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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MAILBOX: On Basayev, Democracy, Racism and Doonesbury

In response to "Whose War Is Right, Russia's or Basayev's?" Nov. 2.


I found it extremely scandalous that The Moscow Times would publish an op-ed piece by Shamil Basayev at the same time the Russian army is in operation combat missions in Chechnya.

In editorials, your paper has made clear that it's against federal intervention in Chechnya, but a minimum of decency about the war would be nice.

The presentation of the comment was also unbalanced. On the one hand we have the rebel leader of the Chechen forces. On the other, speaking in favor of Russian military action, we have an obscure U.S. philosophy professor.

I am a French citizen and I support military intervention in Chechnya.

But even if I didn't support it, I think there are limits to respect during a war!

Things like this could maybe bring the Russian government to a point where it would put restrictions on liberty of the press. I would not support this, of course. But you are giving them reasons.

Pascal Bernard

Freelance Computer Security Consultant, Moscow

Too Hard on Russia

In response to "October '99 Democracy Fading Fast," Oct. 29.


Given the October-doomsday condemnation of Russian current affairs in your editorial, shall we just wad the country up and lob it into the nearest garbage can? Or shall we try to find out what's going wrong?

The horrors in Chechnya are not the product of a lack of democracy (on the contrary, Russian intervention has been given considerable public support) but of a federal center trying to reclaim territory whose control has been lost over a period of years to criminals and secessionists.

The politicization of broadcast media especially is at times laugh-out-loud obvious, and while no help to democracy, it does not augur the death of democracy unless the population takes paid-for media commentary seriously and the media take their politicization seriously. (When, on the subject of bias, was the last time a Republican got an endorsement from The Washington Post?)

As for the president, you have it exactly wrong: Russia's current president is much more a threat to democracy by being physically and/or mentally impotent than by having "enormous powers." It is Yeltsin's perpetual absence that makes him unaccountable.

The government's "backsliding" on democratic values and the presence of a corrupt ruling nomenklatura that you cite are not signs that Russian democracy is going down a sinkhole; they are, rather, the dangers constant in every democracy.

Russia's fundamental problem, and the main reason to fear for her democracy, is the population's lack of interest in throwing the bums out, and the consequently high numbers of really despicable bums who have decided to run for office this election round.

Contrary to your gloomy prognosis, Russia has not flunked the democratic test, but her exact score will be counted in the number of bums with smug grins wiped off their faces after election day.

Amy Boone

Political Science Teacher, Moscow State University

Former U.S. Diplomat

Racism Here to Stay

In response to Anna Badkhen's Oct. 23 column, "Old Mentor Raises Racism to Art Form."


At times it seems like the worlds is mad. Racism has always been one of the world's biggest problems. It just seems to be getting bigger.

However, I find one point in Anna Badkhen's column about "the general racist attitude of Russians toward Caucasian nationals" to be a distorted picture of the situation. Some Caucasians living in Russia do succeed in business, at getting education and having lots of Russian friends.

Nevertheless, everyone must think hard about racism and his or her relationship with other people, otherwise there will be no end to wars between nations.

I do agree with Anna Badkhen that racism will never disappear. For this, people would have to become smarter, more humane and kinder.

Katerina Smirnova

Student, State University of Management, Moscow

Graft Report Skewed

In response to "Cameroon Rated World's Most Corrupt Nation," Oct. 28.


I agree that corruption exists in Cameroon - as it does in any other country in the world. But if we are to look at things logically, we will see that the rating of Cameroon as the most corrupt nation cannot be right. According to the article, more than 90 of the world's nations were not included in the survey, which hardly makes things fair for Cameroon. The effect of such allegations is devastating to a country's economy. Publishing a one-sided article like the one I am referring to is detrimental. To be fair, an accounting of every country in the world must be given. This is, however, a challenge to those who rule my country.

Bop Godlove, Moscow

Life After Doonesbury

In response to Doonesbury being dropped from The Moscow Times comics section.


Say it ain't so!

Devaluation, war in Chechnya, the collapse of democracy, even Daylight Savings Time - these things I can manage.

But life without Doonesbury? Now, that is really too much.

Mary Yntema, Moscow