Four Soviet women have traveled to Idaho to promote peace below the diplomatic level to that of average people.
"It's important to improve relations not only on the level of our presidents and our ministers of foreign affairs, but on the level of our people," said Tamara Gasanbekova, a Moscow history professor.Gasanbekova was accompanied by Natalya Virgoush, a journalist from the Ukraine; Galina Kharina, a physician; and Ludmila Lanskaya, an English teacher from Siberia.
The four, participating in a program called "Soviets, Meet Middle America," are part of a private exchange that brings together ordinary citizens of the two superpowers.
Boise City Councilwoman Sara Baker welcomed the four visitors with a few Russian words. Baker said later she learned the Russian phrase the night before. "I said `Hello,' I think," she said.
Boise is one of 240 American cities to host Soviet citizens through the program, which is sponsored by the Center for U.S.-USSR Initiatives in San Francisco and by the Soviet Peace Committee.
Bill Crocker, a member of a Boise committee that organized the visit, said the San Francisco organization had some difficulty launching the program five years ago. "Then, Gorbachev has come in and kind of consolidated a new way of thinking," he said.