Stock Market Crashes and Parking Headaches

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In response to "Russia Will Recover," a comment by Steven Dashevsky on Sept. 18.

Editor,
I would like to give a foreigner's perspective on the latest stock market crash. I had 12 million rubles of investment in Russia on Aug 1. Now I have none.
The author's main argument that the resilience of the Russian economy and corporate earnings will ultimately be recognized by investors is dead wrong. As long as the government remains controlled by the security services, Russian companies will continue to be discounted on their value, and they will be limited in their ability to raise money on the open market for expansion.
One vivid example of this: Mechel had to cancel its stock offering in August after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly scolded -- and threatened -- the company and its owner.
I have invested in the RTS for many years. I have also considered opening a brewery and restaurant in the country, but the lack of property rights has always stopped me.
Hopefully, the Russian people will see that they too can prosper like their neighbors. But before that can happen, the autocratic government has to be replaced by a more transparent democracy that respects property rights. Only when investors can be assured that the rubles they invest in a certain company will not be seized by the government will the stock market get past the price-to-earnings ratio of 10 and into a more attractive territory for investors.
Standard & Poor's was clear when it issued its verdict Friday on the Russian financial crisis and investment climate. It cut the outlook on Russia's credit rating to stable from positive, citing in part an "ambivalent official policy" toward shareholder property rights.
Bill Stewart
Bardo Brewing
Sydney, Australia


We Need Expensive Parking



In response to "A Half Step Toward Better City Parking," an editorial on Sept. 9.

Editor,
While I agree that something had to be done about the cowboy parking attendants, your editorial made me stop in my tracks and check if this wasn't 1985, when nobody, except a few scientists, had even heard of climate change and the horrors of auto pollution.
More free parking? What Moscow desperately needs is more expensive parking, along with more clamping and more evacuations of illegally parked vehicles.
The city also needs to institute a "filter system" that keeps certain vehicles off the streets on certain days of the week altogether as well as bicycle lanes.
You must surely be the only newspaper in the world supporting the idea that life be made easier for one of the greatest threats to our environment and climate.
Once curbside parking fees are banished, let's see how you manage to get to work each morning.
Darren Smith
Moscow


Russia as Georgia's Savior



Editor,
I never voted for former President Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev, but I completely agreed with their policy toward Georgia. As an ethnic Georgian, I am grateful to Russia because it saved my nation during the Turkish occupation in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many are familiar with the two streets near the Moscow Zoo called "Big Georgian" and "Small Georgian." Both of them were populated by Georgian's refugees from the Turkish yoke. Georgia is obliged to Russia for its very existence.
During the Turkish yoke, Georgia paid tribute to Turkey by girls and boys who serviced the harems of rich Turks. Now the Turks are the best friends of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
In the war, Russia did its best to establish justice. Criticism in the West that the Kremlin tarnished its reputation is nonsense because a strong state, like a strong man, is always respected.
Eugene Beridze
Orenburg


Good Neighbor Policy



In response to "Four Wars in One," a column by Richard Lourie on Sept. 15.

Editor,
The author writes, "Little Finland bloodied Stalin's Red Army in the Winter War of 1940-41." From the bitter war experiences, we Finns have learned how to live side by side with our huge neighbor.
We are not afraid of Russia. We are interested in developing trade, scientific, social and educational cooperation.
In addition, since Finland chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, it would be great if we could help solve the conflict in the Caucasus.
Kari Kaunismaa
Paimio, Finland


Another Double Standard



Editor,
The United States, Germany and some other Western countries severely criticized Russia for what they called its "disproportionate" response to Georgia's attack on South Ossetia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, during his recent meeting with foreign journalists and analysts at the Valdai Discussion Club, wondered whether Russia should have used slingshots against the sophisticated weapons used by the Georgian army.
Those criticizing Russia seem to have completely forgotten the really disproportionate response of the U.S. military (apparently in retaliation for Pearl Harbor) when they dropped two A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing thousands of civilians in August 1945, when the fate of Japan in World War II was, in fact, already sealed.
Georgy Meyerovsky
Moscow


That Wonderful Word



In response to "The Little Word That Means So Much," a column by Michele Berdy on Sept. 12.

Editor,
I have been in Moscow some three weeks for business, and I had been curious what my Russian colleagues mean when they say "tak" so often. It reminds me a little bit of the many uses we Americans have for the word "dude" back home.
Jessica Marron
Washington