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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Students: 'We Want to Live in Peace'

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

In response to "President Urges War Against Racism," April 24.

Thank you for printing this article in today's edition. It was a breath of fresh air. Nonetheless, I was disappointed that The Moscow Times missed the violent incident that took place on April 8 near Aviamotornaya metro station. About 50 skinheads stormed a dormitory where foreign students from the Moscow Power Engineering University live. The skinheads began beating the students and when the police arrived, they actually used electric tazer weapons on the students and began beating them as well. Not one skinhead was arrested because the police were "not able to catch" any of them. Fortunately, in this case there were more students than skinheads, which rarely happens.

The next day the students organized a demonstration near the university on Krasnakazamernaya Ulitsa carrying signs reading, "How can we live?" "We came to study," and "We want to live in peace." There were a lot of police and media on the scene, and even some embassy representatives showed up. One student told me that a reporter from The Russia Journal was there, but I haven't seen any story about it in subsequent issues. The Interior Ministry and a representative of the local police met with the university officials to discuss the problem. I was disappointed that of the three Russian- language newspapers I read the next day, none mentioned either the original attack or the demonstration.

Every single African student that I know has been beaten at least once in Moscow. These beatings occur daily. One student in his final year of study was recently beaten to death. Most people of color live in fear and the beatings continue with little attention or no public attention. The skinheads terrorize unchecked. Before the violence was mainly in the streets. Now it has entered our homes.

Thank you for printing this article on the front page and please continue to expose these terrible acts of violence.

Arthur Langford III

The Facts on Racism

In response to "One Killed in Attacks For Hitler's Birthday," April 23.

As a regular reader of your newspaper, which is widely read by foreigners, I was very eager on Monday to see what would be in The Moscow Times after the terrible weekend in celebrations of Hitler's birthday for darkskinned people in Russia and especially in Moscow.

Actually when I opened to page 3 and saw your article about the attacks, I was pleased to at least be able to get some reliable information about the incidents, about which I had heard on Russian television over the weekend.

I do not know the nationality of your writer, Simon Saradzhyan, but I am sure that an African, Asian or Caucasian would not have written the article as he did. The reason for this is very simple: We face these troubles constantly and only we fully understand their consequences.

There are some very serious contradictions and issues that I cannot understand about your article. For instance, the article makes two questionable statements about race relations in this city. First, it says that the Russian press "regularly" reports on these attacks. I am an African man who has lived in Russia for 12 years and I regularly read the Russian press and watch Russian television. But I do not feel that the press adequately reflects the difficult reality that people of color encounter in this city. Many of our troubles are invisible to the Russian community. Even diplomats representing nationals vulnerable to these crimes are very silent (even, if you like, incompetent). We often do not even report crimes against us to the police for fear of encountering further harassment.

Second, your article suggests that when skinheads attack Africans, Asians and Caucasians "serious injuries rarely occur." This is, of course, a relative term. My friends and members of my church have experienced bleeding heads, bruised bodies and broken teeth. Furthermore, they are afraid to travel around the city because they fear encountering skinheads. I believe that these are serious injuries. There have also been cases of women being molested by skinheads.

We the victims of these devilish acts will appreciate it very much if all the papers — and especially The Moscow Times — devote serious attention to disseminating factual information about these crimes in order to try to curb these malicious activities against ethnic minorities in Russia.

Dr. Paul Amara
Social Worker and Coordinator for Students and Refugees

Keep Reporting Racism

Thank you to The Moscow Times for your articles on racism in Moscow. It is really a shame that it has become such a problem in this city, which stood so bravely against the Nazis in World War II.

I urge you to continue publishing stories about such matters as they happen. When the law enforcement authorities turn their backs, victims of such crimes must rely on you for support.

My friends and I have endured many such physically and mentally traumatic experiences on our way to classes. We avoid leaving our hostels no matter how much we want or need to for fear of being beaten up. We get no help from the police. I wonder how Russians would like it if they were treated in our countries the way that we are treated here.

Please do what you can to compel the authorities to act. Thank you again.

Pinto Gabriel

Jordan's Roots

I have followed the NTV affair with great interest over the past weeks and would like to commend your superb coverage.

Part of my interest stems from the fact that I grew up in the same small Russian-American community in the town of Sea Cliff (a suburb of New York City) as Boris Jordan, who was an acquaintance. Boris actually helped me to get my first summer job when I was about 13 or 14 making candles in the basement of a Russian Orthodox church in the neighboring town of Glen Cove.

It is interesting to note that Boris' father was born and raised in Belgrade — the most pro-monarchist of all the emigr? communities in Europe following the Russian Revolution — and was active in a group of military cadets who remained loyal to the idea of a tsarist Russia. Even in the United States, the Jordan family remained active in an organization of these cadets.

What is most striking is that Boris Jordan was born and raised in the United States because his ancestors had fled revolutionary Russia for fear of being abused or executed by communist security officials. And now — decades later — Boris has returned to Russia and is currently acting (via the state-run company Gazprom) as a political stooge for President Vladimir Putin — a former KGB agent — to silence NTV.

It has surprised and saddened me that Boris chose the ethically compromised path of money and power rather than respecting the heritage of his own ancestors, who had fled Russia out of fear of people like Putin.

Alex Lupis
New York City

Read Maly's Book

In response to "Investing, Pentagon-Style," a special report by Matt Bivens, April 4.

I read your article about Matthew Maly with great interest. I worked for that Deloitte & Touche project at the time and knew Matthew Maly well. I met him often and dined with him.

His book "Understanding Russia" struck me as the best book that I have ever read about Russia — and I have a master's degree in Russian history from the University of Arizona. I still have eight copies of his book, one of which is autographed. Inside Maly wrote: "To Jim, who is leaving Russia not because he's read my book."

I saved these books because I thought that once the silly political uproar was over, they might be wanted once again. Oh well, thanks for a good article.

Jim Davis
Dallas, Texas

A Chilling Thought

In response to "FSB Jails Scientist for Selling 'Secrets'," April 19, and "It Was Almost Nuclear War," a column by Pavel Felgenhauer, April 19.

I have found your web site to be an excellent source of information on Russia ever since I discovered it last year. My friend, Oksana, who is the commercial director for Komsomolskaya Pravda in Tula, told me about your paper and about The St. Petersburg Times.

I found your story about the Russian scientist who has been accused of spying for the Chinese very interesting. It sounds a lot like the case of the American scientist who was accused of passing nuclear secrets to China. I don't think that either man intentionally betrayed his country. The American certainly was careless, but I think he ended up being the scapegoat for higher-ups who were embarrassed by their own sloppy security procedures.

I was also fascinated by Pavel Felgenhauer's recent column about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was only 9 years old when that happened, so it was only many years later that I actually understood what nearly happened. Even 10 or 20 nuclear hits on America would have immediately killed at least a million of us, and many more would have died in the following years from radiation. We would consider this an unacceptable loss of life, hardly a great victory.

I probably would have survived since my small town wasn't very close to anything that would have been a likely target for those 10 or 20 Soviet nukes. But my friend Oksana would never have been born and that thought really chills me.

John Barnhart
Bedford, Virginia

Bush the Pretender

I strongly urge the Russian government and the Russian people to refuse to negotiate or accept George W. Bush as the president of the United States. Since he was fraudulently elected, the leaders of the world should speak up and enter into no treaties or discussions with this falsely inaugurated "president."

Sean Bagley
Bloomington, Indiana

Where's the Rage?

I find it puzzling that the peoples of the Russian Federation are willing to tolerate the obvious abuses of so many of the 137 articles in their constitution by their "duly elected officials." Have the people of Russia been so traumatized by decades of repression that they are unable to distinguish truth from myth? Or, is it that self-expression and inalienable individual rights are not part of the Russian psyche? Personally, I refuse to believe that, especially in the light of the great art and literary works that came from pre-Stalinist Russia.

One need only look into his or her soul and then ask what it is beyond basic survival needs that commands attention? How sad it must be for those who no longer kindle the light that Thomas Wolfe spoke of as the "Spirit of Man."

Does not the average Russian feel rage when he sees fat-cat bureaucrats riding around in stately automobiles and living in guarded dachas? Is he not saddened that his family must scrounge for food? Is he not saddened that army conscripts must dig in cabbage fields so that he and his comrades can eat? Does he not feel rage knowing that there will be no work tomorrow unless he sells his soul to those same fat cats who willfully violate his constitutionally mandated rights?

How much more pain can he endure? Has he not suffered enough? How many more decades must he suffer? How many more generations? Yes, I am curious. Where is the rage?

Bill Shimukonas
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

Chekhov's Best Opera

In response to "Culture Is Surprisingly Pragmatic," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky, Feb. 23.

I utterly agree with Kagarlitsky when he says that our schools have to prepare "students who are ready for the market economy," but that they are not preparing students to be educated citizens.

I am a lecturer at one of Moscow's commercial universities and I encounter a general lack of knowledge in a wide range of basic subjects among my students on a daily basis. A great many of them could not even correctly name the capitals of countries such as Nepal, Iceland or even Australia.

I have been especially saddened by their poor knowledge of music. I recently asked a student what he had done over the weekend and he said, "I listened to some classical music with my girlfriend."

When I asked what they had listened to, he replied, "The opera 'The Nutcracker.'" I then asked him if anyone sang during this "opera" and he said that they did not. "Then it was probably a ballet, no?" I prompted him.

Then I asked him who the composer was. "Chekhov," he answered.

Of course, the students are not to blame for this sorry state of affairs. Our reforms have run to the extreme and created a primitive market "culture" with its own values, traditions and knowledge. The younger generation reads much less than their parents did in Soviet times, and they watch a good deal of television. Unfortunately, I think they devote too much time to soap operas and criminal thrillers.

Yevgeny Kunitsyn

Pitying the Translator

In response to "You May Be Deceived, But Pity the Translator," a column by Masha Kaminskaya, April 3.

I was born and grew up in Israel. I learned English when I came to the United States, mostly by sitting in front of the television for nearly a year in addition to taking some classes in an American school. Now I speak English with what is called "near-native" proficiency, which means that no one can tell I am not a native until they hear me speaking in another language.

Watching television and movies with subtitles is very painful for me since they tend to be so badly botched. I realize that the pay stinks and that companies often expect the movies to be translated virtually overnight.

As your columnist notes, if the translator is unfamiliar with slang and idiomatic expressions, the result is truly tragic and hilarious at the same time. I once asked someone how much they got paid for translating a full-length feature. He told me he was paid around $20. Sometimes the translators at his company were asked to do several half-hour shows per day for just $10 per show. Strangely, the transcriptionist is paid better than the translator!

Kal Palnicki
Columbus, Ohio