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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom, the Military, Metro and Chechnya

In response to "Time to Fix a National Embarassment," a comment by William Browder on June 24.

We do not normally comment on issues concerning our clients. However, given the remarks made by William Browder about our audit of Gazprom, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

Browder is well known to us. He is waging an aggressive campaign for a seat on Gazprom's board of directors.

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Browder implies that PwC performed bad audits of Gazprom's financial statements. Not only do we wholeheartedly reject these allegations, but point out that in making them Browder perpetuates a fundamental misunderstanding of our role as auditors. We report on the reliability of the financial statements produced by our clients. We have done that at Gazprom and stand behind our work. Browder has never proved that any financial statement issued by Gazprom on which we have reported is not fairly stated.

Browder states that his fund recently filed lawsuits alleging our audits are false and misleading, but he fails to mention that the Russian courts dismissed these lawsuits.

He also claims that Gazprom "mysteriously chose to rehire PwC." In fact, PwC was selected by the Gazprom board after a competitive open tender involving all major international and Russian audit firms.

We do not object to Browder voicing his opinion on Russia's business environment. We do object to his inaccurate and misleading statements about PwC.

Richard Buski
Country Senior Partner

Meager Military Budget

In response to "Bill Is a Potemkin Reform," a column by Pavel Felgenhauer on June 27.

I was very surprised to learn that Russia's defense budget as of today is only $10 billion per year. I have found many interesting facts about different countries around the world, including Russia, from a web site maintained by the CIA.

This web site, however, did not have information available on the amount of money that Russia spends on its military.

Being from the United States, where military service is an individual choice and in 1999, $277 billion was spent on the armed forces, it is easy to see why Russia is having such a problem with its military personnel. The pay for new recruits must be nothing or next to nothing, and I am sure that even for men who decide to stick with the military for more than the required term of service, the pay cannot be very much.

I know that the Russian economy in its present state will not support the level of spending that the U.S. economy does. This is why the first order of business for the government is to get the economy going. Easier said than done, but once it is done everything else will fall into place.

Robert Hartzog
Phoenix, Arizona

Comparative Study

In response to "Leaving Metro Rudeness Behind," a column by Andrew McChesney on June 27.

I wonder whether Andrew McChesney has been on the London Underground recently. If not, I suggest he do so.

Compared to London, Moscow's metro is like paradise: The ventilation works, trains run every two minutes, etc., etc.

Anna Storey

Keep Trying

In response to "The Case of Colonel Budanov," a column by Yulia Latynina on June 5.

I have to say that I did not expect such a bluntly antagonistic stance from Yulia Latynina, who usually writes such intelligent and sensible analysis.

Although I agree with certain aspects of her criticism concerning the farcical conduct of Colonel Yury Budanov's case, I must say that I was shocked to read sentences such as "The Chechens are our enemies," or statements concerning the "right" of both Russians and Chechens to hate each other.

Most of all, I was appalled by the assertion that crimes against Chechens should not be prosecuted in the same way as crimes committed against other Russian citizens.

Does this mean every crime committed by the Russian army in Chechnya is justified because the two countries are at war? She cannot possibly mean this.

I would really like to understand why Latynina holds so much resentment against Chechens. She writes that because she is a Russian woman, she has the same feelings toward Chechens that a Chechen woman might have toward Russians. I assume that the feeling she refers to is hatred.

I do not think it is the case that all Chechen women hate Russians. In fact, I know quite a few who do not. I am a volunteer at Tyoply Dom (Warm Home), a small nongovernmental organization in Moscow working with Chechen refugee families.

We hold a group meeting on Sundays with Chechen and Russian women alike, trying to somehow go beyond the animosities that exist on both sides.

How is there ever going to be even the slightest chance for peace if the two nations just content themselves with hating each other?

Maybe women, in particular, can make an effort to lay the groundwork for an eventual reconciliation, although prospects for this certainly seem meager in the near future. However, what are the alternatives to trying?

Eva Schissler
Berlin and Moscow