6 June 2001, Volume
NEW HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT.
On 25 May, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) issued a 428-page report on Human Rights in the OSCE Region -- the Balkans, the Caucasus, Europe, Central Asia, and North America -- covering key human rights concerns in the member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for 2000. Based on research by the IHF staff, Helsinki Committees and other NGOs, the report includes news on attacks on human rights defenders; violations of ethnic and religious minority rights; persecutions of journalists and scientists; restrictions on freedom of expression and association; violations of humanitarian law; and torture and ill-treatment in detention. In many cases, these problems cannot be redressed due to the lack of independent courts. Escalation of human rights violations was reported throughout Central Asia, along with ever more centralized executive authority. Massive abuses continued in Chechnya, as the international community failed to put effective pressure on Russia to halt violations of humanitarian law by its forces. In Belarus, most basic human rights were violated and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka enjoyed almost unlimited powers; Ukraine appeared to follow the same path. The new Serbian government of Vojislav Kostunica continued nationalist politics. Bosnia-Herzegovina remained unstable. For copies, contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.ihf-hr.org. (MINELRES, 31 May)
MOSCOW'S CULTURAL TIES WITH CIS, BALTIC COUNTRIES VARY WIDELY.
First Deputy Culture Minister Denis Molchanov told the Duma on 4 June that Moscow has become more active in promoting cultural ties with the CIS countries and the Baltic states, but he stressed that the level of ties varies widely, ITAR-TASS reported. Most active are exchanges with Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and the Baltic countries. Things are improving with Ukraine, but ties with Turkmenistan are virtually nonexistent, although Molchanov said that "this was not our fault." Ties with the remaining countries "are below the desired level" for a variety of reasons. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
Preliminary census results suggest that the population has dropped by about 400,000 since the 1991 census, when it stood at 4,784,265, "Vjesnik" reported on 31 May. Serbs made up about 12 percent of the population at that time, but their share is now no more than 5 percent. More detailed results are expected shortly. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)
POLICE AGAIN CLASH WITH OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATORS.
For the second time in three weeks, police in Baku used force on 2 June to break up an unsanctioned demonstration by some 150-200 members and supporters of the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADR), Reuters and Turan reported. Eighteen people were detained and several injured. As during two previous demonstrations, participants demanded the release of political prisoners and the dropping of criminal charges against ADR Chairman and former parliament speaker Rasul Guliev. Guliev, who has lived in the U.S. since leaving Azerbaijan in September 1996, is charged with embezzlement of state property worth $74 million. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)
EXILED OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS TO RUN IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Zyanon Paznyak, leader of one wing of the split Belarusian Popular Front, said in Krakow, Poland, on 2 June that he intends to run in this year's presidential elections in Belarus, PAP reported. Paznyak left Belarus in 1996 and obtained political asylum in the U.S. He lives alternately in the U.S. and Poland. Asked about the Belarusian regime's possible refusal to let him into Belarus or to register him as a presidential candidate, Paznyak said "this would be a political and moral defeat of Lukashenka." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)
MUSLIM ATTACK ON CATHOLICS CONDEMNED.
An attack by three Muslim youths on a group of Roman Catholic worshipers outside Sarajevo's cathedral on Pentecost Sunday has met with universal condemnation by Muslim leaders, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 5 June. The Interior Ministry has prepared indictments. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZES AUTHORITIES.
In its 2001 annual report, Amnesty International criticized the Czech Republic for the way police handled last year's demonstrations against the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Prague; for some provisions in the new Foreigners' Law; and for continued racism against the Romany minority, CTK reported. In related news, three foreigners -- two Algerians and a tourist from Taiwan -- were attacked in Prague on 30 May in what police say were racially motivated assaults. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)AUSTRIAN, GERMAN LEADERS WANT BENES DECREES ABOLISHED.
Addressing the annual meeting, held this year in Augsburg, Germany, of the organization representing Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia as a result of the 1946 Benes decrees, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said on 2 June that the decrees must be declared invalid before the Czech Republic can join the EU, CTK reported. He said protection of minority rights must remain a "crucial element" in the EU and Austria will "strive for these rights to be observed." On 3 June, Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoibler told the gathering that Prague must "rid itself of decrees and laws that are at odds with international legislation." Stoibler also said transition periods for the purchase of real estate should not apply to the Sudeten Germans. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW IMMIGRATION, SECRECY LAWS, AND CIVIL CODE.
The parliament on 29 May amended regulations on the status of foreigners, doing away with the status of "immigrant." Applications by foreigners for asylum, residence, or settlement will henceforth be handled by a new governmental body, to be established within the Interior Ministry. Acquisition of Hungarian citizenship now requires a minimum stay of three years after establishing residence in Hungary. The parliament also amended house rules, stipulating that unauthorized persons must be denied access to state and official secrets discussed at committee meetings or by the plenum. An amendment to the Civil Code, also passed on 29 May, grants individuals the right to publish responses to articles in the media that infringe on their "privacy rights" and obligates the newspaper that printed the article to publish the response. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)HUNGARY TO ATTRACT LABOR FROM NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on 31 May that Hungary will have to attract labor from neighboring countries to fuel its soaring economy. He pointed out that without foreign labor, the country's supply of quality labor will be unsatisfactory within four to five years. "Five to 7 percent annual growth rates cannot be maintained if the labor supply shrinks," Orban explained, adding that the Hungarian economy should develop at a rate that is double the EU average. Meanwhile, representatives of EU member countries agreed in Vienna to introduce a two-year transition period on the free movement of labor while allowing individual member states to restrict access to their labor markets for up to seven years, Reuters and Hungarian media reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)
PRESIDENT SAYS CHECHEN REFUGEES SHOULD RETURN.
Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 2 June that during his talks in Minsk on the sidelines of the CIS summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin he had proposed that the estimated 7,000 Chechen refugees currently in Georgia be voluntarily repatriated, Caucasus Press reported. But Shevardnadze said that Russia should provide material and financial assistance to those willing to return. Shevardnadze and Putin also discussed the Abkhaz conflict, the planned closure of Russia's military bases in Georgia, and economic cooperation, Interfax reported on 1 June, quoting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)
MINISTER DEPLORES ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE, WASTE OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
Addressing the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament on 29 May, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Andar Shukputov expressed concern that the extraction and refining of natural resources is accompanied by wastage and gives rise to serious levels of environmental pollution, Interfax reported. He said that 51 percent of the gas extracted last year was lost, and that the volume of industrial waste now stands at 20 billion tons. The worst sources of pollution, Shukputov said, are fuel-burning power plants, metallurgical combines, and the petrochemical industry. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)KAZAKH, GERMAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS GERMAN EMIGRATION.
Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev met in Astana on 30 May with a visiting German government delegation headed by Migration Department Chairman Joachim Welt, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The talks focussed on the continued emigration to Germany of ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan, which Welt said is in the interests of neither country. Some 700,000 ethnic Germans have left Kazakhstan over the past decade. Welt appealed to the Kazakh government to improve living conditions in Kazakhstan for those who remain. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)FARSI-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS TO OPEN.
Iran's ambassador to Astana, Murtaza Safari, has completed a visit to the Zhambyl and Shymkent oblasts of southern Kazakhstan, which are home to some 10,000 ethnic Iranians, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 30 May. The Iranian Embassy reportedly plans to finance several Farsi-language schools in the region. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)
POLICE, TRADERS CLASH.
Police in Bishkek detained some 50 people on 30 May who resisted an attempt to forcibly dismantle market stalls at a crossroads in the capital, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Four women were injured in the violence and hospitalized. Bishkek Deputy Mayor Anatolii Slezovskii had earlier warned the traders that the government planned to move the market stalls because the current location is too close to the route taken by President Askar Akaev in traveling between his official residence and the presidential office. But the owner of the market, Kamchybek Joldoshbaev, filed suit for financial compensation, arguing that the move would cost him 9 million soms (about $180,000). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)GOVERNMENT RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OFFICE OPENS.
A branch of the governmental Commission on Religious Affairs was opened in Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second- largest city, on 30 May, RFE/RL reported. Southern Kyrgyzstan has a large Uzbek population and is considered to be more susceptible than the north to Islamic fundamentalism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)
TOP OFFICIALS PARTICIPATE IN JEWISH EVENT.
During the opening of a Jewish community library in Riga on 4 June, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga participated in the presentation of Elie Wiesel's book "Night," and the opening of the third reunion of Jews residing outside Latvia, BNS reported. She said she hoped that the library would help provide a deeper understanding of Judaism and the dramatic fate of its people. Vike-Freiberga noted that she had met Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wiesel, whose book is an autobiographical account of the experiences of his family during the Holocaust. She told the reunion members who had come from the U.S., Canada, Kuwait, Israel, Germany, Sweden, and other countries that "Latvia is your homeland." Prime Minister Andris Berzins expressed condolences over the deaths in last week's terrorist blast at a disco in Tel Aviv. He affirmed that Latvia will provide assistance to countries to bring war criminals to justice. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
MINISTER TAKES BACK CONCESSIONS TO ALBANIANS.
Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski argued in Skopje that ethnic Albanian "terrorism" will continue until the constitution is changed to make the Albanians fully equal. He added that the government should seek to defeat the guerillas militarily instead, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 3 June. Georgievski ruled out any "amnesty or negotiations" with the insurgents, dpa reported the next day. He added that "all Albanian parties support the [guerrillas], none of their intellectuals stands on the Macedonian side, and even civilians kept hostage by [the guerrillas] in their villages show solidarity with them." The news agency added that his remarks amount to a retraction of his recent constitutional concessions to the Albanians. Observers note that he may be trying to position himself to keep the support of his nationalist electorate in the upcoming ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)BURNINGS AND BEATINGS IN MACEDONIA.
The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch said in a statement on 29 May that "Macedonian government forces arbitrarily shelled and burned the ethnic Albanian village of Runica [on 21 May] and beat some of its civilian inhabitants.... Six members of one family were wounded by mortar fire and one man was killed. Seven other civilians were severely beaten." Holly Cartner, executive director of the NGO's Europe and Central Asia division, said: "Our investigations show that Macedonian forces burned civilians' homes and beat some villagers last week in the village of Runica. These crimes must be impartially investigated, and those responsible brought to account." Fleeing villagers "provided highly consistent accounts of the attack," the statement added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)TRADE UNIONS PROTEST.
The Macedonian Union of Trade Unions (SSM) staged country-wide protests on 29 May. According to the Skopje daily "Dnevnik," some 15,000 protesters blocked several main roads throughout Macedonia. The largest rally ended in front of the government building in Skopje. "The trade unions are aware that a war is going on, but the government has to understand that if it does not find a way to communicate with us, it will face social unrest as well as war," SSM leader Zivko Tolevski said. He promised further large-scale strikes if the government refuses to talk about economic and social problems with the unions. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)
PARLIAMENT REJECTS LUSTRATION BILL.
The parliament on 31 May rejected a draft bill proposed by the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) that would have instituted lustration for the office of president, parliamentary deputy, cabinet members, judges and journalists, RFE/RL reported. The draft bill would also have allowed access to personal files in the former KGB and NKVD archives. In presenting the bill, PPCD deputy Stefan Secareanu said former members of the communist secret police are now "in control of [important] economic sectors" and are "blackmailing" politicians who are afraid that their past collaboration with the communist secret police will be revealed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)
SOME 200 VICTIMS OF 1941 MASSACRE OF JEWS EXHUMED.
Polish prosecutors have found the remains of roughly 200 victims of the 1941 massacre of Jews in Jedwabne, Reuters and dpa reported on 4 June. The number of victims is far less than the 1,600 claimed by Polish-born New York-based scholar Jan Gross in his controversial book "Neighbors" published last year. The exhumation, which has been criticized by Jewish groups as desecrating the dead, was initiated by Poland's National Remembrance Institute (IPN). IPN investigator Witold Kulesza said it is impossible to determine the exact number of Jews killed in Jedwabne since the IPN conducted only a partial exhumation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
OFFICIALS ANGRY AT REPORT.
Reacting to the publication of Baroness Emma Nicholson's draft report, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the child-abandonment problem in Romania has been turned into one serving politicians who pursue their own political purposes and agenda. Nastase hinted that the baroness is hoping to thereby gain a seat in the British parliament in the forthcoming elections. The baroness told RFE/RL that she is not running in those elections. Senate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu said the report contains many "exaggerated" and "erroneous" findings. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gheorgi Prisacaru said that Nicholson's "allegations" are "groundless" and "excel in lack of objectivity." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)CRITICISM OVER CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS.
Deputies representing six different parliamentary groups in the European Parliament, in a letter addressed to Nastase, protested against the government's intention to return to the Penal Code the infamous Article 200 that penalizes homosexual relationships. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)PRESIDENT BACKS (ALLEGEDLY NONEXISTENT) AMNESTY PROPOSAL.
While Justice Minister Rodica Stanoiu said on the private Antena 1 channel on 31 May that the rumor about the intention to amnesty those involved in "social unrest movements" since 1989 is "either a misunderstanding or misinformation," President Iliescu on the same day said "the idea is praiseworthy." He said this is not a measure aimed at solving "the Miron Cozma problem" but a "more general attempt...to bring about national reconciliation." In a reference to miners' rampages in Bucharest in 1990 and 1991, Iliescu reiterated his view that violence at that time was not started by the miners but by his then-political adversaries, who protested in Bucharest University Square and later allegedly attacked government buildings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)TRANSYLVANIAN NATIONALIST MAYOR FACES INVESTIGATION.
Police on 4 June opened an investigation against Cluj nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar for having sealed the premises of the Town Hall to local councilors, Mediafax reported. Funar claimed the provisions of the Local Public Administration Law recently adopted by the parliament prohibit town councilors from holding office in state companies and that 16 out of 31 councilors hold positions on company boards. He said that as a consequence the council must be disbanded and new elections held. However, that provision of the law applies only from 2004 onward and the local prefect has refused to disband the council. Observers unanimously believe that Funar is in fact trying to avoid implementing those provisions of the law that would make it mandatory for his town to allow bilingual street signs. On 2 June, some 200 people demonstrated in front of the Hungarian Consulate in Cluj, chanting obscenities and "Hungarians out!" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)ROMANIAN JEWS PROTEST HONORING ANTONESCU.
The Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities (FCER) on 4 June said it is "firmly condemning" attempts to rehabilitate Antonescu, whom it described as a "controversial historic personality" who pushed Romania into a "war with huge human costs." The FCER said it had "learned with consternation" about the unveiling of Antonescu's bust on 1 June by "nationalist, chauvinist forces" and that the monument honors one guilty of having "nurtured" the 1941 Iasi pogroms in which thousands of Jews lost their lives. The FCER also says Antonescu ordered the mass deportations of Jews from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to Transnistria, resulting in the loss of "over 100,000 lives." It said it "hopes" that the democratic countries that fought the Axis powers during World War II will oppose the "attempts to rehabilitate Marshal Antonescu...who represents neither the Romanian people nor the country's new democratic forces." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULS GOVERNMENT ORDINANCE ON REFUGEE STATUS.
The Constitutional Court ruled on 5 June that a 2000 government ordinance on the status of refugees is unconstitutional. The ordinance grants those whose requests for political asylum have been rejected the right to appeal to a higher court of justice, but at the same time gives the authorities the right to deport those people from Romania without waiting for the result of the appeal. The Constitutional Court ruled that the stipulation infringes on the constitutional provision for the right to judicial defense. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL POINTS TO WIDESPREAD RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN RUSSIA.
In its annual report released on 30 May, the international human rights group Amnesty International said that "the Russian federal authorities are responsible for major violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic" and have done "very little" to investigate abuses there. (Meanwhile, the Russian group "For an End to the War and the Establishment of Peace in the Chechen Republic" said on 30 May that it plans to enlist foreign support to put pressure on Moscow to end the conflict, Interfax reported.) Amnesty's report also criticized conditions in Russian prisons and in the army and said that Moscow does not treat displaced persons according to international standards. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)OFFICIALS ACKNOWLEDGE NEW RESTRICTIONS ON SCIENTISTS.
Gennadii Mesyats, the deputy president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, acknowledged that the Russian authorities have imposed new restrictions on scholars' foreign contacts, but he said that the state is "entitled to hold its scientists to account" and that "the whole business has been blown out of all proportion," "Izvestiya" reported on 1 June. An article in "Vremya MN" the same day said that the rules represent "a throwback to the Soviet era" and will become obstacles to research. Meanwhile, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 22, reported that voluntary informers reporting to the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and other security agencies now number in the thousands. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)RUSSIAN SCIENCE IN TROUBLE, SCIENTISTS ORGANIZE.
The number of researchers employed in Russia has fallen from 2 million in 1990 to only 800,000 now, Russian scholars said at the meeting of the For Revival of Science Movement that was created on 2 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. The average age of scholars in the country is rising rapidly as young people choose not to go into this low-paying sector. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)CHECHENS DEMONSTRATE IN GROZNY.
Some 500 people congregated in Grozny on 29 May to call for an end to the war in Chechnya and for greater international pressure on the Russian leadership to halt reprisals against Chechen civilians, AP reported. Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov was scheduled to fly to the U.S. on 30 May to explain the "real situation" in Chechnya to members of the U.S. administration, according to ITAR-TASS. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)CALL FOR PUBLIC HANGINGS OF CHECHEN WARLORDS SPARKS UPROAR.
Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, the commander of the North Caucasus military district, said in an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 4 June that he believes those Chechen field commanders responsible for the deaths of dozens or hundreds of people should be tried and sentenced to death. He added that he personally would sentence such criminals to be publicly hanged. Government officials and most parliamentarians, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky being a notable exception, denounced the idea and said the general should stay out of politics. Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry confirmed Russia's moratorium on the use of the death penalty, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)YAVLINSKY SAYS PUTIN LEADING RUSSIA TOWARD CORPORATE STATE.
In an interview published in the Madrid newspaper "El Pais," Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky said that there are clear signs that "a certain type of corporate state is being created" in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. Yavlinsky also said that "it is possible to say that the majority of Russian mass media outlets are constituent parts of the state machine." He said that Russia must create an independent judicial system, find "a political alternative" to the war in Chechnya, and introduce "a more transparent and rational" tax system. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)POTANIN SAYS BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT TIES MORE TRANSPARENT.
Speaking in New York on 3 June, Interros Holding President Vladimir Potanin said that contacts between Russian business and the Russian government have become "much more open, concrete, and useful and therefore more understandable for society," ITAR-TASS reported. He said that this allows the two sides to work with each other without people assuming there is a conspiracy directed at the population at large. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)RUSSIANS DIVIDED ON JUST HOW INDEPENDENT PUTIN IS.
A poll conducted by the ROMIR agency and reported in "Profil," No. 19, found that only 14.3 percent of those surveyed believe that Putin is entirely independent in the decisions he makes. Sixteen percent think he is not independent at all, with 22.6 percent saying he is more independent than dependent and 36.1 percent believing he is more dependent than independent. Nearly one in five believe that Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin exercises the greatest influence on his decisions, the poll found. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)BEREZOVSKY DOUBTS PUTIN WILL LAST HIS TERM.
Embattled oligarch Boris Berezovsky said on NTV on 31 May that he thinks "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin will not even make it through the very next stage of his term." Berezovsky acknowledged he made a major mistake during the last presidential elections by supporting Putin, who he believed at the time would continue former President Boris Yeltsin's reforms. "Putin's view," Berezovsky said, "is that Russia cannot be ruled other than by authoritarian methods, whereas I am deeply convinced -- and the past 10 years have shown as much -- that Russia can develop for real as a liberal country." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)COMMUNISTS CONTINUE TO LEAD IN POLLS.
If parliamentary elections were held now, a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 1 June showed, 37 percent of the electorate would vote for the Communist Party, 20 percent would vote for the Unity-Fatherland bloc, 11 percent for the SPS, 10 percent for Yabloko, 7 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and 5 percent for Women of Russia. No other party would clear the 5 percent barrier needed for representation in the Duma. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)RUSSIANS BELIEVE U.S. MORE JUST SOCIETY THAN THEIR OWN.
A poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 1 June showed that almost half of all Russians -- some 46 percent -- are convinced that American society is basically just and 48 percent believe that it is more just than is Russian society. Only 17 percent said that Russian society is now more just than is American society. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEAD SAYS DECISIONS NOT BEING IMPLEMENTED.
Marat Baglai, the chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court, said that the government must take additional measures to ensure that the court's decisions are in fact carried out, Interfax reported on 29 May. He said that current arrangements that date to 1992 are completely inadequate and that the court's judgements are often ignored. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)JUSTICE MINISTRY SAYS PARDONS SHOULD BE 'EXCEPTIONS.'
The Justice Ministry has issued a directive to prison officials calling on them to reduce appeals for pardons to a minimum, "Izvestiya" reported on 29 May. Pardons should be the "exceptions" rather than the rule, the directive said. The number of those pardoned must not exceed 0.6 percent according to the new rules. But very few pardons have been handed out since Putin took office, and 3,500 current applicants are unlikely to get the pardons they might have obtained earlier. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)GROUP PUSHES ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION.
A group of scholars lead by Tomsk State University Professor Vladimir Utkin has called for alternatives to incarceration, both to save money for the prison system and to promote rehabilitation, Interfax reported on 29 May. These alternatives include work-release and home-detention programs like those found in many Western countries. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)ONE RUSSIAN IN 30 INVOLVED WITH PRISON SYSTEM.
According to a report in "Izvestiya" on 30 May, 3.5 percent of Russia's population is either serving time in the country's prisons or involved in guarding the prisoners. One of the reasons for that, the newspaper said, is that only 4.7 percent of verdicts in criminal cases handed down by Russian courts do not entail prison sentences. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)POLICE STAGE CRIMES TO IMPROVE THEIR STATISTICS.
Moscow police are now staging as many as one in every four crimes so that the authorities can solve them and improve their statistics, according to "Versiya," No. 19. This is particularly the case in the area of organized crime, where the police often "arrive at the scene of the imminent crime even before the criminals do." One reason for the upsurge in this kind of fraud, the weekly said, is that the number of complaints from victims of organized crime has fallen by as much as 90 percent since 1996. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)INTERIOR FORCES SAID TOO LARGE, INEFFICIENT.
An article in "Argumenty i fakty," No. 21, noted that the exact number of Interior Ministry uniformed personnel remains just as much a secret as it was during the Soviet era, but said that the best estimate -- 630,000 -- means that Russia has almost the same number of such forces as does the United States, despite the latter having more than twice as many people. But some 300,000 of the Russian total consists of internal troops. That means that Russia has almost the same proportion of police as the U.S. -- 2.2 police per 1,000 population in Russia as compared to 2.5 per 1,000 in the U.S. -- but the paper noted that the American police are far more efficient. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)AUTHORITIES PREPARE TO DEPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 May, the Russian government is preparing to deport some of the estimated 700,000 to 1.5 million illegal immigrants now in Russia. The government has allocated 15 million rubles ($500,000) to begin this process, according to officials at the Ministry for Federation Affairs and Nationality and Migration Policy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)'ETHNIC SLAV' ARRESTED FOR MAY 2000 BLAST IN VOLGOGRAD.
ITAR- TASS reported on 30 May that the Federal Security Service (FSB) has arrested a 24-year-old "ethnic Slav" from Daghestan and charged him with involvement in the May 2000 bombing in Volgograd that killed two Russian soldiers. At the time of the blast, most Russian media outlets suggested that it was the work of pro-independence Chechens. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)MOSCOW DENOUNCES ESTONIA ON ETHNIC ISSUES.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on 29 May issued a statement asserting that Estonia's policies toward its ethnic minorities, including ethnic Russians, represent an attack on the rights of these groups, Russian agencies reported. The ministry statement singled out new requirements that people working in private firms learn some Estonian and an Estonian decision not to register the Russian Patriarchal Orthodox Church there. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)TATAR OFFICERS OPPOSE MARKING KULIKOVO FIELD ANNIVERSARY.
A group of ethnic Tatar generals and scholars has sent an open letter to President Putin asking him to postpone the planned celebration of the anniversary of the Kulikovo battle, Interfax reported on 4 June. The letter argues that the celebration of that Russian victory over the Mongols and Tatars would set one nation against another and presents the Tatars as "an internal enemy." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)NEVZLIN SAYS PUTIN VIEWS JEWS LIKE ANY OTHER SMALL ETHNIC GROUP.
In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" supplement "Figury i litsa" No. 10, Leonid Nevzlin, the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, said that Putin "in relation to Jews conducts himself just as he does to all other small nations of the Russian Federation, singling them out neither for positive special treatment or negative treatment." Nevzlin said he is satisfied by this approach. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)LEVEL OF ANTI-SEMITISM DEPENDS ON GOVERNMENT?
Leonid Nevzlin, the co-owner of the Yukos oil company and the new president of the Russian Jewish Congress, said in an interview published in "Delovye lyudi," No. 122, that the level of anti-Semitism in Russia depends to a large degree on what the government says and does. "If the government behaves as it is behaving at present, that's a blow for anti-Semitism and a boost for internationalism," Nevzlin said. But if the government should change course, there is enough "everyday anti-Semitism" in Russia that the situation could become dangerous. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)AFRICAN STUDENTS MORE FEARFUL.
"Izvestiya" on 29 May reported that many of the 9 million students from African countries now enrolled in Russian universities are afraid of skinheads and other Russian groups, especially when the latter have been drinking. In the words of one African student in Voronezh: "I fear Russian young guys. When they are sober, they are nice enough, but when they are drunk, then there are no words to describe their behavior." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)MORE GENERALS BECOME GOVERNORS.
Moscow Oblast Governor Boris Gromov said in an interview published in "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 1 June that the coming to power in the regions of professional military men reflects a shift in popular attitudes that may point to more generals becoming governors in the future. He said that "people today are tired of disorder, of irresponsible leaders, of blabbermouths, of chaos at all levels of the state, of the corruption of officials, and of widespread crime." In such a situation, he said, many people look to officers as people they can trust to restore order. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)ONE-THIRD OF POTENTIAL DRAFTEES EXCUSED FOR POOR HEALTH.
Officials at the Defense Ministry's chief medical administration told Interfax on 29 May that over the last three years every third young person subject to the draft had been excused from service because of poor health. The overall rate of illnesses among this age group, the officials said, has increased 28 percent since 1995. It reported that a study by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences found that the proportion of healthy young people in Russia's regions varies from four to 10 percent. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)5,000 SECTS ATTRACT SOME 5 MILLION RUSSIANS.
Officials at the Russian Orthodox Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Nontraditional Religions said on 1 June that some 5,000 sects are operating in Moscow and other major Russian cities and that about 5 million Russians are involved in their activities, Russian agencies reported. Over the past two and a half years, the officials said, they have been able to return 400 of those involved to the Orthodox faith. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)ARCHBISHOP CALLS FOR CONCORDAT WITH VATICAN.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Tadeus Kondrusevich proposed on 29 May that the Russian government should sign a concordat with the Vatican, Russian agencies reported. He noted that approximately 600,000 Russian citizens are Roman Catholics; that there are 220 officially registered parishes and about 300 others that are unregistered; and that there are 215 priests in the country. He said that the Roman Catholic Church is not engaging in missionary work, although he added that "we never ask for a passport to determine the nationality of people who come to a Catholic church and we do not refuse them the right of baptism only on the basis that they are Russians." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AGAIN UNDER THREAT.
A Moscow city court on 30 May cancelled a decision of a lower court that allowed the Jehovah's Witnesses group in Moscow to register and ordered the lower court to hold a new hearing on the matter, Interfax reported. Prosecutors have insisted that the group should not be registered because of their claims that it sparks conflicts with people of other faiths as a result of the distribution of Jehovah's Witnesses literature. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta-religii" reported on 30 May that a Guild of Journalists Covering Religion has been set up within the Media Union headed by television journalist Aleksandr Lyubimov. The new group will seek to promote professional journalistic standards in covering religious questions and protect journalists from arbitrary actions by religious groups or the state. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)MORE THAN 2,000 CONGREGATIONS LOSE LEGAL STATUS.
Yevgenii Sidorenko, the deputy justice minister, told Interfax on 29 May that the process of reregistering religious communities in Russia over the last several years has resulted in more than 2,000 congregations losing their legal status. He said that in October 1997, there were 16,000 religious groups that were supposed to register by the end of 1999, but by that time only 5,000 had succeeded in registering. As a result, the deadline was extended to 31 December 2000. By that time, 13,922 congregations had been registered, but 2,000 failed to register and must be dissolved. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)ALEKSII II SIGNS COOPERATION PROTOCOL WITH LUKOIL.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksii II signed an agreement with LUKoil and said it marks "a new stage in the development of our cooperation," Interfax reported on 30 May. Aleksii said that the oil company has supported many church projects and helped to restore "that which was destroyed in earlier years." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)MORE RUSSIANS TURN TO OMBUDSMAN.
An analysis of the annual report of Russian ombudsman Oleg Mironov published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 29 May showed that ever more Russians are turning to the ombudsman to solve their problems. In 1998, the paper said, 6,978 people appealed to his office, while in 2000, 24,985 people did. Almost half of those who have turned to the office in the last year did so because of problems involving the criminal justice system. The paper noted that Mironov has been far more effective in helping ordinary Russians than his predecessor Sergei Kovalev who, the paper said, "focused all his efforts only on Chechnya -- or more precisely only on the Chechens." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)AUTHORITIES PREVENT KRASNOYARSK WORKERS FROM BLOCKING TRANS- SIBERIAN RAILWAY.
Police in Krasnoyarsk on 4 June thwarted an effort by 40 local workers to block the Trans-Siberian railroad, Interfax-Eurasia reported. The workers were seeking to call attention to the fact that their employers have not paid them regularly nor recently. There were scuffles between the workers and the police, the news service said, but no one was injured. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)RUSSIANS PROTEST CRUELTY TO ANIMALS.
The Center for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organized a demonstration in Moscow's Pushkin Square on 30 May to protest the sterilization and killing of stray dogs and cats, RIA-Novosti reported. The protesters demanded that the authorities enforce articles in the criminal code that set prison terms of up to 20 years for those who engage in the mass destruction of animals. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)RUSSIANS EVER LESS NUMEROUS AND EVER LESS HEALTHY.
Natalya Rimashevskaya, director of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Social-Economic Problems of Demography, said on 29 May that if current trends continue, the population of Russia will fall to 132 million in 2015, 87 million in 2025, and only 55 million in 2050, Interfax reported. She said that the population is not only decreasing in number but becoming ever less healthy with "each succeeding generation in Russia" having "less potential" for good health. She noted that Russia now has 2.8 million unsupervised children (bezprizorniki) who are "not needed by their parents or by the state." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)DRUG TRAFFICKING AN INCREASING PROBLEM IN RUSSIAN ARMY.
An article in "Moskovskie novosti" on 29 May says that there is significant indirect evidence that Russian officers and soldiers are involved in the drug trade from Afghanistan. The potential profits are so enormous, the paper said, that many in the poorly paid military cannot resist the temptation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)10 PERCENT OF MUSCOVITES HAVE TRIED DRUGS.
Using World Health Organization methods, Moscow's chief drug specialist Yevgenii Briun said on 31 May that 10 percent of Moscow's residents have tried drugs and that 110,000 are regular users and have serious problems, Interfax reported. The news service reported the same day that police have identified an employee of a psychiatric hospital in the Russian capital who was selling psychotropic drugs illegally. Meanwhile, "Vremya MN" reported on the same day that Moscow is opening the first youth drug rehabilitation center. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)HARSHER PENALTIES FOR DRUG DEALERS, MORE SUPPORT FOR ORPHANS.
A meeting of the Russian Security Council on 30 May called for the introduction of harsher penalties for those who deal in illegal drugs and more support for orphans, Interfax reported. Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko told the meeting that the number of orphans in Russia is increasing by 100,000 every year, with "the absolute majority of these being social orphans," that is, children who have been abandoned by still-living parents. For his part, Putin ordered the distribution of funds for the construction of institutions for children in two small towns, the news agency said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)RUSSIA SAID LACKING LAWS TO FIGHT PROSTITUTION.
Aleksandr Bochkov, the chief of the morals police in Moscow, told Interfax on 30 May that Russia lacks the necessary legal provisions for an effective fight against the spread of prostitution. At present, he said, officials can only punish prostitution administratively rather than legally. Those engaging in prostitution are thus often charged for violating registration or passport laws, he said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)RUSSIANS SUPPORT STATE ROLE IN HOUSING, NATURAL RESOURCES.
A poll by monitoring.ru and reported by Interfax on 30 May found that 44 percent of Russians believe that the state should provide housing to all citizens, with 33 percent saying that it should provide free housing only to the needy, and 6 percent saying it should not be involved in the housing business. Meanwhile, in another poll reported by the news service on the same day, more than half of all Russians -- 56 percent -- said that the federal government should control the distribution of natural resources. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)'STATE IDEOLOGY' NEEDED TO FIGHT YOUTH CRIME, OFFICIAL SAYS.
Major General Veniamin Petukhov, the head of the Main Administration of Internal Affairs in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, said on 31 May that Russia needs "a state ideology" in order to counter the growth in youth crime, Interfax-Northwest reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)EURASIANISM EXPLAINED TO MILITARY.
In an article published in "Krasnaya zvezda" on 29 May, Aleksandr Dugin, who heads the pro-Kremlin Eurasia group, said that President Putin's creation of a Eurasian Economic Community shows that Eurasianism is on its way to becoming the common ideology of the entire political leadership of the country. He used the opportunity to stress that Eurasianism is based on the idea that Russia is a separate and self-contained civilization which cannot be understood or even described in Western terms. The second postulate of the ideology is that Eurasia is a single entity under the wing of the Russian nation. And the third is that Eurasia stands irreconcilably in opposition to the Atlanticist world. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 4 June)
NEW RELIGION BILL IMMINENT.
The Serbian minister for religion has told Keston News Service that he expects the new law on religious freedom in Serbia to go to a parliamentary vote before summer. He and his deputy indicated that what the government regards as Serbia's "traditional" faiths (Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism) are likely to be favored at the expense of newer faiths. It remains unclear how the contentious issue of religious education in schools will be handled, as opposition to compulsory classes increases. (Keston News Service, 4 June)MILOSEVIC AIDES FACE JUSTICE IN SERBIA.
The trial began in Belgrade on 4 June of Radomir Markovic, Milosevic's former security chief. He and three of his assistants are charged with revealing state secrets, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Markovic also faces charges related to an apparent assassination attempt on opposition leader Vuk Draskovic with a truck in 1999. Details of the charges regarding state secrets have not been made public, but it is widely assumed that Markovic is suspected of sharing confidential information with other Milosevic allies and later destroying incriminating evidence. In related news, the Serbian Supreme Court ordered the rearrest of Dragoljub Milanovic, a former director of state-run television, on charges of abuse of office and "acts against public security." He had been released from preventive detention in April, but the latest court ruling overturned that decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)
FORMER PREMIER ATTACKS HUNGARIAN MINORITY.
In an interview with the Czech weekly "Tyden" on 5 June, former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said the Hungarian minority in Hungary continues to pursue the objective of reannexing to Hungary those parts of Slovakia's territory lost by Budapest due to the 1920 Trianon Treaty, MTI reported. Meciar said the "most prominent representative of Hungarian irredentism" in Slovakia is Deputy Premier Pal Csaky, but there are "many others." Meciar also said that the law on local administration reform being considered by the cabinet of Premier Mikulas Dzurinda is "artificial" and aims at "modifying the ethnic balance" in the envisaged new administrative regions to favor Hungarians. He said that at least half those registered as members of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia are in fact Roma. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June)ANOTHER JEWISH CEMETERY DESECRATED IN SLOVAKIA.
Seven tombstones have recently been destroyed by unknown vandals in the Jewish cemetery of Vranov nad Toplou, east Slovakia, CTK reported on 2 June, citing the daily "Pravo." The cemetery, declared a cultural heritage site in 1963, has been vandalized several times in the past. Last week, unknown perpetrators damaged 58 tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Levice, west Slovakia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June)U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION CRITICIZES SLOVAKIA.
U.S. Helsinki Commission co-Chairman Christopher Smith on 29 May criticized the Slovak government's intention to deny passports to "citizens suspected of trying to emigrate," according to a committee press release. The move is directed against the Romany minority and Smith said he is "extremely disappointed" by the fact that despite Slovakia's "enormous human rights progress," the passport restrictions would "deny some Slovak citizens the right to leave and return to their country, one of the most fundamental rights recognized by the Helsinki process." Commission member Steny Hoyer said some Central European countries would be better served "if their governments stopped blaming others and started looking at the unremedied problems Roma face at home." In its 2001 annual report Amnesty International said that Slovak police treat Roma badly and authorities fail to provide the Roma with sufficient protection against skinhead attacks. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)
NEW POLITICAL PARTY HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS.
Some 600 delegates attended the constituent congress in Dushanbe on 26 May of the Taraqqiyot (Development) Party and elected as its chairman former Tax Committee Chairman and failed presidential candidate Sulton Quvvatov, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. One of the party's founders, Azam Afzali, said the new party was founded on the basis of the former "Tehran faction" of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT), to which most of its estimated 3,000 members had belonged. Afzali said the new party, to serve as a "constructive opposition" to the current leadership, is an attempt to resolve the split between the Tehran and Almaty factions of the DPT. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)
WOMEN'S HEALTH GROUP ORGANIZED.
A local women's initiative group has been founded in Dashoguz to encourage women to take part in decision-making on health issues relating to maternal and children's health. Consultations, seminars, meetings, and psychological support will be organized. For more information, contact the head of the Dashoguz Women's Initiative Group "Zenan," Leyla Shahmamedova, at email@example.com. (Center for Civil Society International, 4 June)
OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS ACCUSE KUCHMA OF INTRODUCING DICTATORSHIP.
Implementing his decree on state secretaries, President Kuchma appointed Volodymyr Yatsuba as state secretary for the Cabinet of Ministers as well as four deputy state secretaries. Meanwhile, opposition politicians have voiced fears that Kuchma's move indicates a further assault on democracy on his part. Fatherland Party leader Yuliya Tymoshenko said the introduction of state secretaries is "the logical transformation of the authoritarian [power] system into dictatorship," Interfax reported. Reforms and Order Party leader Viktor Pynzenyk said the decree is politically tantamount to "the liquidation of the institute of the Cabinet of Ministers which is now becoming a window-dressing [body] since the entire power has been focused in the president." Yosip Vinskyy of the Socialist Party also said the decree on state secretaries implies "the introduction of dictatorship" in Ukraine. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)ORTHODOX BELIEVERS PROTEST POPE'S PLANNED VISIT.
On 31 May in Kyiv, some 1,000 believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) staged a protest against the planned visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine from 23-27 June, Interfax reported. Valentyn Lukyannyk, one of the leaders of the protest, told the agency that the pope's visit is "inopportune." And he added: "So far, [Ukrainian] Catholic and Orthodox believers have not resolved many problems, in particular, there is continuing suppression of Orthodox Christians in Western Ukraine." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)
KURDS IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN DEMONSTRATE FOR OCALAN.
Several hundred people attended a demonstration in Yerevan on 31 May in support of Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan, whose trial at the European Court was to have opened that day, ITAR-TASS reported. In Almaty, the Association of Ethnic Kurds of Kazakhstan convened a press conference at which they announced their intention to hold a mass demonstration to coincide with the beginning of Ocalan's trial on 31 August, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June)HUNGARY, ROMANIA STILL DIVIDED OVER STATUS LAW.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said on 30 May in Budapest after meeting his Romanian counterpart Mircea Geoana that Hungary and Romania continue to differ over some provisions of Hungary's "Status Law," Hungarian media reported. The law is to provide special benefits to ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary's borders. Martonyi said the law represents a "positive discrimination" that is in line with European documents and "has no other aim but to offset the disadvantages that stem from the fact that these people belong to an ethnic minority." Meanwhile, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said Hungarians from Austria will be exempt from the bill's provisions as they enjoy higher living standards than other ethnic Magyars and do not depend on support from the "mother country." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May)DUMA COMMISSION HEAD SAYS RIBBENTROP-MOLOTOV PACT IS IRRELEVANT.
Visiting Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Dimitrii Rogozin told Romanian parliamentarians on 29 May that focusing on issues such as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in connection with the pending Romanian-Russian basic treaty is comparable to "concentrating on the cockroach against the background of an elephant," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He said the two sides' experts should concentrate attention on advancing the treaty and making possible a visit to Bucharest by President Vladimir Putin to sign the treaty. Rogozin said the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact "can be verbally criticized" but cannot be abolished, because it was a secret document that was never ratified. He also said that today this is "a problem of Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus" rather than a Russian problem, since abolishing the pact would raise some territorial issues, such as depriving Lithuania of territory, including its capital, Vilnius. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May)
SHAM INVESTIGATIONS ON CHECHNYA EXPOSED.
On 15 May, Human Rights Watch released "Burying the Evidence: The Botched Investigation into a Mass Grave in Chechnya," which calls for a serious investigation into the deaths of 51 people whose bodies were found buried less than one kilometer from Khankala, Russia's main military base in Chechnya. The report has been used by top UN, U.S., and Swedish officials to ask for increased international access to Chechnya, including the mass grave site. For a complete text, see http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/chechnya2. (Human Rights Watch, 4 June)
THE RISE OF THE EURASIANS
By Victor Yasmann
The new Eurasia movement brings under one political roof representatives of all major religious confessions, something that has not happened since Soviet times. More importantly, it represents another effort to popularize the concept of Eurasianism and make it into a national ideology for post-Soviet Russia. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, several variants of Eurasianism have been proposed, but they have not attracted much support either because they were too mired in the 19th-century origins of that idea or failed to correspond to the new conditions of globalization.
Given the background of Eurasianism, articulated by Count Nikolai Trubetskoi in the 1920s and then developed by anthropologist Lev Gumilev in the 1960s, that is not surprising. The ideology's chief postulates are that Russia has a special role to play in the lives of other Eurasian states, that the people of the region live in nonantagonist relationships, that there is an irreconcilable difference between them and the West, and that this confrontation cannot be overcome by compromise but only by the victory of one side or the other.
During Soviet times, Eurasianism attracted supporters within the military and the KGB, particularly the latter's special antiterrorist Alfa group. Many Alfa men are now among the founders of the new movement. And that background is reflected in the earlier career of the leader of the movement, Aleksandr Dugin. The son of a KGB officer and knowledgeable in many languages, Dugin was trained as a historian. He began his public career in the early 1980s as an activist in Dmitrii Vasiliev's rabidly anti-Semitic Pamyat organization. Later, Dugin joined forces with Eduard Limonov to form a group called Conservative Revolution. A decade ago, they translated into Russian and popularized the ideas of many German and Italian fascists, but the two had a falling out, and Dugin turned toward Eurasianism, an idea that attracted solid financial support and which enabled him to publish his works on geopolitics.
Dugin updated Eurasianism by dropping its initial postulate about the eternal hostility of Russia and the West as a whole. Instead, he spoke about the concentration of what he called "the world evil" in the naval powers of the West, Great Britain, and the United states. And he argued that Russia should form an alliance with Europe against those Atlantic powers, not only for ideological but also for geoeconomic dominance. According to Dugin, the economic strength of the naval powers is based on their control of the oceans. In response, Russia should lead Eurasia in creating east-west and north-south land transport networks. That idea has already found expression in the speeches of President Vladimir Putin.
In the Eurasia movement's manifesto, published at the website http://www.eurasia.com.ru, Dugin suggests that "Neo-Eurasianism has had a strong impact upon political parties and movements in modern Russia -- we find large borrowings from the neo-Eurasianist ideological arsenal in the programmatic documents of Unity, the Communist Party (KPFR), Fatherland-All Russia (OVR), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the movement Russia, and in a series of smaller movements and parties."
And in yet another indication of the rising influence of Dugin and Eurasianism, the media reported last year that the hall of Lev Gumilev University in Astana was decorated with Dugin's slogans when President Putin came to visit. Dugin, who also serves as an official adviser to Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, has stressed, however, that he does not seek power but only an extension of his ideological influence. He clearly has achieved a lot in that direction already. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 30 April)