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Groups in and Around Russia Help Women Improve Their Lives

We are writing to praise your publication for paying attention to women's issues in Russia but also to correct some misperceptions in the front-page article ''US-Style Feminism Remains a Mystique in Russia,'' Jan. 23.

First, on the issue of the low print run for ''The Feminine Mystique'': Printing just 5,000 copies of the book indicates that this is a first step for Russian publishers. Comparing this to Cosmopolitan magazine's circulation of 400,000 is irrelevant. An independent Russian publication cannot be expected to compete with a Western magazine that uses high-paid commercial ads.

Second, antifeminist propaganda in Russia is a problem, but the writer misses an opportunity to educate readers in the United States who are suffering from the same misconceptions as Russians.

Finally, the article asserts that Russian women don't have time for feminism and that they focus on more specific issues. However, a number of indigenous women's organizations are springing up around Russia. For example, the Newly Independent States-United States (NIS-US) Women's Consortium includes 24 indigenous Russian groups and three Ukrainian organizations working on small-business development, medical research, and conflict resolution.

All of the organizations have made the connection between assessing the status of women and a commitment to train Russian women in skills that will improve their status.

Stephanie Rubin Weishaar and Leanne Grossman

Arlington, Va.

NIS-US Women's Consortium

Stop the demand for wildlife products

Thank you for exposing the tip of the wildlife- trade iceberg in the article ''Animal Trade Giving Drugs Run for Money in South America,'' Feb. 21.

Trade in contraband wildlife is not only cruel and illegal, it also involves other crimes: smuggling, bribery, fraud, and corruption. More than 100 wildlife rangers are killed in the line of duty each year in Africa.

Although the article quotes one expert as saying illicit trade in wild animals ''is the third-most-lucrative contraband in the world,'' Interpol, for example, has concluded that wildlife trafficking ''is second only to the illegal drug trade'' and may involve as much as $7 billion annually.

It is clear to Friends of Animals that there is a desperate need for major resources to be committed toward resolving this major problem. Demand for wildlife products must be discouraged.

Continued consumption of pet tropical birds, lizard-skin watch straps, and other wildlife products -- even when totally legal -- at the least provides a fashion stimulus for exploitation of wildlife.

We must make the risks for suppliers, such as poachers, smugglers, and dealers, outweigh the benefits.

The viability of the earth's biological integrity should be of great importance to all of us because both humans and animals are utterly dependent upon it.

Priscilla Feral

Darien, Conn.

President, Friends of Animals

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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