Gale Warner, a writer and citizen diplomat, has just published a book drawing on her ten trips to the Soviet Union. She profiles a number of Soviets whose contribution to citizen diplomacy – and peace – may alter irrevocably your notion of what is possible in the world. The following selections are excerpted from The Invisible Threads: Independent Soviets Working for Global Awareness and Social Transformation. It is available for $13.95 from Seven Locks Press, P.O. Box 27, Cabin John, MD 20818.
"I was the first person in my region of Moscow to volunteer [into the Red Army] in several years," Orlov says mischievously. "No one knew what to do." His faked medical exemption almost prevented the whole idea, but he fought his way into the Army with the same cool single-mindedness with which he had fought to keep himself out…
His Army base needed to replace a propaganda "artist-decorator," and because he said he could draw he was given the position. One of his first assignments was to design a giant outdoor mural of four clean-cut Soviet soldiers striding valorously in formation. He dutifully executed the mural, but with a twist: he gave each of the four soldiers the face of one of the Beatles. "It was just like your Mt. Rushmore," he recalls with satisfaction. "There they were, the Fabulous Four, promising to protect our motherland." The other soldiers on the base kept the secret, and the commanding officers did not suspect the invasion.
"They took us three-and-a-half kilometers from the center of the explosion. They were hoping to show us that the [nuclear] tests are harmless," recalls Auzeov. "But when the explosion was made, the ground heaved and trembled in a terrible way. We who were born on this land, who have lived here for centuries, could hear this land crying out to us. And the people from the test site could hear nothing. I asked General Ilyenko how many suslik, one of the small animals of the steppes, probably died because of this explosion. He looked at me and could not even comprehend my question. And it is not surprising that someone who does not think about the people living on these steppes would not be able to think about suslik."
As we walk toward a friend’s apartment, [Bazanova] turns reflective. "… I believe in kindness. I believe in cleverness. I believe that kindness will have a victory over foolishness, over anger, over violence. I told you before that I am Communist in my heart because I believe in the ideal of a society of brothers and sisters. The ideal that all people will have equal rights. The ideal that all will be kind to each other. It is my ideology. I believe in this future. "