An 8-year-old boy from the western Siberian city of Omsk pushing the reset button Friday on Pushkin Square.
People walking by Pushkin Square over the weekend got to try their hands at diplomacy — quite literally.
The symbolic — and misspelled — reset button that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in March resurfaced on Pushkin Square for ordinary people to press as they pondered the state of relations ahead of President Barack Obama’s three-day visit to Moscow, which starts Monday.
The red button affixed on a palm-sized yellow box was placed on a wooden table between cardboard cutouts of Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev on the square at an event organized by the state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. It attracted the curiosity of a steady stream of tourists and Moscow residents on Friday and Saturday.
EPA / Itar-TassU.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov pressing a symbolic reset button March 6 in Geneva.
A woman of about 55 said she hoped that ties would improve because the United States had done so much to help the Soviet Union during World War II.
Passersby were also invited to fill out forms expressing their wishes for relations and place them into a ballot box.
Among the first people to push the button Friday were Senators Mikhail Margelov, who chairs the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee, and hockey great Vyacheslav Fetisov. With wide smiles, they both declared that it was high time that relations improved between the two countries.
A recent poll, however, indicated that many Russians are skeptical of Obama and wary of the United States. Forty-four percent believe that relations with the United States are “cold” or “tense,” while only 28 percent said Obama would be able to improve them substantially, according to the poll last week by the independent Levada Center.
“On the eve of Barack Obama’s arrival in Moscow, many Russians are showing a surprising degree of indifference to the trip, while others say they didn’t even know the American president was coming,” Russia Today state television said in a report posted on its web site.
Igor Tabakov / MTThe red reset button on a yellow pad
On the square Friday, no one seemed to pay any attention to the misspelling on the button. The Russian word on the box reads peregruzka, or overload,” instead of perezagruzka, or “reset.”
Clinton was left red-faced when she presented the gift to Lavrov during their first talks on March 6 at a Geneva hotel.
“I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying, and that is: We want to reset our relationship, and so we will do it together,” said Clinton, giving the gift to Lavrov.
“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton joked.
“You got it wrong,” said Lavrov, smiling as the two pushed the button together.
Lavrov said he would put the button on his desk.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta spokeswoman Lilia Filonova said Sunday that the newspaper got the button on loan from the Foreign Ministry’s museum.
“We asked the Foreign Ministry to provide the button and they readily gave it to us,” she said.