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Life in Russia today?

At the Cold War Museum, in Fairfax, Virginia, Edmund Pope spoke about his book Torpedoed. An American Businessman's True Story Imprisoned in Russia and the Efforts to Set him Free. Pope, a former Navy officer, went into business with Russia (clearly a bad decision) and was arrested as a spy. He was sentenced to 20 in jail, but ended up serving 253 days. He spent the time in Lefortovo Prison, the same one where Gary Powers had been held. The son of this U2 pilot attended the talk, and Pope gave him some souvenirs of Russia. Pope's experience was harrowing for him and his wife, but he enjoyed telling the story in retrospect. Things have improved; he does not trust Putin, but we must get along with Russia. He noted the difference between the old prison guards, a hangover from the Soviet regime, and the younger ones who were capable of joking. He said the old KGB people hated Yeltsin because he split it into three. I wonder then how Putin fits into this picture. Pope's story is an interesting one. Officially, Russia has been transformed from an evil empire into a friend of the US, but official statements give us little idea of what is going on. I am wondering when Cameron Sawyer went to Moscow and if he knew Pope. Personally, Putin makes an excellent impression on me, so in this at least I toe the official government line.

Ronald Hilton - 5/26/02