Letters: Russia's `friends'

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Ken Livingstone tells us (Comment, 2 September) that the West's urging of Russia onto the path of free market extremism in the early Nineties was a deliberate plot to weaken that country permanently, and get the West's hands on cheap oil and gas.

He does not reveal how he discovered this conspiracy. But it flies in the face of the basic psychology of the situation.

The western leaders really believed (and still do) in free markets as the solution to everything. The only things they were ever going to recommend, in any country and situation, were more deregulation, privatisation, movement of capital and, in general, the opposite ideological extreme to Communism.

We certainly need dissenting voices while our leaders offer a spot more half-hearted help to the Russians on condition they rededicate themselves to the same policies that created the situation. But to talk in terms of great satanic conspiracies ruins the case, and merely reminds us of the equally dubious mind-set of the old left.

Dr ROGER SCHAFIR

London N21

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