[talk.politics.soviet] Dimitri Vulis's Summary of US/USSR E-mail Options

dfp10@leah.Albany.Edu (dfp10) (02/12/90)

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From:         Dimitri Vulis <DLV%CUNYVMS1.BITNET@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
Subject:      A draft of a Soviet E-mail survey: YOUR comments wanted
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To:           "Donald F. Parsons" <DFP10@ALBNYVM1.BITNET>

I was about to post the next draft of the Sov E-mail paper to rustex-l, when it
occurred to me that there are people not on rustex-l who might be interested in
seeing this and might even offer some helpful comments. So, I'm sending this
draft to a number of mailing lists as well as to some persons who I thought
might find the topic interesting. If you are not interested or get more than
one copy, I apologize: I promise not to use this address list ever again and to
limit the discussion to the RUSTEX-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU mailing list. Please
address your comments to rustex-l or to my address below. Thanks.


          New and recent E-mail possibilities for USSR communication

                               02/11/90 DRAFT 4

The following is a revision of the paper E-MAIL POSSIBILITIES FOR USSR
COMMUNICATION by Jim Conklin and Peter Halamek, dated 02/12/1988. I compiled
this paper by updating the data in C&H's paper and adding some information from
e-mail conversations and/or promotional literature.

This is a _draft_. There are likely to be errors in it. The purpose of
distributing this draft is to solicit comments, corrections, and additional
information. If you are interested in the topic, please read this draft and
check for errors and omissions; if you do not have any additional information,
but have questions after reading this document, please let me know and I will
try to have them answered in the next draft. Please do not widely distribute
this draft; it will soon be made obsolete by another such draft. My address is

Bitnet:   DLV@CUNYVMS1
UUCP: ((rutgers,gatech)!psuvax1,mcsun,unido)!cunyvms1.bitnet!dlv
(DO NOT USE *@CUNYVMS1.GC.CUNY.EDU, all mail sent to that address is lost.:)

Any and all remarks will be greatly appreciated!

Dimitri Vulis
Department of Mathematics
City University of New York Graduate Center



This document is intended to help answer the frequently posed questions of the
kind "How can I send e-mail to XXX in the USSR, preferably from Internet?".

There is an RSCS academic network and an X.25 network in the USSR. Many Soviet
academic and research institutions have asked to be connected to one of the
research networks in the West; this cannot be done because such connections
would violate the US Department of Commerce regulations (the Soviets might gain
access to supercomputers on the network).

Some Soviet institutions have "private" connections to Western research
institutions, which may involve 1) a leased line or a mux line to a location in
Europe, 2) a leased line to Europe, with Internet/BITNET/EARNET carrying the
traffic the rest of the way to the United States, 3) one of the commercial
services below. For example, there are alleged to be links between IKI and
ESOC, IKI and JPL, IHEP and LBL, etc. Such private arrangements are usually
kept secret because of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that surround the
Department of Commerce regulations. :)

Unless you and your intended correspondent is at one of these institutions, or
has enough interest and connections to arrange access to one of these links,
you have to use one of the commercial services below.


SovAm Teleport, a Soviet-American joint venture between San Francisco/Moscow
Teleport (SFMT) and VNIIPAS.

SFMT uses a satellite connection between Moscow and Staten Island for rapid
communications. E-mail is not their main service; in addition, they offer or
plan to offer online translation, database access, and videophones (video

*Access requires permission from the Soviet side, in writing, to SFMT.

[Is this still true?

Can Moscow users dial up 24 hours a day?

Is it true that KOI-7 is used to represent Cyrillic text (i.e., one cannot have
both uplow Latin and uplow Russian in a message), as is claimed?

Is this the same as the MCI/Compuserve connection thru VNIIPAS described

SFMT can provide the equipment needed on the Soviet side for access to its
system, thereby eliminating problems of getting error-correcting modems and
other equipment into the Soviet Union. For $475, SFMT will provide and install
a modem, especially adapted for the poor quality of telephone lines Soviet
Union. According to the SF office, a US Robotics 2400E or an equivalent will
also work, but not a 'regular' modem, such as Hayes 2400.

[What baud rates >2400 are supported? Is this error correction the same as MNP
level 5? What error-correcting software protocols (kermit, xmodem, ymodem) are
supported? -DV]

SFMT Director is Joel Schatz, initial contact likely to be Dianne Schatz.
Phone, in the US, is 415-931-8500.

Practically all known projects in which schoolchildren or peace activists or
scientists exchange e-mail were found to be using SFMT.


Internet: sfmtmoscow%cdp@arisia.xerox.com (Andrej Kolesnikov) or
nbotkin%cdp@arisia.xerox.com (Nancy Botkin). (=*@cdp.uucp)

(415) 931-8500 --- San Francisco/Moscow Teleport in San Francisco, USA
229-96-63 --- SovAm Teleport in Moscow

Telex: 9103804097 TELEPORT

Fax: (415) 931-2885

Surface mail:

San Francisco/Moscow Teleport
3278 Sacramento Sreet
San Francisco, CA 94115-9800


Rates for Non-Profit organizations in US:

Initial set-up fee, $100

>1.  For "Enhanced Service:" users can send and
>receive messages from colleagues in Moscow who are not yet on
>line, through the SovAm Teleport office.

"SFMT Moscow office assistance including follow-up of unasnwered messages,
stimulation of timely responses from your Soviet counterparts, technical
support and training, as well as communications access to the US from the SFMT
Moscow office when you are visiting the USSR."

>$75 / month
>.25 / minute connect time
>.20 per month per 1000 characters stored, except
>for the first 1000 characters
>20/mo for every additional username on the
>same SFMT account

>2.  Basic Service for Non-profit organizations:
>$25 per month, all other charges are the same.
>No assistance delivering messages from Moscow office.
>3.  Business rates:
>$200 per month, all other charges are the same.
>Also includes any technical assistance and training in Moscow.
[presumably, Business implies Enhanced?]

Rates for Moscow:

Initial set-up fee 30 r.
Monthly fee 10 r.
Connection charges:
25 k / minute online
45 k / 1000 characters sent

The small fee paid in roubles by the Soviet side is offset by the high fee paid
by the Western side.

Telenet is used for access to SFMT, with Telenet fees paid by SFMT and included
in the SFMT charges.

On some occasions I received response from AK within 10 minutes after sending
him mail; this indicates that messages sent via satellite can be read in
Moscow within minutes.

It is not possible to send mail from Internet to SFMT users in the USSR or vice
versa because of security considerations and difficulties in billing.

Neither this nor any other service provides local access numbers in cities
other than Moscow; one has to call long distance from other sites.



DA Systems, Inc. provides a very useful service by storing and forwarding
electronic mail among the various e-mail services, not otherwise connected (for
a fee). According to Peter Halamek, he has been able to receive mail sent from
USSR to his Internet account via DASNET. I have not been able to find out what
the arrangements are on the Soviet side (i.e., whether the user has to be a
SFMT subscriber, whether DASNET access costs extra, etc).

Rates: (subject to error):

Initial charge: $33.50 in US, $46.50 outside US (includes $20 credit
and a $7.50 directory).
$4.50/mo in US,: $5.50/mo outside
$2.75 / per message sent to the USSR
$0.22/first KB, then $0.11/each add'l KB.

According to AK, the Internet-SFMT exchange occurs only twice per day.

   DA Systems, Inc.
1503 E. Campbell Ave.
 Campbell, CA  95008
 TELEX:  910 380-3530

Remark: I have repeatedly requested more information from DAS, and was promised
it in early February.



According to the file SOVIET.COM posted on the Foreign Language Forum (FLEFO)
on Compuserve, it is possible to access Compuserve and MCI Mail from Moscow by
means of a phone call. Extensive quotations follow:

>This file, provided by a FLEFO member currently in the USSR, details how to
>sign on to CompuServe from the Soviet Union, and how to send e-mail between
>the USSR and the United States using combinations of CompuServe, Bitnet, MCI
>Mail, Internet, etc.  For those who had thought that the only e-mail
>possibility to the USSR was through the San Francisco-Moscow Teleport (SFMT),
>this file should come as a welcome (and much cheaper) alternative.
>December, 1989
>Here's the info on Bitnet, CompuServe, and MCIMail to and from the USSR:
>    VNIIPAS (Vsesojuznyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij institut prikladnyx
>avtomatizirovannyx sistem) has a direct link to MCI and CompuServe. I just got
>an e-mail message over MCI this morning from Moscow, and before I left, I
>actually signed on to CompuServe from my Leningrad suite by dialing VNIIPAS.
>You can set up an account in the Soviet Union with VNIIPAS by calling Svetlana
>Zav'jalova in Moscow at 229-1118. The office is at ul. Nezhdanova 2a. Here are
>the conditions:
>1.  The account costs 10 convertible rubles a month ($16).
>2.  Each on-line minute with VNIIPAS is 25 convertible kopeks (40c).
>3.  Each 1K sent (or received) costs 45 convertible kopecks (72c).
>    All payment must be made in convertible currency at the commercial (not
>tourist) rate, currently about 63k/$1.00, to VNIIPAS's account with
>Vnesh`ekonombank. Only cash and traveler's cheques are accepted.
>    VNIIPAS only provides the connection mode. In addition to VNIIPAS charges,
>users pay whatever other charges are involved with the host system to which
>they log on. I will shortly get a complete list of hosts to which VNIIPAS can
>connect.  [NOTE FROM SYSOP:  When this or any other additional information
>becomes available, we will add it to this file.]
>    Users in the USSR must use error correcting modems (U.S. Robotics Courier
>2400E recommended) because of dirty phone lines. Connections are even more
>difficult when made from outside Moscow. The only dial-in lines available are
>in Moscow. Users in other cities must pay long distance (in non-convertible
>roubles, e.g. from Leningrad 25k/minute (4c at the new tourist rate of
>    Since VNIIPAS charges per kilobyte of sent and RECEIVED characters, remote
>systems with sparse menus save money. [A long discussion deleted...]
>So there you have it: for two short received paragraphs on CompuServe, I was
>charged 3.4K. With time charges and per K charges for both systems, that comes
>out to nearly $3.50.  Hence, e-mail to the USSR is not cheap, by any means;
>but at least it is now available.
>It *would* be nice to get rid of the "What's New" stuff at the beginning, but
>as it is, CS's opening menu is only a 50K longer now than SFMT's opening
>routine. (SFMT forces you through a number of short single-line menus to get
>to your mailbox.
>The main points to emphasize (so it seems to me) are these:
>1.  CompuServe is available through VNIIPAS in Moscow. To get CS, you must set
>up an account in Moscow in hard currency.
>2.  U.S.-based CS users sending messages to CS users in the USSR pay only the
>normal CS access charges. CS users in the USSR pay the normal CS access
>charges PLUS VNIIPAS charges: $.72 per K sent and/or received plus $.40 per
>minute on-line, all in hard currency (cash or traveler's cheques).
>3.  The only VNIIPAS dial-up numbers are in Moscow.  1200/2400 baud are both
>okay. Noisy lines make 1200 baud more reliable and absolutely require an error
>correcting modem for users in the USSR. Connections to VNIIPAS from outside
>Moscow are spottier. From Leningrad I access VNIIPAS in Moscow with a U.S.
>Robotics Courrier 2400e modem at 2400 baud. But it usually takes me about 5-10
>attempts to (1) get through to the right number in Moscow, (2) for the modem
>to connect, and (3) for the line to be clean enough so that my modem can ARQ
>(use error correction). With the new tourist exchange rate, long distance
>4.  The San Francisco - Moscow teleport is VNIIPAS's American partner.
>However, users need NOT become SFMT customers to use CompuServe through
>VNIIPAS. (You can also get onto an MCI Mail account through VNIIPAS).
>There may even be a way to get around VNIIPAS charges, but I'll find out about
>this only in the second week of January.

It appears, however, that this connected is through SovAm and not VNIIPAS

Note that one can send mail from Internet to Compuserve by addressing it to
7nnnnn.nnn@compuserve.com and to MCI Mail by sending it to id@mcimail.com.

One can also log in to Compuserve and MCI Mail via IMMoscow (below).


Interlink Mailbox Moscow (IMMoscow)

A joint Soviet-West German venture, Interlink has a "Mailbox system" (an IBM AT
running Xenix) in Moscow (reachable from Internet as immoscow.gtc.de or
gtc8.uucp) connected to gtc.uucp (Gutacker Telecommunications Gmbh) via a
leased line. The venture plans to offer e-mail Internet access to Soviet users
who will access their system via modem; they will be expected to cover the
hard-currency expenses incurred in transporting their mail to and from
Internet. The venture plans to offer E-mail, online databases, hard copy mail,
translation, and other services.

Note: if your mailer cannot reach user@immoscow.gtc.de, try the following:
user%immoscow.gtc.de@unido (where unido is unido.bitnet or
unido.informatik.uni-dortmund.de or
unido.informatik.uni-dortmund.de@mcsun.eu.net) or unido!gtc8!user or

Modem: according to KS, a regular Hayes 1200 bps CCITT compatible works
satisfactorily in Moscow. 2400 bps access is also available; MNP is
recommended. To insure error-free transmission, one can either use XMODEM
protocol to up/download messages or use a MNP modem. Both are currently
supported on all lines.


Initially DM 500.00 (about $300)
Monthly DM 90.00 (about $54)
DM 0.90 (about $.54) / minute online
DM 0.60 (about $.18) / Kilobyte

Fax/Telex/Database access additional

Major hard currencies are accepted at current exchange rate.

The above charges are for an account on the Xenix machine in Moscow, from which
the subscriber in Moscow can send and receive mail and usenet news, just like
from any other public access Unix node. There are no charges for sending mail
to it.

Mr. Andrei Astakhov,
Director General,
USSR, 123423, Moscow, Narodnogo Opoltceniya St., 34
tel    :  ++ 7 095 946-87-11
fax    :  ++ 7 095 943-00-87
telex  :     411683 CCBMC SU
E-mail : interlink@immoscow.gtc.de

Another contact: Kirill Chashchin, SysOp, kirill@immoscow.gtc.de

The following is a copy of their ad:

>      If you're interesting in USSR E-mail connection,
>                       INTERLINK USSR
>                        can help you
>Our Joint Soviet - West-German venture located in Moscow is
>introducing new service:
>            Interlink Mailbox Moscow (IMMoscow)
>Any means of electronic communication are available for you
>from anywhere using your computer, modem and nothing more!
>From our system (active 24 hours a day 7 days a week (*))
>you can send and receive E-mail messages, telexes, send
>faxes everywhere. We can even create your PERSONAL telex
>number. All incoming telexes will go directly to your
>mailbox. We provide user-friendly interface with
>multilingual menus.
>We offer database search on your request (available now),
>hardcopy mail delivery (available March 15th), translation
>into Russian (available March 1st).
>We will make all arrangements with party you want to
>communicate in Moscow.
>If you already have E-mail account and want to avoid
>expensive online charges, we will arrange message forwarding
>to you - just ask.
>Phone Technical Support line as well as on-site service for
>our users is available in Moscow.
>Communication equipment and software available on request.
>Our charges:
>Membership            DM 500.00
>Monthly               DM  90.00
>Each Minute online    DM   0.90
>Each 2 Kbyte sent     DM   0.60
>Fax/Telex/Database access additional.
>Major credit cards accepted.
>No surcharge for credit card payments.
>Major currencies are accepted at current exchange rate.
>To open IMMoscow account you have to fill in included form
>and mail/fax it to the following adress. Please allow 14
>days for processing your papers in our office. Sorry, we
>will accept credit card payments only since March 1st, 1990.
>For more details call:
>Mr Andrei Astakhov,           : tel    :  ++ 7 095 946-87-11
>Director General,             : fax    :  ++ 7 095 943-00-87
>INTERLINK USSR                : tlx    :     411683 CCBMC SU
>USSR, 123423, Moscow,         : E-mail : interlink@gtc8.uucp
>Narodnogo Opoltceniya St., 34
>( Prices subject to change without notice )
>(*) Except weekly 3-hours maintenance break during off-peak


*Telenet's Telemail is another alternative. It CAN be accessed from the Soviet
*side, at least by privileged individuals or those working for privileged
*organizations. (Arrangements must be made from the Soviet side for Soviet
*network access to the international packet-switched networks. It appears that
*all such arrangements must be handled though the Soviet All-Union Scientific
*Research Institute of Applied Computerized Systems -- VNIIPAS.) The Soviet
*correspondent will probably have to know the 12-digit
*international packet-switched-network address for the Telemail host in order
*to receive permission and equipment to access the network and the Telemail
*host computer. Costs for an individual Telemail mailbox account are
*                $15 to initiate the account with Telenet's Telemarketing
*                        division in Reston, VA
*                $20 per month ($18/month if paid from a credit card) minimum
*                        usage fee, including ...
*                 14 per hour of business-hours sign-on time
*                  0.05 per 1,000 characters transmitted into or out of the
*                        system
*                  0.007 per day (~0.21 per month) per 1,000 characters stored,
*                        with certain storage free (e.g., first five days
*                        after a message is delivered)
*(Corporate Telemail accounts are also available.)
*The Xmodem file-transfer protocol is supported, with Ymodem and Kermit to be
*added in 1988. The MNP modem-error-correcting protocol is also supported and
*effectively eliminates the need for error-correcting file-transfer protocols
*if used (2400-baud), since the X.25 packet- switching protocol contains error
*detection/correction, leaving only the local telephone link as a source of
*line errors, which is handled by MNP.

The DNIC (data network identification code which precedes NUA) list contains
the entry:
USSR            IASNET          2502
USSR was allocated a DNIC at the Madrid CCITT Plenary (circa 1980).

If your X.25 allows you to dial out (IAS does not accept collect connections)
you can try connecting to 02502040300 to see
>               You are connected to the Communication Node of
>                Institute for Automated Systems, Moscow, USSR
>                    Moscow Time: ***
>                 Enter your ID >
>                 Enter your psw>
However there appears to be no mail protocol running on top of the X.25, except
perhaps ADONIS, which may be X.400.

>From BBL: according to EMMS, Vol.12, No. 16, 15 August 1988, IAS operates on
top of IASNET Adonis conferencing system and the Electronic Mailing System for
the benefit of about 300 university academics and scientists.

Telenet uses an international satellite channel from Western Union Worldcom to
link an IAS-Net node in Moscow with a Telenet node in New York at 9600 bps.

>The  New  York-to-Moscow  billing  rate  will  be  about $10
>an hour and $12 a kilosegment, about average for Telenet
>services abroad. The Moscow-to-New York rate will be .25
>roubles per minute  and .45 roubles per kilocharacter in Soviet
>money, slightly less than the going  rate  from  most  foreign
>locations  (10 roubles is  about  6 US dollars). However, IAS-
>Net bills for outbound usage by foreigners must be paid in
>hard currency, such as U.S. dollars.


>According to The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide,
>by John S. Quarterman, there are a couple of other networks on the other side
>of the Wall/Curtain besides Akademnet (none of which are connected to the
>West, of course. yet).
>"IASnet is a 'network for Socialist countries'. It is a star network, with the
>central host at the Institute for Automated Systems (IAS) in Moscow. There are
>X.25 connections to leading institutes of informatics in Bulgaria, Hungary,
>East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Mongolia, and Vietnam. .... IASnet
>was still being implemented in August 1988.
>"ADONIS is [a network] run by the Institute for Automated Systems (IAS) in
>Moscow and connects computer centers in the Soviet Union. It [also] was still
>being set up in August 1988. This is apparently an RSCS NJE network.

There were also rumors that ADONIS is in fact X.400 on top of X.25.


Related info on EE E-mail:

A BBS (running PC Board) operates in Tallinn, Estonia. The number is +7 014 2
422 583. Most of the callers appear to be from outside the USSR. (Note that it
is not possible to dial Tallinn without operator assistance from the US. It is
possible to dial the USSR directly from most of Western Europe.)

There exist two EE EE uucp nodes: iaccs (Institute of Cybernetics in
Bratislava, Czechoslovakia) and sztaki (Computer Research Institute of the
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA)); both are routed through tuvie (Austrian
EUNET backbone).

FidoNet has nodes in Poland. Polish coordinator is listed as:


Donald F. Parsons MD, PhD, 150 Mosher Rd, DelmarNY 12054 (518)474-7047
Wadsworth Center L.&R.,Empire State Plaza,Albany, NY 12201-0509
Bitnet:dfp10@albnyvm1 Internet:dfp10@uacsc2.albany.edu Usenet:dfp10@leah.albany.edu  Compuserve: 71777,212