On March 8th, Henry Quinlan, owner and publisher of Omni Publishing Company, addressed the Rotary Club of Nashua regarding his many years of travel and doing business with Russia. Henry Quinlan is a retired attorney and expert the USSR. Henry has authored a number of books on Russia.  A dear friend who served as a Russian ambassador to a number or countries and organizations was a good source for many of his writings.
Russian people are very friendly but the communist leadership has placed a large burden on the people.  The recent drop in oil prices has severely affected the Russian government and their ability to fund their necessary programs to run the country.
Anyone trying to learn the  history of Russia needs to have an understanding of their losses in WW II.  800,000 Russians died in the battle of Stalingrad.  A total 20 million Russians were lost in the war.  Each year there is a parade to recognize the Russian servicemen who were lost in the war.
Russia today is quite modern, complete with traffic jams and shopping malls.  The Kremlin (means fortress) covers 113 acres and has 3 cathedrals.  All government emanates from the Kremlin.  Russia has always had a wealth disparity with very few middle class and the leadership being very wealthy and a lot of poverty for the masses.  Their public transportation via subway in Moscow is very modern.
Henry was recruited by George HW Bush to help bring over the bronze ducks for “Make way for Ducklings” statues as seen in many cities.  This happened when the book was released in Russian.  He was there 2 weeks prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  After the fall, the former head of the Army committed suicide meanwhile former President Garbochev shifted his activities to new directions.
The new Russia started with an attempted coup which failed.  Henry was in Moscow at the time when Yeltsin took over.  Putin the current leader is also an autocrat.  His summer Dacha (summer home) is larger than Buckingham Palace.  He is now effectively President for life and has immunity for life.
Wally Schirra, the US astronaut,  is another friend who Henry met and went with on  visit to a secret Russia space program site in Kirgizia close to the China border to meet with scientists and see their program.  Wally spoke with a number of cosmonauts on a later visit to Star City near Moscow where cosmonauts live.  We learned that ‘bench’ seating was the secret to the Russian extra person capacity in their space capsules to outdo the US 2 man capsule.
He also spoke of stories of other political prisoners who spent time in Siberia.  The amount of corruption in Russia is staggering.  It occurs at all levels involving tremendous amounts of money.  Bob Levinson, an FBI agent, dealing with the Russian Mafia was a friend who relayed other stories.  He was arrested by Iranians in 2007(on behalf of Russia) he is in prison to this day in Iran.
A brief Q & A followed.