Memories about Gennady Evstafiev

February 19, 2016

Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Army General, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, member of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and the PIR Center Executive Board, and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (1996 — 2000):

“The wide range of his personal qualities and professional skills evoked a great variety of at times contradictory responses and opinions. There was consistent agreement among these opinions that Gennady Mikhailovich possessed what is now commonly known as ‘charisma’ — whether as a friend or boss, as a recruiter or sophisticated diplomat and negotiator, as a fountain of humor and sarcasm or deeply serious analyst of international affairs, defending his point of view with impeccable logic. Without aiming for an authentic translation, I personally interpret this word or concept, foreign as it is to the Russian language, as a kind of attractive and even provocative charm… The manly essence of Gennady Mikhailovich invariably manifested in what the Russian language calls ‘character’. This particular character could not be associated with something sweet, for at its core lay a blend of unbending will and integrity.” 

Vladimir Orlov, Founder and Director of the PIR Center:

“What struck me about Gennady Mikhailovich — and what continued to amaze and delight me throughout the two decades that we were acquainted — was his passion for and experience with all topics that we discussed. He never displayed bureaucratic indifference or boredom. On the contrary, his demeanor was that of a passionate professional who would delve into the depths of nonproliferation issues with all his being, not once treating it as ‘just a duty’. He always cared.

It is just as important to understand that his involvement was not emotional in nature, but rather based on knowledge. ‘Knowledge is power,’ Gennady Mikhailovich told me, giving me his typical smirk, ‘and we happen to have that knowledge.”

Roland Timerbaev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and member of the PIR Center Advisory Board:

“Gennady Mikhailovich Evstafiev dedicated his life to serving his country and strengthening international security. I am grateful to have been fortunate enough to work side by side with this remarkable man for many years.

Gennady Evstafiev was one of the patriarchs of nuclear nonproliferation. No matter what office he held, Gennady Mikhailovich made considerable contributions to strengthen the nonproliferation and disarmament regime. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Special Assistant to the UN Secretary-General (that is when we became acquainted). Evstafiev played a key role in preparing the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service’s public reports “A New Challenge After the Cold War: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” (1993) and “The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Problems of Extension” (1995). To this day, the publication of these reports remains an example of special services’ analytic work and ability to engage the public in dialogue. He was also an active participant in the historical 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.

After his retirement from public service, he continued to study questions of arms control while working with the PIR Center. For Gennady Mikhailovich, strengthening the nonproliferation and disarmament regime was a matter of in-depth analysis with the goal of finding optimal, balanced solutions. Gennady Evstafiev will always be remembered by his friends and associates.”

Albert Zulkharneev, Director of the PIR Center:

“It is difficult to think of a more valuable experience for a young expert than to meet a man like Gennady Evstafiev at the beginning of his professional career. I am extremely grateful to have been granted this opportunity together with my colleagues at the PIR Center. Everyone has their own special memories — of books that Gennady Mikhailovich recommended, of issues to which he drew attention, or of one of the stories he would tell about his work in Pakistan, his meeting with Honecker or an American billionaire who was curious to find out how much it would cost to buy a Russian nuclear weapon. What was most important were his lessons on reasoning and professionalism, which were an example of deep and encompassing analysis.

Do I have any regrets? Of course — I regret that I did not have enough time to ask questions and that I was not ready for discussions. Gennady Mikhailovich missed almost no defence of interns and prepared for such brainstorming sessions no less attentively than he did for meetings with renowned scientists and politicians. Larisa Vasilevna, Gennady Mikhailovich’s wife, gave us a wooden tray — Gennady Mikhailovich asked us to gather us around it in his home and discuss urgent global issues. We are storing the tray, and we will try to preserve this beloved tradition.

In recent years we have often asked ourselves if expert centers are truly needed and what purpose they should serve. Whenever I am in doubt, I recall this quote from the article “Disarmament returns”: “Carl von Clausewitz once wrote that ‘the greatest mistake people make is fearing the troubles of today more than those of tomorrow.’ This means but one thing: we must learn to anticipate the consequences of the emergence of dangerous new military technologies and classes of weapons through timely political and legal measures. Otherwise we are once again faced with a long and exhausting arms race and severe crises and confrontations.”

Those engaged in analyses of international problems are faced today with complex professional and even ethical challenges. It is not for me to decide how this obstacle will be overcome and by whom, but we have reliable guidelines.”