To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, November 29, 1997

Mr. Perestroika
laughs it up

GENNADI Gerasimov, whose most famous gig was spokesman for Mikhail Gorbachev, is now doing stand-up at the East-West Center as a visiting fellow. The ambassador and former journalist told a Honolulu audience this week there's a rumor that New Russians -- the recently very rich -- would buy Oahu, ''but the Japanese will never agree to sell.''

But seriously, folks, this charmer has all the tools: the twinkling eye, self-deprecating shrugs and impeccable timing. East-West Center? He should be on the Tonight Show.

Yeltsin and parliament are at such odds these days, Gerasimov deadpans, that nothing gets done. For instance, they dropped the lyrics to the old Soviet national anthem and assigned a committee of poets to write new ones -- but the poets are stuck because nobody can agree on the song's message.

Meanwhile, when the anthem is played, Russians just hum.

The big problem, Gerasimov says, is neither Gorbachev nor Yeltsin understands economics. The president of France, with 100 women, has to figure out which one is his wife; Bill Clinton, with 100 security police, has to find out which one is the KGB agent; and Yeltsin, with 100 economic advisers, has to decide which is the real economist. Ba-dump BUMP!

''I'm sure Russia will survive and prosper -- it's so big,'' he says. ''We have everything in our land, especially well-educated workers...Russia: Chinese quality labor at Filipino prices.''

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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