MOSCOW, Russia- They had promised to gather for a demonstration behind the American Embassy in Moscow on Monday, and gather they did. Only, instead of meeting at the Gorbaty Most to protest NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, some 9,490 American expatriates living in Moscow checked into an American-run clinic.
All 9,490 reported back problems, according to a statement released by Burson Marstellar, a PR firm hired by the American expatriates.
A spokesperson from Burson Marstellar, Karen Manley, said that most Americans who checked into the American Medical Clinic Monday morning have already returned to work, and that by the end of this week, all should have recovered from their back pains, which were reportedly accompanied by a strange sensation that their spines had vanished.
Manley denied that the Americans feigned back injuries in order to avoid having to take a stand on America's involvement in the war in Yugoslavia. "There is nothing bizarre about the fact that 9,450 Americans all were struck with back pains on the same day in the same location. Across the world, probably millions felt pain in their backs on Monday," she said. "The spine is a very delicate thing."
Only ten Americans showed up for the demonstration, the first of its kind on Russian soil. "We just hope that the Americans who fell ill are okay," said John Dolan, one of the protest organizers. "It's one thing when Americans bomb and kill, but when simple Americans have back pains, then we're talking about a whole new ballgame. A war lasts for a few months, maybe a couple of years, but back pains can be a nagging problem for life.
"We probably wouldn't have held the march if we thought it would trigger something this serious."