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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Anti-U.S. Remarks

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In response to "New Foundation, Old Ideas," Sept. 28.


By taking remarks made at the conference of the Russia-USA Association out of context and misquoting some of them (e.g. Mikhail Gorbachev never said that journalists "destroyed Russia"), the author misrepresents the tenor of the meeting. Apparently, to him it sounded almost like an anti-American conclave, which it was not. Remarks critical of some U.S. policies were indeed made there, but the overall aim was to seek better understanding between the two nations. That aim, however, is not served by agreeing in a "politically correct" way with each and every policy of the U.S. administration, as the author seems to favor.

Pavel Palazchenko
Adviser to the president
The Gorbachev Foundation

EU Treatment


I used to support the European Union because of the clear benefits for its own citizens. Only recently did it strike me that the EU should also be judged by how it treats non-citizens.
When I, a Swedish citizen, went to the Spanish Embassy in Moscow in order to apply for a visa for my Russian wife, I was suddenly removed from the polite and service-minded environment I have come to expect as a citizen of Europe. Instead, I was thrown into a world of total disrespect for human dignity, 19th-century convenience and bureaucracy gone mad.
My wife’s application was turned down for the most Kafkaesque reason you can ever imagine: She already had a valid Austrian visa. Since Spain and Austria are both members of the Schengen Convention, Spain refused to issue a visa unless her Austrian visa was either used or canceled. Yes, the fact that Austria had granted her a visa was not, as you might think, a support for her Spanish application, but the opposite. Therefore, she could not attend the management course in Barcelona to which her employer had invited her. (In order to make sure that this was actually the reason, I asked the officer in charge several times and he confirmed that this was the case. My request to see the consul to appeal the decision was rejected.)
But worse than the senseless bureaucracy guiding the European Union’s visa policy and the fact that I spent five hours in a queue for nothing is the attitude toward the visa applicants, who in most of the cases are Russians. They are confined to a cramped, overcrowded room with a totally insufficient air supply, devoid of usual courtesies such as toilets or even chairs. If chicken were kept in such conditions in Spain, I am confident that the veterinary general would intervene on their behalf.
I realize that the insanity I witnessed at the Spanish Embassy is nothing new to Russians hoping to get the coveted entry document to the EU.
Christianity’s Golden Rule is obviously nothing that European Union officials need to bother themselves with. Then again, nor do I need to be a supporter of the EU any longer.

Anders Nilson

Nobel Laureates

In response to "St. Petersburg Physicist Wins Nobel Prize,," Oct. 11.


The article states that Leonid Kantorovich was the only Russian to win a Nobel Prize in economics. This is correct according to the way the Nobel Committee records such things. But it’s worth noting that Simon Kuznets and Wassily Leontief were both born in Russia, both studied in Russia and both also won a Nobel Prize in economics.
There is a common belief that modern economic theory is somehow "Western" with limited application in Russia. In fact, this theory is broad in scope and has been built on the contributions of an eclectic group of people including, for example, at least two Russians who later became American citizens.

James Roberts
Professor of finance and economics
Moscow University Touro
Count Me Out


I have been checking your newspaper each day for the last few months, as I am working on several projects in Russia. It has come to my attention that the most anti-capitalist, pro-socialist paper in Russia is yours! This is most disturbing to me as I was on the ground in Eastern Europe in the early 90s, and I know the truth about the results of the communist/socialist system.
I would expect an English-language paper like yours, with so many Westerners on its staff, to be more critical of the communists and socialists rather than the capitalists. Perhaps you are just flunkies for the same socialist U.S. and Western European papers and television stations.
As a result, I think I will seek my Russian news elsewhere.

C.F. Taber
Atlanta, Georgia

Tell It the Way It Is


I was fortunate to visit Russia in August this summer, what a wonderful experience. We took the Peterhof ship from Moscow to St. Petersburg, a trip of a lifetime for a Canadian.
My impressions were great. Why does the news media here not tell it the way it is? Your country is beautiful, full of color, fantastic architecture, wonderful people and great food.
I’m sure we only saw the good things, but you probably would only see the positives in Canada, too.

Don Taylor
London, Ontario, Canada

Non-Smoking Blues


On Sept. 7, on an Aeroflot flight to New York in business class, my wife and I found ourselves in the middle of the smoking section, surrounded by two chain smokers. Since we know that non-smokers on IATA flights have the right to a non-smoking seat, we protested to the crew chief. He said that smokers have the right to a smoking seat and that non-smokers have no specific rights. No one in non-smoking would change seats with us, so we suffered on the 10-hour trip to New York.
In the back of the plane, a few smokers were standing near the toilets, puffing away. Smoking while standing is also an IATA violation, but who’s checking IATA compliance, anyway?

Bill Pigman