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What Raisa Reaped

December 08, 1991

I have a problem with the review of "I Hope."

As one who was born, educated and lived most of my adult life in the Russian Republic of the former Soviet Union (I am spending a year in the United States doing research on democratic institutions), I have never heard anyone refer to Raisa Gorbachev as "First Lady" anywhere else in the world other than in the United States. Because such status does not exist for the wife of a Soviet leader, this must be a strictly American invention, packaged by Western media, in an attempt to convince the American public that a parallel exists between the two superpowers--which, of course, it does not.

The title given to this review, "Moscow's First First Lady," is bemusing. Can a city claim a "First Lady"?

I was under the impression that this term is applicable only to the wife of the President of the United States, which is a country. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was never a country and Mrs. Gorbachev has always referred to it as "our region" or "our side" in Russian. Maybe this is the error of the book's translator.

ALEXANDRA NIKOLAYEV-ANDERS, CARMEL

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