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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Is Not the West, the West Is Not Russia

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

In response to "$1Bln Ad Market Selling Optimism," Jan. 25

Editor,

Your misplaced optimism about the advertising market and Russia in general deserves a professional response.

You write: "For a simpler view of the economy look at … advertising. By that measure, Russia is booming, with an annual ad market above the $1 billion mark."

Russia's economy is worth over $200 billion (with OPEC's help). Advertising is therefore 0.5 percent of this. Advertising expenditures normally represent 1-2 percent of a country's gross domestic product. The Russian market should be worth $2-4 billion.

For comparison, Poland — Russia's oil-free neighbor — has an advertising market worth over $2 billion with a GDP 25 percent smaller than Russia's. Holland has an economy worth $300 billion and an advertising market worth $3 billion. Let's not even mention the United States with its $56 billion television market and its $2 million Super Bowl spots.

The real questions for you to consider are:

1. Why is Russia's advertising market worth only 0.5 percent of GDP?

2. If the television market only gets $300 million a year, how can they afford the latest programming and films?

3. If the market is so poor, how can the major players afford such expensive cars? The owner of Polsat in Poland (revenues over $400 million) drives a tatty old Jag.

You are right that "legislation plays a major role in limiting advertising growth." However, few countries allow tobacco advertising on television. It is the laws limiting all business activity, not just advertising, that prevent the growth of advertising in Russia.

But that's not so simple, is it?

Gareth Brown
Managing Director
Initiative Media
Moscow


Get Real, McFaul!

In response to "Get Real, Russia!," a comment by Michael McFaul, Jan. 18.

Editor,

McFaul seems to indicate that facts provide a weak argument when compared to good intentions, at least when it comes to setting U.S. policy in Russia. In McFaul's world, a policy of "nation-building," as he calls it, is successful as soon as it is glossed with good intentions, backed by insiders and funded by the appropriate tanker load of taxpayer monies. The last thing that a lifelong scholar wants to examine is the results of a misapplied, though otherwise perfect model. Such exercises only damage the perfect harmony of that model as it meets in the minds of our nation's elite.

If we could somehow force our policy advisers to examine diligently attained U.S. policy results, we could then simply count the money spent, count the money stolen, access the devastating results and follow logical conclusions. Relieving past policy advisers of their esteemed positions may be the very "nation-building" and "humanitarian intervention" that McFaul was after in the first place.

How can we explain the nonsensical support of continuous meddling in Russian affairs using highly tuned, highly paid and completely wrong advisers and their models of application? Good intentions, bad results, big paychecks and no accountability. Get real, Michael McFaul: Neither Russia nor the United States can afford any more of your good intentions.

Tate Ulsaker
Moscow


Acceptable Immunity?

In response to "Russian Diplomat Kills Pedestrian in Ottawa," Jan. 29.

Editor,

What is happening in my country? I am Canadian, and I expect and deserve an explanation. How is it possible that they can just say nothing will happen here in Canada? No matter what the Russian government says, this diplomat will just go off scot free.

Is it acceptable for government officials in Russia to drink and drive? What a life it must be to be a diplomat! Forgot to pay traffic tickets? Caught shoplifting? Diplomatic immunity. Kill an innocent pedestrian because you are too stupid to know you cannot drink and drive? Again, diplomatic immunity.

I would like to see our prime minister stand up for once in his life and have some backbone.

Wasn't the Russian government just over here this month begging for Canadian investment?

Larry Phillips
Toronto, Canada


Editor,

I am deeply disturbed by an incident in which a Russian diplomat has committed a very serious crime. Andrei Knyazev, due to criminal neglect and alcohol consumption, has killed one of our senior citizens.

Knyazev has not shown any remorse for this sad situation. Instead, he has with haste exercised his diplomatic right to run away. I certainly hope the Russian government will take appropriate action and not let this crime go unpunished.

The good citizens of both our nations deserve justice.

Ron Burnett
Calgary, Canada


Click here to read today's Moscow Times story.

Latynina Is Right

In response to "The Complex Battle Against Corruption," a column by Yulia Latynina, Jan. 24.

Editor,

Latynina is right when she says, "If foreigners think the arrest of two or three bribe-takers is going to put an end to corruption in Russia, they are sadly mistaken." Corruption in Russia is endemic, and foreigners should indeed stop trying to "fix" the country. Russia is not the West.

But Russians should stop whining when one of their "businessmen" decides to go for a jaunt to the United States, knowing full well that there is an international warrant out for his arrest, and then gets thrown in jail. The West is not Russia.

Dan Vexler
Moscow