6 September 2001, Volume
HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES, FELLOWSHIPS.
For information on graduate courses, seminars, a doctoral program in human rights, and fellowship opportunities at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, see http://www.sas.ac.uk/commonwealthstudies/courses/humanrights.html/, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARREST OF ACTIVISTS 'WORKING TO PROMOTE AN ISLAMIST STATE.'
Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry has detained several activists and is looking for others who are part of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Party that has been active in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia and seeks to set up a pan-national Islamic state, "Azerbaycan" reported on 30 August. The same day the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Azerbaijan is becoming a hotbed of Islamist activism, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE CENTER.
For information on the Azerbaijan Human Rights Resource Center, see its new website at http://www.rc-hro.iwarp.com. (MINELRES, 31 August)
LUKASHENKA'S RIVAL HOLDS ELECTION RALLY...
Some 3,000 people participated in an election rally held by opposition presidential hopeful Uladzimir Hancharyk on Minsk's Oktyabrskaya Square on 2 September. Hancharyk told the crowd that he is sure of his election victory on 9 September. He promised "life like in Europe" following his victory and also pledged to support independent media and introduce a professional army in Belarus, Belapan reported. United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka called on participants in the rally to come to the same square on 9 September after 8 p.m. (the end of the voting) to wait for the announcement of election results. Belarusian NGOs previously promised to announce preliminary election results early on 10 September, using official data from 500 constituencies throughout the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)...GETS WARNING FOR ILLICIT CAMPAIGNING.
The Central Election Commission on 3 September issued an official warning to Hancharyk for illegal campaigning, Belapan reported. The commission said Hancharyk held unsanctioned meetings with voters on the streets (including that in Minsk on 2 September) and distributed printed materials that were not paid for from the official campaign fund. The commission also said Hancharyk's campaign staff distributed offensive T-shirts with the inscription "Say No to the Fool! 9-9-2001," but it failed to specify whom the shirts offended. Vasil Lyavonau, Hancharyk's presidential campaign manager, has not ruled out that the authorities intend to kick Hancharyk off the ballot, since he has become a serious rival to the incumbent president. Under Belarus's election law, a presidential candidate may be dropped from the race after he/she is given two official warnings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)U.S. CITIZEN SENTENCED IN DRUG CASE.
A Minsk district court on 3 September sentenced U.S. citizen Charles Periello to five years and three months in prison for purchasing and possessing drugs as well as for inciting others to use them, Belapan reported. Periello, who worked in Belarus on U.S. government-funded educational projects among schoolchildren, was arrested by the Belarusian KGB in June. He pleaded guilty to charges of possessing and smoking marijuana but denied those of selling drugs to others. Periello's lawyer called the sentence excessive and said he will appeal within 10 days. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)U.S. EMBASSY PROTESTS EXPULSION OF U.S. CITIZEN.
In a statement posted on its website on 30 August, the U.S. Embassy in Belarus said it "strongly protested" last week's deportation of U.S. citizen Robert Fielding. The statement said Fielding was detained on 25 August for alleged hotel registration violations, subjected to a 10-hour interrogation by law-enforcement authorities accompanied by TV cameras, and finally put on a train to Poland without being allowed to collect his belongings. "During this entire interrogation process, he was denied the right to legal counsel, forced to sign a statement, and subjected to being filmed by the state-controlled Belarusian National Television," the embassy said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)YOUTH OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS DELIVER BIRTHDAY PRESENTS TO LUKASHENKA.
Activists of several opposition youth organizations, in an attempt to ridicule the Belarusian ruler, delivered nasty presents to Lukashenka's office in Minsk on 30 August, on his 47th birthday, Belapan reported. The presents included a 1-meter Statue of Liberty with a Lukashenka-style moustache; a rust-covered toilet pan; a bus ticket from Minsk to Shklou (Lukashenka's hometown); and boiled eggs each bearing the inscription "normal egg" (Lukashenka once promised to supply the nation with "normal eggs" during an egg supply crisis). Security guards at the entrance did not let the youths in and refused to take the presents, except for the "normal eggs." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
CROATIAN NATIONALISTS PROTEST MOSQUE RECONSTRUCTION.
Several hundred ethnic Croatian veterans of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina demonstrated in Stolac on 31 August against the reconstruction of the Careva Dzamija, a mosque built in 1519 and destroyed in 1993, AP reported. SFOR troops and police kept order at the ceremony and the protest. Demonstrators also demanded an end to legal measures against Herzegovinian leaders who tried to set up autonomous Croatian political structures earlier in 2001. Some 500 Muslims recently moved back to the area, which is Croat-dominated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
ROMA TO UNIFY EFFORTS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION.
Leaders of five Czech Romany organizations on 30 August told journalists that they have agreed to unify their efforts against discrimination and racism, and to seek solutions to the issues that cause Czech Roma to leave the country. The Civic Romany Initiative (ROI), the Romany League, the Matice romska (Romany cradle), the League for Human Rights, and the Kladno-based Association of Roma leaders said they will inform all other Romany organizations of their proposals and seek their consent for them. ROI Chairman Stefan Licartovsky said, "this means that the [Czech] Roma again have one community." He added that individual Romany organizations will appoint their chairmen to the joint leadership, which can then "negotiate with the government as a legitimate representative body." Licartovsky said agreement has been reached among the five leaders on a joint strategy, which seeks solutions for Romany problems at the level of local and regional governments. Licartovsky said particular emphasis will be put on building new apartments, "although those do not necessarily have to be exclusively for Roma." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)HELSINKI COMMITTEE SAYS RUZYNE CONTROLS DISCRIMINATORY.
The procedure used by British officials during the first controls applied at Ruzyne airport from 18 July to 9 August were discriminatory, according to a CHV legal analysis released on 29 August. The report was quoted by CTK as saying that Roma were treated differently than other passengers and were assumed from the beginning to be intending to seek asylum, rather than just travel to Britain. The report also said the U.K. asylum system is far more liberal than the system in other countries, this being one of the reasons why it attracts so many people who "intend to profit from it." But the report also adds that intention to seek asylum cannot be established during airport controls. The CHV says both the Czech Republic and the U.K. violated the International Convention on Refugee Status. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)ROMA EXPECTED TO LEAVE FOR COUNTRIES OTHER THAN BRITAIN.
An official from the Czech Helsinki Committee (CHV) told journalists on 29 August that Czech Roma will attempt to leave for countries other than the U.K., following the resumption of controls at Prague's Ruzyne airport. Helena Kunstova said she came to that conclusion based on information "from the Roma themselves" and from the fact that many Roma have asked the committee for information on countries that do not request an entry visa from Czech citizens and on asylum procedures in those countries. Roma International Union President Emil Scuka and Romany Civic Initiative Chairman Stefan Licartovsky said in reaction they have no information about such preparations. Scuka said the Roma are not traveling to the U.K. now because "they read newspapers and watch television" and know that "they would have to paint themselves white" to overcome the airport checks. Kunstova also said that the CHV is continuing to monitor the checks at Ruzyne airport. Four Czech citizens (all non-Roma) have been denied permission to board planes bound for the U.K. since controls were reintroduced earlier this week. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)POLICE BRING CHARGES AGAINST ROMA ATTACKERS.
Police in Ostrava on 2 September charged three young men with racially motivated violence, CTK reported. The three assaulted a group of Roma last month and threatened to kill them. If convicted, they face up to three years in jail. Also on 2 September, police spokeswoman Ivana Zelankova said in Prague that 167 crimes committed by extremists were registered in the first half of 2001, which is 10 fewer cases than in the same period last year. Meanwhile, on 1 September, Republican Party (RMS) leader Miroslav Sladek said in Brno that he wants the RMS to return to the parliament in the 2002 elections. Sladek's party, previously called Assembly for the Republic-Czechoslovak Republican Party (SPR-RSC), failed to make it past the electoral hurdle in the elections held in 1998. The SPR-RSC later went bankrupt as the result of being unable to pay taxes, and Sladek set up the RMS in its place. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)FIRST PROPERTIES TO JEWISH COMMUNITY TRANSFERRED.
The government also approved the first transfers of properties formerly owned by Jews to the Czech Jewish communities, in line with an earlier decision, CTK reported. Spokesman Libor Roucek said the government wants to "at least in part compensate [the communities] for the wrongs suffered when properties were confiscated during the Holocaust." The cabinet approved the transfer of 12 land plots and one building, among them an old cemetery near the ruins of Rabi castle in western Bohemia and a former Jewish grammar school in Brno. The Jewish communities have compiled a list of 1,450 properties they claim, but Roucek said the state will not be able to return more than 50-100 properties. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES.
Parliament Chairman Zurab Zhvania told deputies on 30 August that corruption has undercut public trust in both the executive and legislative branches and that institutional changes and not just ministerial shifts are needed to recover that trust and make progress possible, Georgian TV reported. In other comments, he said that President Eduard Shevardnadze and the country have to make a serious decision about the kind of country they want and that the ruling party may split over this choice between reform and the continuation of current policies. Meanwhile, the parliamentary majority has decided to send yet another letter to the president, Caucasus Press reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)ADJAR SUPREME COUNCIL CHAIRMEN TO SEEK RE-ELECTION.
Aslan Abashidze, the authoritarian ruler of the Republic of Adjaria, will run in elections for the chairman of the republic's parliament scheduled for 4 November, Caucasus Press reported on 30 August. The daily "Akhali taoba" on 30 August quoted Aziz Akhlvediani, who heads the Adjar branch of the ruling Union of Citizens of Georgia, as saying that his party will not propose a rival candidate to Abashidze as doing so "could prove fatal." Other political parties have come to the same conclusion, according to "Rezonansi" on 31 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)
PARTIES PREPARE FOR ELECTION.
Deputies of the Hungarian Democratic Forum on 28 August unanimously approved an agreement for electoral cooperation with FIDESZ. The agreement is to be signed in a few days and stipulates that the two parties will field joint national and regional lists under the name FIDESZ-Democratic Forum, "Nepszabadsag" reported. FIDESZ will also guarantee that the Democratic Forum will have an independent parliamentary group. In other news, the Democratic Federation of Independent Smallholders, led by Defense Minister Janos Szabo, will not be merging with the Smallholder Federation led by Sandor Cseh, party officials explained. Contrary to earlier reports, the two groups only signed an electoral cooperation agreement and not a merger pact, Hungarian media reported. Finally, the Socialist Party's convention that is to approve the national list of candidates in next year's election will be postponed until early next year, rather than be held this fall as originally planned, party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs told Hungarian media on 28 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)MIEP LEADER WILL NOT BE CHARGED.
Hungarian Justice and Life Deputy Chairman Laszlo Bognar will not have to stand trial for his remarks on the selling of the Ferencvaros soccer club, Hungarian media reported. The Prosecutor-General's Office on 3 September approved the earlier decision of the Central Prosecution Investigative Office not to indict Bognar. A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office said Bognar cannot be charged with "incitement against an [ethnic] community," explaining that such a charge can only be filed when "a person incites hostile actions or [stirs up] passions against a community." On 3 July, Bognar said that the sale of Ferencvaros to a group local Jewish businessmen was "against the interests of the Hungarian nation." Oszkar Egri, a lawyer representing the Federation of Jewish Religious Communities in Hungary, said in response that the current Hungarian legislation does not provide for taking effective action against racism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)ROMANIAN POLICE OFFICER RECEIVES ASYLUM IN HUNGARY.
Adrian Pitu, a former Romanian police officer, was granted political asylum in Hungary, the media reported on 1 September. Pitu arrived in Hungary in July 1998 after failing to persuade his superiors to heed his complaints that police keep citizens under surveillance using methods similar to those employed by the dictatorial regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. He was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison by a Bucharest tribunal in April 2000 for allegedly destroying documents. Pitu said he plans to renounce his Romanian citizenship and file a lawsuit against the Romanian Interior Ministry at the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights. Gyorgy Frunda, the chairman of the Romanian Senate's Human Rights Committee, said this is the first time a Romanian policemen has been granted political asylum in Hungary, and it proves that "very serious things have occurred at the [Romanian] Interior Ministry." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)
PRESIDENT TO 'CONTINUE DEMOCRATIZATION.'
In his annual address to both houses of Kazakhstan's parliament on 3 September, Nursultan Nazarbaev said the country must double GDP by 2010 from last year's level of 2.59 trillion tenges ($13.8 billion), Interfax reported. Nazarbaev also called for increased domestic investment in the economy as a means of improving living standards, and pledged to raise the pensions of persons who retired before 1994 by 25 percent next year, according to Reuters. He pledged to continue the process of democratization, including delegating greater powers to regional government. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)
SERBS REGISTER TO VOTE.
Some 43,000 Serbs have signed up to cast their ballots in the 17 November general elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Prishtina on 30 August. A spokeswoman for the UN civilian administration said that a recent surge of interest by Serbs in registering follows an appeal by the top Belgrade leadership for them to do so. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
POLL SHOWS DEPTH OF ETHNIC DIVIDE.
Dpa on 4 September quoted the Skopje daily "Utrinski vesnik" as saying that its latest poll suggests that ethnic Macedonians oppose both the settlement and NATO. Some 50.7 percent oppose the plan, while 43.7 approve. Some 57.9 percent of Macedonian respondents said they do not trust NATO, and 3.6 percent said they do. Of ethnic Albanians surveyed, 78 percent support the settlement but 12.9 oppose it. Some 76.3 percent of the Albanians trust NATO, while 23.1 percent "partially trust" it. Regarding the proposed amnesty for UCK fighters, 81.8 percent of Macedonians are opposed, while 98.4 percent of Albanians agree to it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)PRIME MINISTER GRUDGINGLY ENDORSES PEACE PACKAGE.
Speaking before the parliament on 3 September, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said that the political settlement agreed on recently in Ohrid "was made under direct pressure of violence and terror," by which he meant the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (UCK), dpa reported. He stressed that "changing the constitution will not bring peace." Georgievski argued that, in approving the package, "we are sending a great gift to all terrorists or all those who want to be terrorists all over the world. The message [is] that terrorism pays off." He added, however, that Macedonia must agree to the package out of economic necessity. The session of the parliament was interrupted over the weekend of 1-2 September when speaker Stojan Andov adjourned the legislature to demand security for displaced ethnic Macedonian civilians to return to their homes. He agreed to reconvene the session under heavy international pressure and once he received a pledge from President Boris Trajkovski that the displaced persons could return home safely, "The Guardian" reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)PARLIAMENT'S DEBATE DELAYED.
Following NATO's successful completion of the first stage of Operation Essential Harvest, Macedonian President Trajkovski said in a statement in Skopje that parliament is scheduled to begin debating the political settlement package on 31 August, AP reported. Some 100 hard-liners opposed to the agreement scuffled with legislators outside the parliament building, charging that the settlement amounts to a "sellout of the Macedonian nation." BBC Television reported that the debate has been "delayed" because of the protests. Demonstrators carried signs reading -- among other things -- "Russia, Help Us," "NATO and USA -- Leave Macedonia Within 48 Hours," and "We Demand the Resignation of the Whole Government." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)MACEDONIAN MINISTER: NOT OUR PROBLEM.
Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva said in Vienna on 30 August that the conflict in Macedonia is imported from Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. She added that unnamed "Kosovar Albanian politicians" and "foreign mercenaries" are behind the UCK. Mitreva told the OSCE that it should increase the size of its monitoring force in Macedonia following Operation Essential Harvest lest a vacuum emerge. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS GIVE UP 'MISSILES.'
Among the weapons surrendered "by the hundreds" are surface-to-air missiles and antitank weapons, Reuters reported from London on 29 August. Government spokesman Antonio Milosovski recently referred to the operation as "Museum Harvest," implying that the Albanians are surrendering only old weapons. An unnamed Macedonian museum asked NATO to allow it to have some of the weapons, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported on 30 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)MINISTER WANTS TO 'CLEAN UP TERRORISTS.'
Defense Minister Ljube Boskovski said in Skopje on 29 August that Essential Harvest is purely "symbolic," "The Guardian" reported. He added, "I believe that NATO, by this symbolic collection of weapons, will open the way for us to clean up the terrorists," by which the government means armed Albanians. Elsewhere, Boskovski denied a recent report by Human Rights Watch linking him to an atrocity against ethnic Albanian civilians, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)'MOB' HAMPERED EFFORTS TO SAVE BRITISH SOLDIER.
"The Independent" reported on 30 August that the latest evidence shows that "a mob" tried to prevent U.S. medical staff from saving sapper Ian Collins' life on 26 August. The daily added that the "new details suggested the incident was clearly an attack on a NATO soldier." It is not clear whether Boskovski's police are any closer to finding or catching the Macedonian teenagers who killed Collins. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
INTELLECTUALS PROTEST POLITICAL MANIPULATION OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE.
A congress of Moldovan philologists on 29 August approved an open protest letter addressed to President Vladimir Voronin, Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev, and parliamentary speaker Eugenia Ostapciuc, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The signatories protested against the authorities' alleged intention to grant the Russian language the status of official language in Moldova and said such action would "deepen the process of denationalization and raise political and social tensions." The congress was held on the day that used to be marked as the "Day of Our Romanian Language," but the Moldovan authorities changed it this year to "Language Day." The philologists also wrote that the state language must be called "Romanian" rather than "Moldovan," reflecting "the scientific truth acknowledged everywhere in the world." The gathering also approved a resolution that said, "no state that respects itself makes thoughtless concessions to an ethnic minority if those concessions negatively affect the ethnic majority and the country's other ethnic minorities" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)PROTESTING TRANSDNIESTER WOMEN BLOCK OSCE MISSION CHIEF.
A group of Russian women protesting against the dismantling of the Russian contingent's military equipment on 25 August blocked the car in which OSCE mission chief William Hill was traveling to Tiraspol to meet with the breakaway region's "foreign minister," Valerii Litskay, Flux reported on 29 August. The incident took place near Parcani. Hill said on 29 August that he was not hurt in the incident but was "scandalized" by the fact that Tiraspol police stood by and "did nothing to temper the zeal of the protesters." He also said the incident was an infringement of the agreement reached with the Tiraspol authorities, according to which OSCE mission officials can travel freely on the left bank of the Dniester River. The OSCE mission chief said he is confident that the protests "do not reflect the opinion of the majority of the region's inhabitants" and are "organized by certain forces in the Transdniester." He added that the scrapping of the Russian equipment will continue. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
PREMIER VISITS STRIKING STEELWORKERS.
Jerzy Buzek on 29 August visited 11 workers of the Baildon SA Steelworks in Katowice (southern Poland), who have remained on a 38-day hunger strike in protest against layoffs, PAP reported. Baildon SA declared bankruptcy in May and two-thirds of its 1,000-strong workforce were laid off. The company's debt amounted to 500 million zlotys ($118 million). Buzek promised the workers that he will help find a strategic investor for the plant. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
PRESIDENT REJECTS MINERS' LEADER'S PARDON REQUEST.
President Ion Iliescu on 31 August rejected the pardon request submitted to him by miners' leader Miron Cozma, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu gave two reasons for rejecting the plea, namely that Cozma has not expressed any regret for the deeds for which he was convicted in 1998 to 18 years in prison, and that there are still other pending cases on the roll against Cozma. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)RESITA WORKERS RENEW PROTESTS.
Workers at the Resita steel-producer CSR blocked a major highway to Caransebes on 30 August, and demanded payment of wage arrears, resumption of the plant's activity, and a meeting with Privatization Minister Ovidiu Musatescu, AP reported. The workers had renewed their protests two days earlier, demanding that the government advance 60 billion lei ($2 million) so as to resume production at the plant. The four-month-old conflict reignited after a court appointed in July an independent administrator to rule the plant, which owes some 650 billion lei in unpaid bills to state companies and in taxes. Under the court's decision, the U.S.-based company Noble Ventures, which owns 95 percent of the plant's shares, is not allowed to make any administrative or managerial decisions. After the plant was placed under independent administration, workers received unemployment benefits. Musatescu agreed to meet with Resita trade union leaders on 31 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)SEXUAL HARASSMENT TO BE PENALIZED?
The Senate's Judicial Commission recommended on 30 August that the offense of sexual harassment be introduced in the new Penal Code. The offense would carry a sentence of between three months and one year in prison, or a fine, Mediafax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)SENATE COMMISSION CLEARS ROAD FOR DECRIMINALIZING HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS.
The Senate's Judicial Commission on 29 August approved the abrogation of Article 200 in the Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex relationships, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The plenum must still vote on the law, which was passed earlier this year as a government ordinance. Greater Romania Party (PRM) Senator Aron Belascu opposed the law and said his party will demand that a plebiscite be called on the nullification of Article 200. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
ONLY ONE RUSSIAN IN SEVEN THINKS RUSSIA IS A DEMOCRACY.
Only 14 percent of Russians think that Russia is a democratic state, with 54 percent saying that "overall" it is not, according to a poll reported in "Novoye vremya," No. 34. Sixty percent of the sample said that their votes will not change anything. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)PUTIN PLANNING TO REIN IN NGOS, SMALL BUSINESSES.
President Vladimir Putin plans to create a Civil Forum by November 2001 in which the country's 300,000 registered non-governmental organizations will have a voice and by which the Kremlin hopes to control them, "Vremya MN" reported on 31 August. The key figures in this project are Kremlin advisers Gleb Pavlovskii and Vladislav Surkov. Meanwhile, "Vedomosti" reported the same day that Putin wants to organize small businesses both as a counterweight to the ranks of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs that is dominated by big business and as a base of support for his re-election bid. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)RUSSIAN GERMANS SEEK FULL REHABILITATION.
Vladimir Bauer, the head of the Congress of Russian Germans, opened a congress of that organization in Moscow on 27 August on the 60th anniversary of Stalin's deportation of Russian Germans to Siberia and Kazakhstan, Russian news agencies reported. Bauer announced that the congress has decided to decorate President Putin with its highest award, the Catherine the Great medal, and he said that Russian Germans seek full rehabilitation. But Aleksandr Blokhin, the federation affairs minister, told the group that the government does not see any need to provide "separate rehabilitation" of the Germans since it has already rehabilitated "all repressed peoples." He also said that Moscow does not plan to give German Russians any territorial autonomy but rather national cultural autonomy. And he said that such cultural autonomy is the most appropriate form of administration for groups like those in the North Caucasus that do not form a majority on any particular territory. Meanwhile, Duma deputy speaker and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told the group that the failure to restore German territorial autonomy inside Russia is "a grave mistake." (RFE/RL Security Watch, 3 September)PUTIN SAYS STATE NOW SPENDS MORE ON EDUCATION THAN ON DEFENSE.
President Putin on 1 September said that for the first time in history, Russia is spending more on education than on defense, a pattern that he said is needed to promote a modern democratic society, Russian agencies reported. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko said on 3 September that she would like to see school uniforms reintroduced in Russia, Interfax reported. She also called for obligatory studies of national languages in Russian schools. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)MOSCOW TO RESUME FINANCIAL ROLE IN EDUCATION.
Lyubov Kesina, a member of the State Council Working group on educational reform, told RIA-Novosti on 24 August that her group plans to insist that the state resume its dominant role in financing education "as required by the constitution." She said that the reforms will include the modernization of instruction at all levels, the revision of curricula throughout the system, and the introduction of universal education and graduation examinations at all levels. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 3 September)MORE MILITARY OFFICERS JOINING GOVERNMENT.
According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 31 August, generals and other senior officers are taking ever more jobs in the legislative and executive branch of the Russian government under President Putin. By the end of the year, the paper suggested, most of the 60 vacant seats in the Federation Council are likely to be taken by generals. Moreover, there are currently approximately 500 officers and generals in the presidential administration and other senior political jobs. But soon more generals may be competing for these slots: Interfax reported the same day that the military plans to reduce the number of slots for generals and admirals by 350. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)MOSCOW SAID DELIBERATELY UNDERSTATING SIZE OF ARMY.
Writing in "The Moscow Times" on 30 August, military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said that Russian officials have been "deliberately lying about the strength of their armed forces." Consequently, even if the current round of "cuts" goes through, there will be 1 million soldiers rather than the level of 800,000 that has been announced. Felgengauer expressed doubt that even the modest cuts that have been proposed will ever be imposed. Instead, he said, the military chiefs have been doing everything they can "to maintain the old forces until 'the bad years' pass, the empire is restored to its former glory, and the country is flush with money." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)DEFENSE MINISTRY SAID SELLING BLOOD DONATED FOR SOLDIERS.
Blood collected by "Komsomolskaya pravda" for soldiers wounded in Chechnya has been diverted and sold by Defense Ministry officials, that newspaper reported on 28 August. One hospital director reportedly made 1 million rubles ($35,000) from such sales, the paper said. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 3 September)SELEZNEV WANTS MORE COMPENSATION FOR FAMILIES OF SOLDIERS KILLED IN CHECHNYA.
Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev told Interfax on 30 August that he believes it is necessary to raise the amount of compensation being given to the relatives of those soldiers who have been killed in Chechnya, Interfax-Northwest reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)YAKOVLEV SAYS MILITARY, FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS BLOCKING SETTLEMENT IN CHECHNYA.
Aleksandr Yakovlev, the head of the Presidential Rehabilitation Commission, said on 30 August that a settlement in Chechnya is being blocked by the opposition of "certain [Russian] military men and foreign interference," Interfax reported. Meanwhile, the Russian media was filled the same day with varying interpretations of the Khasavyurt accord that ended the first Chechen war on 31 August 1996. Most commentators said the accord was only intended to give both sides breathing space before resuming the conflict, but some indicated that it is a model of how the current fighting might eventually have to be solved. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)KADYROV CRITICIZES RUSSIAN FORCES FOR ABUSING CHECHENS.
At a Moscow news conference on 30 August, Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, the head of the Moscow-backed administration in Chechnya, said that Russian forces abused people in their recent sweeps through villages. While conducting such sweeps, Kadyrov said, Russian troops "take away things they like from the people and hit those who look askance," Russian and Western agencies reported. He said that such actions "incite the people against the authorities." He also asked rhetorically, "Why it has taken so long with 80,000 or 90,000 soldiers [that the Russian forces have] and all their hardware, including satellites which can see everything from space" to capture or destroy the leaders of the Chechen militants? Kadyrov suggested that the main task of his administration now is to secure the return of displaced persons, but that this will only be possible when the authorities are able to ensure their safety, something "no one can guarantee them today." Kadyrov also sharply criticized the position of Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev as being "pro-Maskhadov" because Aushev has called for negotiations with the Chechen president. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)GANTEMIROV SAYS CHECHNYA NEEDS AN INTERIM CONSTITUTION.
Bislan Gantemirov, the chief federal inspector in the Southern federal district, said in an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 August that Chechnya requires a coordinating center for all Russian forces there and an interim constitution as the republic moves from war to peace. In other comments, he suggested that the anti-Moscow forces lack the strength to inflict serious harm on Russian forces, but that the Chechen militants become more active whenever there is an international meeting in an effort to show that they are still strong. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)EVEN SPLIT ON TRUST IN GOVERNMENT.
According to a poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax on 30 August, 45.3 percent of Russians do not trust their government but 45.1 percent do. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)COMMUNISTS REMAIN AHEAD IN POLLS.
According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 31 August, 34 percent of the electorate would vote for candidates of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) if elections were held today. Other parties trailed: 25 percent said they would vote for Unity, 7 percent for Yabloko, 7 percent for the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), 6 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and 5 percent for Fatherland. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)COMMUNISTS NOW CONTROL OVER HALF GOVERNOR'S OFFICES.
The "Chicago Tribune" reported on 29 August that communists now control more than half of the governor's offices in Russia. Vladimir Lapyrin, the editor of a Nizhnii Novgorod newspaper, told the Chicago paper that this does not represent a threat to President Putin because the communists are schooled to be obedient to the top man, but it may threaten market and democratic reforms. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)NON-PARTIES TO BE ABLE TO NOMINATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES.
Aleksandr Veshnyakov, the head of the Central Election Commission, said on 23 August that it is too soon to limit the right to nominate candidates for president to political parties alone and that he will introduce an amendment to the election law this fall to allow other groups to do so, RTR television reported on 23 August. In the future, parties should control the nomination process, Veshnyakov said, but he and others, including President Putin, believe that it is too soon for Russia to impose such limits. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 3 September)NEW PARTY SEEKS TO COMBINE COMMUNISM, MONARCHISM.
Aleksandr Orlov, the leader of the Russian nationalist organization "White World," plans to form a United People's Party with an ideology combining the principles of communism and monarchism, RTR television reported on 27 August. Orlov, the television station said, plans to use the party to fight against liberalism and globalization. He is modeling his group on the Russian emigre Young Russia movement founded by Aleksandr Kasym-Bek in the 1920s in Paris. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 3 September)MOSCOW REFUSES TRANSIT VISA TO DALAI LAMA.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has refused to provide a transit visa to Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who had sought one in order to visit Mongolia, Interfax reported on 3 September. The ministry did not explain its action. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)BIROBIDZHAN GETS FIRST RABBI.
Interfax-Eurasia reported on 3 September that Isroel Shavulskii, 35, has been assigned as the first resident rabbi in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan. Up until now, rabbis from elsewhere in Russia or from Israel and the United States visited to provide local Jews with religious services. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)CHUKOTKA RESIDENTS RELOCATE TO OMSK.
The first group of residents of the Chukotka Peninsula, most of them aged and infirm, have moved to homes in Omsk Oblast where services are better and costs lower, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 3 September. Officials throughout the peninsula are registering the names of those who want to leave. A large portion of them are Chukchis, Inuit, and Koryak, the news service said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)KASYANOV ANNOUNCES PROGRAM TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE.
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 31 August signed a directive on a federal program to promote tolerance and combat extremism over the next five years, Interfax reported. Aides to the prime minister said that promoting tolerance to all social groups is one of "the foundations of civil accord in a democratic government." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)UN REFUGEE OFFICIAL ALARMED BY RACIST ATTACKS IN RUSSIA.
John McAllen, a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on 31 August expressed his concern about racist attacks on foreigners in Russia in recent times, Interfax reported. But another UN official said that an attack against a 37-year-old Angolan refugee in Moscow on 23 August was the work of hooligans rather than racists, ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)INGUSH-NORTH OSSETIAN TENSIONS CONTINUE.
Ingush leaders sent an appeal to President Putin asking him "to take measures" to end what they call the arbitrary rule of the North Ossetian authorities who are continuing to block the return of Ingush refugees to their home districts, the Ingush government website reported on 30 August. Meanwhile, the North Ossetian militia went on heightened alert the same day to deal with what it said are the intentions of Chechen militants to commit terrorists acts there. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)BLOKHIN SAYS BASHKORTOSTAN HAS NO SOVEREIGNTY.
Aleksander Blokhin, the Russian minister for federation affairs, nationality, and migration policies, said in Ufa on 2 September that Bashkortostan is not a sovereign republic because the idea of one sovereign state within another is "nonsense," RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. Meanwhile, however, Ufa's "Kyzyl tang" newspaper on 31 August said that Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty had helped Russia avoid a return to the hyper-centralization of Soviet times. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)TATARSTAN'S PRESIDENT PROUD OF HIS REPUBLIC'S PROGRESS.
Speaking on the 11th anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty on 29 August, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said that he is "proud of what has been achieved in the first decade" and looks forward to more progress in the future, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. Shaimiev said that before 1991, "Tatarstan had no right to make any decisions," and that its ability to govern itself will again increase after President Putin completes his current efforts to strengthen the central government. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)AIDS NOW FOUND IN ALL SOCIAL GROUPS IN RUSSIA.
Vadim Pokrovskii, who heads the Russian Federal Center for Prevention and Combating AIDS, told Interfax on 31 August that there are 144,233 officially registered HIV-infected people in Russia but that the actual number almost certainly is 10 to 20 times higher. He said that AIDS and HIV are no longer confined to any one group but instead touch all social strata in the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September)PENSIONS, BANK DEPOSITS GROW.
On 30 August, Russian officials announced that the average pension in Russia is now 1,020 rubles ($34) a month, a 20.3 percent increase in real terms over one year ago, Interfax reported. Bank deposits grew by 21.8 percent in the first half of 2001 compared to a year earlier, with ruble-denominated savings rising to 875.9 billion rubles as of 1 August, the news service said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)PROTEST AT U.S. EMBASSY OVER ARREST OF PROGRAMMER.
About a dozen Russians assembled outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to protest the arrest and upcoming trial of Russian programmer Dmitrii Sklyarov, Interfax reported. Sklyarov has been charged with violating intellectual property rights by providing computer users programs that allow them to break into Adobe's eBook site without paying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
COURT SENTENCES ASSAILANTS OF ROMANY WOMAN.
A court in Zilina, northwestern Slovakia, on 30 August handed down prison terms for three men, after finding them guilty of "trespassing," but not of a racially motivated murder of a Romany woman, AP reported. The woman died of injuries she sustained after being struck on the head with a baseball bat. Her children were also injured in the attack. The chief perpetrator in the crime was sentenced a few months ago to seven years in prison. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
FORMER LEADER TO BE TRIED FOR GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA.
In his second appearance before The Hague tribunal since his arrival there in late June, Slobodan Milosevic told a pretrial hearing on 30 August that he found himself "in front of a false tribunal for false indictments," Reuters reported. Presiding Judge Richard May cut off his microphone, telling Milosevic that "we are not going to listen to these political arguments." May adjourned the court after a session lasting about 30 minutes. Afterward, chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told CNN that charges against him will be expanded to include genocide in Bosnia. "Croatia is still open," she added. He is currently charged with war crimes in Kosova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)
7,000 DRUG ADDICTS, MOST ON HEROIN.
Tajik TV reported on 30 August that there are now 7,000 drug addicts registered in Tajikistan. Four thousand of them live in Dushanbe and more than 70 percent of the total are addicted to heroin, the television channel said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
RESETTLEMENT STARTS OF PEOPLE FROM CENTER TO EAST.
The Turkmen State News Service on 27 August reported that the first group of residents from Lebap near the Uzbek border have been moved to the central Akhal region; the relocation program was initiated by President Saparmurat Niyazov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)
ANTI-TRIANON GROUPS TO PROTEST AT HUNGARY-ROMANIA SOCCER MATCH.
Several Hungarian nationalist groups are calling for demonstrations against the Treaty of Trianon and Romania's policy towards ethnic Hungarians, "Magyar Hirlap" reports. The daily says the groups plan to organize protests during a Hungary-Romania soccer match on 5 September. A police spokesman said police have no legal grounds to interfere until expressions of hatred and agitation or terms offensive to Romania are uttered. "We will immediately intervene at that moment," the spokesman official said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)EXTREME ROMANIAN NATIONALIST IN CHISINAU.
PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, paying an unofficial visit to Chisinau on 29 August, told journalists that former Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and President Ion Iliescu share the blame of not having pursued unification of the two Romanian countries in 1991. "Who prevented them from calling on their [respective] parliaments to vote for reunification, as the Germans did?" Tudor asked. He said he is "optimistic" that the reunification will come, as it is in his words, "an inevitable process." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August)