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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MAILBOX: Kursk Defends Its Stance on Western Investment

In response to "Iron Fist of Local Bosses," April 15 and "Reformed Rutskoi Courts U.S. Investors," April 9:


Your article concerning Governor Alexander Rutskoi's talk to the American Chamber of Commerce made for interesting reading, but contained a number of errors or misunderstandings.

While he was vice president, Governor Rutskoi was always active in seeking Western investment for Russia and promoting democratic and economic reform. Since becoming governor of the Kursk region in November 1996, he has continued this practice, since he understands that a partnership with experienced Western companies is essential for the economic growth of the region.

You state that it is said the governor forces farm bosses to lie about their production figures to make the region look good. All agricultural statistics are collected by the local branch of the State Committee for statistics, which is a federal body, not part of the local administration. No member of the administration can alter these statistics.

Governor Rutskoi makes no secret of his belief in the need for a strong hand at the helm. It is his stated opinion that, in these times of change, every effort is needed to push the region forward if it is to be successful in its transition from a command economy to a democracy with a dynamic market economy.

Dmitry Babich claims in "Iron Fist of Local Bosses" that Governor Rutskoi "dispersed all local self-government bodies," and that "he got rid of all of his critics by firing them." This is patently untrue. If the governor had attempted this course of action, the president's representative in Kursk would have been obliged to take remedial measures in accordance with the Russian Constitution.

Mr. Babich asserts that the governor "suggested resolving the housing problem in Kursk by building mansard roofs over old buildings." Again, this is a sensationalist and unfair statement. The truth is that the Kursk administration will this summer begin the construction of more than 100,000 square meters a year of new residential apartments.

He says the governor "proposed importing French cows" in favor of Russian varieties. This is absolutely correct. Kursk is an important dairy region, and Russia has been importing high-yield breeds from Western Europe for more than a century in order to increase milk production. The "Russian" cows to which Mr. Babich refers are all breeds from France and Belgium, and the "cows" to be imported from France are, in fact, bulls from the same breeds.

The opinion piece mentions that "huge sums of money have been allotted for the construction of an international airport." The Kursk Airport has already existed for over 50 years and, besides its important civilian function, the airport was one of the major military airports in the former Soviet Union. The airport already has excellent ground facilities, radar and a trained staff, which make it more than adequate for its future role as a civilian cargo airport.

The airport is owned by the federal government. Why, then, should the Kursk administration want to spend "huge sums" of its own hard-earned revenues on someone else's business?

Perhaps most disappointing of all is Mr. Babich's allegation of "widespread and long-standing wage arrears in Kursk." It is one of the success stories of Kursk that, since the first quarter of 1997, state wages and pensions have been paid in full and on time.

Valery Graboshnikov

Deputy Governor, Kursk Region

Exploitation of Women

In response to "Paying for Dreams," April 11:


Your article on the exploitation and slavery of Russian women was certainly informative, but its placement a mere couple of sections from the "Introductions" personals was ironic at best.

"Introductions" is a pleasant sounding euphemism for this service, but doesn't really change what it is, and I would be surprised if all of the women in those classifieds are willing participants of the "service" they perform.

In any case, you're profiting by and passively promoting an exploitation not unlike the one described in the article, and this doesn't land you too far from the likes of Lena and Andrei, the recruiters who so easily ignore the uglier side of the business as long they make money from it.

Perhaps an investigative piece on your own "Introductions" classifieds -- who submits them and the girls they concern -- would be equally informative. At the very least, you couldn't claim ignorance about what you print.

Nathan Stowell