The notion of development and progress in the Soviet Union was symbolized by the factory with its chimneys thrust into the sky, pumping out fulsome clouds of smoke. To help analysts and policymakers evaluate the seriousness of environmental conditions around the country, a team of researchers led by Boris I. Kochurov of the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Geography defined three states of degradation: conflict, crisis, and catastrophe. The Soviet Union based its environmental protection strategy on the premise that collective ownership and central planning free of "selfish interests" would provide the "optimum solution" for protecting the environment. Many Soviet people recognized the deplorable state of their environment, but there were no channels through which to influence the leadership's policies. Environmental degradation, in the Soviet view, was an illness inextricably associated with bourgeois development and social and political conditions in the capitalist world.