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(Un)Civil Societies Report: July 14, 2003


14 July 2003, Volume 4, Number 16
IN FOCUS
HOW THE SHOW WENT ON AFTER THE TERRORIST ATTACK IN MOSCOW. When female Chechen suicide bombers triggered their deadly explosive belts near the entrance of a Moscow rock concert on 5 July, killing themselves, 14 others, and wounding 60, officials decided to let the show go on. The rock groups, some of whom had already learned of the terrorist attack, kept on playing. Mobile phones began to go off one by one, but the noise of the rock music drowned out the calls, and in any event callers remained unaware of the magnitude of the attack because it was not featured prominently on television. The immediate objective of officials was to avoid a panicked rush to the exits by the estimated 20,000 fans which might have led to further injuries and deaths.

Their concern was legitimate, as concert-related stampede tragedies around the world have shown. Eight concertgoers were crushed to death when they rushed the stage at an open-air Pearl Jam concert in Denmark in 2000; 11 fans were killed trying to get into a concert by The Who in Cincinnati in 1979. Muscovites would have been mindful of a tragedy closer to home in Belarus, in one of the worst rock-related stampedes in history, when 53 people were crushed in Minsk in 1999 as a crowd at a rock concert and beer festival fled a rainstorm. Most of the victims were teenage girls in high heels who slipped and fell on the marble floors of the metro. The rock festival venue in Moscow was at the Tushino airfield, and as the Russian media reported, impassable crowds began swarming out of the Tushinskaya metro stop early in the day on their way to the aerodrome for the popular event.

Mikhail Zygar, a journalist for "Kommersant," on 7 July wrote an eyewitness account of the annual "Wings" concert titled "Music-Muffled Explosions." He described how the open-air rock festival with a good-humored crowd drinking beer turned from musical entertainment into an "eccentric wake," particularly because the concert was known for providing some kind of surprise for rock fans. On the day, mounting expectations of some special star appearance mingled with rumors of the explosions. Zygar describes how a line-up of top groups including Raznye Lyudi (Different People), Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine), Nochnye Snaipery (Night Snipers), Krematory (Crematoria), Korol i Shut (King and Jester), Neprikasayemye (Untouchables), Moralny Kodeks (Moral Code), Va-Bank, Sergei Galanin, and others worked through their numbers as fans danced and drank beer. Some of the performers had already been informed of the attack, but did not make any public mention of it.

Halfway through the concert, Zygar writes, the awareness that something was wrong began to seep in when a group called Paperny TAM, known for its folk ballads, seemed to be playing for much longer than usual -- the performers were repeatedly told to go back out on stage and play even though they seemed ready to leave. At two separate gates, security guards had already stopped two Chechen women wearing bomb belts and prevented them from entering the concert area. The women then set off their bombs, spewing ball bearings and pieces of metal throughout the crowd, killing themselves and others. Ambulances quickly removed the victims and many people at the event did not even realize something had happened. Most of the casualties appear to have occurred from the second explosion near a gate through which only a small portion of the audience was going through. One of the performers, Sergei Galanin, appeared on stage looking pale, writes Zygar, but merely gave an announcement that some of the performers "had difficulties reaching the airfield."

Rumors that two "shahids" -- the Arabic name given to martyrs -- had set of an explosion and killed at least a dozen people began to surge through the crowd. Soon special police units began to replace the regular police guarding the concert area and the section cordoned off for special guests. Zygar reports trying to get information from several uniformed women who arrived at the guest area and who turned out to be official psychologists, until a muscle-bound special police officer told him "not to interfere with our work."

By the time the group Mashina Vremeni appeared, Zygar felt everyone knew that something terrible had happened, but couldn't quite believe it. As people passed along a rumor that people were being taken away in ambulances, the crowd began to sing the songs in unison with Mashina vremeni, who came back for an encore. "While the light does not dim, while the candle burns," they sang, which some concertgoers now see as a fitting requiem for the terrorists' victims. As other performers stepped on to the stage, rumors spread that groups would have to limit themselves to two or three songs, and that two women with explosive belts had detonated their bombs. Then a concert official began to give announcements about lost children, whose parents could find them near the ticket booths -- this, coupled with the spreading news of the suicide attacks, heightened the fears of some in the crowd but did not sow mass panic. Toward the end, singer Garik Sukachev gave an emotional rendition of a story about a battle at Tushino, when a World War II fighter had written on the wall of the aerodrome, "I am dying, but I will not surrender." As the concert ended, security officials calmly escorted the crowd away from the scene of the blasts, and the journalist reported a woman standing near the entrance to the field, her hand covering her mouth, peering anxiously into the crowd in search of a child.

" Moskovskie Novosti " reporter Yuri Vasilev described Hospital No. 67, which received seven of the victims, including two teenagers. The girl, around 16 years old, was in good condition but the boy, about the same age, was brought in with a wound gaping from his neck to his hip, and lost three liters of blood. Surgeons worked through the night to remove numerous small metal pieces from the victims' bodies: ball bearings, screws, bolts, and even fish hooks, prompting some of the doctors to comment that they had never seen anything like it in their practice, which included treatment of victims from the 1993 storming of the parliament building.

By a twist of fate, Hospital No. 67 was the scene of a real-life drama that seemed to throw into sharp relief some of the forces rivening Russian society today. In an earlier issue (see " Moskovskie Novosti," No. 7, "The Case of the Doctors -- 2003") Vasilev had told the story of Magomed Adalov and six of his colleagues, all of whom hailed from Russia's Caucasian republics, and who had written a protest letter to the president's administration about alleged ethnic discrimination at the hands of their chief physicians. As the relatives of the victims of the Tushino attack came pouring into the emergency ward, the reporter writes, upon asking who the surgeons were and hearing the names "Magomed Magomedovich" and "Shamil Mugumayevich" their faces tensed but remained quiet. "It is not so easy in this situation to understand right off the bat who are the ones doing the bombing and who are working in the operating rooms -- some are called bandits and some are called saviors. But they are not all people from some indiscriminate ethnic group," Vasilev writes.

Adalov said that in previous tragedies in Moscow, people would come to the hospital to donate blood or help take home survivors, but this time people only seemed to stand and stare. "Something has gone out of the people," he said, alluding to the numbness experienced by Muscovites who have survived a series of Chechen terrorist attacks in the last year as the war comes home to the capital. This doctor and others noted that television seemed to be devoid of special bulletins and the kind of breathless coverage they were used to from other attacks, such as the October 2002 hostage-taking drama at the theater showing the musical "Nord-Ost," which gripped the country for days. Even the widely used, Soviet-sounding Russian abbreviation for these events -- "terakt" -- has come to have the effect of linguistically reducing the horror and its implications.

Other commentators expressed outrage that the show had been allowed to continue, seeing not so much a desire to avoid a stampede tragedy as a determination to cover up the reality of terrorism. Grigory Okhotin, in an editorial published by the liberal polit.ru online newspaper on 6 July, titled "If You Must Die, Let It Be To Music," wrote: "At the exact same time, in one place medics were picking up pieces of bloody flesh and in another people were dancing and singing" -- words that evoke W.H. Auden's famous poem on suffering, "How it takes place/While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along...how everything turns away/Quite leisurely from the disaster..." Meanwhile, Okhotin wrote, the Kremlin has continued the drumbeat of announcements about the war winding down, the situation normalizing, presidential elections to be held in Chechnya, and business as usual. "If we want to have a good time in the summer, if we want even to live, then it is time to stop the war," Okhotin wrote, adding "For real, and not through some Kremlin projects."

RUSSIA
ACTIVISTS LOBBY OSCE FOR ANTI-SEMITISM MONITORING UNIT. Jewish activists have joked that in Russia, if you have a problem with anti-Semitism, you can call the president of the country, but not your local policeman. Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken pains to speak out against anti-Semitism, as he did in his public condemnation of the maiming of a Russian Jewish woman who stopped to dismantle a booby-trapped anti-Semitic sign on a Moscow highway last year. "In Russia, there have been in recent years very positive statements against anti-Semitism at the highest federal level," Aleksei Korotaev of the International League of Human Rights acknowledged in a speech at a recent conference on the topic hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (see "Europe: OSCE Conference Looks At Ways To Confront Anti-Semitism," rferl.org, 20 June)."Nevertheless, we know instances when statements and even actions were made at lower levels which contracted these positive statements," Korotayev said. The problem is in getting local officials and policemen to take threats and attacks against Jews seriously enough to monitor, prosecute, and prevent them. No suspects in this or many other violent incidents against Jews have been arrested in Russia. With Russia's many problems of intolerance, Jewish activists are reluctant to appear to be placing their own problems above those of other persecuted minorities such as Chechens. Only outside groups like the U.S.-based Union of Councils for Soviet Jews are able to monitor anti-Semitic incidents systematically.

Both Jewish community organizations and human rights groups in the U.S. and Europe lobbied hard to get the OSCE to schedule the special conference devoted solely to anti-Semitism, at times believing they encountered unease and resistance among officials. While the conference was ultimately successfully convened on 19-20 June, NGOs found some governments were reluctant at first to devote an entire OSCE conference to this controversial issue as conflicts in the Middle East have spurred anti-Israel sentiment in Europe and translated into strained relationships with Jewish and Muslim communities. Officials argued privately that as a topic, anti-Semitism should be folded into other OSCE conferences, such as one on religious freedom and another on racial discrimination in general, where it would be on par with the problems facing other ethnic and religious groups, rather than being singled out for separate study that might prove counterproductive.

Activists and sympathetic lawmakers in both the U.S. and Europe persisted in calling for the first-ever OSCE meeting devoted exclusively to the subject for a variety of reasons. Anti-Semitism is an ancient scourge in Christian civilization woven into religious and cultural beliefs that led to the Holocaust. It continues to animate extremist political parties as an ideology affecting the entire project of liberal reform in Eastern Europe, and as Polish intellectual Adam Michnik once explained, "a threat to the Jews is a threat to democracy, and a threat to democracy is a threat to the Jews." Anti-Semitism has now taken on new forms in Europe due to the challenges of Middle East politics and the integration of Muslim communities in Europe. NGOs did not want to dilute the issue by mixing anti-Semitism with other types of racial discrimination in Europe precisely because many community leaders have experienced denial among top officials and public figures that the problem even exists, so determined are they to retain for themselves the right to criticize Israel severely for its treatment of Palestinians without being accused of anti-Semitism. One way bureaucrats can make the problem disappear is by burying it in a long list of other types of discrimination they are willing to acknowledge, such as discrimination against Roma.

Last year, the U.S.-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights released a report, "Fire and Broken Glass," finding "an alarming rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe" and said they "needed to be confronted more forcefully and treated as serious violations of international human rights." (For the full text of the report, see http://www.lchr.org/pubs/antisemitism/antisemitism.htm.) "European governments are not accurately reporting or effectively combating anti-Semitic violence, creating a climate that has contributed to the rise of anti-Jewish speech and violence. Often the official response of governments is silence, or to attribute attacks to political protest," said the committee.

A group long in the forefront of advocating a "human rights" approach to anti-Semitism is the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights in New York, which convened a strategy meeting for NGOs from Western and Eastern Europe in Vienna before the OSCE conference on ant-Semitism. Harking back to a 1990 agreement made in Copenhagen by the OSCE participants, which included both a recognition of anti-Semitism and a call to find "effective means to combat it," the Blaustein Institute advocated the establishment of a formal monitoring mechanism within the OSCE to perform standardized monitoring of anti-Semitism in OSCE countries which would include "registering anti-Semitic incidents according to well-defined categories, building on international human rights standards" and would involve awareness-raising campaigns and education programs on human rights and non-discrimination.

Mikhail Chlenov, a Russian Jewish leader and secretary-general of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, also proposed creating "an ongoing mechanism within the OSCE to monitor, analyze, and combat anti-Semitism," and more specifically, to create the position of a "special officer on anti-Semitism and Jewish" issues, in a similar role to the existing officer for Roma and Sinti issues. In regard to the day-to-day functioning of multilateral institutions, until an official is given a title involving an issue and the responsibility for following it, it is difficult to get visibility and action, say NGOs. By contrast, governments protest that creating special-interest posts is not only expensive, but it prevents the integration of issues into the whole organization's functioning. Nevertheless, due to mounting attacks on Jews and their institutions, activists are likely to continue to press for formalized monitoring and follow-up action, while recognizing inherent difficulties in the process.

The OSCE conference highlighted what a number of NGOs have already been discovering in Europe and North America -- that there is no standardized procedure for monitoring anti-Semitism and hate crimes within countries or internationally, which makes it difficult both to compare levels of intolerance and promote methods to combat it. Major obstacles to successful monitoring are not only government indifference or disagreements about definitions but the variations in approaches by various communities at the grassroots. In some settings, especially those where authorities either actively instigate or tolerate anti-Semitism, Jewish communities, like other minorities, have evolved a community response involving a focus on protection and prevention. They seek -- usually through quiet dialogue with relevant authorities -- to head off destruction of property and attacks on Jews during such high-risk public events as soccer matches or Hitler's birthday, when neo-Nazis stage marches. Meanwhile, in countries where the courts and the media are more independent and effective, human rights activists seek to use very public methods of shaming racists as well as vigorous litigation to fight discrimination. The differing approaches entail different kinds of information-gathering, styles of presentation of the issues, and different remedies. In Russia, for example, Jewish, Roma, and other minority communities have told prominent human rights activists that they fear public shaming of racist officials or high-impact court cases because it could lead to a backlash against their communities and destruction of a fragile peace established through personal relations with police chiefs and other officials. Human rights leaders, as well as official city ombudsmen, speak of intervening quietly with schools, for example, to reinstate Roma children who have been expelled after hysterical press campaigns associating drug trafficking with Roma.

The desire to maintain cooperative relations with the powers-that-be upon whom protection depends has led some community organizations in Eurasia to adopt decidedly pro-government stances, sometimes by conviction and sometimes by necessity. Indicative of such an approach was a presentation at the OSCE conference in Vienna by an Azerbaijani Jewish leader, who vigorously took the official Azerbaijani position on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, then described the situation of Azerbaijan's estimated 30,000 Jews in glowing terms even from the Soviet era, where everything, he said, was done to make Jews feel at home in Baku, a situation that "became especially brightly apparent" when Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev came to power -- a characterization disputed by Jews who emigrated.

Another obstacle to the integrated combating of anti-Semitism within the OSCE is differences of opinion and law between Europe and the United States on the issue of free expression and "hate speech." A number of European countries have laws on the books criminalizing anti-Semitic incitement, and have prosecuted authors of books denying the Holocaust, for example. Groups participating in the OSCE meeting such as the International Network Against Cyber Hate, active in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland can take advantage of such existing laws in their countries to prosecute incitement of violence against minorities over the Internet.

In the U.S., such cases would not be possible, although increasingly, politicians are calling for more vigorous prosecution of violent "hate crimes." While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing free speech may prevail in the broad public domain, institutions ranging from private colleges to federal agencies have instituted their own internal codes of behavior discouraging and even penalizing "hate speech." Recently, for example, appeals were heard in the case of two New York firemen and a policeman who were fired after a 1998 Labor Day Parade in which they wore blackface on their float and parodied the dragging death of a black Texan. In June, a Manhattan federal judge ruled that the government "may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because a segment of society finds it offensive" but the question of their employment is still being reviewed. Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City who led the U.S. delegation to the OSCE meeting on anti-Semitism, upheld the decision while he was mayor to fire the men, reasoning that while the First Amendment could protect their speech, it did not mandate the city to employ them. "The city has a right to remove cops and firefighters who act in a racially discriminatory manner," the New York-based "Daily News" reported him as saying on 25 June.

In September, the OSCE will convene another meeting on racism, discrimination, and xenophobia, which some organizers are already privately dubbing the "Islamophobia" meeting, in reference both to the reality of rampant discrimination against Muslims following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, as well as to rancorous international debates surrounding the UN's world conference against racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, where some delegations insisted that "anti-Semitism" and "Islamophobia" always appear in texts equally in tandem -- or not at all. Activists from Jewish, Roma, and other minority communities are once again organizing to ensure that all their issues will receive equal treatment in an integrating Europe.

ROMA
BUDAPEST CONFERENCE ADDRESSES CHALLENGES FOR EUROPE'S ROMA. Supported by the Hungarian government, philanthropist George Soros and World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn are launching what they called a "decade of the Roma" between 2005-2015, with a conference, "Roma In Expanding Europe: Challenges For The Future," which was held in Budapest on 30 June-2 July. Attended by European Union leaders, the premiers of Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Montenegro, and top officials from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, and Croatia, the conference was intended to focus European attention on the chronic problems of discrimination and poverty faced by Roma. Some 5 million Roma are expected to become EU citizens when eight Central and Eastern European countries join the EU in 2004, to be followed by 4 million more when Romania and Bulgaria are admitted, reported "Transitions Online" (see http://www.tol.cz, 1-7 July 2003)

Reminiscent of the kind of "decades against racism" and other persistent ills frequently declared by the United Nations, the Roma decade may take a while to gain momentum and become effective. The onset was put off for another two years most likely because a task force to be headed by Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, host of the conference, coordinating new and future EU members, is likely to take some time to establish. Issues such as membership, agenda, and financing are still to be determined, "Transitions Online" reported. Echoing U.S. President George W. Bush's rallying cry about primary education in the United States -- "No child shall be left behind" -- the World Bank's Wolfensohn said at the Budapest conference, "Europe must not leave the Roma behind."

Europe appears to have every reason to heed the call. The conference comes at a time when the World Bank's new report on Roma and findings of other bodies, such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE, are warning that Romany children face serious discrimination in education, which leads to unemployment and a life mired in poverty. Because, in principle, workers will be able to move anywhere in the EU to seek employment, the prospect of Europe's poorest migrants increasing their mobility from east to west has prompted a new focus by EU leaders on delivering equality to the Romany community.

European officials are recognizing the key issues Romany leaders themselves are calling the most urgent -- education, employment, and housing -- as Rumyan Russinov, a Bulgarian Rom representing seven young Romany leader delegations, said in a speech circulated 2 July by the European Roma Rights Center.

Education can be a code word for socialization into the mainstream culture and conformity with values that minorities can find alien. Therefore, Romany leaders themselves have specified in great detail the kind of education they seek -- obligatory and free pre-school in desegregated classrooms, Romany assistants in the classroom, anti-bias training for teachers and school administrators, and inclusion of Romany parents in school-based decision-making. Most urgently, Romany leaders want an end to a practice they have identified for example in Slovakia, where children undergo psychological testing that often leads to their placement in special schools. Beginning next September, Romany leaders hope to see first-graders no longer shunted into schools for children with learning disabilities and would like to see them mainstreamed, along with social support for disadvantaged Romany families and the integration of Romany history and culture in textbooks, says Russinov. Other county-specific proposals include a call on Bulgaria to establish a fund for support of desegregation of education; a plea to Hungary to involve Romany parents in education of their children in cooperation with the schools; for the Czech Republic to expand an existing national action plan for Roma by establishing information centers to link Romany communities and educational authorities; and a call for affirmative action programs in Romania and Serbia and Montenegro for Roma in high schools and universities.

Russinov and other leaders are keenly aware of the cost of such sustained educational intervention, but pragmatically make the case to European leaders that the cost of maintaining an underclass will be even greater. "We know that this will be expensive but we cannot imagine that it is more expensive than keeping us illiterate and on social benefits for all of our lives. We want to participate fully in society and we want to have access to equal education and meaningful jobs," Russinov said.

Bringing Roma to such full participation will require a mixture of ending obstacles of access combined with investment for the future, including resolving property ownership and distribution of municipal property in the Balkans; ending the practice of locating housing for Roma on the outskirts of cities and opening up access to apartments throughout the city. Tax-incentives for businesses hiring Roma and low-interest loans for Romany families are proposed for development, along with construction tender set-asides. Generally, the Romany activists proposed more direct funding to the community, rather than project grants to non-Roma, and more involvement of the Roma themselves in the planning of EU-sponsored aid and development projects.

Soros's own foundations plan to wind down some 13 years of funding of Romany projects throughout their networks in Central and Eastern Europe. The end of Soros funding is not a declaration of victory but rather a tacit announcement that a major Western donor will no longer serve as an enabler to governments that shirk their social responsibilities. In the case of the Roma, some leaders appear to have taken up the challenge. "Europe owes the Roma a lot, and should start paying them back as soon as possible," "Transitions Online" quoted Prime Minister Medgyessy as saying.

While Soros is not indicating any new investment, in a 1 July press release, the World Bank pledged to support the Roma initiative with a special education fund. Education is "the single best way out of the Roma's current impasse," said Wolfensohn. The conference was characterized as the first time that the plight of the Roma was receiving high-level, integrated attention across Europe. While representing an impressive outreach to struggling Romany communities, the new focus comes with a pointed message about cultural clashes described in human rights terms. Anna Diamantopoulou, the EU's commissioner for employment and social affairs, warned Roma in her speech at the Budapest conference that traditions that breach human rights would not be tolerated in the EU. "When fundamental human rights and certain traditions collide, it is the traditions that must change," AP quoted Diamantopouluo as saying in a 30 June report. The practices in question include arranged marriages of teenagers, bride-selling, and keeping children away from school.

According to information in the 148-page World Bank report reported by AP, Romany children have a much poorer attendance rate at school, and 44 percent of Romany men and 59 percent of Romany women were found to be illiterate in 1992. Because the Romany population is growing, many more young people are expected to be seeking access to education and the job market in the coming decades.

Coinciding with the Budapest conference, Romany activists in Russia convened the first Open Congress of Interregional Russian Romany Public Organizations Union on 1 July, titled more bluntly than its European counterpart, "The Problems of Russian State Policy Toward the Roma Population." The conference addressed the lack of official attention to Romany problems, organizers said in a statement released by the Roma Network and circulated by MINELRES, an Internet discussion list on minority rights on 2 July. Unlike the Budapest conference, there were no high-level officials in attendance. The organizers said that Romany communities face difficulties in dealing with local governments. "One of the main reasons for this is a low educational level, as well as ignorance of their rights and, as a result, the inability to assert these rights before the authorities," Georgy Tsvetkov, the union's president, told the congress.

While the Budapest meeting built on momentum created in many smaller national projects and received high-level attention from officialdom, the Moscow meeting pointed to a more challenging picture where basic communication and cooperation was missing between the government and Romany communities in Russia. On the one hand, "Critical social problems in combination with the lack of education lead to criminalization," say the Russian Romany organizers, on the other, "state policy toward national minorities" is to blame, due to prejudice and biased media coverage, a claim borne out by human rights groups such as the Moscow Helsinki Group, which have been monitoring hate speech in the press.

Whereas the countries attending the Budapest meeting already have various NGOs working on drafting more sophisticated proposals to enhance existing government plans, the call of Romany activists from 15 groups across Russia was more basic: an appeal to the State Duma simply to begin a Romany program in Russia to focus on the many problems faced by the community. The Russian conference was sponsored by a group called Main Roads, which maintains a Russian-language website at http://www.romale.ru. Its leaders include Marianna Smirnova-Seslavinskaya, a professional dancer and cultural specialist at the Institute for Philosophy currently preparing a dissertation on Romany music; Georgy Tsvetkov, a theater director and Romany linguist; photographer Mikhail Ivanov; artist Nikolai Bessonov; and Tamara Demeter, a costume designer for the State Circus.

RECOMMENDED NEWS LINKS
INTERNATIONAL. The World Bank has made nine loans for projects supporting social services for Roma in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia. Seven grants in Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, and Slovakia focused specifically on minority and Romany issues. Information on Roma-related projects and the recent three-day conference on Roma, as well as a report tied to the conference titled, "Roma In An Expanding Europe: Breaking The Poverty Cycle" are available at http://www.worldbank.org/romaconference

INTERNATIONAL. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe convened a special conference devoted to the problems of anti-Semitism in Europe. Speeches by some of the more than 150 government and nongovernmental representatives present are available at http://www.osce.org/events/conferences/anti-semitism/index.php

CENTRAL ASIA. The OSCE's chairman-in-office, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, concluded a weeklong visit to Central Asia on 11 July, a region which he has declared a priority during his one-year term. RFE/RL reports that De Hoop Scheffer used the opportunity to encourage OSCE members Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to continue carrying out democratic reforms. Report available at http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/07/11072003170720.asp

IRAN. Iran expert Daniel Brumberg, an associate professor at Georgetown University, told an RFE/RL audience on 8 July that the reformers in Iran have not yet built the necessary networks and social infrastructure to bring about fundamental political reform in Iran, and that the Islamic Republic is not on the verge of collapse. "I don't think the prospects for reform as a result of recent student protests are very high," said Brumberg. Report available at http://www.regionalanalysis.org/briefings/latest/en/2003/07/76AA214F-526F- 427D-9EDC-4121DAA6B46E.ASP

RUSSIA. "Something Has Gone Out Of The People." Yuri Vasilev, writing for the weekly "Moskovskie Novosti," reports that the doctors treating the victims of the suicide bombing at a Moscow rock concert had earlier complained of being discriminated against because they were from the Caucasus. Available at http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/1314.cfm

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