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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khodorkovsky, Nepotism, Andijan and Enigmas

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Free Khodorkovsky

In response to "How Long? Khodorkovsky Says Infinity," an article by Valeria Korchagina on May 19.

I have followed Mikhail Khodorkovsky's arrest, imprisonment, and trial with increasing dismay.

One of Russia's pre-eminent bright lights, inarguably bright, capable, a successful capitalist with the ability to build successful economic bridges between East and West, someone prepared to lead with sound corporate governance practices has been stripped of his freedom, his assets and his company.

I fear that these actions will send Russia back into darker times, precisely at a time when men like Khodorkovsky can enable Russia to increase its standing as a global economic power. I fear that this sends exactly the wrong message to investors, a message, judging from Russia's shrinking market capitalization, that investors have already received. In the meantime, India and especially China steam ahead.

Russians can be very proud of their history of revolution. The Russian Revolution changed the course of Russian history, and in so doing, the world. Why are Russians sitting back and letting this happen to Khodorkovsky and to themselves? Let Khodorkovsky go.

Roxanne Shank
Egbert, Canada

Today's Feudal Elite

In response to "Top Jobs for Children of the Elite," an article by Denis Maternovsky on April 29.

This article about how the children of top officials get prestigious jobs touches on a very important subject. This practice, almost feudal in nature, started during the Soviet era.

Eventually, the Soviet ruling class, which now calls itself the Russian elite, dumped the communist ideology because its call for social justice was too inconvenient.

Now the system has reached its logical, feudal completion, and even modest jobs can be hard to get without some patronage.

The former Soviet nobility live like princes, while ordinary people suffer from growing poverty.

If Russia wants to survive in the modern world as a great state, it must move away from medieval habits. This means giving people jobs according to their knowledge and abilities, not according to the social status of their family and because of their dubious contacts.

Karen Danielyants

Desperation, Not Islam

In response to "Islam Accepts No Apologies," a column by Georgy Bovt on May 19.

My opinion is quite different from Bovt's. Newsweek is an international magazine, read by Americans, Europeans, Arabs and Afghans. Why did anti-American riots only break out in Afghanistan, Gaza and Pakistan, but not to the same extent in Kuwait or Libya?

In my opinion, people are more likely to protest violently when they have only religion. In Gaza and Kabul, people are desperate, and many of them believe that the cause of their poverty and pain is Western civilization. Compare this with Andijan in Uzbekistan. Most protesters were peaceful because they were not so desperate, as Andijan is relatively rich. In Kabul, life is far harder.

G. Catania
Vicenza, Italy

Two Russian Mysteries

In response to "28 Detained After Rowdy Courthouse Rally," an article by Lyuba Pronina on May 17.

I've traveled to Moscow five times in the past two years, and I've had the misfortune of having to pay authorities money for what were apparently crimes, though I had no idea these crimes were about or what was written on strange documents handed to me.

Two things continue to puzzle me.

First, why does Russia make no effort whatsoever to make travel, visas and registration easier and more friendly for visitors and businesspeople? Is there something more behind this, or is this purely a legacy of the Soviet Union, and something that will stay to time indefinite?

Second, what is the difference between Roman Abramovich and Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

From my perspective, both seem to have been involved in exactly the same type of activities, but the only difference seems to be that Abramovich curries favor with the government, ignores the corruption of the Russian state, while raking in vast sums of money. Khodorkovsky's crime was to dare to challenge the legitimacy and value of the Putin regime.

Perhaps my views are far too simplistic, but since Abramovich is very well known in Britain, someone should explain the difference to those in the West.

James Walker
Glasgow, Scotland

Blackout Blues

I cannot for the life of me understand why Moscow does not have a better plan for dealing with electricity problems like those that affected the entire city on Wednesday. With the unseasonable heat, the lack of a plan seems particularly terrible: What about the elderly passengers trapped on the metro, for example?

Many offices and businesses were completely crippled by the power outage. Electric security doors would not open or close, and phone systems were down. Even working at home was not an option, as servers shut down across the city.

There is much talk nowadays about the need for better security and vigilance. But if a single accident, even a fairly serious one, can throw all of Moscow into chaos, how can we feel safe? The city authorities need a better response to these kinds of emergencies.

A. Orlov