Rudeness, Demographics and Putin for Duma

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In response to "Tourists Rank Moscow as Third-Rudest City," a front-page article by Alexander Osipovich and Matt Siegel on March 14.

Editor,


I agree with your story about Moscow being impolite, but I will take it one step further. Russia is very impolite.

I was there in 2003 and traveled to a number of cities, and I found that more than 95 percent of the people were very impolite: no smiling, no thank you, only take your money and go. Traveling from Moscow on a train to St. Petersburg, I found the most impolite employees in my 50-plus years of travel.

Russia is a very fascinating country, and there is so much to see and enjoy. It is too bad the rudeness that I encountered ruined my experience.

Frank Rinchich
Loris, South Carolina



Editor,

I could not disagree more with this article. I am on my sixth visit to this wonderful country. Hotel staff are very friendly and helpful.

I am just returned from western Siberia in a hotel where nobody spoke English, but it was not a problem. We were able to communicate quite well.

Ken Mathieson
Aberdeen, Scotland



Apathy Hinders Democracy

In response to "Benefits of Autocracy," a comment by Jeffrey S. Lindstrom on March 14.

Editor,


Lindstrom states that President Vladimir Putin's agenda "relies on the assumption that the people are either ignorant or apathetic." This is true. People limit their involvement in democracy to going to the voting booths once or twice a year. In this way, they feel that they are meeting civil and patriotic obligations, but building a democracy requires more participation than that.

Efrain M. Martresa
Coconut Creek, Florida



Putin Should Be in Duma

Editor,

As a matter of democratic principle, I do not like the fact that President Vladimir Putin will become prime minister under President Dmitry Medvedev.

Historical U.S. precedent is for a former president to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate. John Quincy Adams, after serving as the sixth U.S. president, was elected to a house seat from Massachusetts. In addition, after serving as president following Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Andrew Johnson was later elected to the U.S. Senate.

George L. Singleton
Hoover, Alabama



America's Sham Democracy

In response to "The Ersatz Elections," a column by Konstantin Sonin on March 4.

Editor,


Sonin shows a misunderstanding of U.S. politics when he states that the U.S. presidential election campaign is more substantive than Russia's. Our government has quite a long history of fighting wars for democracy across the globe, as well as controlling public opinion about democracy through the media at home. Western capitalist political machines are circuses. Regardless of who is elected, the living conditions of working-class people will not change.

There is one main difference between Soviet communism and U.S. democracy: Our system is more efficient because we have faith in it, not because our government is actually better able or more willing to bring change. And this is managed the same as it is under communism -- through extensive propaganda in mass media.

The truth is that our promise of "change" that we hear so much from politicians is nothing but empty posturing for the furtherance of their own interests, not the people's.

The United States is not more democratic, it's just better at appearing so.

David Harding
Arlington, Texas



Kievan Rus Is Not Russia

In response to "The 3 Vladimirs," a column by Richard Lourie on Feb. 18.

Editor,


Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus did not convert Russia to Christianity in the late 980s; he converted Kievan Rus to Christianity. The name "Russia" did not exist at that time and would not exist for centuries. Kievan Rus and Russia are two different entities.

Kiev was the center of a vast Slavic group of princedoms in the 10th century. While cities like Vladimir and Suzdal did exist at this time, Moscow, which was not founded until 1147 -- more than 150 years after Kievan Rus was converted to Christianity -- was a mere swamp during Prince Vladimir's reign, and it could not have challenged Kiev for supremacy.

Greg Miller
Toronto, Canada



The Declining Population

In response to "The Calm Before the Global Financial Storm," a column by Martin Gilman on March 12.

Editor,


Russia's declining population is slowing the economic growth of the country, and this trend will only worsen if nothing is done to correct the problem.

Already the lack of suitable employees is putting a strain on the economy. There are not enough young people in the country -- particularly, educated and experienced ones. Moreover, the armed forces cannot draft the number of recruits they need because there are not enough young people to draft.

Russia has a huge potential for growth in the industrial, agricultural and service sectors. There is a big need for small and medium-sized manufacturing plants. Most of the land that could be used for agriculture lays fallow. If Russia developed this sector properly, it could produce enough crops to become a major biofuel exporter.

Erik Wassenich
Ryazan