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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Singing the Praises of Arms Treaty and Piracy

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In response to "Top Record Execs Target Local Pirates," a story by Alex Nicholson on May 16.

$17 for an original music compact disc or $3 for a pirated copy. There's really no choice here. I find it a touch ironic that it is in Russia of all places where the corporate record companies really come up against a free market, and they don't seem to be too keen.

A few years ago a British consumer watchdog researched the real cost of producing a music CD, and the general conclusion was that record companies are robbing us blind. Add to this the major companies' tendency to churn out untold hours of tediously established stars, and their avowed concern for "new music" stands revealed as the undoubted hypocrisy it is. Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle. Long live the pirates, I say, or at least until the majors begin to treat the customer with a little less disdain.

Richard Willis

Arms Treaty Symbolic

In response to "A Worthless Scrap of Paper," a column by Pavel Felgenhauer on May 16.

While I do not disagree that the new arms treaty to be signed by Presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush lacks any specific timetable or definitions, I do think that it is very significant in terms of symbolism. This is a new beginning for friendship for former foes.

Felgenhauer even goes as far as to say that "strategic nuclear weapons are increasingly seen as senseless and unusable by many Russian generals." If this is the case, why can't we appreciate the importance of this worthless piece of paper instead of dwelling on the whats and whens? I am an optimist. That is why I find it hard to understand the worry over the U.S. missile defense system. Russia has nothing to fear from the United States if it wants to live in peace.

Bob Hartzog
Pheonix, Arizona

Another New Era?

In response to "NATO, Russia Embark on a New Era," a story by The Associated Press on May 15.

How many times have we heard this tired refrain about Russia embarking on a new era. When Tsar Peter I ruled Russia, a window was opened to the West. That window was quickly besieged by German guns and soon after Peter's family was no more. When Lenin reigned, Russia was to build a socialist utopia. Instead, gulags rose and more Russians died in them than to German guns. Lenin did not last as long as the fragile Romanovs.

Now again the heart skips a beat and there is dancing in the streets as a magnificent metamorphosis is anticipated in Russia. How long will this endure? A month or perhaps even a year? Truly those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Lenard Leeds
Atlanta, Georgia

Yastrzhembsky and Sex

In response to "Russophobia Still Rampant," a comment by Sergei Yastrzhembsky on April 24.

Regarding Sergei Yastrzhembsky's despair over the conventional Western perceptions of Russia, I must say that images are often based on facts. Is it not a fact that a bill may be proposed in the State Duma amending the Criminal Code to punish sodomy with up to five years in jail?

Laws Russia implements that are reminiscent of Nazi Germany will certainly give Westerners a clear image of human rights and culture in Russia.

Ian Grieve
Toronto, Canada

Father With Binoculars

I do not know if you have seen the opening scene of David Lean's film version of "Oliver Twist," where the expectant mother jangles the bell at the workhouse gate pleading to be let in. That vision struck me as I arrived with my Russian wife at Maternity Hospital No. 11 in Bibheyevo at 10 p.m. on May 9. After gaining entry, courtesy of the security guard -- one of whom was wearing full military uniform -- we were taken to a drab, soulless room to register.

I was resigned to the fact that I would not be allowed to be present at the birth, unlike in Britain, where the father-to-be is encouraged to attend. I had plenty of money in my wallet but, surprisingly, there were no takers. I went home and returned to the hospital at 7:30 the next morning. It took about 20 minutes of asking and searching just to find out if I had become a father. Fortunately, my wife's labor had been short, and my son had been born at 4:40 a.m. Had there been a telephone call to inform me? No, I found out from a security guard.

Then the fun and games really started. I was only allowed to contact my wife by telephone or by shouting from the hospital garden to her room on the fifth floor. When I worked with the city police I was able to get into the prison easier. As for seeing the child, that was impossible until day five, and even then, I had to bribe the gate guard with a bottle of vodka and 60 Rothmans to let me in after hours so that my wife could show me my son from the window -- thank goodness I had my binoculars!

My son came home when he was 8 days old, and that was the first time I got to hold him.

I have no criticisms of the treatment that my wife and son received and would like to thank the hospital for returning to me a healthy wife and son. However, the old-fashioned, archaic system of ignoring the father's needs must be dragged screaming out of the 19th century. I have no wish to endure those particular eight days of my life again and would not wish them on any other British father. My advice is to have your child in Britain or try and find a hospital system with better PR for fathers.

Chris Weldon