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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

On Russian Pilots and Moscow's High Prices

In response to "Never Rush to Jump to Conclusions," an editorial on July 4.

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

I am glad that at least one media outlet is examining the situation objectively.

Whenever I hear of an aviation incident involving a Russian civil aircraft, I wait for the inevitable barrage of accusations directed toward whatever facet of Russian aviation happened to be involved. Sure enough, I was not disappointed in this instance. Even among the very first reports, when actual details regarding the two aircraft were yet unconfirmed, accusations of incompetence were being leveled against the Russian pilots.

This bias against Russian aviation has been perpetrated in the Western media for long enough and is becoming tiresome. I have worked in the civil aviation industry for most of my working life, and most of those I have come in contact with are of the opinion that Russian pilots are among the most skilled and most highly experienced to be found anywhere. The majority have received extensive hands-on training in the military, rather than learning to fly in a classroom at a Western flight school. I, for one, would not hesitate for a moment to fly on an aircraft with a Russian pilot as I would, beyond a shadow of a doubt, feel that I was in safe hands.

It is time that the media put an end to its criticism of the flight crew involved in this incident. Allow the pilots the dignity of resting in peace and the families the ability to grieve without the memory of their loved ones being tainted by unfounded accusations. These individuals assuredly performed their job with the utmost professionalism.

David Bregani
Richmond, British Columbia

What the U.S. Thinks

In response to "The Cold War Still Lives on Capitol Hill," a comment by Nikolas K. Gvosdev on July 9.

I think Nikolas K. Gvosdev is making a good point -- the progress of Russian reforms can't guarantee an automatic upgrade of Russia's political and economic status with the United States.

Living in the United States, I can say that I can count only a few U.S. senators who are genuinely interested in Russian reforms. Why should the United States bother? What leverage does Russia have except some chicken legs?

There is an absence of any visible pro-Russian lobby in Washington. No one is spending millions of dollars promoting Russian interests.

Igor Biryukov
Boston, Massachusetts

Russia will never be able to complete its change until all the old members of the Communist Party apparatus are gone. America is no different. Until both the presidency and Congress are occupied by people from a generation to which the Soviet Union was not the arch-enemy, America will never embrace Russia as it should. What a damn shame.

Rick Pettit
Rutland, Vermont

High Cost of Living

In response to "By Western Standards, Moscow Costs a Lot," a story by Alla Startseva on July 10 and "Report Only Reinforces the Rip Off," an editorial on July 11.

Thank you for printing that joke of a report about the cost of living. The prices mentioned reflected London rather than Moscow, and perhaps the agency that released the report rented a place in the Kremlin.

I have been to Moscow six times and stayed there for about three months. I find that my pound pays for a ton of good quality food, transport and entertainment. The most I've paid for a taxi is ?10 ($15.50), and that was from the city to the airport.

Mark Houston Robb
London, England

The Bus vs. the Metro

I live in the southwestern corner of this city and travel to the downtown area by taking the red metro line from Yugo-Zapadnaya. Travelers on this route will know that the line is currently closed between Yugo-Zapadnaya and Sportivnaya and a replacement bus service is in force. The authorities have closed all lanes of Prospekt Vernadskogo to speed the buses on their way and have stationed pimply faced youths in army uniforms at stops to quell passenger riots.

Leaving aside the local traffic chaos caused by closing Prospekt Vernadskogo and, last Saturday, in a stroke of transport coordination genius, also closing Leninsky Prospekt plus most side roads, a couple of points struck me. On the bus that takes you from Yugo-Zapadnaya to Sportivnaya or Frunzenskaya there is a bus conductor. If, like me, you are unfortunate enough not to have some sort of official document entitling you to free travel, you hand over 4 rubles and receive a ticket. I noticed that pensioners don't even bother to show a pass, they just glare at the conductor and she, wisely, leaves them alone.

For the first two years that I lived here I thought travelling on trolleybuses and the like was free as there seemed to be no way to pay. I did notice some people stamping bits of paper but thought they were collecting the bus equivalent of air miles. When I discovered that you are, in fact, supposed to buy a ticket for buses (though God knows how you do it) I mentioned to some Russian friends that I thought it would be a good idea to have conductors on every bus as this would increase revenue collection and the money could be used to improve the public transportation system. The gales of laughter that greeted this suggestion still linger.

The other point that sprang to mind is that, given the price of a metro ticket (5 rubles) and the 4 rubles for the bus, my downtown journey now costs almost twice as much for a far less efficient service. The transport department person who thought this one up has a great future.

Alan Broach