tigative reporter has tackled this matter. Ironieally, we haverngiven Russia millions to destroy the stocks of her old chemicalrnweapons.rnTruly trivial books on Russia have multiplied for years, writtenrnby journalists, professors, and ordinary visitors. The NewrnYork Times has reviewed some of those I have refused to reviewrnfor the local paper, while passing over books from countriesrnwhose armies do not generate such critical Dane-Geld.rnRussia specialist Steven Erlanger once composed a humaninterestrnstory slanted to pull the strings of American compassion.rnIt deals with a Russian Army captain, Andrei Tarada, andrnhis wife and daughter, who lived in Soviet-occupied EasternrnEurope in a three-room apartment and had their own car.rnNow back in Russia, they have only one room and no car.rnThus, the aggressors from Russia get a full measure of sympathyrnwhile the peoples whose lands they occupied get none.rnWhat Andrei Tarada and his ilk did to the citizens of the foreignrnlands they occupied remains totally beyond the area of visionrnof the American reporter. Imagine this kind of solicitationrnbestowed on Nazi soldiers returning to Germanv from occupiedrnEranee. Lithuanians once tried to present the Russians with arnbill for the damage done to their country, to the accompanimentrnof guffaws from the Russian generals, guffaws which resonatedrnin the American press. Recently, the Poles attemptedrnto persuade the Russians to exhume and bury (at Russian expense)rnsome of the 20,000 Polish officers Soviet Russians murderedrnat Katyn and elsewhere. No agreement has been reachedrnyet, under the pretext that the Russian Orthodox Church objectsrnto the exhumation of bodies! As someone said, it is easierrnto squeeze water out of a stone than to make Russians payrncen a symbolic price for the atrocities their regime committedrnagainst the conquered peoples.rnEven the most unsavory individuals profit from the massivernreduction of critical acumen that the American media displayrnwhen dealing with things Russian, because information fromrnRussia is “cleaned up” before publication. X-ladimir ZhirinoNskyrnsaid that he visited Bulgaria to consult a Bulgarian fortune-rnteller named Vanga, who, he said, “predicted a very goodrnyear” for him. “Next year is the year of the dog, so it is my year,rnjust as it is the year of Clinton. But while Russia will be on thernrise, Clinton will have to face problems in the United States,”rnZhirinovsky said. The most famous contemporary Russianrnclairovant, named Kashpirovsky, is said to have supportedrnZhirinovsky in the elections. A Russian professor of psychiatryrncharged that Kashpirovsky hypnotized TV viewers, thus increasingrnthe pro-Zhirinovsky vote. When Tatarstan protestedrnRussian attempts to reign it into the empire, Ruslan Khasbulatov,rnthen speaker of the Russian Parliament, threatened torn”take Kazan by force for the second time, and bring the Tartarrnleader to Moscow in a cage.” I searched in vain for informationrnabout such superstitions and barbarities in the New York Timesrnand in provincial newspapers. The most shocking details aboutrnthe Russian elites are simply not publicized by the courtierrnpress, so that an impression is created that “we can do businessrnwith the Russians because they are so much like us.” Interestingly,rnno such assumptions are made about the Chinese; norrncan one perceive a courtier tone in reports from China filed byrnAmerican journalists. A whiff of racism, perhaps.rnEfforts are also exerted to present Russian social habits andrncustoms as similar if not identical to those of America and tornput the most flattering spin on events in Moscow. A UPI articlernsent out on December 31, 1993, reported that “Russiansrnwere shopping like mad Eriday to beat a New Year’s Eve deadlinernfor spending their hard currencies” because, starting Januaryrn1, “retail trade in Russia will be in rubles or through creditrncards.” The article added that “the ruble is now a freelyrnconvertible currency.” I have yet to meet a Russian who knowsrnexactly the details of credit-card shopping, let alone owns arncredit card. Second, the ruble is not freely convertible. Third,rnthe measure introduced by Yeltsin takes Russia farther awayrnfrom a market economy and reinforces the black market inrnrubles and dollars that has never totally disappeared. But thernspin the author put on this was that “both Russians and Americansrnlike to shop, especially before New Year’s Eve.”rnThe ingratiating tactic of the American elites eager to complimentrnMoscow reached new heights after VladimirrnZhirinovsky’s successes and Yeltsin’s subsequent changes inrnpolic}’. Whatever President Yeltsin now proclaims is OK withrnthe American political establishment. The 1994 policy, recommendedrnby the Clinton administration and cheered byrnmost commentators, is to allow Russia to slow down the conversionrnof industry and agriculture from socialism to capitalismrn(read: disregard the unlimited credits extended by the Russianrncentral bank to the military-industrial complex). We should allowrnfor the temporary increase in inflation and concentrate onrnthe welfare of the Russian people. No one is paying attentionrnto the fact that three years after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.,rnthere is almost no private land ownership in Russia and monopoliesrnstill control much of the economy. In Strobe Talbot’srnwords, Russia has had “too much shock and too little therapy.”rnRussia is simply unable to convert at the speed envisagedrnbv Western economists, it is argued. We never hear why;rnif pressed, Russia Eirsters say that Russia is too big to adherernto theories that worked elsewhere. This reminds one ofrnNapoleon’s saying that “Russia is a country of the future, andrnalways will be.”rnIn exhortations and appeals written by Russia-worshipers,rnRussian realities are expressed in a language steeped in thernAmerican tradition, without deflecting its connotations fromrnthose applicable to a country of free citizens to those appropriaternto a country where the citizens themselves, without a foreignrnconquest, gave birth to czars and commissars. Therernseems to emerge a vocabulary pertaining to Russia that enshrinesrnfactual mistakes in generally accepted terms of discourse.rnThis fault}’ ‘ocabulary is somewhat like a sieve throughrnwhich information essential for analysis escapes unnoticed.rnFor a quick example, consider that the word “Russia” is usuallyrnapplied not only to ethnic Russia but also to Tatarstan or Tuvarnor Chechnya, where Russians are a minorit’ and where the indigenousrninhabitants clamor for independence. The misunderstandingrnis partly caused by the peculiarities of Americanrndevelopment. Aren’t New Mexico and New England equallyrnAmerican? Aren’t American Indians part of American society?rnIt would therefore seem that Moscow and, say, the Volga Riverrnare equally “Russian.” A popular Russian song calls the Volgarn”a Russian river.” But as Professor Hugh Seton-Watson saidrnin The Russian Empire: i 80J -J 9J 7, the Volga is in fact a Turkicrnriver, and the peoples who live along its shores are Turkic. If yournthink Seton-Watson is outdated, consider the recent stirringsrnin Tatarstan on the Volga, whose inhabitants, 3.7 million strong,rnare poised to assert their separateness from Russia. To designaternas “Russia” those vast spaces conquered but never acculturatedrnby the Russians, spaces teeming with emerging and energy-rnOCTOBER 1994/33rnrnrn