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April 13, 1999

Life in Rostov


by Julia Urakcheeva

The whole world is talking about Kosovo now - and Russia is talking about it as well. The Russian point of view on the conflict is contrary to that of USA (at least that of the official American mass-media.) judging by what we see on our TV. Till the last days it was only Belgrade suffering from NATO bombing and courageous Serbs singing songs in the streets (the Russian group "Na--na" took part in the concerts). But now in the news coverage, there is a balance of NATO aircrafts bombing Yugoslavia and the Serbian police actions towards the Albanians. Any viewer now can try to form his own opinion on what's going on.

"We mustn't let Russia get involved in the armed conflict!", the supporters of diplomatic measures said. "We must supply Yugoslavia with weapon and send volunteers there!" their opponents insist. As for politicians, the democratic reformers were the first to speak against starting military operations. They realize that war will cause the militarization of the economy. The communists and their allies have strong arguments against the democrats' pro-western orientation. Right now, Vladimir Girinovski, one of the more strange political figures in Russia, says he's ready to assemble Russian volunteers for Yugoslavia all around the country (but traditionally his declarations don't carry weight).

Generally the Russians don't want war - we don't need it at all. But sometimes sensible arguments fade in the face of "patriotic" hysteria. And the blood begins to boil: "Let's show them!" I don't know (nobody knows yet) if this is the reason, but Russia is going to send seven ships to the Mediterranean.

“We need to have a clear picture of the situation in that region to analyze it and draw conclusions", the head of the military department explains. The Ministry of Defense and the General Headquarters are getting ready to react to any NATO steps.

The Russian people have other ways to express their protest. The first victims of anti- American fever were four American professors. They worked in the State Baltic University in Saint Petersburg for three years, getting $100 a month, and they have been fired last week. The head of the University said the citizens of the aggressor state have no right to teach the Russian students. I hope this man will take his words back. The professors are waiting.

The inhabitants of the Sviato-Duhov monastery in Volgograd gathered 250 voices in support of the Serbian people and Slobodan Milosevic, and published their appeal to Clinton in the newspapers. The American Embassy in Moscow was showered with raw eggs a week ago. Several windows were broken. In Ivanovo some young people picketed The Baskin-Robbins cafe, saying its money goes to the American military industrial complex.

In Rostov, saying the same thing, Samsung Electronics quit selling appliances made in NATO member-states. Generally our city is calm and bourgeois, so there were no student demonstrations - nothing of the kind. But the results of the Rostov University sociological poll show that 100% of students don't approve of NATO and 40% say Russia should use military force. What force?! And those who are students today will become soldiers tomorrow?!

No. Really. We don't want a war. We just want freedom, democracy and justice for all.

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

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