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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Best Wishes For Russia In New Year

As we at The Moscow Times pack up our files and regretfully throw away eight-year-old piles of dusty newspapers in preparation for our move, we took time to reflect on 2000 — a tumultuous and at times disappointing year for Russia — and think about what we would wish the country as it enters the new millennium.

Some of the wishes fall in the tough-love category, like hoping oil prices take a dive. The oil boon is the business story of 2000, but it’s done little for Russia but contribute to the country’s rich-get-richer tendencies and distract the powers that be from much-needed economic reforms. Diminished profits might sound like bad news, but less money might encourage better behavior: a friendlier attitude toward foreign investors, overall transparency and building a healthy business climate.

There were more practical wishes as well, like issuing new ruble denominations to bridge the rather expansive gaps between 10 rubles and 50 rubles, or 100 and 500. This lack of "in-betweenies" puts a strain on consumers and retailers alike, and undoubtedly slows transactions down to a crawl. Russia has shown almost pavonine vanity in the past when it comes to revamping its currency — let that spirit rise again, this time in a way that will truly be useful. Give the people their 25-ruble notes!

There was a wish to see Lenin buried once and for all; a wish that Bob Dylan would finally visit Russia; and a wish that Moscow would combat its chronic road-traffic paralysis by improving its public transportation systems. Still another wish would be to see Western embassies begin to treat Russian visa applicants with the common courtesy they deserve. (Perhaps Russia’s customs officials could loosen up in return.)

A heartfelt wish goes out to Moscow’s beloved Spartak, which is currently bouncing back from ignominy in the second phase of the Champions League. What better way to start the new year than by crowning Spartak this year’s European champions (specifically, it was suggested, with a 6-2 win over Manchester United, with all six goals scored in the last minute)? On a less likely note, there was hope that Spartak coach Oleg Romantsev someday smiles. Maybe if he stopped chain-smoking during the matches … .

Finally, a wish that President Vladimir Putin will use his considerable powers to make good on what he has promised, and what the country most desperately needs: a dictatorship of law. Without a working system of jurisprudence to which all citizens are equally accountable and by which all are equally protected, Russia will be lost.