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March 16, 1999

Life in Rostov

Bill and Monica in the Russian Newspapers

by Julia Urakcheeva

The Clinton and Lewinsky story is well known in Russia. All central media, especially those who keep their own foreign correspondents in the USA, regarded it as their duty not to miss any new details of the affair. They frequently quoted Washington Post, New York Observer, TIME, National Post, and even some tabloid newspaper which started a rumor about a boy, "Clinton's son."

So we know much about the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal. We know about Linda Tripp and how the affair started, and how Bill denied everything but then had to admit it. We know about the blue dress. We know that TIME magazine named Clinton and Starr "Men of the Year," that Chelsea once came to blows with Starr's daughter, and that Monica's Story was published. We've learned such words as "monicagate" and "zippergate." At last, we know that Americans call the affair "the process of the century."

TV and some "quality" newspapers kept their distance. They contented themselves (and their readers) with short news stories and partial publication of Starr's report. More “folk'“ newspapers had their own positions. For instance, Moskovsky Komsomolets is always opposing everybody. They take it for granted that the reason for bombing Iraq is Monica -- they drew a parallel with the Trojan War, the reason for war being Beautiful Helen. "But we can't even compare Monica to Helen!" Moskovsky Komsomolets exclaims.

As for Lewinsky's image, one could find in the newspapers spiteful things like "And this 'beauty' made Bill fall in love?!" (next to her photo, jogging), impudent things like "Senators Also Want Monica," and warm words like "Monica looks much prettier and charming when being interviewed not by Starr's people but by Barbara Walters."

The congressmen appeared to be rather boring fellows: "Judging by the 'long faces' of the congressmen, the process of impeaching Clinton from the office is hopelessly slowing down," one of the papers noticed. And one of the most popular newspapers in Russia, KP (Komsomolskaya Pravda), started a company to support Clinton at the peak of "monicagate." By the way, Clinton seemed to take a back seat in the affair. The press rarely quoted his words but liked to publish large photos of him -- with pitiable eyes.

But it turned out that the Russians took his side. The KP readers disapproved of Monica for her great ambitions. The editors received piles of letters; some verses of the readers include "chastushki" (funny songs) and epistles to "good old man" Bill - in which they shamed Monica, chaffed Bill, and felt for his family (especially for Chelsea). The editors promised to send the pack of supporting letters to Bill Clinton care of the White House.

In December 1998 KP published their own votes on "The Most Lucky People of the Year". The 2nd place - between the "Titanic" producers and the football team of France - is taken by Lewinski. But why? "Thanks to the prosecutor Starr, the whole planet now knows about her-and-Clinton’s love affair in its intimate details." The first place in the vote for the most Unlucky People is occupied by you know who! "As the result of his exercises in the Oval Office, poor boy scarcely escaped getting fired from the White House."

To put it shortly, the journalists in Russia - as well as all over the world I guess - exploited the Bill & Monica Saga as much as possible. Many of them must feel self-pity since IT'S OVER NOW.

Editor's note: Julia Urakcheeva is a second year university student in Rostov-on-Don, Mobile's sister-city. Julia will be filing stories on life in Rostov periodically.

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