What percentage of people have computers in Russia? Anne Smith, Leicester, U.K.
In terms of Internet users, we hold 15th place in the world. Seven-and-a-half percent of the population has computers, which means 8.6 million people much less than many Western countries. I would like to note that many of our sources give different figures.
Are there any clairvoyants in Russia today? Sandy Kevan, Dumfries, Scotland
There seem to be no end of clairvoyants of every type and description and every possible ability. Our reference library is crammed with articles on the subject. In our media, you read ads where they offer to cure you of all sorts of maladies, or you may be offered advice.
I will cite just a few small examples. There is a woman who says she can read with her fingers, while she is blindfolded. Another can read texts using a magnetic field and also see objects. There was a boy who could do this and see the objects in color (certain wavelengths allow them to do this.) Some can even see the internal organs of sick people. All this needs long and thorough studying. Some scientists believe that clairvoyants have more than our five senses.
Is field hockey popular in Russia? Colin Stewart, Broken Hill, Australia
Ice hockey is the popular game. I'm afraid we can't boast of the popularity of field hockey. However, several years ago, we took part in the World Championship.
I was told that most of your poultry is imported from the United States. Do you plan to increase meat and poultry production? George Abraham, Madras, India
Last year, the United States sold us 1 million tons of poultry for a sum of $700 million. We produced 564,000 tons, or half that amount. Farmers complain that, to increase the number of poultry, you need feed, which today is far too expensive. In 10 years, the number of head of cattle dropped from 54 million to 24 million, pigs from 32 million to 18 million and sheep from 52 million to 14 million. We plan, by the year 2010, to increase meat production 10 times. I only hope this comes true. We import the best cattle for breeding.
Tell me about fire brigades in your country. William Kerr, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Last year, there were a total of 246 thousand fires, almost three-quarters of them in homes. They destroyed 63,000 buildings and killed 51,000 head of cattle. The loss, in terms of money, amounted to $1 billion to $1.5 billion. There are plans to equip every apartment and every home with smoke detectors.
This year, because of a very warm and dry summer, we had many forest and peat-bog fires. In Moscow Oblast, there were 171 burning areas. However, we have highly productive pumps that can spout 3.5 thousand liters a second. We have special machines to extinguish fires in tall buildings, at chemical plants and at places where inflammable materials are kept. We also have medical foam, fire extinguishing powders and inert gasses. The firemen have gas masks that allow them to work near flames. We have helicopters with special equipment, and we all know that, in case of fire, we have to dial 01.
What has become of the great weightlifter Vasily Alexeyev? Michael Talli, Johnston, Rhode Island, U.S.
He is 60 now, and, as all athletes of that age do, he has retired from sports. Alexeyev is a mining engineer by profession. He was twice Olympic champion, and many, many times world champion, Euro-pean champion and U.S.S.R. champion. He held 79 world records. I had lunch with him in Montreal at the Expo. We were both born on Jan. 7, Russian Christmas Day.
(E-mail Joe Adamov at firstname.lastname@example.org)