Isn't it amazing how simple the solution turned out to be? My father-in-law was Greek, and I couldn't believe how silly the fight was. Imagine if we blocked Mexico's entry into international organjizations because they use the named "United States of Mexico"!
Anyway, if you can read the Greek alphabet, you're halfway to reading Cyrillic. And then the Societ bloc names are less a mystery (until you get to Georgia or Armenia)