Russians Angry Over U.S. Strikes

Muscovites had few good words for the United States on Wednesday, saying it was to blame for NATO's decision to launch imminent air strikes against Russia's traditional ally Serbia.

"The Americans have made an awful decision. Innocent people are going to suffer," street sweeper Igor Volkov said as he stood around the corner from the U.S. Embassy.

"I am going to refuse on principle to clean the streets near their embassy ... I hope we get our weapons ready and show them how it feels,"he said, picking up his broom and pointing it like a gun at the yellow embassy building.

"It's a brutal, inhumane decision. The Americans have to understand that bombs will not solve this problem, they will make it worse," Vladimir Maximov, 54, shouted at Russians lining up outside the embassy for visas.

Alexei, who declined to give his surname for fear that his visa application would be turned down, also condemned the decision to bomb "our religious brothers." Like the Russians, Serbs are predominantly Orthodox Christians.

But he said it did not change his hopes of one day becoming an American citizen, "which would give my children a better future."

But Muscovites were not so sure Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov had been right to postpone a trip to Washington that would have included talks with the International Monetary Fund and U.S. President Bill Clinton.

"Primakov had no other choice. The Serbs are our blood brothers. We would rather go hungry than let them suffer," Maximov said, adding that Russia did not need Western cash.

Others doubted the move would change NATO's mind on Kosovo. "His decision is par for the course," said Tanya Beleg, 34. "I don't know if it will do any good."

Like people on the streets, leading newspapers had different opinions on Primakov's decision.

The Kommersant business daily attacked Primakov for delaying talks with the IMF, saying the decision had lost Russia's battered economy $15 billion. The daily Vremya said he had returned to Russia "without money but with authority."