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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Embarrassed for U.S.


I noticed long ago the difference in tone between Yugoslavia-related articles published in The Moscow Times and, say, CNN coverage. But no other piece has reassured me as much as the well-balanced article by managing editor Matt Bivens ("Americans Safe, For Some Reason, in Moscow," April 28). At last, someone looks at the core of the problem with a self-critical eye! Dear colleague, I understand your bitter words, even if sometimes you are too tough on your fellow Americans.

I am glad, though, that you share the embarrassment I feel for America f which, as you justly point out, seems to think it can teach the world how to solve problems. Russia has been grappling with the same delusion throughout almost the entire 20th century f trying to bring the world to happiness (communism) with an iron hand. You know how it all turned out f with the fall of the Soviet Union and the current unjustified virtual political isolation of our country, which is now surrounded by NATO (as you justly point out, it's hard to fathom "why we even need a NATO?").

I am afraid America is entering the third millennium with the same false agenda Russia had at the beginning of this century.

I know how you must feel, because I felt the same when we would read in the newspaper Pravda the hypocritical Politburo's interpretation of the war in Afghanistan f "the introduction of a limited contingent of Soviet troops at the request of Afghanistan government."

Every country has made mistakes like the one America is making by killing civilians in Yugoslavia. The point is to not waste time in admitting these mistakes, and to try to set them right. In this respect, your article is just such a step in the right direction.

Anyway, I want Americans to feel safe in Moscow f just as I want Russians and Americans to keep maintaining good relations f both as a human being and as someone whose magazine's future may partially depend on these relations. I would like to thank you for your sober and frank piece on Americans in Moscow.

Mikhail Ivanov

Executive Editor

Russian Life magazine

Haven for Americans


Speaking of the safety in Moscow of Americans (and also Brits, Germans and so on due to the Yugoslav crisis): You rightly point out ("Americans Safe, For Some Reason, in Moscow," April 28) that Russians are good at separating the actions of individuals from those of governments. Even Russian taxi drivers and women who sweep the streets appear more sophisticated about politics than most of people back home.

Think what would happen to visiting Russians if they were to drive a Lada or Volga on U.S. streets while their government was dropping bombs on, say, Puerto Rico. And, by the way, have you noticed that many Russian police still drive American-made automobiles? (If this were the Middle East, it would be open season against Fords, Chevies and Chryslers.)

In my first assignment here, under the communists, Moscow was perhaps the safest place for Americans f safer by far than back home. An American I met who traveled often to Eastern Europe to do business always took his mother to Moscow f where he stopped first f and left her here alone. In Moscow she could enjoy concerts and museums and buy the odd souvenir, and her son did not have to worry about her back in Chicago, which was less safe.

I once asked Arthur Hartman, when he was U.S. Ambassador here, if he walked alone on the main streets of Moscow. His reply: "Yes. I go shopping on Kalinin Prospect without an escort. But my counterpart, [Soviet] Ambassador Dobrynin, would not dare go outside his embassy in Washington to shop anytime, even with a bodyguard."

Albert Axell


Tell Russians Why


It's fun reading articles like Helen Womack's ("NATO Raids Ruin Western PR in Russia," April 10), and it's obvious to me that The Moscow Times loves printing such articles f instead of articles truly depicting what is going on in the Balkans now.

"I hate the Americans. America is the embodiment of evil. Today, they are bombing the Serbs. Tomorrow it could be us," Womack quotes her friend Pavel as saying. "Pavel may be wrong," she continues f and in this context, what she means is that Pavel may be right.

I bet my bottom dollar Womack never even tried to explain to this guy Pavel, who doesn't know any better, the Western point of view on the evils going on in Yugoslavia.

It seems to me that people like Helen Womack and people like you at The Moscow Times are not interested in educating the Russian people, or showing them the truth by printing excerpts from Western media. Instead, you are feeding the Russians your own version of events from an anti-American and anti-Western point of view.

Womack talks of the "outrage" Russians feel over Western military action in Yugoslavia. To me, this is a heroic, though unfortunately not quite successful effort to save democracy in Europe and human lives in fascist Serbia.

Womack writes: "Nobody here is defending Milosevic. It's just that Russians are appalled at the chaos the West has unwittingly unleased."

Well, this is just wrong from beginning to end. Russians do defend Milosevic. The majority of ethnic Russians have been duped into believing Milosevic is a good guy.

But it was not the West who unleashed this chaos. It was not the West that has been responsible for the killing and the rape. I wonder which side Womack would be on if she happened to be an Albanian girl who had been raped, tortured, mutilated, humiliated, abused, thrown out of her own country. Wouldn't she desperately want somebody, anybody, to help her?

Eduard Russo