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Dissent in Russia

Mark MacKinnon reports that "It's easy to see how a hard-core nationalist – the kind Russia has been encouraging to go 'volunteer' in the war in Eastern Ukraine – might have thought he was doing his country a favour" by shooting opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (Charged Atmosphere In Moscow As March Honours Putin Critic, March 2).

Indeed.

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And what are the chances of such a person being brought to justice in Vladimir Putin's paranoia-inspired Russia?

It is a brave, brave thing those marchers on your front page did in their demand for justice and their show of respect for Mr. Nemtsov. I'm ashamed to admit that I am not at all sure I would have their courage.

Maria Samuels, Regina

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Having Vladimir Putin investigate the Boris Nemtsov murder is like sending the cat to find out who killed the mouse.

Daria Olynyk, Toronto

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Kiev's war effort

Re How Private Canadians Are Aiding Kiev's War Effort (Feb. 27): Canada could have played a more positive role in bringing authorities in Kiev to political dialogue with representatives of Donbas, rather than encourage "party of war" politicians and warmongers in Ukraine.

It is obvious that Ukrainian nationalists with their incendiary rhetoric and actions, like the actual coup d'etat in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, and unleashing de facto civil war against the people in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, are enemies of Ukraine and its statehood. Encouraging the "party of war" in Kiev and supplying arms is an invitation to more killings and the resumption of a fratricidal bloodbath.

It may sound like heresy to many in Canada, but people in Eastern Ukraine do not share a nationalist vision of a Ukrainian state where former Nazi collaborators (Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych) are deemed as heroes and Russophobia is proclaimed a new religion.

There is no military solution to the internal crisis in Ukraine. The only way out of this mess is full implementation of the Minsk II accords, including a stable ceasefire and heavy weaponry pullout, followed by constitutional reform and appropriate legislation approved by conflicting sides – Kiev and Donetsk/Lugansk.

It's high time for diplomacy and not for sabre rattling.

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Kirill Kalinin, press secretary, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada

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Undelivered justice

Re Missing And Murdered (March 2): Stephen Harper boasts that "Our government has made standing up for victims of crime a priority." But based on his government's refusal to cover the costs associated with DNA testing of missing persons and unidentified remains, we can only conclude that the pledge comes with a qualification.

If you're a living victim of crime, you're a priority.

If you're a missing or dead victim of crime, your family must lower its expectations of the government and its near-endless promises of justice for the innocent.

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Esther Shannon, Vancouver

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Head-scarf anger

The recent shameful incident in a Montreal courtroom where a hijab-wearing woman was denied her day in court should be a clarion call for all Canadians (Quebec Judge's No-Head-Scarf Rule Sparks Outcry – Feb. 28).

An underlying principle of democracy is protecting the rights of minorities. It isn't helpful when the Prime Minister says it is "offensive" that someone would cover their face with a niqab while swearing the oath of citizenship. That attitude enables the kind of discriminatory action taken by Judge Eliana Marengo.

Political leaders need to appeal to our highest values of justice and fairness, not the unfounded fears of "the other."

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We aren't that far removed historically from other events where the hatred of a minority was manipulated as a political tool.

Lest we forget.

J. Halton Doyle, Ajax, Ont.

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Clinton vs. Bush?

Re Why I Already Have Hillary Fatigue (Feb. 28): Margaret Wente is certainly not alone in her wariness about a Hillary Clinton bid for the White House. Perhaps an Elizabeth Warren vs. Rand Paul challenge for the presidency might spark interest.

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Certainly the Clinton and Bush dynasties have become tiresome and run their course. It is amazing that the United States has a population of more than 319 million and yet this is all that country can come up with for the top job? America needs to get with it!

Brian J. Graham, Vancouver

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I do not understand from whence Margaret Wente has conjured up this stew of seething resentment against a very able, intelligent and courageous woman, one who is willing to take office in what may be some of America's most challenging years.

Conversely, I found great insight in Adam Radwanski's article, Inside Man (Focus, Feb. 28), where he interviewed David Axelrod, political veteran and Barack Obama's top campaign strategist and adviser.

Mr. Axelrod suggests that in 2008, Americans "were looking for someone to challenge the system in Washington," but that given the "perceived level of dysfunction" in Washington these days, "the Bush and Clinton candidacies make a little more sense, because they may be familiar names, but they'll also be familiar with how things work. That may suggest to people, these are folks who can navigate the system – perhaps they can navigate it better than Obama did."

W. E. Hildreth, Toronto

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Beyond capitals

Re Have Canada-U.S. Relations Hit A Low Point? (online, Feb. 27): I agree that our relations have slipped in the recent past, largely dependent on the handling on both sides of the border of the Keystone XL pipeline issue. The tone at the top is not great and that is unfortunate. That is not unusual since the two leaders are quite different.

Having said that, the magnitude of our trade relationships, the level of investment in each other's country, the degree of contact that we have as travellers – as tourists, as well as in business and academic life – is different from what I have just referred to.

Time and again when I was in Washington and travelling throughout the United States, I would be surprised by the difference in the tone of the relationship outside our capital cities. This is an important element of the relationship and should not be ignored.

Michael Wilson, former Canadian ambassador to the United States

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Last exit, twice

Leonard Nimoy brought the character of Mr. Spock to life (He Was The 'Conscience Of Star Trek' – Obituaries, Feb. 28).

As illogical as it may sound, it is as though the world has lost two people: a testament to great acting and the enriching quality of imagination.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

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