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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Well-Wishers Line Up to Sign Condolence Book

MTRussians expressing their sympathy Friday in condolence books at the U.S. Embassy. The foreign minister also signed a book.
Scores of Russians including the defense minister and a former cosmonaut have flocked to the U.S. Embassy to express sympathy over the terrorist attacks and sign a book of condolence.

Flowers are being laid and candles are burning in front of the building on Novinsky Bulvar. Six condolence books have been placed at the embassy's southern gates.

"What happened there is just horrible -- I really don't have the words to talk about it," said Susanna Klochikhina, 58, a speech therapist.

"Thousands of people died. What is this? Are we living in the 21st century or some kind of dark, medieval time?" she said.

Klochikhina was just one of many who went to the embassy Friday to put condolences in writing. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stopped by Thursday evening to sign the book.

"I wrote that I grieve with Americans and with them I am dismayed by what has been done," Klochikhina said, adding that the sight of the collapsing World Trade Center buildings had been just too painful to watch. Klochikhina's eyes were wet with tears.

Red Cross Relief

The Russian Red Cross opened last week a bank account for donations to help alleviate suffering in the United States following the terrorist attacks.
The decision to open the bank account was made after the Red Cross received numerous calls from people asking how they could make donations, the Moscow office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement Friday.
Donations should be sent to the following bank account in Moscow:

"We have seen it all here in Moscow. Buildings were bombed and parliament offices were shot at," she said, referring to the 1999 Moscow explosions blamed on terrorists in which more than 200 people died and the standoff between President Boris Yeltsin and the parliament in 1993.

Another woman who also came Friday with her 10-year-old son was unable to talk as she choked back tears.

The embassy said the flow of people -- ordinary and prominent Russians, foreigners and tourists -- has not slowed down since the attacks in New York and Washington on Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, people were entering the office to sign the books every few minutes. The day before, there were lines.

"Why am I here? I am a human being," said cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, commander of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz joint American-Soviet space mission who also came Friday to offer sympathy.

"This is a time when the people of the world have been divided into humans and nonhumans -- some are struck with grief and sorrow and some are dancing, overwhelmed with joy," Leonov said.

"I am also very proud of my people. They are the same people who came to the embassy in protest in the spring of 1999 when Yugoslavia was bombed, and now they are here to share the tragedy," he added.

Olga Gorelik, a 20-year-old student, said the attacks were more than an American tragedy.

"It is not an American tragedy -- it is a drama of global scale," Gorelik said. "I also wrote that they [Americans] can and should rely on us in this difficult hour."

About 85 percent of Muscovites agreed with Gorelik in regarding the attacks as a disaster of global scale, the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center, or VTsIOm, reported Saturday.

Some 62 percent said they were ready to donate blood. Additionally, another 25 percent said they had ailments that prevented them from donating but they would if they could.

Embassy staff could not say Friday how many people had left messages in the condolence book, but the pages were filling fast.

The books will be available for another week during the embassy's working hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The books will then be sent to the U.S. State Department.