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A Russian album

The age-old Russian desire for contact with foreigners is as powerful now as it was in the Brezhnev era

By Sally Laird   June 2000

Last autumn I was invited to a literary conference in the town of Voronezh, about 500 km south of Moscow in the heart of Russia’s Black Earth region. My ten-year-old daughter begged me not to go. She sees the news: apartment blocks blown up, the war in Chechnya, gangsters. ”Why did you have to make Russia your special country?” she nagged me. ”Why not Sweden or Switzerland?” The question isn’t easy to answer. I started learning Russian 30 years ago, and have been visiting the country, off and on, for a quarter of a century. Now and then I manage…

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