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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MAILBAG: Samantha Smith, Lenin And Double Standards

She was a news sensation in her day, before her untimely death. Now John Devon, of Pasadena, California, wants to hear more about Samantha Smith, the girl whose travels to the Soviet Union were widely publicized.

Samantha was a preteen American girl when she wrote a letter to General Secretary Yury Andropov, asking whether we really wanted to attack the United States. She received an answer and completely changed her mind on the issue. She told the press that she did not believe in the Soviet threat. In the Soviet Union, a ship and mountain peak were named after her, and in "Artek," a children's camp in the Crimea, a monument was erected in her honor. In short, she was made into a propaganda idol. Sadly, she died at age 13 in an airplane crash.

Kazuhiro Naito, of Hazu-Gun, Aichi, Japan, wanted to know about another figure who dominated the news during his life, the first leader of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin deleted 74 years from the life of Russia in trying to build a communist state - a society in which half the population lived below the poverty line, in which millions of people earned a monthly wage that was less than the cost of an average man's suit. Under Brezhnev, when we reached the height of our development, we held 60th place in the world in terms of living standards. Let's face it: Communism is a myth that has not succeeded in any country. It was a system in which 40 million people suffered from Stalin's repressions, actually begun during Lenin's regime.

Al Aazr of Toronto, Canada, writes that the United States used weapons such as atomic bombs against Japan, cyanide and cluster bombs in Vietnam, cluster bombs on the Iraqi and Yugoslav peoples. Yet the West cries for humanity wherever possible. Comment?

Yes, the West uses a double standard. I won't continue the above list. I will only add that, during the bombing of Yugoslavia, the Belgrade TV station was bombed to shut it down - it was not bombed by accident, as was the Chinese Embassy. As a result, many of the personnel were killed. This is just one example of double standards. What they do is legal and normal; what the blankety-blank Russians do is a violation of human rights or international law.

We are not allowed, it seems, to fight those who invade our territory in Dagestan, blow up apartment buildings, kidnap people or cut off people's heads. Separate violations of human rights on the part of Russia have taken place. But this is microscopic when compared to civilian losses in Vietnam: over 1 million, plus over 6.5 million refugees. I hope the Chechen conflict will not bring about another Cold War; this is not in the interests of either East or West.

Joe Adamov hosts an English-language program on the Voice of Russia.