Letter: Short-sighted Western politicians argue over pennies while time runs out for Russia

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The Independent Online
Sir: Can we really save Boris Yeltsin and Russia's collapsing economy with a massive aid package? This monumental fallacy is now the received wisdom of the Western world and its enormity is aggravated daily by its uncritical endorsements from our statesmen. Yet no meaningful reform can succeed until and unless the old Communists who occupy most key positions in factories, farms, mines, etc, are dismissed.

These people have a vested interest in maintaining a centralised, corrupt and inefficient system, and they would go to any length to preserve their privileges and the regime under which they prospered. Any aid granted to Russia is largely wasted, because the West cannot control its application, any more than it can prevent the nomenklatura from diverting billions of dollars paid to Russia for its oil exports into their private bank accounts.

To throw money at this rotten set- up can only prolong its nefarious existence. To argue that dollars 20bn could secure the future of democracy in Russia is to take wishful thinking to new heights of absurdity.

Yours faithfully,

LIONEL BLOCH

London, W1

24 March

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