Russia: Old Habits Die Hard

E-mail Steve

Sept. 14,  2004 5:49 a.m.

Work now in the Moscow bureau usually finishes around 10 p.m. after we feed a package to "Special Report." [ed. note: Click the video tab to the right to watch Steve's report] The office itself, though, does not get locked up until 11 p.m., after "Sex and the City," now dubbed into Russian, which shows on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and is rarely missed by a certain Moscow-based producer. An informal survey shows Samantha to be the character most appealing to Russians, who admire her absolute honesty.

Russian TV, like Russia itself, has changed dramatically over the past 15 years. I remember I bought a small black-and-white television set for my dorm room in Moscow State University. I was bored and I figured it would help my language. I got it home, turned it on and with disbelief saw that there were just two channels. One channel was the Soviet Parliament debating. The second channel was farming, a guy on a tractor. I had a TV but there was nothing to watch. There were similar phenomenons, puzzles for an American to figure out. I had a lot of money, but there was nothing to eat. There was nothing to buy, nothing to order. You could have 10,000 roubles in your dorm room at night and be hungry.

So some things seem to be going forward, if you consider "Sex and the City" progress over the tractor channel, but some things seem to be going backwards. I never really thought it was possible to move backwards, but, just as someone can slip back into old habits, that is what might be happening in Russia, where there has been a real habit for generations of rule from the top.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks the Russian President says he will introduce legislation that will let him pick who will run for governor of Russia's regions. It is hard for an American to imagine the U.S. President saying he will pick who will run for Governor of New York. And because the changes and the constitution in Russia are so young there is a real flexibility or latitude for those in power to shape things. Most people I speak to here show no alarm about this.

"Russians," one man said, "are used to one strong leader. That's what the people want."

Hi Steve:

I have enjoyed your reporting for clarity and accuracy.  I respect you for your bravery. You're doing a fine job for FOX but more importantly for the American people.

I'm pleased to discover your blog and look forward to your continued reports from Moscow.

- Dean

Hi Steve,
Thank you for your intelligent reporting. I'm appalled that Putin is making moves toward another police state and that everyone seems complacent about it. I think that if you and Fox News would really publicize what's going on there, it could help the cause of "democracy," which we're spilling blood for in Iraq. After all, Putin was the former KGB head, wasn't he? I've never trusted him. Thank you for not letting what he is doing slip by unnoticed. Take care and stay safe.
Your fan,
Genevieve (Chicago)


One of my first daily routines is to sit at my computer and read local and then national news sites.  I have been doing this for well over a year.  About a month and a half ago, I started reading your blogs. This has become a daily thing for me, I am drawn to your writing style and most importantly, what you are saying.  I wish you the best of luck and the safest of journeys.

May the road rise up to meet your feet.

Allen (Colorado)

Mr. Harrigan,

In one of your recent blogs you mentioned Sept. 10th is your birthdate. My husband and I would like to wish you a very "Happy Birthday." We always look forward to your reports because we know we will get the TRUTH.  Thanks for telling it like it is.

Wayland and Pat (Eagle Rock, VA)

Hi Steve,
I have been watching you as you broadcast from all over the world, and have admired your courage under fire, your no-nonsense style of reporting.  It so reminds me of the fine reporters we enjoyed listening to during WWII.  You have made a name for yourself in war reporting.  Keep it up!
— Judith (Kiln, MS)

Dear Steve & All:

Thank you for being there to allow us to see what horrible things are being done.  I don't think I could do your job.

— Andrea


Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.