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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Criminals in Cages, A Veteran's Thanks and EU

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In response to "Day 10: End to Verdict in Sight," a news article by Catherine Belton on May 30.

Most people in the United States have little first-hand information about the whys and wherefores of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case. What do we know?

Unfortunately, every time the case was mentioned on U.S. television or CNN, it showed the defendant locked in a cell with iron bars. It looked different from what we are used to seeing in a U.S. court case, leaving the unfortunate impression that something is very "different" about Russia's legal system.

Defendants in U.S. trials, even violent criminals, are allowed to appear for jury trials in suits, ties and everyday clothing. They cannot be made to appear in handcuffs or otherwise restrained as this is felt to interfere with the assumption of innocence until proven guilty that is a basic tenet of the U.S. legal system.

David Dee
Winter Haven, Florida

A Necessary Celebration

In response to "President Salutes Veterans and Allies," a news article by Anatoly Medetsky and Nabi Abdullaev.

I was in Moscow for a week during the victory celebrations, courtesy of the British Council. I was impressed and delighted to see what I could of this necessary celebration but was distressed to learn that the British prime minister was not present, when he most certainly should have been.

The anomalies of history are forever with us, but I myself would like to give thanks to those wonderful old soldiers I saw walking the streets with so much dignity.

Alan Sillitoe

Constitution Blues

In response to "Saying 'Oui" to Democracy," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on May 31.

I really appreciated Kagarlitsky's column on the French vote against the European Union Constitution.

Since the informed French people have rejected the proposed constitution Sunday, all the main mass media I have checked report it with words like "fear," "misguided" and "crisis." They systematically applaud the non-democratic acceptance of the EU Constitution by other countries, while severely criticizing the choice of French people.

Kagarlitsky's article, on the contrary, puts the event in its proper context and succeeds to explain, I believe, the relevant points and does so very elegantly.

Jordi Burguet Castell
Valencia, Spain

One can only be encouraged by the decision of the French people to reject the European Union's first constitution.

The constitution promises to protect the status of religious communities in member states and pledges dialogue between political and religious institutions.

But this is meaningless since the constitution has already, in its text, broken good faith with organized religion by deliberately failing to mention Europe's Christian roots and identity.

The constitution's missing reference to Christianity shows an undervaluing of historical evidence and of the Christian identity of European peoples. One cannot cut the roots from which one is born.

Paul Kokoski
Hamilton, Canada

Getting Adam Smith Right

In response to "Saving Russian Energy from Reform," a comment by Gianguido Piani on May 30.

Piani makes a strong case against some serious problems of electricity supply in Russia. That he drags Adam Smith into his case is unfortunate.

Smith did not exclude roles for government in his "Wealth of Nations." The roles he envisioned far exceed the boundaries set for the state by those who have misused his legacy and portrayed him as a laissez faire zealot, which he was not. He never used the words laissez faire, nor did he support it as a general policy.

From his "Wealth of Nations" we can deduce how Adam Smith might have considered the situation described by Piani that applies to interruptions in electricity through inadequate investment by private owners.

For exactly the same reasons that Smith opposed monopolistic pricing and, interestingly, supported laws restricting lenders to an official maximum of 5 percent interest, he would have approached excess profits and inadequate investment in electricity in the same manner.

If food suppliers or electricity companies promise to supply customers with goods but do not deliver, leaving customers without their dinners and the means to cook them, they likewise commit fraudulent acts and should be liable for them.

Gavin Kennedy
Riccarton, Scotland

The Future of Russia?

In response to "9 Years for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev," a news article by Catherine Belton and Lyuba Pronina on June 1.

Long live Mikhail Khodorkovsky! He may be about to spend the next few years in a Siberian prison camp, but he's been getting a hell of a lot of good press. Will there be another Red Revolution in Russia, this time around headed by Khodorkovsky from his prison cell?

However unlikely it seems now, he could one day be a candidate for president. After all, history shows us that stranger figures have ended up leading Russia.

J. Marshall Comins
Lviv, Ukraine