Catching up on old times

If you're one of those Americans who wrote a letter or sent a package to a correspondent in Russia back in 1999, there is good news and bad news today. You say you'd rather have the bad news first? OK, well – ah – it may not have arrived yet. But the national mail service, Russian Post, is working on that. Reuters reports from Moscow that the service has begun delivering 4.5 tons of mail that originated in the US all those years ago. A little late, yes, but the service says that's not its fault. What's more, it's not a certainty that the delay had anything to do with the frequently problematic relations between the Kremlin and the West. In a vigorous defense of itself, Russian Post is claiming that "the loss of mail usually happens because of ... circumstances such as natural disasters, traffic, and other accidents." Or, in this case, because the container in which the letters and parcels were shipped was languishing at a port across the border in Finland all this time. It didn't arrive in Russia until Dec. 8. So, too bad if anything in it was time-sensitive. Oh, the good news? The postal service wants senders to know that the recipients – provided they still care – should be able to read every word without a problem. "All of the mail is very well preserved," it told Reuters, "because the container was hermetically sealed."

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