``WHERE are some correspondents?'' asked the Moscow city councilman breathlessly on opening day. ``Are you correspondents?'' A Soviet reporter and I acknowledged warily that we were, and eight councilmen from the majority radical Democratic Russia bloc whisked us off to witness a crime - the cutting down of trees, against the will of the people. They were clearly eager to please their constituents.
At Yuzhinsky Lane, we met several bewildered workmen standing near holes that used to contain trees, two women guarding an existing tree, and Alexander Severov, the concerned citizen who had raised the ruckus.
``I spent three weeks trying to get someone to care,'' said Mr. Severov, ``and I finally decided to take this to the new City Council.''
It seems a branch of a city government ministry needed a bigger building. And the offending trees - a small stand of birch and pine - along with a rickety pink building, had to go. The workers, anxious over the sight of all those suits, were relieved to see us depart after several minutes of inconclusive dialogue.
``What did this exercise achieve?'' I asked a deputy. ``I'm not sure,'' replied 22-year-old Dmitri Yamerenko, ``but it felt good at last to be able to do something for the people.''