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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thanks for Keeping Me Off Your Front Page

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I would like your help in thanking a real-life angel and her husband at this time of celebration and good will.

I have lived in Moscow for close to two years now, and many times I have been tempted to write to The Moscow Times about my experiences as a foreigner (British) living in Russia, but I have always been too busy. This time, though, I had to write.

One Tuesday evening at the end of December, I was found unconscious with a head injury, lying in the snow and ice with the temperature about minus 7 degrees Celsius.

The angel who found me collected up my glasses, watch and mobile telephone. She found my employer’s identification card and called them to report my condition, as she could not move me herself. She then used her mobile phone to call her husband, who quickly arrived in his car.

Together, they put me in their care and waited with me until medical help arrived. They later called my company again to make sure that I was OK.

When my employer asked them how he could thank them for their humanity and kindness, the answer was simply, "We did not do it for a reward."

I am writing for two reasons. First, such actions should not go unnoticed and I hope that this story will be an example to others, including myself and my family.

Second, I often pass through the area where I was found. I would hate to run into this wonderful couple and not recognize them. I wouldn’t want them to think that I am not profoundly grateful. If not for them, I may have ended up on your front page instead of on the letters page.

David Coster

A Better Concrete


I was disappointed by your October Business Review devoted to construction because it did not touch on a fundamental construction issue about which I have questions.

Given that prestressed-precast reinforced concrete is one of the leading methods for construction of high-rise and low-rise buildings in the United States and most of the rest of the world (the other being steel and glass), why has this technique been ignored in Moscow?

The advantages of prestressed-precast technology — developed to its current advanced level over the past 40 years in Finland and the United States — are known to many engineers in Russia, but the technique is not employed. Why?

The fundamental difference between prestressed-precast technology and the old reinforcing rod and pour-in-place construction is that now prefabricated parts are made at plants up to 200 miles away with specifically stressed cable reinforcing the plank. The planks are extruded and cut to measure and the columns are precast at the manufacturing plant. They are then trucked to the building site and assembled by just two men and a crane directly from the trucks.

Russian firms continue to produce short, heavy planks with reinforcing rods and a maximum span of 6 meters, when prestressed-precast technology would enable them to produce a lighter plank up to 19 meters between beams. This would open up endless possibilities for architects.

In addition to much longer spans between beams and thus larger rooms with fewer columns and weight-bearing walls, the advantages of prestressed-precast technology include faster construction, quicker occupancy, better fire resistance, lower insurance costs and more varied architecture.

If architects and engineers are aware of these advantages — and many are — what is preventing implementation in Russia? Is lack of reliable materials and labor a factor? Western builders think so. But if a space station lasting 15 years on the first try can be built here, one might expect a concrete plank can be produced as well.

Are there financing problems? A complete fabricating line for plank can be built for $1 million to $2 million. The Finnish company Partak has tried to develop plants in St. Petersburg and other cities. American Henry Nagy, the inventor of Spancrete, was welcomed with open arms in 1994, but financing was the major problem then. He has sold machines that produce prestressed plank profitably in hundreds of plants around the world.

Typically, a production line for Spancrete is built in a town near a significant construction project. It is then used to produce plank for other buildings within a 320-kilometer radius after the first project is finished.

Is construction in Moscow being left behind unnecessarily? Is the Potemkin village mentality (nice facades on shabby buildings) the way of the future as well as of the past?

Albert Bryan

Good Riddance

In response to "The Day The Music Died In Moscow," an editorial on Dec. 21.


The Gorbushka market is (was?) not the only place to buy cheap CDs and lousy movies. As you must be aware, CDs, videos and audiotapes are sold in every underpass and around nearly every metro station in the city. If you buy from a kiosk, you get a receipt and, if the quality is bad, you have a chance to go back and get a refund. Just try this at Gorbushka!

Moreover, most of the stalls at Gorbushka are probably controlled by just a few guys who manage hundreds of them. Can you really call it "employment" to sit at one of those stalls all day waiting for the cops and worse to come around for their daily shakedown? I had a friend who did this for a while, but he couldn’t stand it for long.

Instead of writing against the closing of the markets, you and the rest of the press should pressure City Hall to ease up on legislation and corruption that make it impossible for small shop owners to do legal business here. The markets only exist because there is no other way to conduct business in Moscow. At least with stores and kiosks, we can be sure that taxes are being paid.

I say "good riddance" to Gorbushka.

Benedikt Morak