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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nord-Ost, Skinhead Attacks, Guns and the Law

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

Editor,
Going to see the musical Nord-Ost on Wednesday was something of a surreal experience. It was, I have to admit, pretty good. The songs were pretty good, the voices mostly great. The choreography was excellent and lighting and sound were impressive.

It was odd, however, to think that we were sitting in the same room where 150 people died (hence the rather tense atmosphere). Before the beginning of the show, the director came out (it was the pre-premiere) and said he was glad people had come. Then, a moment of silence was observed.

Everywhere, inside and outside of the auditorium there were guards with earpieces, bad suits and the obligatory scary look. In addition, we had to go through a rather serious metal detector and bag check before entering the building. And there was a special forces unit on call outside the theater doors in a van. All drivers who wanted to park their cars in front of the building had their trunks and documents checked.

Inside, nervous jokes were the norm and people would look around in fear the moment anybody got up to go to the bathroom. I don't think anybody had come for the show. It was, in my personal opinion, a close to even split between curiosity because of the incident and a wish to support the artists. I suspect that most people were as conflicted as I was between these two positions.

Juhani Grossmann
Moscow



Freedom From Fear



Editor,
I am from India and a fourth-year student of a medical institute in Moscow.

The week before last, I was beaten up by six skinheads in front of the student hostel where I live.

There were people passing by, but none of them tried to help me. I got a broken nose and now need surgery. I went out for the first time after this incident only last week. I was frightened again to see some eight skinheads at Borovitskaya metro. They started following me but because of the crowds inside the metro station they did not attack me.

When I came out of the metro at Nakhimovsky Prospekt, there were some hooligans waiting around. They came up to me and I ran back inside the metro. Thank God, there was a policeman standing there. I approached him and he helped me, accompanying me out of the metro.

I am dying slowly out of fear.

I kindly request the authorities in charge of security inside metro stations to increase the security presence inside stations and to clear stations and their environs of these hooligans. They are becoming a real threat to the security and safety of foreign nationals in this great country.

Rajesh Vetrivel
Moscow



Guns and Self-Defense



In response to "Group Lobbies for Guns to Prevent Terror Acts," an article by Kevin O'Flynn on Feb. 6.

Editor,
I read your article concerning efforts by a new Russian pro-gun group to get gun control laws in that country relaxed enough so that citizens may get permits to carry concealed weapons for self-defense.

I am disappointed that the only person you quote when talking about American experiences with guns for self-defense is the Matthew Bennett, spokesman for the anti-gun group, Americans for Gun Safety.

I myself can attest that, Bennett's opinion to the contrary, a concern over the possibility that an intended victim may be armed is a deterrent to a criminal.

I have been involved in three incidents in which criminals decided to leave me alone when they realized I was probably armed and able to defend myself.

Unfortunately, groups like Americans for Gun Safety only count as self-defense incidents in which the criminal is shot dead by his intended victim. This view is nothing but statistical subterfuge. If a criminal flees because I am armed (or chooses not to attack me in the first place because I might be armed), I have defended myself with a gun as surely as if I had shot the criminal dead in the street.

I sincerely hope Andrei Vasilievsky's efforts to obtain the right for law abiding Russians to carry guns for self-defense are successful.

Nobody should ever be forced to live at the mercy of violent criminals because police can not be everywhere at once, yet refuse to allow people to defend themselves until police can arrive.

Chris Alexander
Kingwood, Texas



Lawyers, Legal Reform



In response to a letter by Andrei Liakhov on Jan. 31.

Editor,
The letter you published by Russian lawyer Andrei Liakhov goes a long way toward explaining why Russia remains such a backward nation -- on the outside, looking in on a rapidly developing world.

While waxing eloquent in epic lawyerly style about the magnificent skills of Russian lawyers and how little they need the assistance of insipid foreigners, Liakhov does not mention one single aspect of Russian legal practice where reform is needed.

Apparently, he thinks that all Russians need is for foreigners to get out of their way.

Meanwhile, Russia remains near the bottom of human rights lists and its constitutional provisions are routinely disregarded. Per capital foreign investment remains totally insignificant in comparison to such countries as Poland and Hungary, as does the capitalization of Russia's stock market. Elections are habitually rigged, judges relentlessly bribed, and there is no concerted action by the profession toward legal reform.

Lenard Leeds
Atlanta, Georgia