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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Russia's Reaction Feels Familiar

September 16, 2004

Re "Putin, Citing Terror Threat, Moves to Centralize Power," Sept. 14: This headline on the front page made my blood boil. Then, reading on, it got worse: "Russian leader is accused by some of exploiting the school tragedy to curb democratic rights." If ever there were an example of what is wrong with the Russian government, and why it has been our enemy for so many years, this is it.

Only in a totalitarian regime, masked as a democracy, would a leader capitalize on a nation's tragedy for his own personal gain and to curb the country's rights and freedoms, using fear to keep his people from any means of protest against their outrage that their government was taking total control of all aspects of their lives.

It made me so proud to be an American.

To even think that our own president would use a tragedy of such proportions for his own.... Ah, that is. I mean. Oh. Right. Yeah. Um. Sorry. Never mind....

Tom Greene

Los Angeles

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Your article on Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin's power grab seems eerily familiar. Both he and our own leader's actions after a terrorist action are justified by a need for security and both ignore the cause of the terrorist actions.

Both label guerrilla fighters as terrorists, which presumes a battle of good versus evil. Because evil allows no arguable cause, the actions of the "good" need never be questioned.

No one loyal to the government can question his country's foreign policy; to do so would be the act of a traitor.

So now Putin is putting forward measures to enforce a two-party system. In America, we already have a duopoly of power in our own two-party system, which keeps out all possibility of competition through campaign finance and ballot access laws.

Since the next president is assured to be a Skull and Bones Society member, it doesn't matter much which party rules America; the same power brokers run both parties.

Government power will increase and freedom will decrease; of this we can be certain.

It's not so different here than in Russia, when you examine the facts. All that's needed now is for Putin to call his new legislation the "Comrade Act."

Eric Taylor

Sunland

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