Mark Stipanov went to school together with Russian President Vladimir Putin and consulted with him in 1990-e years, when he worked in St. Petersburg city hall. Watching the flurry of news about the possible influence of his classmate on the administration of the tramp, Stepakov worry.
Yes, Putin is a former spy, he says, but this is not the person that can jeopardize relations with the superpower. “Is Russia so stupid to interfere in the American elections?— asks Stepakov working as a realtor in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. — Again, as if the cold war began. It is dangerous”.
Russian-speaking community of Minnesota numbering about 50 thousand people reacting to the escalating tensions between Russia and the administration of the tramp in different ways: who worried, who are curious, who are skeptical.
Many believe that fears of Americans about Russia’s influence in the White house is understandable, but exaggerated. They fear that a flurry of negative articles in the press will once again incite Russophobia in America and increase anti-American sentiment in Russia.
But many of them do not trust Putin. Nor do they believe the messages of the media, since living in Russia, have been promoting an authoritarian state. So they watch TV, read the news (often from Moscow, and from Washington), and trying to understand why Russia has again become a hot topic.
“It is very painful for all”, — said the publisher of the Russian repertoire of the Minnesota newspaper “Zerkalo” Leon Grichener sitting in his office, decorated with old Soviet posters.
The issue is the split of the Russian-speaking community that most people avoid this topic, he said. “Everyone just wants peace and good relations with America.”
But one common theme emerges constantly. Many visitors from Russia do not fully understand the American legal system that puts the officials from the White house on a hot pan for certain offences that in the Kremlin are not.
Phone calls employees of the headquarters of the trump of the Russian diplomats is a small thing, although in the US they are considered illegal. Send Russian spy ship to the Eastern coast of the United States can not be called a brilliant move, but it was in international waters.
Many say that attempts to spy on and to influence the American elections it is not surprising, but it would be ridiculous to think that Russia could really affect the outcome.
So, Stepanov considers that the conversations between the headquarters of the trump and the Russian Ambassador is more like trying to “build bridges” rather than a serious crime.
Stepakov remembers Putin as a boy who “always fought”, while studying at the Leningrad school. According to him, up to the sixth grade they went to the same school and even in the same class. He still holds school pictures, one of which next to the teachers sitting in the front row, Putin.
“It’s a sign that he was a bully,” jokes Stepakov. According to him, when Putin began to exercise, his life and school level has changed dramatically.
Stepanov says that their paths crossed again in the early 1990s, when he made several trips to St. Petersburg, trying to organize commercial transactions. One of the first meetings, Putin told him that no longer works “in intelligence”. This is a sign that the former KGB officer, tried to get rid of this image.
Stepanov believes that there are other threats that require more attention. He says: “These two great countries should combine their energy to fight the common enemy… ISIS (banned organization in Russia — approx. TRANS.)”.
But skepticism about Putin’s plan remains. Some people living here speak Russian that inexperienced administration trump’s no match for Putin. Putin has 30 years of experience in Russia in senior positions, and their psychological skills and knowledge of the world he is far superior to the new President of America.
And the Russian diplomatic corps, including Ambassador to Washington, has many years of experience.
“I don’t trust Russia, and especially Putin, said Gedaly Meerovich, who created the Saint Paul center Slavic community. — They have a long-term strategic objectives. They do not hesitate to lie, manipulate people. Putin was very good training in the KGB. For Russia, it will do whatever is necessary, and rightly so — after all, he is the Russian President. And Trump need to think about the United States.”
Other Russians believe that Russia was in the middle of the battlefield, where fighting trump and his opponents.
“Someone is trying to connect two completely different things, says retired engineer gene Sandow lived in the US for 30 years. — The only thing that connects everything; it is hatred of the President.”
However, people are constantly thinking about the endless stream of negative news.
On Saturday, the Museum of Russian art opened the exhibition, which was visited by a group of officials from St. Petersburg. Museum Director Vladimir von Tsurikov primarily told the crowd that political news overshadowed the rich cultural exchanges between Russia and Minnesota.
At the Council meeting Hennepin County last week a woman from Russia has complained that filed the statement with the request to enter it in one of the Committee was rejected. “It’s probably because of my origin,” she accused the Council. And the Chairman of the Russian-American chamber of Commerce of Minnesota Anatoli Korkin said that new trade deals between the state and Russia quite a bit.
“When the two countries have tensions, companies on both sides are unlikely to want to cooperate because it is considered a business risk, said Korkin. — It’s like that to go against a strong wind.”
Professor, Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch languages Anatoly Liberman looks on and doesn’t have to worry.
“In Russian-us relations always had UPS and downs, he says. — Now just one of those downs”.