Technology and Design in 1965, graduated from Kiev State University of Technology and Design with MS in Engineering 1971.

After graduation, was drafted into the Soviet Army as a private, nine months later was sent to
officers school for training, six months later graduated with the rank of the lieutenant. Following the discharge from the military, was working as an engineer, being involved in experimental projects.

Emigrated to the West in 1978. Lived in Austria and Italy, while my papers being processed. After an interview with an American Embassy in Rome, received my entry visa and a work permit to come to the greatest country the world has ever known, our country, the United States of America.

I lived in Houston, Texas. When my English skills improved, was hired by Brown and Root, Inc. (later known as Halliburton, Inc.) as a field engineer at the construction of nuclear power plant in Bay City, Texas.

I moved to California and was hired by Bechtel Civil and Minerals, Inc. as a Senior Engineer, in San Francisco. I opened my own business in 1982. Married my wife in 1984. Became a US Citizen in 1985. My wife and I are blessed with three daughters and six grandchildren.

Life is good when one is free.

Thank you,
Arkady Faktorovich

Freedom is Life Without Fear
Today Arkady will talk about the Federal Reserve. However in his website he has a paragraph to do about the relationship between having money and freedom; he says:

Some people believe that money gives you freedom. Is it true? Don’t take me wrong; money is good, business is good and noble. But if you do not have freedom of the individual, you cannot have freedom of commerce and vice versa. In my humble opinion, freedom is life without fear. I can hear you saying “Aren’t you afraid sometimes?” My answer to you is, “Yes, lots of times”. That is the thing. This country provides us with great opportunities and it is up to us to live our lives the way we want and not how the government or the bureaucrats want. The life of the free is unpredictable and it is void of the security that slavery provides. Fear of any kind, in my opinion, is an evil force responsible for many evil things: distrust, envy, greed, cruelty, betrayal, etc. Fear has been the tool of control for God knows how long. It always accompanies every evil deed.  

Life Behind the Iron Curtain
Arkady Fatorovich's
From "Dutra's The Paper" at Los Banos, California. February 18th 2011:
Life Behind the Iron Curtain... and America Through The Eyes of an Immigrant

By Arkady Faktorovich
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: I must tell our readers of my first meeting with this man you are about to become acquainted. During last fall’s Memorial Hospital Gala my wife and were sitting at the same table with Mr. and Mrs. Faktorovich, We got to know about each other’s history that evening. I believe you will enjoy his story, and his love for our country. It is a valuable reminder to those of us who may sometimes take for granted what we possess as natural rights. For myself his message is refreshing because I, too was an immigrant to our nation when I first came with my parents as a young child in the 1950’s. Please read his story and I am sure you will be reminded too what our country has been to the masses who have made the USA their home. Thank you, my friend for sharing your words.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Les and Sandra Palocsay of the Los Banos Tea Party Patriots organization. I am grateful to the Los Banos Rotary Club and its members for giving me a forum to tell the story of my life in the former Soviet Union and a life in America through the eyes of an immigrant. Great thanks to Tony Dutra for publishing it in his paper. Also, thanks to you, the reader, for your interest.

It began in Ukraine, where I was born and raised. I owe everything that I learned in my early years to my grandfather and my father, the wisest men I ever knew. They are responsible for instilling in me the ability to reason and have independent thought.

My grandfather was an illiterate shoemaker who was able to do complex computations in his head without pencil and paper. My father was an architect, a highly decorated combat veteran of the Soviet Army during World War II. He was in charge of vast construction projects in the Ukraine during peace time.

My grandparents, my parents and I lived in a tiny two room communal apartment (it was smaller than my garage here in Los Banos.) Before the communists took over, my Grandfather was able to occupy the entire floor (approx.. 5,000 square feet) in the same building, and a large shop in the basement, and was able to support a big family working by himself.

What I would like to say to you is something that we all mention in our daily conversations. We hear it from our politicians, broadcasters and writers and almost always take it for granted. What I am talking about is freedom.

Just imagine being born in prison. Since you only experience prison walls, guards and inmates, your perception of such surroundings seems normal to you. There are no questions, no thoughts of life beyond the barred windows. You have friends among your peers. You go to school where you are constantly reminded how wonderful life is inside the prison walls, how free you are and what a bright and wonderful future lies ahead for the prison system and its population.

You are taught that the world beyond the prison is ruled by an evil named capitalism were people are exploited and do not have the freedom and equality that only our world of social justice and the dictatorship of the proletariat can provide. You are instructed that religion is an opium of the people; God doesn’t exist. You can realize a higher good only through loyalty to the Warden, the guards and the ideals of socialism.

Your life is very secure because it is very predictable. The prison will provide everything you need from the cradle to the grave (your needs being determined by the guards,) and if the guards think that you have too much, they will see that you share it with others – voluntary, of course. Your life rolls on like a bowling ball, in one direction only, ending with a small pension and an almost 100% chance of dying of natural causes, provided that you do not misbehave. If you do misbehave, of course, you can expect to be put in the hole or slaughtered. The prison lets you fall in love, make babies, listen to music, and even read books that are allowed for printing. Censorship and snitching are wide-spread in the Socialist Paradise of prison life.

At the age of eight, I learned that talking freely on the telephone could possibly have negative consequences. My grandfather told me that if I had any questions regarding politics, history, or religion, it would be better to ask him or my father first and not to discuss it publicly in school. As I started to read the Constitution of the Soviet Union, it became apparent to me that freedom of speech, assembly and religion that was promised by the document was in startling contrast with the reality of life and didn’t exist.

Growing up, I was able to talk to my Grandfather about the past and present and what it was like to live without socialism; life during World War I and World War II; surviving pogroms (we are Jews) and his perspective of who was involved and why. If he did not have the answer, he would tell me. He died when I was fourteen. I still miss him a lot.

My father and mother were working long hours and I could spend time with them only on Sundays. On rare occasions, my dad and I would go for a stroll and talk about stuff. He died fairly young due to the incompetence and negligence of Soviet doctors. I wish I could have spent more time with him.

Entering adulthood before graduating from high school, my perspective of life was totally changed from naïve childhood beliefs to a complete distrust of the system and its dogmas. This was the time when dreams of life outside the Soviet Union were taking hold. I spent a lot of summer months at my aunt’s cabin on the river bank, bringing with me some books and a little short wave radio receiver for entertainment. At the time, all foreign radio stations were jammed in the Kiev region, especially those that were broadcasting in Russian or other languages of the Soviet bloc. Since the cabin was at the edge of the jamming area, it was possible to hear music, news and political debates thorough the crackling noise of radio static.

It was wonderful to lie on a pile of hay and listen to the Ellington and Miller bands and to look up at a bright night sky. I realized that the socialist regime was not what it pretended to be and that it was surviving only by the brute force of the government, the total control of mass media and commerce, and the denial of basic individual freedoms to the Soviet people. The world was bubbling with information on the outside. And even then, I never thought that life beyond the vast land mass of this socialist paradise would ever be possible in my life time.

After high school graduation in 1965, I entered the State University of Technology and Design in Moscow, Russia, and graduated later with a Masters Degree in Engineering from the State University of Technology and Design in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1971.

Two Months later after graduation, I was drafted into the Soviet Army as a private. In less than a year, I was send as a cadet to the officer’s school for training and graduated six months later as a 2nd Lieutenant. I remember sitting in the Army barracks reading the newspaper. On the second page, there was a short article informing the reader that the President of the United States, R. Nixon, and Secretary of State, H. Kissinger, had arrived in the Soviet Union for SALT II treaty negotiations. I dismissed the article as of no importance to me. I did now know how profoundly that visit would affect my life in the next few years. To this day, I have no idea what these two men offered to the Russians in exchange for letting some minorities emigrate and why the Soviet Government agreed to the terms.

Upon returning to civilian life, I was hired as an Engineer for experimental projects. As I found out later at work, most of the people had the same political views as I did, but didn’t share them openly (it wasn’t safe and helpful for one’s career.) I had to wait five years for my military clearance to expire in order to file a request for emigration. I filed my emigration papers in 1977 at my place of work. It felt like a bomb explosion. There was a vacuum around me. People that were considered my friends, who drank and sang songs in my apartment and shared vacations, wouldn’t shake my hand nor talk to me. Some people wished me well (when nobody was watching.) There was a great meeting of workers for the purpose of public expulsion of yours truly from the trade union. Some people, whom I didn’t know, read speeches from notes calling me traitor, public enemy, etc., just for my desire to leave the country. I do not blame or hate them. I believe they did it as an act of self-preservation. There wasn’t any certainty that my request to emigrate would be granted by the authorities. However, my life was irrevocably changed. Most “experts” told me that I would never be able to leave.

Fortunately, they were wrong. A year and a half later, I was called to the Department of Visas and Registration and was told that permission had been granted for me to leave the Soviet Union for permanent residence abroad. A month later, I boarded a train that would take me from Kiey to a little border town between Ukraine and Slovakia called Chop.

Upon arrival, I observed a very large crowd of people on the platform. At the time, Chop did not have any hotels, so everybody was camping inside the railroad station or outside with their luggage. It was a nice, cold December morning. As I found out, everyone was waiting for the train that was scheduled to depart at 10 pm and take us across the border. I had to take my place in line to go through customs. The line was long and so was the wait. I entered customs around 8 pm. The room was quite large with a polished, long bar (approx... 4’ wide) with three customs officers behind it. The border guards were letting three families at a time enter the room for inspection. My luggage consisted of a small briefcase containing two reference books in mathematics, a slide rule and two changes of underwear (I was young and crazy, traveling light.) The two families ahead of me traveled with their children and grandchildren. The customs officers instructed them to put their suitcases flat on the bar upside down, so the cover of the case would be on the bottom. When the case is opened, all the contents are visible. Then, they started to throw everything to the floor. They didn’t do it to me because there was nothing for them to “inspect.” I tried to help the families pick up their stuff off the floor, but the guards told me that if I wanted to leave, I’d better stay put and not do anything.

There was a little girl, about seven or eight years old, holding a doll. She and her mother were taken to a separate room for a private physical examination. I will never forget or forgive that kind of cruelty to a child. After inspection, we were placed in the bog holding room, waiting for a train. While waiting, the guards were inspecting our papers, every ten minutes or so. We were informed that the train would stay at the platform for only five minutes. If you ever saw a movie portraying a mob storming the train, that was it. As soon as the doors were open, everybody rushed outside carrying their possessions. The entrances to the railroad cars were quickly jammed with people and luggage. I found myself carrying somebody’s luggage to the end of the last train car. My briefcase was lost, but I didn’t care anymore. People were throwing their luggage through the car windows, women were screaming, it was a panic. The train started to move. I was able to hang on at the far end of the car. Fortunately for me, the restroom door was open. I got in. The stench was unbearable. I opened the window to let the cold night air in, and observed what nobody else did, because everybody was busy sorting their luggage and taking care of their families.

The train was moving very slowly and then stopped. I could see tall concrete poles with barbed wire stretched between them. On the top of each pole was a metal bracket with a dozen or so strings of barbed wire laid horizontally. On the bottom of that border wall was a huge coil of barbed wire lying on the ground. If anyone managed to climb that wall and jump, he would be caught in the wire coils below. Beyond, I could see a machine gun tower with search lights. It was as bright as day. The border guards armed with AK-47’s, accompanied by German shepherd dogs, were checking every little space between, below and above every train car looking for anyone trying to escape. Then the train started moving slowly through plowed ground. In about a mile, I could see the real border. It was the same thing: poles, barbed wire, gun towers and search lights. The train sped up and drove into the cold, dark, moonless December night.

I was free. It was December 7, 1978. Ironically, that day was Soviet Constitution Day, a document that promised so much and gave absolutely nothing except misery, poverty and lack of freedom to the Soviet people. After coming out, I saw my briefcase lying on the floor of the car. Somebody had carried it for me. I sat down on the hallway bench. I couldn’t sleep – so many thoughts and feelings. It wouldn’t be possible to describe the first moments of being free, shedding thirty years of my life, leaving behind my family, friends and everything I knew, looking forward to the unknown, hoping and believing deep in my heart that there was a better place for me ahead.


Websites and material mentioned on today's program:
Ask Arkady a question




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