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Russian generals watch Suns

May 12, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

After 30 years in the Russian armed forces, Lt. Gen. Valentin Chaika said Friday evening there's little that fazes him.

Still, one of the general's companions at Municipal Stadium said Chaika was anxious about throwing out the first pitch before the game between the Hagerstown Suns and Piedmont Boll Weevils.

Like a good strategist, Chaika asked for instruction on his pitching technique and got in a few practice throws with Toronto Blue Jays Player Development Director Jim Hoff.

Chaika and Retired Lt. Gen. Evgeniy Zelenov are in the United States for a week-long trip organized by the American Foreign Policy Council.

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The generals are members of the Russian Parliament, the Duma, and members of the Duma Defense Committee, the equivalent of the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House.

Their trip is being hosted by U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Bartlett accompanied the generals and their contingent to tour two Maryland businesses and Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., on Friday.

They toured General Dynamics, a Westminster, Md., robotics facility, and Orbital Sciences, a defense contractor in Germantown, Md., that builds satellites and satellite-based fleet management systems, said private interpreter Steve Lang.

Zelenov said they were impressed with the high-quality technology, equipment and labor at the two firms.

He said he was especially impressed with the way Fort Detrick had been converted from researching germ warfare to a facility studying cancer and viruses.

"We hope that both our countries will find more mutual understanding in solving many problems," spending less money on military operations and more on research to cure cancer and other illnesses, Zelenov said through interpreter Vyacheslav Buzhinsky.

Zelenov is a hero of the Russian Federation for evacuating five embassies, including the Russian Embassy, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1991 just before a military coup.

The generals were accompanied by Vitaly Kopnov, deputy director of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Department and Kristen Urban, a professor from Mount St. Mary's College's Department of Government and International Studies.

The group was scheduled to visit Antietam National Battlefield and Prime Outlets at Hagerstown this weekend.

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