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Dear FRONTLINE,

Interesting program but with too many shortcomings. The most obvious one: no mentioning whatsoever that the Chechen- Russian war was provoked by the Chechen invasion to Dagestan. It also looks to be a common practice that the only Russians to be intervied for the program
are from a very tiny liberal elite which
would make Hillary Clinton look like a
solid Republican.

While most of those interviewed are indeed very interesting, intellegent and bright people, their view is probably one-sided. Imagine if Russian TV would interview only social conservatives for their program on modern America.

Alexander Soshnikov

Dear FRONTLINE,

As always, you presented a good argument on the current political and economic instability in Russia. I believe, however, that too much blame was placed on the west and not enough on the leaders of Russia itself. Are we to believe that the the process of democratisation and capitalism in Russia was single handidly ranned by the US? That is absurd!

If Russia is in the shape it currenlty is in, it is also due to the irresponsible way that the so called oligarchs decided to loot the infrastructure and by the rampant corruption that goes on in the Kremlin. I believe you should have given more emphasis to those two points.

Luis Guevara
Silver Spring, Maryland

Dear FRONTLINE,

You create the illusion of objective, investigative journalism by a kind of brittle narration that sounds business-like and detached. Who are you protecting? You obviously know one level below where you stopped lies the real answers.

You had Strobe Talbot right there in front of your camera and never thought to ask him about what he wrote as Editor in Chief of Time Magazine in its July 20, 1992 issue.
ì[W]ars, terrorism, the drug trade, AIDS, etcóhe might have added facilitating the looting of a nationís treasury--make world government necessaryÖ. This is psychological warfare.î

And this cold-blooded man who never knew insecurity in his life advises the worldís unwashed to ìbe patientÖî [N]obody said it was going to be easy.î

After World War II, the United States gave billions without strings to rebuild European countries whose tradition of democracy was almost as tenuous as Russiaís.

Gorbachev unilaterally withdrew occupation troops from East Germany as a gesture of friendship. What was it worth to have avoided a new slaughter like World War II? It would have been a small sacrifice for the United States to pour limitless capital under the guidance of American technical specialists in putting poorly run businesses on their feet. Then multinationals would have fought each other to pay their long-term growth value.

...Gorbachev knew that a reed must be shaped ever so gently if it is not to break. What would have been so terrible about a generation of Scandinavian-style socialism? It would have prevented the internal plunder your program overemphasized to more insightful reasons for the present economic and social hell in Russia. It would have transformed Russiaís social, legal and economic system in an evolutionary fashion rather than like a coup. You rightly noted the Russian people had enough of revolution. You canít seriously believe that Strobe Talbot doesnít know that.

How do our leaders like Bush,Sr., Talbot, and Clinton keep themselves from getting bored? How did they repay Gorbachev for beating his swords into plowshares? In order to attract the votes of Americans of Eastern European origin, they pushed NATO troops right up against the Russian border. What we should have done now that our national interests are no longer threatened in Europe was withdraw from NATO and encourage our European allies to invite Russia to join the European Common Market.

John Updike has Rabbit Angstrom say, ìIf thereís no Cold War, whatís the point of being an American?


Andrew Carlan
Farmingdale, New York

Dear FRONTLINE,

The Clinton administration is the one which should have been given shock therapy.

Capitalism has its use, but since it is undemocratic it is stupid to support it over democracy in the vain hope that democracy will somehow come out of it.

Gene Wine
miami, fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

Great show - but way too much was crammed into an hour program. I would really appreciate if you were to have several follow up programs to delve further into all the topics you brought up.

Having been to Moscow twice in the past three months, I must say that I found the people there wonderful. I also left there feeling that the United States, for all the "Tear down this wall" puffery, walked away from the Russians once they did exactly what we asked.


Ralph Gismondi
Bayport, New York

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks for bringing up the truth in such a courageous way. We expect more bold documentaries like these to state the truth. Only the truth can set us free.
A documentary dedicated to real deal on CHECHNYAN issue will be much appreciated. Also about the role the imf and the world bank plays in "reforming" third world countries.

Rudro Chowdhuury
san antonio, tx 78256

Dear FRONTLINE,

This and the recent global warming show prompts me to say what has long been on my mind: Frontline and Nova may be the only mass television which consistently delivers on Ed Murrow's promise or hope: "This instrument can teach."

In the Russia show you covered a lot of territory, some of it too superficially.
Thieves and con artists exist in any society. My for me your message was Yeltsin turned the state over to them. But what about America's role? Your view on that was muddled. Was there something we could or should have done to prevent this? How did the "shock therapy" cause this to happen? haste? a flawed plan? Was there a viable alternative we didn't explore perhaps because of the operation was in the hands of free market ideologues?

Yes, capitalism has them, too.

But thanks for great work.

Mark Braly
Davis, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

We have been working on the development of a so-called democratic system for over two hundred years, and the result is nothing of which to be proud.

After the mess we have made of our attempt, it might be logical to expect that it will take the Russians a little while to figure out how to do it. Let's all pray that they do a better job than we have done. Let the market force prevail.

Dave Bootes
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

A great shame that our Constitution places the formation of foreign policy in the hands of one person, the president, without the continuity of a strong party and party cabinet as in the British parliamentary system.

President Clinton was warned by many students of Russia, including Stephen Cohen, not to rest U.S. policy on the fortunes of Yeltsin. Strobe Talbot knew that U.S. funds were being deposited in Swiss banks but kept this a secret from the U.S. taxpayers in order to avoid admission that our policies were a failure.

Problem is that we do not realize the harm our leaders do to us for decades ahead, because the media think foreign affairs bore us. Could it be that the media simply do not themselves understand the significance of our leaders' ineptness?

Alvin D. Hofer

Dear FRONTLINE,

They wanted democracy and we gave them capitalism. No surprise there, we have always muddled these two at our convenience and we all know it.

The real surprise for many Americans will be to learn, as we did from your show, that we gave them capitalism as we imagined it to be not as we actually practice it, for we do have some regulations after all and it failed! Our own dear ideal of unregulated free-enterpise proved untenable on a grand scale. So now it turns out that the decline of Russia is due not only to the failure of Stalinism but also to the failure of our deepest understanding of capitalism itself, an understanding which we courageously promote throughout the world!

Donald Morse

Dear FRONTLINE,

I understand that intent of the producers was to highlight the shortcomings of US policy toward Russia in the post-Soviet period, I fear the program may have exaggerated the extent to which US policy has influenced developments there.

As a result, the impact of Russia's history was shortchanged. I'm not speaking here of cliches about the Russians' seemingly inborn need for a "strong man," but of its more recent history of rule by a hopelessly corrupt and corrupting communist regime.

Any plan for reform was doomed as long as the better part of the old nomenklatura remained in power, especially at the regional level. How do you think all of those factory managers so eager to plunder their employees and shops became "managers" in the first place?

Even with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn't presume to say what we should have done. But I would argue that it would be naive to assume that a reform plan calling for greater state control over the economy considering who controlled the state would necessarily resulted in a less corrupt, more democratic Russia today.

Paul Heineman
Arlington, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am currently corresponding with a russian woman and am appalled at the conditions with which the common person has to put up with. to go to work every day and not get paid for example is ridiculous.... why we as a government continue to spend our money when it doesn't benefit the people and only makes the oligarchs richer is wrong.

The Russian people are not going to become a democracy until they take power from the bosses and work for themselves. I thought it was strange when we elected an actor president and then a former cia man president but at least we had a long tradition of representation of the people with our congress and checks and balances to keep them in check.

The russians have no equivalent system and may soon revert to a dictatorship. Until they work out a form of represenative government we should not help people like Putin stay in power like we did Yeltsin. They are no threat to us, the recent approval of an arms limitation treaty by the russians shows they have neither the skills nor the money to keep up their nuclear weapons and are aware of the fact we are way ahead of them. we are treating them like a colony, let them work out their own problems.

leslie d'amico
liverpool, ny

Dear FRONTLINE,

Although your show demonstrates quite clearly that there is no lack of culprits or culpability when it comes to the tragic evolution of events in Russia, I think a key lesson for American viewers has to be the ideological bankruptcy of the free-market policy elite of this country that continues to insisit despite a staggering, decade long toll of human suffering from Brazil to Thailand to Russia, that unfettered free-market capitalism is the mother's milk of democracy. Far from it.

Stephen Pizzzella
San Francisco, Ca.

Dear FRONTLINE,

We seemed to do everything wrong and nothing right.

Firstly, we tried to create a democracy and economy which was modeled upon western principles. The Russian democracy will have a democracy with different nuances than an American democracy. And, perhaps due to thier cultural past, they will have a stronger execultive branch. I have no problem with this as long as that government serves the people. However this is no the case in Russia.
Secondly, we seemed to ignore any advice we could have given them about our own mistakes in the past. The U.S. had its own problem with runaway capitalism in the late 1800's, which took up to the New Deal to comepletely reform.

The Russian economy needed more state control over its industry. Instead we allowed wealth to be centralized through our constant ignorance of Russian affairs.
Maybe, however, the problem is greater than that.

Maybe the creation of an oligarchy in Russia may reflect the U.S. in a way. After all, is money so removed from politics in America? Maybe the problem is that we tried to model Russian democracy using the framework of American oligarchy.

Carusoe Park
Downey, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I find most of the comments I read starting with M. C. Rogers, through to 5 or 6 responses later to speak many of thoughts I felt while watching this program.

It is however especially sad, as many said, that such opportunity for real reform and a hearing of the Russian People's Voice was left to "chance" while oligarical forceswhereever they came from...? were allowed such unlimited access to selfish Russian leadership tacticsAmer.implication-"more to the story". And as could also said of the Clinton's admin. shortsightedness, by focusing on the economy rather than that knowingness of the people's will, just may be the "...greater negative in the Clinton legacy than that of the impeachment." as shared by J.Kimball of N.Y., N.Y.

On a more positive note, I would wish that these remarksshared in the notes of these writers might make it to the Clinton Whitehouse NOWwhile he is in "lame-duck" statusso his remaining energies might be offered onThe Russian PEOPLES BEHALF by doing something in a positive light before he leaves office.

Hopefully the Legacy that would remain, would be one where the real fruit of a "Democracy of the founding fathers," could be passed on to the Russian People in it's purer form,"A government by the people for the people,,," than currently exits now.

R R
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Interesting program. However, it is very disappointing that the producers only scratch the surface on the evolution of the Russian State since the wall came down. Although the point was made, it is unfortuate that FRONT LINE did not communicate just how pervasive corruption was and continues in today's Russia. Organized Crime thrives with the continued blessing or rather support the Russian Government. There will be no significant change until there is a separation of Russian Government leaders and Organized Crime bosses. After ten years of an unchecked partnership, it's hard to see what can or will facilitate this separation.

United States foreign policy seems to have turned a blind eye this sad state of affairs.

M. C. Rogers
Spring, TX

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