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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

11/11/1992

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Support For Business: Act, Don't Talk

Pardon us if listening to President Boris Yeltsin's speech on the floor of the London Stock Exchange on Monday made us feel a little queasy. Never has the credibility gap between Russian rhetoric for domestic consumption versus that earmarked for foreigners been more evident. During the speech Yeltsin promised a series of steps to attract Western investors, including lower taxes on profits and more opportunity to repatriate profits. While welcome words, for foreign businessmen working here the sales pitch was all too familiar. It was another foreign investor fishing expedition, carefully orchestrated to present the bait in the most savory manner. But we have a phrase for that in the West: bait and switch. Entice them in here with juicy morsels and then switch to the tepid borscht concoction that is the daily fair of government regulation for foreign businesses. As a case in point, consider the current flak over hard currency stores being required to sell for rubles.

Lost Papers, Politics Plague POW Hunt

A private organization searching for American prisoners of war in the former Soviet Union came close to announcing they had found one recently. But they had to settle instead for saying that they are investigating three-year-old reports of first-hand sightings of about 10 Americans who were brought from Vietnam to the former Soviet Union. Their report highlighted the frustration that is resulting from various physical and political obstacles surrounding the issue of U. S. POWs. Several involved in search efforts in Russia question claims by both governments that they are cooperating fully and openly. ""We're continuing to gather information"" on reports from Russian gulag inmates who said they have seen Americans brought from Vietnam to Soviet prisons, said Boris Yuzhin, associate director of Ark Project, a private POW search group, at a recent news conference. In the past several months. Ark's efforts have been impeded by threats, blackmail, lack of access to archives and documents that disappear, he said.

One Son's Search for a MIA Father in Moscow

An American who is visiting Moscow to investigate his father's fate during the Vietnam War said he has confirmed reports that his father and the sophisticated jet fighter he piloted were captured by North Vietnamese and delivered to Moscow. Bruce Brown, 34, of Highland, California, has spent the past two weeks trying to trace his father's trail from the jungles of Laos near the Gulf of Tonkin where the F-111 fighter carrying Lieutenant Colonel Robert Mack Brown disappeared during a combat mission on Nov. 7, 1972. Bruce Brown, who was 13 when the plane was downed, believes his father, a three-time-decorated combat pilot, the co-pilot and the jet were transported to Moscow and used to advance aviation and aerospace technology in the former Soviet Union in the mid-1970s. A pilot and an electrical engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Brown worked on specialized instruments in the Gemini and Mercury space programs, his son said.

Hard Currency Versus Russian Ruble: What Gives?

Economists and hard-currency vendors on Tuesday reacted with anger, confusion and forecasts of financial doom to a law enacted last week requiring all foreign organizations to accept rubles, alongside dollars and Deutsche marks. ""I don't believe it"", said Yuka Pekkonen, store manager for Stockmann food store. ""Nobody called us or came to tell us about it. We are not making any contingency plans"". The law, set forth last Tuesday in a letter from the Central Bank, was initiated by President Boris Yeltsin's decree of Oct. 27. It was a more moderate version of Yeltsin's threat last month to completely ban hard currency transactions on Russian soil. Stockmann, which was among the first hard-currency outlets to set up shop in the former Soviet Union, accepts only credit cards - a step that excludes all but the richest Russians. Of late, a flood of hard-currency stores and services have set up shop with mixed policies toward the country's currency.
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