3 January 2001, Volume
ALFRED FRIENDLY PRESS FELLOWSHIPS.
Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships (AFPF) have announced its annual competition for print journalists from developing and transitional countries with an emerging free press. Approximately 12 mid-career reporters and editors -- usually between the ages of 25 and 35 -- are selected annually to come to America for a six-month, in-depth, practical introduction to the professional and ethical standards of the U.S. print media. An applicant must have an excellent command of written and spoken English, early to mid-career status, with at least three years experience as a print journalist, a demonstrated commitment to a career in journalism in the home country, and current employment as a journalist with an independent print media organization in a developing or transitional country. See http://www.freemedia.at/alfredfriendly.htm (The Glasnost Defence Foundation Digest, 25 December)FORD FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM.
The International Fellowships Program provides opportunities for three years of graduate-level study and will actively recruit candidates from social groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education. Fellows will be selected from Russia on the basis of their leadership potential and commitment to community or national service. Fellows may enroll in master's or doctoral programs and may pursue any field of study consistent with the goals of the Ford Foundation which currently works in fifteen fields to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Fellows may enroll in universities in any part of the world. For an application, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.fordfound.org/ (Center for Civil Society International, 12 December)CIVIC EDUCATION PROJECT.
The Civic Education Project is an international educational organization which assists democratic reform through projects with universities in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union by collaborating with social science departments through selection and placement of Visiting Lecturers and the support of Eastern Scholars. CEP currently works in 20 countries and supports about 200 Fellows in various social science fields. Additional information is at http://www.cep.org.hu/ (Center for Civil Society International, 13 December)MICROFINANCE ACCOUNTING COURSE.
An English-language training course "Fundamentals of Accounting for Managers in Microfinance" will take place in Krakow, Poland on 19-22 February 2001. Contact Justyna Pytkowska, Training Coordinator, Microfinance Centre for C&EE and the NIS at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.mfc.org.pl (Center for Civil Society International, 30 December)
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB AWARDEES FOR YEAR 2000.
Among those honored during the Yerevan Press Club's annual ceremony were: Valeriy Aydinian of "Novoye Vremya" newspaper for satire; the BBC's Alexey Manvelian for building information bridges; and Natalia Gomtsian ("Golos Armenii" newspaper) and Karen Mikayelian ("Novoye Vremya" newspaper) for professional coverage of cultural life. (Armenian Media News, 23-29 December)WHO GETS 'ANTI-VOTES' FROM THE MEDIA?
The Yerevan Press Club received 73 responses to its poll of heads of media enterprises, journalists and media experts as to who or what has the most negative influence on the Armenian media. The most "anti-votes" were garnered by: the Armenian Agency of Press Dissemination for permanent non-payment to the print media; the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for repeated violations of broadcasters' rights; the Armenian National Assembly for passing the Draft Law "On Television and Radio" in October. (Armenian Media News, 23-29 December)INTERNET HACKED TWICE IN A WEEK.
On 28 December Arminco, the leading Internet provider in Armenia, issued a news release about the second attack in a week on its clients. According to the news release, Arminco has informed ArmenTel Company directly, and currently the client support team of Arminco awaits appropriate actions. (Armenian Media News, 23-29 December)
POPULAR FRONT PARTY HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENT.
In a detailed survey of human rights problems in the year 2000, the Popular Front Party deemed the continued existence of political prisoners -- despite a partial amnesty earlier in 2000 -- as "the most obvious obstacle to the building of civil society," appending a list of 43 of its members still imprisoned on political grounds. The statement also cited "total irregularities" on freedom of assembly, including hundreds of detentions after mass opposition rallies in April plus 63 arrests in November. As for official policies towards the third sector, the Popular Front Party pointed to chronic difficulties with registration imposed by the Ministry of Justice against hundreds of NGOs, such as the National Democracy Foundation, the Support Center for Democratic Election, the NGO Congress and the "Inam" Center for Pluralism. The Popular Front Party singled out freedom of the press, particularly the new press law which allowed the authorities to stop the printing of the "Monitor Weekly" magazine, to close the "Uch Nogte" paper, to increase pressure against the newspaper "Europe," to kidnap journalist Elbayi Hasanli and to arrest Rauf Arifoglu of "Yeni Musavat" on false charges of an attempted hijacking. The independent ANS and Space broadcasting companies, especially Sara TV, continued to be targets of the Aliyev regime. In the Popular Front Party's view, the parliamentary elections held on 5 November were "falsified and misrepresent the nation's will. Azerbaijanis voted against the National Party of Azerbaijan, headed by the Aliyev clan and the artificial opposition they created and instead chose the Musavat Party supported by the democratic opposition and the Popular Front that was not allowed in the elections." The Popular Front asserted that the Ministry of Internal Affairs "played the main role in falsifying the elections." (Azerbaijan Bulletin, 28 December)
LUKASHENKA WANTS ONLY BELARUSIANS AS PRIESTS.
After a meeting with Cardinal Kazimir Sventek, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus, Belarusian leader Lukashenka noted that he wants only persons who are citizens of Belarus to be priests in that country, ITAR-TASS reported. At present, he said, 149 of the country's 261 Catholic priests are foreigners, most of them Polish citizens. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)WAGES FALL.
The Belarusian statistics ministry told Belapan on 27 December that average monthly wages fell from $73.50 in October to $70.00 in November, the first officially reported decline in nine months. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)CPJ CALLS FOR INTENSIFIED INVESTIGATION OF JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE.
The New York-based journalist watchdog group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, on 26 December urged Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka to step up the investigation into the disappearance of Dmitry Zavadsky, an ORT cameraman who has been missing since 7 July 2000, AP reported. "We now fear that the journalist may have been killed," CPJ said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
'MEIN KAMPF' TRANSLATION PUBLISHED.
Bulgaria's Jewish community on 22 December protested the recent publication and sale of what is being advertised as "the first unabridged Bulgarian version" of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," AP reported. The 584-page translation went on sale on 21 December. The volume does not specify the identity of the translator or the publisher or the number of printed copies. The Jewish community called for a ban on its sale. Translations of Hitler's infamous book recently went on sale in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)
KLAUS WANTS TO PRIVATIZE CZECH TV...
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus, responding to the recent uproar over the appointment of one of his supporters as director general of Czech Television, said on 21 December that "the hybrid called [the Czech Television] public corporation does not function, as it is neither a state nor a privately owned institution. It is time to start preparing for its privatization," CTK reported. Social Democratic Party (CSSD) deputy Miroslav Kucera said in response that Klaus has "succumbed to emotions" and is "unfortunately fomenting another wave of emotions" among the staff of Czech Television. Senators Michael Zantovsky and Jan Ruml of the Four Party Coalition said the proposal "reflects his frustration over the fact that Czech Television...continues to defend its right to be an independent and impartial medium" as well as the "last bastion against the arrogance and corruption of politicians and political parties." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)�NEW TELEVISION MANAGEMENT FIRES REBELS�
Jana Bobosikova, who was appointed Czech Television news director on 23 December by new director general Jiri Hodac, on 26 December dismissed 20 members of the staff who refuse to recognize the new management and abide by its directives, CTK and international agencies reported. She warned that she will ask police to help evacuate the television premises. On 24 December, the television staff security called on police to help them gain control of the building. But police refused to intervene, calling the matter an "internal dispute" that does not threaten lives, heath or property. On 27 December Hodac filed a criminal suit against the protesting staff. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)�POLITICIANS DIVIDED IN REACTIONS TO TV CONFLICT.
On 26 December, Culture Minister Pavel Dostal called on Jiri Hodac to resign, and a group of senior Four Party Coalition leaders headed by Jan Ruml, Michael Zantovsky and Jan Pilip arrived atCzech Television in the afternoon hours of 26 December to prevent the evacuation of staff by force. But Prime Minister Milos Zeman on 22 December called the reaction of employees to Hodac's appointment "hysterical." Ivan Langer, Chamber of Deputies chairman of the Media Commission, said the commission will not discuss the developments before 12 January 2001, but Ruml said the Senate might meet in special session for this purpose on 3 January. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)CZECH TELEVISION OFF, ON, OFF AIR AS SITUATION REMAINS CONFUSING.
Broadcasts on Czech Television were resumed on 28 December, following a decision by new director general Jiri Hodac to black out all broadcasts the previous day, in order to prevent rebel staff from the television's newsroom to broadcast their competing newscasts via cable and satellite television, CTK, AP and Reuters reported. Films and commercials were broadcast on 28 December, but Hodac re-imposed periodic black-outs to cut off transmissions by the rebel news staff. The resumption of broadcasting followed a decision by the Broadcasting Council calling on Czech Television to "rectify the illegal situation and immediately resume broadcasting." Hodac expressed satisfaction with that decision and is threatening to remove the dissident journalists from the Czech TV premises. But TV Council Chairman Martin Muchka said the resumption of interruptions on Hodac's orders shows he did not "fully" meet the council's decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)HAVEL SIDES WITH TELEVISION REBELS.
President Vaclav Havel on 27 December told Czech Radio that Hodac's appointment may have been in line with the letter of the law, but is "against its sense and its spirit." The February 1948 Communist take-over, Havel said, had also been in line with existing laws. He said the situation arose because "party interests are paramount to everything and everything is done according to party interests, including appointments to boards of banks and television." The leadership of the ruling Social Democratic Party on the same day called for Hodac's resignation, and Deputy Premiers Pavel Rychetsky and Vladimir Spidla later met with representatives of the television unions. They said afterwards those talks were "interesting." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
NGOS, OPPOSITION DECRY PRESIDENT'S ATTACK ON MEDIA.
Two Georgian human rights organizations on 21 December expressed outrage at President Eduard Shevardnadze's criticism the previous day of what he termed the media's aggressive reporting, Caucasus Press reported. The extra-parliamentary Republican Party of Georgia similarly issued a statement accusing the authorities of trying to offload to the media responsibility for the failure to resolve the country's problems. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)STANDOFF BETWEEN LEADERSHIP, MEDIA INTENSIFIES.
Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 28 December, Georgian parliament deputy speaker Vakhtang Rcheulishvili accused the independent Georgian media of being "as corrupt as some politicians," and said journalists are equally to blame for the current situation on the country. He specifically singled out the newspapers "Alia" and "Rezonansi" for propagating what he termed misleading information. President Eduard Shevardnadze accused the media last week of launching an "informational offensive" against the Georgian leadership. Also on 28 December, parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania ordered the parliament's press service to revoke the withdrawal of a journalist's accreditation. Nino Tkeshelashvili, who works for the independent TV station Kavkasi, had her accreditation withdrawn two weeks ago after a heated exchange with the chairman of the parliamentary procedural committee. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL APOLOGIZES TO HUNGARY.
Amnesty International has apologized to Hungary for having published in the Netherlands an advertisement accusing Hungarian police of brutality against Roma children, Reuters reported on 28 December. The ad showed a three-year-old Romany child with his teeth allegedly broken by police. Interior Ministry Secretary Laszlo Felkai told Reuters that the advertisement strengthened Western European perceptions that the human rights situation in Central and East European countries, which under communism was bad, remained so after the collapse of the former regimes. He said Hungary always conducts investigations when Amnesty International launches a complaint and that his ministry is making efforts to cut police violence against the Roma by organizing special courses for its staff on handling cases involving members of that minority and by increasing the number of Romany policemen. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
OFFICIAL DECREE ON DECEMBER 1986 DISORDERS DISPUTED.
Arken Uaqov, former teacher at the Almaty Architecture Institute and veteran of the December 1986 public demonstrations, told a 21 December press conference that he protested a 13 October Kazakhstan government decree published in "Novoye Pokoleniye" that stated that only 92 participants had been imprisoned. Uaqov, sentenced to forced labor camps for 8 years for his role in the events, claimed that 74 protesters were killed during what has come to be called the "December Rebellion" following Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to fire longtime and ethnic Kazakh republic first secretary Dinmukhammed Kunayev and replace him with ethnic Russian Gennady Kolbin. About 850 were jailed and more than 1,500 Kazakhs were heavily beaten, according to Uaqov. At the time, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakhstan Soviet Socialist Republic. ("RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 21 December)
OSCE TRAINS KOSOVO JOURNALISTS.
In partnership with local media and a variety of national and international journalism organizations, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo has provided training to 730 Kosovo broadcast and print journalists over the past year. The training has targeted specific professional needs of journalists and producers, such as writing news stories and features, interviewing techniques, ethics, internet research, news and documentary production, news program production and on-air presentation. Advanced training in investigative reporting and training in all aspects of fair and open media coverage of election campaigns was provided. (OSCE Press Release, 19 December)
REVIEW OF OPPOSITIONIST'S ACQUITTAL RESUMES.
The Bishkek City Military Court on 22 December resumed its review of the August decision by the same court to acquit former Deputy President and opposition Ar-Namys Party leader Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov was arrested in March and charged with abuse of his official position while serving as National Security Minister. He was acquitted in early August, but the board of the Kyrgyz Military Court annulled that ruling in September and called for a review of the case. That review began in early October but was suspended six days later later because of the indisposition of the presiding judge. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)
HUNGARIAN FIRM WINS MACEDONIAN TELECOM STAKE.
The Macedonian government said in a statement in Skopje on 21 December that it has decided to sell a 51-percent stake in its Global System for Mobile to Hungary's Matav. The Hungarian bidder offered $674 million to purchase and develop the system. A Macedonian government spokesman said that the government was impressed with the Hungarians' pledges for the "future development" of Telecom. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski called it the "biggest [single] foreign investment in Macedonia," AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)
PARLIAMENT WARNS FEUDING CHURCHES.
The legislature passed a resolution reminding Montenegro's feuding Serbian Orthodox and Montenegrin Orthodox Churches that the purpose of Churches is to unite people and not to exacerbate divisions among them, Montena-fax news agency reported from Podgorica on 21 December. The resolution advised rival Church leaders to pursue their claims over property and other rights in the courts and nowhere else. Most Montenegrins who express a religious affiliation are Serbian Orthodox. The Montenegrin Orthodox Church is nonetheless vocal and well connected with the independence movement. The Montenegrin Church's members charge that they and their Church do not enjoy equality with the Serbian one. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)
ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENT IN BUCHAREST.
Two men who claimed they were looking for "Auschwitz soap" made of human fat smashed windows and hurled objects on 28 December at the Jewish History Museum in Bucharest. The two hit a guard and attempted to strangle him, Mediafax reported. They started vandalizing the exhibition after they were told that the museum has no display of such soap. Sorin Iulian, secretary general of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, was quoted by AP as saying that the museum used to display such soap made in Nazi concentration camps till last year, but it no longer does so. There has been recently controversy among Holocaust historians whether the soap had been fabricated from Jewish human fat, as previously believed. President Iliescu said in reaction on 29 December that the incident is "a grave insult against the Jewish community's memory and identity" and is "unacceptable in a tolerant, democratic society." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS.
Oleg Panfilov, who heads the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, said he has counted 68 attacks on Russian journalists in 2000. Most of them took place in the provinces, not in the capital, and most have not been solved. ("Washington Post," 28 December)CABINET APPROVES TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLAN.
The Russian government has approved a concept paper for restructuring the country's telecommunications infrastructure, "Segodnya" reported on 21 December. Prepared by Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, the paper calls for imposing "restrictions on the direct access of foreigners to the telecommunications market in order to defend national security." It also calls for the gradual introduction of time-related tariffs for telephone services rather than the fixed-payment system in use now. Such a system could seriously limit Internet use by Russian citizens. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 23 December)TIES THAT BIND.
Several St. Petersburg newspapers, including the largest reformist weekly "Chas pik," have signed a cooperation agreement with the Media Union, an organization the Kremlin has pushed forward as a counterweight to the Union of Journalists of Russia, which is headed by Vsevlod Bogdanov. The latter has irritated the Kremlin with its independence and commitment to press freedom, Western agencies reported. But this latest move may be the result simply of family ties: "Chas pik's" chief editor Nataliya Chaikina is the wife of Viktor Cherkesov, a longtime Putin confident, KGB colleague, and currently presidential envoy to the Northwestern Federal District. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 2 January)GUSINSKII WINS LEGAL VICTORY.
A Moscow court on 26 December dismissed the fraud case against Media-MOST head Vladmir Gusinskii, but the office of the Prosecutor-General said that it would appeal the court's decision, according to Interfax. Media-MOST spokesman Dmitrii Ostalskii noted that the decision shows "that in the Russian judicial system there are some people left who won't give into pressure." According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 27 December, Gusinskii's lawyers did not expect such an outcome; six months ago, the same Tver district court rejected a similar appeal; charges against a media magnate were not declared illegal. And, according to the daily, if a Moscow municipal court approves the resolution of the Tver district court, then the Prosecutor-General's Office will have to withdraw the international arrest warrant and extradition request for Vladimir Gusinskii. On 22 July, Gusinskii was released from a Spanish jail after posting one billion pesatas ($5.6 million) in bail. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)TATARSTAN LEADER REJECTS MEDIA CRITICISM...
In a 22 December speech to the Tatarstan State Council, President Mintimer Shamiev commented on recent spate of negative articles about him in some Russian and Tatar media. The articles were critical of Shaimiev's plans to run for his third presidential term and for involvement in corruption. ("RFE/RL Tatar Report," 22 December)...BUT PRAISES RADIO LIBERTY.
President Mintimer Shaimiev told an RFE/RL correspondent on 1 January that "the people of Russia are only now beginning to understand the meaning of liberty. We used to learn what freedom is from Radio Liberty, although it was hard to tune to its frequency. Since we gained freedoms for our people, I wish that in future they will be secured and there would be no infringements on human rights by anyone. This is my biggest wish. Maybe for people living in developed democratic societies this is not something new, but these recent achievements are of great value for us." (RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Service, 2 January)NEW RADIO NETWORK.
The World Radio Network has launched a new station this month in St. Petersburg that will be a pilot for a Russian-language network due on-air next year, Radio Sweden reported on 19 December. The new radio station, known as Vesermirna Radioset (World Radio Network) broadcasts on 684 AM and offers St. Petersburg's 4.75 million citizens a mix of news and information programming in Russian from international broadcasters including Radio Sweden, YLE Radio Finland, Radio Canada International, Radio Prague, Radio Slovakia International and China Radio International. The second stage in the network roll-out will be an AM transmitter in Moscow, followed by FM stations in a further eight cities to be set over the next twelve months. WRN will also shortly open a representitive office in Moscow to co-ordinate its radio activities across Russia, including sourcing locally produced programming. Technically, Vesermirna Radioset will be put together in WRN's London studios and sent by satellite to Russia for local transmission. (FSUMedia Mailing List, 20 December)AUTHOR SAYS NEW ANTHEM A HYMN FOR THE ORTHODOX.
President Putin told reporters on 28 December that it is possible that he will approve new words to Russia's national anthem by decree. Currently, an advisory panel is reviewing possible new lyrics. The author of the words to the old Soviet anthem, Sergei Mikhailov, has penned a new version, and he told Russian Television that the new lyrics are the "hymn of an Orthodox country." Meanwhile, not all television and radio stations have begun broadcasting Russia's new anthem, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 28 December. According to the daily, only Radio Rossii played the anthem the previous day; however, Andrei Bystritskii, deputy chairman of All-Russia State Television and Radio Company, said by New Year's Eve all of its TV and radio stations will be playing the old Soviet tune. The management of Media-MOST's NTV and TV-6, in which Boris Berezovskii owns a large stake, maintain that they will not play the anthem since they are not state-owned. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)REGIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS VS. LOCAL MEDIA.
After a 20 December Krasnodar regional electoral commission examined alleged violations of the election law by the local media during mayoral elections, the commission appealed directly to the Russian Federation Press Minister to "suppress the illegal activities" of the TV company "Aktsent" and the newspaper "Kubansky Kurier" and threatened to revoke their registration. As for the municipal television and radio company, "Krasnodar", it was warned to obey existing electoral laws. Similar actions by electoral commissions on the media in December were noted in the city of Cheliabinsk and in Tyumen and Rostov regions. In Tyumen the electoral commission appealed to the court to examine possible administrative violations by the "Trudovaya Tyumen" newspaper. In Cheliabinsk, the commission itself notified the newspaper "Delovoi Ural" that it had spread campaign propaganda and violated the law. "Not so long ago," the Glasnost Defense Foundation noted, "conflicts between electoral commissions and the media were solved in court, but now, the state has built a convenient 'vertical: from electoral commission to Press Ministry', which could possibly replace the court." (The Glasnost Defense Foundation Digest, 25 December)POLL SHOWS 50 PERCENT IGNORANT OF INTERNET.
According to a survey conducted by the Public Opinion foundation, 51.04 million Russians or 55.9 per cent of the population, are barely aware of the existence of the world wide web. Only 10.3 million Russians, or 11.3 per cent, have access to the Internet at work, at home or at friends. And the number of actual users is only 3.3 million, or 3.6 per cent. The web mainly remains "something in the capital" as Muscovites make up one-fourth of the users. A total of 69,610 people were polled in 115 cities located in 65 federal constituencies. (Itar-TASS, 20 December)IS STRANA.RU WATCHING YOU?
According to a "Moscow Times" article, the "infamous Kremlin website Strana.ru" may be preparing "an 'active measures' campaign...against Russian intellectuals who dare to speak critically of the Russian government abroad." This alleged campaign is the "new project" of Sergei Markov, formerly with the Moscow Carnegie Center and now head of the new Strana.ru foreign service arm. ("Moscow Times," 22 December)SECURITY COMMUNITY CELEBRATES CHEKIST JUBILEE.
Speaking in the Kremlin at a celebration of the Day of the Security Services Worker, President Vladimir Putin noted that in the past, "Chekists have been blamed for the mistakes and crimes of those who were in power." But now, he said, the secret agencies are serving "not individuals but the country as a whole," ITAR-TASS reported on 20 December. On the same day, virtually all Russian media outlets featured stories about and interview with present and past secret service leaders. FSB chief Nikolay Patrushev said that the entrance of former KGB cadres into the government reflects the need to introduce "fresh blood" into the political system, "Izvestiya" reported. And former SVR chief Sergei Lebedev told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" that in the course of the twentieth century, "there has not been any place on the planet where a KGB officer has not been." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 23 December)FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE CELEBRATES TWICE...
The SVR celebrated 20 December not only as the anniversary of the formation of the Cheka but also as the anniversary of the creation of its immediate predecessor, the foreign department of the OGPU which was set up in 1920. President Vladimir Putin came to SVR headquarters at Yasenevo for the celebrations, strana.ru reported. Others taking part in the commemoration were former chiefs of the services, Vladimir Kryuchkov, Leonid Shebarshin, Yevgenii Primakov and Vyacheslav Trubnikov as well as some of its most famous agents and spies, including British defector George Blake. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 23 December)...AND GOES ONLINE.
To mark its 80th anniversary,the SVR opened its own Internet site at http://www.svr.gov.ru. It reports briefly about its current activities and more extensively about the past glories of the KGB, including special pages on Pavel Sudoplatov and the activities of Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 23 December)BUT LOCAL COURT RULES AGAINST FSB IN SPY CASE�
A court in Primorskiskii Krai ruled against the FSB's handling of its charges againt Valery Soifer, an Academy of Sciences expert on radiation safety, that he had divulged state secrets, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 December. Earlier this year, the local office of the FSB had searched Soifer's house and discovered 15-year-old documents stamped "top secret". The FSB decided not to arrest the 70-year-old scientist, but instead "pardoned" him under an amnesty. Soifer appealed to the court and the charges have now been vacated. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 2 January)�AND RESEARCHER'S ESPIONAGE TRIAL POSTPONED.
The espionage trial of Igor Sutyagin of the Institute for USA and Canada will reopen on 9 January, after Sutyagin requested an additional lawyer and more time to prepare his defense at proceedings held in Kaluga Oblast on 26 December. Sutyagin, who has been held in prison for more than a year, is accused of passing classified information about Russian nuclear submarines to the U.S. and Britain, Russian agencies reported. Sutyagin's lawyer said that his client hasn't had access to classified information and based his analyses on information available from open sources. According to ITAR-TASS, Sutyagin's preparation for the book, "Russia's Strategic Nuclear Arms," published by the Ploughshares Fund and the W. Alton Jones Foundation, "may have caught the attention of foreign intelligence services." The agency added that the court may seek to determine "sources of funding behind these [Western] foundations." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)MURMANSK SAID TO BE A HOTBED OF FOREIGN SPIES.
Foreign intelligence services have targeted Murmansk Oblast as a "priority" area for their activities, Nikolai Zharkov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) directorate in Murmansk Oblast, told Interfax North-West on 28 December. According to Zharkov, since the beginning of the year, 12 foreign intelligence actions involving 15 foreign agents have been foiled there. Security officers also put a stop to unlawful actions by foreign correspondents following the sinking of the Kursk submarine off Murmansk's coast in August. Zharkov also revealed that foreign governments frequently "pursue their own interests" under the cover of environmental organizations. For example, a U.S. fund, which he did not name, has earmarked funds for the destruction of the last, not the earliest, generation of nuclear submarines, which he said is not only inexpedient from an environmental point of view but also raises a number of other questions. RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 21 December that Murmansk Oblast received $7.5 million from Great Britain for the construction of an enterprise that will process domestic and imported nuclear waste. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)PUTIN PLANS RESTRUCTURING OF POLITICAL PARTIES.
President Vladimir Putin has sent to the Duma a draft bill on political parties that will radically change the existing political system by eliminating regional parties and introducing state funding for registered political parties, RIA-Novosti reported on 26 December. To be officially registered and eligible for funding, parties must have at least 10,000 members overall and 100 in each of half of the Russian Federation's territorial entities. The plan is intended to reduce the number of parties from 180 to perhaps a dozen, "Izvestiya" reported on 26 December. At the present time, only the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) would qualify for funding under the draft legislation. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 2 January)TATARSTAN POLITICIANS REACT TO DRAFT LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES.
Republican Party leader Mukhammat Sabirov on 28 December called the new federal draft law on political parties not very democratic, referring to the requirement for parties to open their branches in over a half of Russian regions, Tatar-inform reported. This issue is not a Federation concern but that of the people in separate entities, he said, and proposed to add party size to the requirements for registration. In his opinion, the law is to allow formation of regional parties in federation entities and to provide criteria of their registration. Head of National Independence Party Ittifaq Fauziya Bairamova backed the draft law as a whole but expressed concern about whether it permits creation of regional parties. If not, she said, federation territorial entities should adopt their own laws to allow such parties. Tatarstan Communist Party member Nikolai Korobkov favored the draft law but expressed hope that regional parties will be also permitted. (RFE/RL Tatar News, 29 December)CHUVASH PRESIDENT DECRIES RETURN TO 'BOLSHEVIK STATE.'
Chuvashia President Nikolai Fedorov on 24 December sharply criticized federal authorities in an NTV interview. He asserted that over the past few months, Russia was becoming a bureaucratic, unitary and bolshevist state instead of a democratic one and was returning to the 1950s or 30s. Fedorov was the sole vote in the Federation Council against the draft law for the former Soviet anthem and called its revival a "sign of neo-bolshevist revenge." Fedorov also characterised the Chechen war as hopeless and criminal, saying that Russia has failed in its counter-terrorist operation there, stating that hundreds of thousands of women, children, and old people have died, while no bandit has been killed. ("RFE/RL Idel-Ural Weekly Review," 29 December)VOTERS PLIED WITH DRINK IN MARI-EL POLL?
There were serious violations during the republic's 17 December presidential poll, the Nizhni Novgorod telegraph agency reported 18 December. Reportedly, vodka was handed out to voters -- followed by calls to elect the victorious incumbent Leonid Kislitsyn -- and some of the troops stationed in the republic were told to make the right choice -- along with the name of a specific candidate. The republic electoral commission reported, however, that no official complaints have yet been filed. ("RFE/RL Volga Region Review," 22 December)PROSECUTORS OFFICE CONDEMNS BASHKORTOSTAN CONSTITUTION.
The Bashkortostan parliament on 28 December discussed the prosecutor's criticism of 55 provisions of the new republic Constitution, RIA-Novosti reported. Parliamentary Speaker Konstantin Tolkachev urged federal authorities to accept entities legislation as the Russian Federation's national, intellectual, and legal wealth, adding that the process of harmonizing legislation should be on the national as well as republican levels. The head of the lower chamber Legislation Committee Marat Kharisov called the criticism an economic conspiracy reflecting the desire of Russian oligarchs to establish influence over Bashkortostan oil processing plants. The deputies agreed that the issue may be considered in court along with 80 other republic laws to which the Russian federal authorities objected. (RFE/RL Bashkir News, 29 December)DUMA GIVES PRELIMINARY OKAY TO BILL ALLOWING NUCLEAR WASTE IMPORTS...
The State Duma on 21 December passed in the first reading a controversial bill that would allow Russia to import spent nuclear fuel for storage on its territory. The vote was 320 to 30 with eight abstentions. Only the Yabloko faction voted against the bill. During debate on the draft legislation, State Duma deputy (Russian Regions) Robert Nigmatullin said that feasibility studies have shown that Russia could earn more than $20 billion over the next 10 years from such storage, Interfax reported. Environmental groups have fought the measure and tried -- unsuccessfully -- to organize a nationwide referendum that would have asked voters to pass judgement on such a policy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)...APPROVES MORE MONEY FOR CHORNOBYL WORKERS.
Also on 21 December, Duma deputies voted to approve in its second and third readings a law changing the social benefit system for workers who took part in the clean-up following the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Interfax reported, without providing a breakdown of the vote. Under the bill, workers are divided into three different groups, each receiving a different level of monthly compensation ranging from 5,000 rubles ($179) to 1,000 rubles. One small set of workers, 332 in all, will receive 10,000 rubles a month. According to the agency, as a result of the bill spending on Chornobyl workers has increased by 1.1 billion rubles compared with the current level. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS, CASH INCOMES SWELL...
The number of unemployed persons as measured by the State Statistics Committee dropped 19.0 percent as of the end of November to 7.368 million compared to the same date last year, Interfax reported on 25 December. According to the committee, the population's cash revenues adjusted for inflation grew 9.1 percent during the first 11 months compared with the same period last year. In November alone they soared 11.1 percent compared with November 1999 and rose 3.8 percent compared with October 2000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 December)RUSSIA NOW HAS SIXTH LARGEST SHADOW ECONOMY.
Aleksandr Movsesyan of Moscow's Financial Academy told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 December that Russia now has the sixth largest shadow economy in the world, exceeded only by those of Nigeria, Egypt, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Macedonia. He said Russia's shadow economy embraces approximately 40 percent of the country's GDP. Because of its size, Movsesyan said, it cannot be reined in by law but must be legalized through the introduction of universal financial controls over capital flight, money laundering and tax evasion. But even efforts to take these steps, he warned, could simply be transformed into yet another lever in the struggle for political power. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 23 December)
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION DEBATE CONTINUES.
Serbian Orthodox Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo, who is in charge of the church commission for implementation of religious education in state schools, told a press conference on 5 December that the church believes religious education should be obligatory for all students, although he added that parents who did not wish their children to participate could opt out by registering at the start of the school year. Muslims broadly support the religious education plans, while some Protestants have told Keston News Service that they fear the content of the syllabus will not reflect their own beliefs. (Keston News Service, 21 December)BELGRADE LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN JOURNALISTS.
Yugoslavia's Information Secretary Slobodan Orlic told Tanjug on 27 December that Belgrade will no longer impose restrictions on the admission and accreditation of foreign journalists. Instead, he said, the country's information secretariat will work to ensure that all foreign journalists can function in Yugoslavia freely. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)JOURNALISTS PROTEST HARASSMENT OF COLLEAGUE.
Journalists from national and foreign media have condemned the physical harassment of the Bujanovac correspondent for Radio B92 and Glas javnosti, Radoman Iric. Journalists from Beta News Agency, daily Danas, Radio Free Europe, Radio Deutsche Welle, Agence France Press and Novine Vranjske published a statement severely condemning the "physical attack and molestation" of Iric by protest organisers at the Nis-Skopje road near Bujanovac. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 16 December)INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS' ASSOCIATION MEETS.
The president of the Independent Association of Serbian journalists, Gordana Susa, told a regular members' assembly on 16 December that the association's strategic goal was to upgrade itself from a voluntary-activist organisation to a professional association. Susa also noted that "although the authorities had changed, the regime has not." This, she said, was shown by "the dangerous rules on party presentations and requests from the government on the terminology the media should use when reporting from Kosovo and the Presevo Valley." ("ANEM Weekly Report," 16 December)NEW ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION TO BE LAUNCHED.
Serbian Information Minister Biserka Matic met the mayor of Bujanovac on 18 December, Beta news agency reported. Matic said that an Albanian-language radio station would be established within three weeks, funded by the Serbian government and local authorities in Presevo. The station will be based in the Presevo Cultural Centre. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 18 December)MEDIA WAR AGAINST MILOSEVIC?
Mirjana Markovic, wife of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, has accused media of conducting a special war against her family. "The press wrote about the wars in the former Yugoslavia in an untrue way. There is a special war being conducted against us through the media," said Markovic, alleging that this war was conducted by "Western conservative circles who want to occupy this territory." ("ANEM Weekly Report," 20 December)BUT MILOSEVIC'S DAUGHTER'S KOSAVA TV BACK ON THE AIR.
After going off the air during the October 5 revolution, a television station owned by the daughter of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic resumed broadcasting on 21 December. Federal Telecommunications Ministry officials said they will investigate. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 21 December)MILOSEVIC MEDIA BOSS TO STAY IN CUBA?
Former director of the Politika media corporation, Hadzi Dragan Antic, fled the country on 15 December on a one-way ticket to Cuba via Moscow, "Vecernje novosti" reported. According to the report, Antic bought a one-way ticket and left Belgrade airport for Moscow accompanied by a young woman. Two days later he proceeded to Cuba. ("ANEM Weekly Report," 21 December)
TWO OPPOSITIONISTS AMNESTIED, RELEASED.
Turkmen opposition leader Nurberdi Nurmamedov was released from imprisonment on 22 December after being amnestied by President Saparmurat Niyazov. Some 12,000 prisoners were released in the amnesty, which coincides with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Nurmamedov was arrested in January in connection with his dissident activities and journalistic contributions to RFE/RL. He was released on condition that he publicly admit that his activities were "wrong" and take an oath of loyalty towards Niyazov. Another Turkmen dissident, Pirimguly Tangryguliyev, was also released under the amnesty; he was arrested after attempting to register a political party. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, 23 December)NIYAZOV DEMANDS EVERYONE FLY THE FLAG.
President Niyazov has ordered his fellow citizens to fly the national flag above every building in the country -- private or administrative -- as of January. People who do not fly flags, he said, do not love their homeland or support its independence. The president has organized a massive sale of flags at affordable prices. ("RFE/RL Turkmen Report," 24-31 December)
PARLIAMENT URGES GOVERNMENT TO SPEED UP PROBE INTO JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE...
Lawmakers on 21 December adopted a resolution urging the government to speed up the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Earlier the same day, the parliament was addressed by Volodymyr Chemerys, a leader of the "Ukraine Without Kuchma" protest campaign. Gongadze's disappearance was "the drop that overfilled the cup of distrust in the authorities," Interfax quoted Chemerys as saying. According to Chemerys, the authorities want to conceal the truth about Gongadze's disappearance. "Leonid Danylovych [Kuchma], you expect that an expert investigation [of the Moroz tape] will prove your innocence. But there are no experts who could bring back the people's trust in you," he said in the parliament. Protesters in a tent camp on Kyiv's central square are demanding that Kuchma step down, accusing him of ordering Gongadze's murder. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)...WHILE KUCHMA CALLS DISAPPEARANCE TALK A 'PROVOCATION.'
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in Moscow on 21 December that Gongadze's disappearance is a "provocation," Interfax reported. Kuchma noted that "big money and professionals" are behind that provocation. "I am inclined to think that these professionals are ours, Ukrainian, homebred," he added. Earlier this month, Kuchma blamed unspecified foreign secret services for creating a scandal over the journalist's disappearance. Commenting on the "Moroz tape," which allegedly proves the president's complicity in Gongadze's disappearance, Kuchma said the recording does not include "even a hint" that he wanted to get rid of the journalist. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December)PAY DISPUTE SHUTS OFF TV IN WESTERN UKRAINE.
The state-owned Lviv regional broadcast center stopped broadcasting the programs of the state-owned Lviv television and radio production company on 25 December because the latter owes the former $1.8 million, the "Kyiv Post" reported on 28 December, according to DPA. As a result, the 2.7 million people of the region cannot get television at all and can hear FM radio transmissions only between 9:00 am and 5:00 p.m. The shutdown reportedly has also affected communications links used by police and emergency workers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December)
NEW INDEPENDENT PAPER?
"Yangi yer" ("New Place") announced its plans to become an independent newspaper after 38 years of existence as a local government paper in Gulistan, Syr Darya region. It is the second independent newspaper to emerge in Uzbekistan after "Hurriyat." The editorial staff of the 1,500-copy weekly plans to give up their practice of filling the paper's first page with official news. (RFE/RL Uzbek News, 2 January)POLICE 'ROUTINELY TORTURE' DETAINEES.
(Tashkent, Uzbekistan, December 19, 2000) -- Police routinely torture detainees in Uzbekistan, and reports of deaths in custody have risen during the government's three-year crackdown against Islamic dissidents, Human Rights Watch said in a 62-page report based on four years of research was released on 19 December. According to the report, "police use beatings, suffocation, electric shock, rape and other sexual abuse to coerce victims to confess to crimes, while judicial courts routinely admit coerced confessions into evidence, and torturers are seldom, if ever, brought to justice." The report is available at http://www.hrw.org (Human Rights Watch, 19 December)
A MOST DANGEROUS PROFESSION
By Paul Goble
Sixty-two journalists and other media professionals were killed this year for uncovering corruption and opposing authoritarian regimes, the tip of the iceberg of violence against reporters that has made their profession one of the most dangerous lines of work.
While the number of journalists killed this year actually declined from the record 86 in 1999, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists said this week, the actual situation has actually deteriorated. Last year's count included 36 killed during civil wars, many of whom may have died while doing their jobs but not because of what they wrote or broadcast. This year, the IFJ said, only five journalists were killed in such conflict zones.
As a result, virtually all the journalists killed this year were singled out for assassination by those who did not want them to get the story out. Indeed, IFJ general secretary Aidan White, whose organizaation represents 420,000 media staff across the globe, said that "in every corner of the world, journalists have paid a terrible price in the struggle for democracy."
The ICJ report said that Columbia has been the most dangerous country for journalists in 2000 where 11 have been killed already this year. But it noted as well that eight journalists have been killed in Russia this year, including three in the Chechen conflict zone. And it highlighted the case of Sergei Novikov, the owner of a Smolensk radio station who had drawn fire because of his criticism of the activities of local political elites.
As dramatic and distressing as these deaths are, they represent only a small part of the kind of activities both official and unofficial in many countries which are becoming a virtual counterrevolution against journalists who try to report accurately about those in power.
One country which has attracted particular concern in this regard is the Russian Federation. Earlier hopes that it would move quickly toward a genuinely free media have been dashed, with people as diverse as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) suggesting this week that many of the gains of the last decade may be about to be lost.
In a 15 December letter to President Vladimir Putin, the World Press Freedom Committee's chairman, James H. Ottaway Jr, appealed to the Russian leader to end government harassment of independent media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, and ecology reporter Grigor Pasko and RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky.
These three cases, Ottaway said, have "a common thread in that each one involves a decision by official prosecutors to continue the legal harassment of someone who is prominent in the world of journalism." And in each case, "at some point, a court has already found the accused not guilty of official charges. Yet prosecutors and courts insist on retrying them on the same or closely related charges."
Such actions, the WPFC head (Ottaway) concluded, mean that "the situation in Russia is as bad or worse than ever for a free press," something he argued will entail "inevitable long-term consequences for the acceptance of Russia into the community of free and democratic countries, as well as being harmful to the efforts to reform Russian society and the State which should serve it."
Russia is far from the only post-communist country where journalism and journalists are at risk and where as a result democracy and freedom are under threat as well. Journalists have been killed or are missing in Belarus, Ukraine and many other places as well. In some of these countries, officials have revived Soviet-era methods of denying paper, electric power or access to those who report things that officials want ignored or used the police power of the state even more directly.
In other places, officials have employed "market-oriented" solutions, driving some broadcasters and newspapers into bankruptcy either by selective prosecution of tax evasion, discouraging advertisers, or subsidizing only those outlets which hew to the official line.
But what is striking is that in virtually all of these countries journalists continue to try to report the news. The murder of 62 of their colleagues this year is an indication of the odds against them. At the same time, these deaths are an inspiration, an unintended testimonial by their opponents of the importance and power of free media in countries making the transition from authoritarianism to democracy.