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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow on Yeltsin: 'Summit? What Summit? '

President Boris Yeltsin may have returned from his meeting with President Bill Clinton in Vancouver with promises of aid and political support, but Muscovites interviewed Monday seemed unimpressed by this weekend's summitry.


Many locals found little interest in the promised $1. 6 billion in U. S. aid Yeltsin brought back. Some were unaware that a summit had taken place at all. Local papers do not print Sunday and Monday, and most readers had to wait until Tuesday for details of the meeting.


"Summit? What summit? " said Natalya Bolderova, 67, a cleaning woman at Dinamo metro station. "I don't know anything about any summit".


"Did he really do that? " said Ivan Anokhin, 35, a member of a road crew that was laying down asphalt on a side street near Leningradsky Prospekt, after he was informed of Yeltsin's trip. "Good for him".


Anokhin did not watch the news this weekend and did not know that Yeltsin had gone to Vancouver. Even if he had watched, Anokhin would have seen very little.


Coverage was scant on local television, where everyone seemed to be preoccupied with the Yeltsin's power struggle with the Russian legislature.


In the Cold War past, a Soviet-American summit would take precedence over all domestic events. Schoolchildren, factory workers and Young Communist League meetings would have "political information" sessions to discuss the latest summit developments.


Families and friends would flock around the television to hear the nightly news reports, which often featured uncut replays of the major speeches of the day.


Today, many could not even bear to watch.


"I don't like seeing Yeltsin lately. He looks bad", said Natalya Yevseye-va, 45, a librarian. Watching the news, she said, "is like a toothache".


Few of those who knew the details of Yeltsin's trip thought the aid package he secured would do any good.


"Who cares about Yeltsin", said Tatyana Ivanova, 53, who was doing a brisk business near Belorussky station, selling fish parts wrapped in plastic bags to a small crowd pushing and shoving to get some of her remaining wares. "This is free enterprise, right here. This is what we have been fighting for".


The pro-Communist daily Sovietskaya Rossiya, in its Saturday edition, used the occasion to lash out at the idea of foreign aid:


"Every citizen of Russia, every honest person in the Union should remember that these loans, these debt extensions, mean the sale of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren to the Western and American usurers. Remember this! "


But the blase attitude of most Russians toward the summit appeared to be brought on less by such xenophobic rhetoric than by the need to pay attention to local matters.


"Yeltsin is trying to distract attention from his domestic problems", said Vitaly Shustov, 45, a businessman who was being issued a citation by a traffic policeman for an illegal right turn on Ulitsa Tverskaya. "But all the foreign aid in the world will not solve our problems".


"Nor will it pay your fine", commented the policeman, handing Shustov a ticket.