Letters for December 24, 2009

Wrong perception of Russia

Re “The Russians are coming!” (Feature story, by Shannon Rooney, Dec. 17):

The lengthy article about immigrant brides with an interview of Elena Tonetti is full of generic stereotypes, bias, and generalizations that depict Russia as a scary place and a third-world country. I am from Russia, and this story made me feel like I am a part of some herd.

I am not sure if the author of this article or Elena Tonetti has been to Russia in the last 10 years, but it sure sounded like their perception of the Russian reality is completely off. What about new infrastructure, blooming tourism, growing economy, beautiful malls with fashionable boutiques that appear everywhere, huge supermarkets with better selection of gourmet cheeses, scrumptious desserts, and wine than that at Whole Foods?

How can an educated person draw such conclusions? It’s appalling to see that Russians themselves create such a negative reputation for their native country. I welcome an article from someone with a true and accurate portrait of modern Russia.

Frankly, I am surprised that the Chico News & Review even published such a stereotypical article. I always thought that one of its main missions was to have a positive impact on our community and to educate citizens on the worldly issues, not to create stereotypes and barriers between countries.

Julia Kobrina-Coolidge

I was outraged by the false and offensive claims in “The Russians Are Coming” article made by Ms. Tonetti, who left Russia in 1989, during collapse of the Soviet Union, when the country was in horrible shape.

The article erroneously suggests that Russian men are alcoholics and criminals. Although alcoholism has been a problem in the past, the Russian government is actively dealing with it and alcoholism is much less prevalent today. Crime in Russia has dramatically decreased since 1989. According to the United Nations, in Russia there are 20.5855 crimes per 1,000 people, ranking 31st, lower than many Western countries including the U.S. My aunt and uncle both own a Mercedes which they park in front of their public apartment building, and they have never exploded or been vandalized.

Tonetti describes Russia in 1989 not 2009. Supermarket and shopping malls are common in Russia. Most cities have stores that rival those in New York or Los Angeles. There are many department stores that have not only food, but also electronics and clothes in the same building. Russian buildings do not have bars on windows and doors, any more than buildings do in the U.S. Actually in Russia about 14 percent of individuals are below the poverty line compared to 18.2 percent in Butte County.

This article is based on negative stereotypes and perpetuates ignorance and misinformation about Russia and Russian people.

Nikita Schottma
First-generation immigrant

I read your article about Elena Tonetti and thought it was a good story about a woman who has succeeded as a businesswoman in this country. What I found disagreeable are the inferences that the article makes of women who have immigrated to America from former Soviet Union countries. Your reporter makes it sound as if the women in these countries are lined up waiting to find a man to release them from their bondage.

The truth is much different from what your article portrays. First off, the women who live here in Butte County come from various countries, not just Russia. They are all highly intelligent, well-educated and highly motivated women who desire to have a good family life. What your reporter failed to do was actually interview some of the ladies that were portrayed in your article to find out why they came to America.

If she had taken the step to ask some, the truth would have emerged that they chose an American husband for specific reasons and not because that was the quickest ticket to America. The women know that American men are generally very involved with their families, are known to be hard working and typically have strong desires toward family loyalty.

If you really want to know about this trend of Russian-speaking wives for American men, then plan a real series of interviews. I think your reporter will find a number of reasons but the predominant one will be that American men make very good husbands. The fact that they have to come to America is just part of the deal.

John Winningham

Hey, it’s a ‘pagan tree’

Re “Miffed about Christmas” (Letters, by Mark Woodson, Dec. 17):

The writer complained about the tree lighting downtown being on a “holiday tree” rather than a “Christmas tree.” Well, the fact is tree cutting was a pagan ceremony that the Christians adopted to placate the Pagans who were being forced to convert. The choice was death or Christianity.

The whole Christmas thing was brought on by merchants who saw a chance to make a buck, nothing more. We all know that without Christmas sales, most stores would fold like a cheap suit.

The letter writer’s willingness to take a “We Christians are superior” stand is a insult to all Jews, Pagans and the other thousands of religions in the world. Wise up, America: In 2050, white people will be a minority, and many of these other people belong here just as much as any Christians.

Marc Deveraux

Mother Mary comes to her

Re: “Toking with my Dad” (Guest Comment, by Scott Schulman, Dec. 10):

Thank you to Scott Schulman for his informative and honest comment. My mother, Vera, died a week ago of dementia. She lived with me the last six months of her life, and the initial period was quite painful for her physically, mentally and emotionally.

When she came to live with me she was taking 10 different medications daily costing somewhere around $1,500 per month. These meds made her groggy, confused and depressed. I stopped the meds, cooked up some cannabis brownies, and started giving them to her in the afternoon. The transformation in my mom was amazing. She began to smile and laugh again. Her sense of humor came back and with it her appetite.

We spent last summer on my deck over our creek in Paradise talking, laughing and sharing our friendship and love. Thank god for Mother Mary. May she share her abundance forever.

Jim Salber

Chief shows compassion

Re “The politics of pot” (Feature story, by Robert Speer, Dec. 3):

As a medical-marijuana patient and 20-year resident of Chico, I would like to thank Police Chief Mike Maloney for showing compassion to the injured, sick and dying citizens of Chico. He has truly shown that the Chico police force is here to protect the rights of all Chico citizens.

I hope that the personal experiences Chief Maloney shared will make the medical-marijuana patients of Chico hopeful that he will show more compassion in the future.

Cassidy A. Franklin

Make Dan Logue listen

Re “Is Logue even listening?” (Editorial, Dec. 10):

Assemblyman Logue is consistent all right—consistently against any policy that would protect California’s environment. His score on the California League of Conservation Voters’ annual Environmental Scorecard (available online at www.ecovote.org) was an astounding 5 percent—meaning he voted the wrong way on 21 of the 22 bills that would protect the environment and the public’s health and create green jobs.

Clearly, Logue’s not listening to scientific evidence that our climate is changing and the studies that demonstrate the ecological and economic benefits to our state of going green. But he might listen to his constituents. If you care about the environment and good jobs, it’s time to tell your elected representative what you think. Logue’s Chico district office number is 895-4217.

Jenesse Miller
California League of Conservation Voters


In the story “The Russians are coming!” (Feature story, by Shannon Rooney, Dec. 17), some of the women pictured, including Dr. Tatyana Reznik, did not come to the United States as Russian brides, but rather of their own accord. We apologize if this caused any confusion.