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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Better Banking in Ivanovo, Zakayev and Spills

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In response to "American Lawmaker Banks on Ivanovo," an article by Greg Walters on May 26.

After reading Walters' article, I was very perplexed. I strongly disagreed with the way the Commercial Bank of Ivanovo was portrayed and felt our bank was misrepresented.

Though our bank was described in the article as "a small bank even by local standards," in fact the Commercial Bank of Ivanovo ranks second or third among local banks in the Ivanovo region according to various parameters.

By describing the bank's location as obscure and "on the outskirts of town," Walters neglected to inform readers that Tashkentskaya Ulitsa, where our bank is currently headquartered, is one of Ivanovo's main arteries. While not in the center, this area is an important part of the city and home to one-third of Ivanovo's population, as well as to the many large corporations, companies and firms that our bank proudly serves.

Importantly, visitors to Ivanovo can easily spot on the central Prospekt Lenina our bank's new downtown offices, which are currently under construction and broadly advertised.

Finally, it is not fair to imply that interest rates offered by our majority stakeholder, Charles Taylor, are exorbitant. The article stated that in the 1990s Taylor's rate was 30 percent to 60 percent annually. Even if this were the case, this rate would seem extremely reasonable compared to the Central Bank's refinancing rate at that time of 200 percent.

The Commercial Bank of Ivanovo is a substantial and upstanding member of the regional business community with nothing to hide. I believe a more careful look at the facts would have demonstrated this.

Andrei Fedotov
Chair, Commercial Bank of Ivanovo

What Double Standards?

In response to "Putin Call for a United Front on Terrorism," an article by Simon Saradzhyan on July 8.

I was disappointed to see yet again the patronizing tone of many Russian politicians toward Britain in the wake of the London bombings in statements regarding "double standards" in fighting terrorism.

These remarks are presumably in reference to Britain's refusal to extradite Chechen spokesman Akhmed Zakayev.

What these politicians seem to forget is that Zakayev took part in talks in Moscow in August 2001. Quite why the Russian authorities did not detain Zakayev during his visit remains unexplained.

They are presumably also unaware that in Britain, the courts are independent of the government, and arrests and extraditions are not ordered by the executive. Given that this is exactly what happens here, however, it is little wonder that they expect it elsewhere.

Howard Gethin

Anti-Semitism and Identity

In response to "Lost in an Ideological Wilderness," a comment by Alexei Bayer on July 6.

Alexei Bayer makes a number of sane comments about Jewish life in Russia and the challenges presented by anti-Semitism in the past and today. Certainly, it is one of the few analyses which investigates from a reasonably objective viewpoint the reasons why anti-Semitism is common in Russia, and why politicians come out with comments that seem crass to Western eyes.

However, I would add that the major difference between Russia and the West, which explains a lot, is that Jews in Russia are seen as an ethnic group.

In the West, Judaism is seen as a religion, and you can be fully English, Irish, French or German and Jewish, whereas in Russia you cannot be Jewish and ethnically Russian.

Richard Lockhart
Edinburgh, Scotland

While overall I found Alexei Bayer's comment interesting, to-the-point and accurate, one observation of his struck me as being arrogant, namely his statement that Jews in today's Russia "stand for modernity, democracy and openness to the West."

I honestly believe that an average Jew is no different from an average Russian. He doesn't stand for anything, and he is not a living embodiment of a modern Russia. He can be uneducated, racist or downright stupid, just like a member of any other nationality on earth.

Claiming otherwise insults other nationalities, which, by Bayer's logic, must stand for things that are far less flattering than democracy and modernity.

Boris Stogov

Go for the Money

In response to "Russia's Worst Competitive Advantage," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on July 11.

As someone who has worked as a consultant in wildlife response during oil spills for many years, I can assure you that companies do not and will not take responsibility for these spills. It makes no financial sense for them to do so.

The only way to fight this apathy is to go after their money flow and hit them where it hurts. The banks and insurance companies are where the pressure needs to be applied. Once a company's money source is affected, it will listen.

Banks are sensitive to environmental issues and will put pressure on the oil companies to clean up their act. Banks in the end hold far more power than activists ever will on their own.

Jim Styers