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12-25-07, 12:50 AM #1
some Russians "Alaska was a lease"
Should we all start learning Russian? A segment of the APRN show "AK" over the weekend looks at some Russians' affection for the prospect of getting Alaska back. The idea is a favorite of one-time Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose desire for the return of Alaska to the Russian fold was discussed in this New York Times story of 1993, when Zhirinovsky surprised people with a respectable showing in elections that year.
Now Zhirinovsky is indicating he may run again in 2008. The APRN story notes that some Russians interpret the 1867 deal that sold Alaska to the United States as not a sale at all but a lease. Now this group not only wants the state back but wants to be compensated for the resources that have been taken out of the state
12-25-07, 12:52 AM #2
NY Times 1993 story
THE remnants of Russian influence in Alaska, from the blue-domed churches found in Aleut native villages to the tiny dolls sold to cruise ship passengers in Sitka, are a big part of the state's modern tourist shtick.
But the 49th state is not exactly warming to the idea of taking this a step further. So it is saying no, thanks, to Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, the right-wing extremist who stunned the world with his strong showing in elections in Russia on Sunday, and who in the past has suggested that Alaska be reclaimed by his country.
"You mean, he wants to welsh on the deal?" said John Manly, press secretary to Gov. Walter Hickel of Alaska.
In what at the time was considered Seward's Folly -- after President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State, William H. Seward -- the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million. Turned out to be a pretty good deal. Even accounting for inflation, the purchase price today would barely pay the bar tab of fishermen, oil workers and miners who now extract more than $10 billion worth of natural resources from Alaska every year.
At the time of the purchase, the Russians had claimed Alaska for 126 years, and established a fur-trading network, a series of churches and a colonial capital in Sitka. As of this year, the United States has controlled Alaska for 126 years, though it has been a state only since 1959. Creative Geography
Whether Mr. Zhirinovsky is serious about restoring Alaska to what was once imperial Russia remained unclear after his press conference last week. But his party emblem offers a clue; it includes a map of the czarist empire embracing everything from Finland to Alaska.
"I don't think any of us expect to be giving up Alaska any time soon," said President Clinton when asked about it last week. On the other hand, noted Tom Bodett, an Alaska humorist and motel chain spokesman, "For that fringe element up here attempting to secede, this may be the foreign country they're looking for."
Governor Hickel, who has made a career out of playing to secessionist sentiment, was a bit cagey in his reaction to Mr. Zhirinovsky. Asked on Friday what he thought about Russia reclaiming Alaska, Governor Hickel said, "We would like to take it back first." He was referring to Alaska's 550,000 residents, many of whom feel, like him, that the Federal Government controls the state and not them. Grim and Bering It
Russia's rule was a largely brutal experience for aboriginal Alaskans.
Vitus Bering, sent by Peter the Great to explore the North Pacific, saw Alaska in 1741 and claimed it for his country. Fur hats were a fashion rage in Europe at the time, and provided the economic incentive for Russia to begin clobbering thousands of sea otters, hunting them to near-extinction.
To further the trade, the Russians essentially enslaved the native Aleut people, taking them to the distant Pribilof Islands to club and skin otters. The first Russian settlement was on Kodiak Island in 1784, a largely treeless haven for the world's biggest bears. The capital of the territory was later moved south to Sitka, where it is much warmer year-round, though it is one of the wettest spots on Earth. Russia gave up its claim largely because it had trouble convincing settlers to move to Alaska and because the fur trade had collapsed. This was before oil became the lubricant of industrial progress.
Over time, the Russian Orthodox Church established a more benign presence in Alaska, converting many natives. Perhaps the strongest legacy of Russia's imperial presence is the blue-and-white churches that dominate tiny Aleut villages in coastal Alaska. In native hamlets like English Bay, virtually everyone in town has a Russian surname.
"From the native point of view, Russia did a couple of good things in addition to all the cruelty they inflicted," said Dr. Ted Mala, an Anchorage physician whose mother was born in Russia and whose father is Eskimo. What Alaskans and Russians share, said Mr. Mala, who pioneered cold-war exchanges between the two peoples, is a northern latitude and common attitude that comes from living far from the central government. As to whether any Alaskan would like to see Russian rule return, Mr. Mala just laughed.
12-25-07, 02:23 AM #3
12-25-07, 02:39 AM #4THE five-ohVerified LEO
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Posession is 9/10's of the law, and we have Alaska. The Russians who want it back can get bent.
12-25-07, 02:53 AM #5
With over 20,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve troops from all branches of military, I bet we stand a decent chance in the even of an invasion
12-25-07, 05:13 AM #6
gotta love how Seward's Folley turned into a nice acquisition.
and you gotta love when you ask people how far apart the USA and Russia are....and they shit because it is less than 100 miles
12-25-07, 05:16 AM #7
12-25-07, 09:21 PM #8THE five-ohVerified LEO
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12-25-07, 10:13 PM #9
12-26-07, 03:18 PM #10
Dear Mr. Putin (and company)
Nice try, asshole!
Car 4I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!
12-26-07, 04:56 PM #11
It's a small world after all!
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