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Cold War Hope And Tragedy: Samantha Smith's Soviet Sojourn

In 1982, amid the tensions of the Cold War, a 10-year-old American named Samantha Smith wrote a letter to Soviet leader Yury Andropov, asking: "Why do you want to conquer the world or at least our country?" To everyone's great surprise, she received a detailed reply from Andropov that read: "I invite you, if your parents will let you, to come to our country." Her trip in July 1983 as a "goodwill ambassador" to the U.S.S.R. was a media sensation, although some dismissed her visit as a Soviet PR stunt. She spent three days at the most popular Young Pioneers' camp called Artek, which was located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

After her trip, Samantha Smith became a fixture in the media, working as an actress and correspondent. In 1985, she published a book called A Journey To The Soviet Union, which was dedicated to children around the world. On August 25 of that year, 35 years ago, Samantha died at the age of 13 along with her father and six others in a plane crash in Auburn, Maine. The crash was ruled an accident, mainly due to bad weather and an inexperienced crew.

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Crimea Desk, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

The quality and independence of Ukraine's media as a whole are still limited, and RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the country's most popular and trusted international broadcaster. Radio Svoboda is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2019.

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