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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AIDS Testing for Foreigners Is Not the Solution

Editor: Falling in love in the Hermitage can be quite dangerous. Two boys from Finland had a romantic love affair in St. Petersburg with two Russian girls. They had a great time together. Unfortunately these girls gave them not only butterflies, but also diphtheria. The guys discovered that they were infected when they returned home. This love story was published in the medical magazine "The Lancet." Last week you reported that the State Duma passed the first reading of a bill on AIDS. It requires foreigners coming to Russia to work or study to take mandatory HIV tests. This required AIDS test for foreigners is absolutely ridiculous. It won't stop AIDS. We think there are much better ways to prevent Russians against AIDS. First, start giving a solid sex education. Tell your people exactly when, where and how they get the disease. Nationalist deputy Alexander Nevzorov should be the first to take these lessons. It's really ignorant, and embarrassing, that a member of the Duma thinks AIDS is a lesbian and gay disease. Everybody can get AIDS. Secondly, start making and selling more and better quality condoms. Make sure everybody can buy them easily and everywhere. Using condoms is the only way to make love without getting AIDS. And take care of the hygiene in hospitals. It should improve. The Medical Center in Holland advised us, before we went to Moscow, to take our own hypodermic needles, because here they can be infected. As long as you can't be 100 percent sure that needles are disinfected, a HIV test in Russia can be deadly. Bella Denisenko, head of the Duma's healthcare committee, which drafted the bill, said mandatory testing was "a matter of state security." Denisenko should first think of all the other primitive diseases like diphtheria, which still exist here. They're a matter of state security as well. Helene Pronk, Barbeliin Bertram, Moscow Economy Still Growing Editor: Jo Durden-Smith's "Food for Financial Thought," piece in Tuesday's paper was, to continue with the culinary theme, "thin soup" indeed. Liberally spiced with irony (one of my favorite Russian spices), but thin soup nevertheless. I was a political science major myself, but I believe Durden-Smith should probably avoid using microeconomic observations about pricey restaurants to generalize about the macroeconomics of Russia's developing market economy. Yes, the marketplace for high-end restaurants is here, and for the most part it is ridiculously overpriced and shoddy. But as for crying "foul," why bother. It is still early yet, and those restaurants that offer a relatively bad bargain will either go under or improve. Besides, there are restaurants that don't charge "horrific" prices even if they are not a particularly great value. I believe Durden-Smith is right, however, in noting generally that the marketplace in Western-style goods and services is skewed by certain "foreigners" whose money comes from expense accounts and not from their own pockets. But my sense is that foreigners on large expense accounts are in the minority. The rest of us foreigners are not on expense accounts. It is also worth noting that a good portion of that high price is due not to Westerners on expense accounts but instead to purely home-grown protection rackets and widespread government corruption. In any event, most Muscovites continue to shop in Russian stores that are absolutely devoid of foreigners on expense accounts and fairly well stocked. When the price is right, these same Muscovites may even go to an electronics store and buy the 50-centimeter Sony television they've been eyeing. The marketplace is coming to Russia and it will bring to the Russian economy both greater freedom and greater inequality. Westerners on expense accounts "delay" its coming only for those of us who insist on living a Western lifestyle right now, before there is a mass market for such a lifestyle. Incidentally, although I've never been to Peoria, I'll bet I could find a great little restaurant there with checkered tablecloths, decent coffee, and maybe even a palatable house wine. I have no idea what kind of food I might have to endure on a bad night out in, say, Manchester, England. Sean Walgren, MoscowA Taste of Soccer Glory Despite another hostage drama and the end of the privatization voucher, the most exciting news this week was Russia's 6-1 win over Cameroon in the World Cup after discouraging losses to Brazil and Sweden. Little known reserve striker Oleg Salenko came off the bench to score a competition-record five goals. Even though the team failed to advance to the second round, the entire country shared their moment in the sun. Komsomolskaya Pravda even changed its masthead to read, "What is the voucher? It's dead! Watch soccer!" Oleg Salenko could not betray the hopes of our readers, and he took the leader's mantel on himself. He made a fantastic, unbelievable leap from the reserve bench, where he sat the entire game against Brazil, to being the greatest striker in the world! A new star has appeared on Russia's horizon. Imagine what a celebration the Brazilians would have for such a striker! Well, maybe we are also capable of putting together a triumphal celebration in honor of our heroes ... Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 30, 1994 A Variety of Restaurants Editor: With amusement, we read Jo Durden-Smith's column Tuesday concerning, among other subjects, the pricing, service and food of Moscow's restaurants. While we do not pretend to speak for Moscow's restaurant community, we take great exception to your arbitrarily classifying all Moscow's restaurants as "overblown, gussied up clunkers," and stating that the check you received for dinner is representative of all restaurants in Moscow. A comparable statement would be classifying all those who write newspaper columns, Pulitzer-prize winning, local contributors, and those who write for tabloids, as writers. As foreigners living in Moscow for some time, we have had the opportunity to operate our own restaurants, as well as to patronize most others. While we agree that some are overpriced, and the service is not always in line with the pricing as in any city in the world, Moscow holds many anomalies. Our own, TrenMos Bistro, is one exception offering good value that immediately comes to mind. The pricing that many establishments have adopted is not always due to the greed of the owners or management. Unfortunately, the local market does not produce in quantity, nor on a consistent basis, quality products for volume purchase. Therefore, in most instances, it is necessary to import the majority of products. Customs duties, ridiculously arbitrary application of duties, the hassle and cost of transporting products, the exceptionally high taxes that most of us pay, and daily increases in operating costs as a result of some bureaucrat's most recent brainstorm represent a good chunk of those menu prices. The small cafes that you refer to exist in small number in Moscow today, the majority Russian-operated. The numbers will increase when the Russian government sees fit to work with the local and foreign business/restaurant community in lowering or abolishing the above referenced obstacles. In closing, please realize that restaurants are quite as varied as writers. Some are exceptional, others leave much to be desired. For both, the paying customer will decide who survives. By the way, Peoria, Illinois, while not quite a metropolis, is a quaint and peaceful city, not unlike some of those we visited in England. Ray Marini, Jeff Zeiger, TrenMos