August 23, 2002 - Time Magazine: Time Magazine says Russia "Cooling To the Corps"

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 4:54 pm: Edit Post

Time Magazine says Russia "Cooling To the Corps"





An op-ed piece has appeared on the Time magazine web site of the magazine's European edition about the Peace Corps visa situation in Russia. Here is our analysis of the piece.

Begin by remembering that Time magazine is a powerful media conglomerate and is considered the premier news magazine in the United States. When a story makes it to Time magazine, it has made it to the big time. You can't buy this kind of coverage.

Then analyze the logic used in the piece. It doesn't make its argument based so much on logic as on insinuations, insults, and veiled warnings that operate on an almost subconscious level.

The op-ed piece starts by discounting the charges against the Peace Corps and attributing them to a Russian cold war mentality when it says that Peace Corps' Russian counterparts "...don't have any complaints about the volunteers, but the Russian security services want them out of the country."

It continues by berating U.S. officials who "would clearly rather have this story die quietly, lest their new friend Vladimir Putin be upset, or, God forbid, angered, while they need his cooperation on Iraq and the war against terrorism."

And it finishes by warning Russia that Western media may soon begin to ask that if the Peace Corps is kicked out, "who will be targeted next. Foreign tourists? Foreign business? Foreign media?"

Clearly a very sophisticated piece of journalism, this is a shot across Putin's bow. One has the feeling after reading it, that the author doesn't care as much about the Peace Corps as he does about his own Russian agenda.

Unfortunately, this op-ed piece reinforces the conjecture that we have made from the start - that this story is not about the Peace Corps at all but about a larger disagreement between the United States and Russia in which the Peace Corps is being used to send a message.

Read and comment on the op-ed at:


Cooling To the Corps*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Cooling To the Corps

The Russian government is showing a cold shoulder to the U.S. volunteer Peace Corps

BY YURI ZARAKHOVICH

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

After a decade of educational and aid work in Russian provinces, the U.S. Peace Corps seems no longer welcome in this country. Last week, the Russian government flatly refused to extend the visas of 30 of the 64 Peace Corps volunteers who were half-way through their two-year stints. Most of these 30 young people have already left. Plans for sending a new team of volunteers to Russia have been scrapped.

The decision came as an unpleasant surprise to many a Russian community where Peace Corps volunteers have been helpful. Nina Ivanyuk, director of high school No. 55 in Ryazan, a regional center 300 km East of Moscow, told Izvestia, a Moscow-based daily: "A Volunteer teaches English from the first grade here, and our teachers are very happy that we have a native speaker to do that." But Moscow officials do not share the feelings of educational workers in Russian backwaters. Fumed Pavel Sedalev of the Education Ministry: "They [the volunteers] are absolutely not qualified. They were going around the world teaching people how to wash their hands and things like that. But in Russia, we're not a developing country. We have a certain level of culture."

Off the record, other officials whisper to their American counterparts that they don't have any complaints about the volunteers, but the Russian security services want them out of the country. The Russian media publish lists of misdemeanors, allegedly committed by the volunteers, in various Russian regions, ranging from drunken driving to espionage. No strong imagination is required to surmise where these leaks came from. Last week, two uniformed cops pointedly showed up at the Peace Corps Moscow headquarters "for inspection."

The Americans are trying to carry on as if nothing has happened. The Peace Corps would like to keep its presence in Russia. Its officials are still hoping that the current tensions can be smoothed and volunteers can keep working. U.S. officials would clearly rather have this story die quietly, lest their new friend Vladimir Putin be upset, or, God forbid, angered, while they need his cooperation on Iraq and the war against terrorism.

Indeed, while the U.S. often thunders against governments that try to mistreat Americans or trample on human rights for their own people, cricitisms of Russia are rare even in the case of Chechnya, where the Putin government has been waging an especially brutal and heavy-handed military campaign. At home, Putin ever the former KGB man has clamped down on the press and created a climate of high anxiety for anyone who might want to dissent. The latest move against the Peace Corps may be meant as a signal to Russians: "Stop hobnobbing with those American punks, if you know what's good for you. They are all spies anyway." So who will be targeted next. Foreign tourists? Foreign business? Foreign media? "Stalinism-light" is how Moscow wits mockingly nicknamed Putin's emerging system of selective repressions, designed to keep the country in fear. If Washington keeps mum when Russia cracks down on Americans, will it ever stand up for Russians?



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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Reports; Speaking Out; Peace Corps - Overseas Programs; COS - Russia

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