14 November 2001, Volume
STILL NO ARRESTS IN CAFE DEATH.
To date, 50 people, including members of President Robert Kocharian's bodyguard, have been questioned in connection with death in a Yerevan cafe on 25 September of an Armenian from southern Georgia, Poghos Poghosian, Armenian agencies quoted Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian as telling journalists in Yerevan on 8 November. But no one has been arrested and charged with Poghosian's killing. It is widely believed that Kocharian's bodyguards assaulted Poghosian after he directed insulting remarks at the president, who was visiting the cafe that evening together with French singer Charles Aznavour. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)ENERGY SECTOR WORKERS DEMAND WAGE ARREARS.
Energy sector employees have appealed to Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian to ensure that enterprises in that sector comply with an earlier agreement to pay wage arrears dating back between four and 10 months, Noyan Tapan reported on 12 November. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)
OPPOSITION AGAIN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO RESIGN.
Some 1,500-2,000 people attended a rally in Baku on 10 November convened by the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Turan reported. Participants at the rally, which was sanctioned by the municipal authorities, again demanded the resignation of President Heidar Aliyev and condemned the authorities for their corruption and indifference to human rights, and their "defeatist" Karabakh policy. Police observed the rally but did not intervene. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER SENTENCE ON NAVAL CAPTAIN.
The U.S. Embassy in Baku issued a statement on 6 November expressing concern over the eight-year jail sentence handed down the previous day on former naval Captain Djanmirza Mirzoev, Turan reported. "His sentence and the manner in which his trial and investigation have been conducted appear to have been inconsistent with the principles of due process of the law," the statement said. Mirzoev has been consistently harassed for his efforts to publicize corruption within the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
COMMUNISTS MARK OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY, BUT UNIMPRESSIVELY.
Some 500 members of the pro-government Communist Party of Belarus and 200 members of the opposition Belarusian Party of Communists laid flowers on 7 November at the statue of Vladimir Lenin in Minsk in two separate ceremonies to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, Belapan reported. The Minsk city authorities did not permit communists to stage a march and a rally in the center of the capital. Meanwhile, the Brest city authorities granted such permission, but only 150 communists turned up for the occasion. In Mahileu, the authorities gathered some 2,000 people, mainly students of the city's higher educational institutions, for an official rally but were forced to end it just 20 minutes after it began because participants started to disperse. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)U.S. SENATOR PROPOSES $30 MILLION TO SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN BELARUS.
Republican Senator Jesse Helms introduced a bill to the U.S. Congress on 7 November called "Belarus Democracy Act of 2001," which is intended to impose sanctions on the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and provide support to democratic institutions and organizations in Belarus. The bill proposes that the U.S. government deny assistance to the Lukashenka regime, freeze Belarusian assets in the U.S., prohibit trade with Belarusian government-run businesses, and deny Belarusian officials the right to travel to the United States. The bill also proposes the appropriation of $30 million to assist Belarusian democratic institutions and organizations, including funding for radio broadcasting in and to Belarus. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)POLICE REMOVE PROTEST CAMP AT STALIN-ERA MEMORIAL SITE.
Riot police on 8 November tore down a camp set up six weeks ago by Belarusian opposition groups and NGOs at Kurapaty, a wooded suburb of Minsk where tens of thousands of "enemies of the people" were executed and buried by the Stalin-era NKVD in the 1930s, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The camp was pitched to prevent the reconstruction of the Minsk beltway that threatens the existence of the Kurapaty memorial site. Police used truncheons and tear gas to remove the camp and protesters, while road construction workers smashed down crosses erected along the beltway by defenders of the memorial site. Several protesters were arrested. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)LUKASHENKA WANTS WESTERN MONEY TO STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
President Lukashenka said in Hrodna on 6 November that there are some 100,000 illegal immigrants in Belarus, Belarusian Television reported. According to him, Hrodna Oblast has become a "storeroom" for illegal immigrants heading for Western Europe. He threatened that the West will have problems unless it pays Belarus money for dealing with illegal immigration. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
HAGUE TAKES TWO BOSNIAN SERB BROTHERS INTO CUSTODY.
Officials at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague said on 9 November that they are now in custody of Predrag and Nenad Banovic, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serb twin brothers were indicted for crimes against humanity as guards in the Keraterm concentration camp in 1992. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)HAGUE REVEALS INDICTMENT OF BOSNIAN SERB SIEGE COMMANDER.
The Hague-based war crimes tribunal has made public the "sealed" indictment of former Bosnian Serb General Dragomir Milosevic, Reuters reported from The Hague on 7 November. He was indicted for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, together with the Bosnian Serb army's former chief of staff, General Stanislav Galic, in conjunction with the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)BOSNIAN SERBS WANT MUSLIM LEADER INDICTED.
The Bosnian Serb authorities have sent to The Hague an indictment of wartime Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, RFE/RL reported on 8 November. Many Serbs have long demanded that top Muslim and Croat leaders be indicted for war crimes against Serbs. Izetbegovic has said that Muslims and Sarajevans were victims of Serbian aggression and cannot be considered war criminals. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)REPUBLIKA SRPSKA TO CHANGE CONSTITUTION.
The government decided in Banja Luka on 6 November that the constitution will be changed to list Muslims and Croats -- as well as Serbs -- as "constituent" peoples of the Republika Srpska, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The move follows a recent ruling by the Bosnian Constitutional Court to that effect. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)REFUGEE RETURNS UP.
During the period from 1 January to 31 September 2001, some 56,683 persons returned to their former homes in areas now held by ethnic groups other than their own, AP reported from Sarajevo on 6 November. Among them were 25,759 Serbs, 23,862 Muslims, 6,394 Croats, and 668 others, the UNHCR said in a statement. The comparable figure for the same period in 2000 was about 37,000 returnees. Only 18,800 Serbs went home in all of 2000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES ABOLITION OF LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS.
The parliament discussed and passed on 7 November the first reading of the bill proposed in October that would abolish the Estonian-language requirement for candidates to the parliament and local councils, BNS reported. Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves spoke in favor of the bill, noting that it would help convince the OSCE to end its 10-year mission to Estonia. Complaints by the opposition Center Party that the bill would endanger the position of Estonian as the state language were countered by noting that the Pro Patria faction has submitted bills that would officially establish Estonian as the working language of parliament and all state councils. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)
HAS INDICTED GENERAL FLED?
Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic told "Jutarnji list" of 9 November that former General Ante Gotovina probably fled the country after The Hague indicted him for war crimes. The tribunal charged him with crimes against Serbian civilians during the Croatian army's 1995 offensive against Serbian rebels. Many Croats suspect that the government was glad that Gotovina fled lest the authorities try to extradite a man whom many regard as a war hero. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
JEWISH LEADER CRITICIZES PROCRASTINATION ON COMPENSATION.
Peter Tordai, the chairman of the Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ), said on 8 November that the government's delay in passing legislation to compensate victims of the Nazi era is "outrageous" and "unconstitutional," dpa reported. The Constitutional Court ruled after a MAZSIHISZ complaint that an earlier law compensating victims and their families with the equivalent of $100 is untenable, and obligated parliament to pass new legislation. Following negotiations with the government, MAZSIHISZ recommended that compensation be set at $1,000. Justice Ministry official Istvan Somogyvari told the daily "Nepszabadsag" that the government intends to settle the compensation issue, but that this might not be possible during the current tenure of its mandate. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
BEATEN BAPTIST SENT TO PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL.
Asylbek Nurdanov, a Baptist leader in the town of Kazalinsk in Kyzyl-Orda region near the Aral Sea who was beaten and threatened by local police in late October, has now been placed in a psychiatric hospital, Keston News Service was told on 10 November. It is not known how long the authorities intend to hold him. (Keston News Service, 13 November)ALARM OVER FALLING BIRTHRATE.
Kazakhstan's population has fallen by 1.5 million over the past decade and the country may face a demographic crisis in the very near future, State Migration and Demography Agency Chairwoman Altynshash Zhaghanova told journalists in Astana on 7 November, RFE/RL reported. She pointed out that although emigration has fallen over the past few years, Kazakhstan has the lowest birthrate of any Central Asian state. (During the first three months of 2001, births were down 6.4 percent compared with the same period in 2000). The country's total population as of 1 April 2001 was 14,842,600; in July 2000 Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov predicted that by 2030 Kazakhstan's population will rise to 25 million. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)WOMEN RENEW CAMPAIGN FOR BENEFITS.
A group of women from South Kazakhstan Oblast who have been campaigning since early this year for payment of child benefits dating back to 1997 is again in Almaty seeking a meeting with Prosecutor-General Rashid Tusupbekov, RFE/RL reported on 6 November. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)GOLD MINERS STRIKE.
Employees at gold mines in the Moyinqum region of Zhambyl Oblast have begun a strike to demand payment of wage arrears dating back to May 2001, RFE/RL reported on 8 November. They plan to block the main highway and railway line between Almaty and Astana if they do not receive those payments. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
CALLS FOR KOSOVA'S SERBS TO VOTE.
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, the Serbian government, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have all appealed to Kosova's Serbian minority to vote in the 17 November elections, RFE/RL reported from Belgrade on 8 November. Robertson said in Prishtina that Serbs should remember that "Kosovo's destiny in many ways will be shaped by the outcome of this election." In Vienna, OSCE mission chief Daan Everts said the Kosova elections will be the "best-monitored elections this century." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO CONSIDER JAILED OPPOSITIONIST'S APPEAL.
Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court has refused to consider an appeal lodged by former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys Party Chairman Feliks Kulov against the seven-year sentence handed down to him in January by the Bishkek Military Court on charges of abuse of his official position while serving as national security minister, Kulov's lawyer Vladislav Luzhanskii told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 8 November. The Bishkek Military Court and the Court of Appeals have both upheld that sentence. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)HEATING ENGINEERS END STRIKE.
The 100 employees of the Bishkek power and heating plant ended on 6 November the strike they began the previous day to demand payment of wage arrears after the plant's management promised to pay those arrears within the next few days, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The plant's director explained to RFE/RL that he was unable to do so because both private households and state-owned companies regularly fail to pay their heating and electricity bills. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS CHANGES IN LANGUAGE REGULATIONS REQUIRED BY UN COMMITTEE.
On 6 November, the government amended the state language proficiency regulations that were criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee, LETA reported. The committee ruled that the decision by the Riga Election Commission in 1997 to remove Antonina Ignatane, a Latvian citizen, from the list of candidates to the Riga City Council elections because she was deemed not to be fluent in Latvian was illegal. The amendments provide that the State Language Board will have the right to check only the authenticity of the language proficiency certificate and not the actual proficiency of its holder. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTY BALKS OVER CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES.
The Party of Democratic Prosperity, which is one of the two largest Albanian parties in Macedonia, still refuses to accept proposed changes to the preamble of the constitution as agreed by all other major parties and EU negotiators, Reuters reported from Skopje on 8 November. Parliamentary speaker Stojan Andov has said that he sees no reason to call a vote on the changes unless two-thirds of the 25 Albanian legislators will support them. He says he fears that any party that does not accept the changes will try to reopen the issue later. Andov, and Macedonian opinion in general, want any changes or reforms to put an end to Albanian complaints once and for all. The parliament was scheduled to resume debate on the long-stalled reform package on 9 November. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)RENEWED CONFLICT?
Reuters correspondent Mark Heinrich reported from Skopje on 7 November that nationalist legislators have used a "grab bag of gambits" in recent weeks to delay action on the reform package. He also noted that "the threat of renewed fighting comes both from militant Albanian separatists exploiting broader feelings of betrayal and from Macedonian rightist hawks who oppose the civic democracy envisaged by the peace plan and may count on further delays to provoke Albanian violence and justify a new military offensive." The Macedonian government has recently made large arms purchases abroad and made "pointed displays on TV of new firepower and special forces, [which] have made ex-guerrillas nervous and suspicious." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)
RULING PARTY TO SATISFY GAGAUZ-YERI DEMANDS?
A group of communist legislators intends to ask the Constitutional Court to examine a draft for amending the country's basic document to include the existence of the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous Region as a separate administrative unit and affirm its right to "self-determination," Flux reported on 8 November. Valentin Chilat, a deputy representing the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic, said the Party of Moldovan Communists "intends to sell [Moldovan] territory in exchange for support at the ballot by the Gagauz in the next elections." He said the move could trigger "political instability" in the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
LEADERS REMAIN FIRM ON INDEPENDENCE.
President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 8 November that Montenegro will be an independent country after the referendum slated for April 2002, RFE/RL reported. Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac said that Montenegro's own flag will fly in front of the UN building in New York after that vote. But officials of the OSCE have objected to Montenegrin legislation regarding the referendum. They believe that more than a simple majority will need to approve it for it to be valid. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
MAVERICK MAYOR PAINTS SIDEWALKS IN NATIONAL COLORS.
Ultranationalist Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar has ordered the sidewalks in Cluj to be painted in the Romanian national colors -- red, yellow, and blue, AFP reported on 8 November. In the past, Funar has ordered benches in public parks to be painted in the national colors. He said he drew his inspiration for his latest order during a visit to the South Korean city of Suwon, where he saw sidewalks painted in the same fashion. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
PUTIN SAID TO HAVE DRAINED CONTENT OF RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS.
Igor Bunin, the head of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies, said in an interview in "The New York Times" on 6 November that "the systems of checks and balances which existed in the Yeltsin years has completely disappeared. All the formal structures of power remain -- the Duma, the Federation Council, the media, the businessmen -- but their substance, their content, have been eliminated." He suggested that President Vladimir Putin is moving in the direction either of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet or former French President Charles de Gaulle, authoritarian figures who overcame divided countries and set the stage for eventual democratization. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)CIVIC FORUM SAID TO HAVE $1 MILLION PRICE TAG.
According to an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 6 November, the Civic Forum meeting set to take place on 21-22 November will cost $1 million, which is to be paid out of the president's administrative account. The paper also said that there are now three organizing committees: one with 27 representatives from nongovernmental organizations, a second with 27 from the government, and a third with 27 who do not agree with either of the first two. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)MOSCOW WANTS EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT REFORMED.
First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev told ITAR-TASS on 7 November that Moscow seeks the reform of the European Human Rights Court. "The court must be reformed," he said, "because it cannot cope with the ever-growing flow of complaints and cannot function properly." He called for more funding to allow the court to function more expeditiously. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS TO TAKE PLACE THIS MONTH.
A "meeting" will take place later this month at a venue in Russia still to be decided on between presidential envoy for the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's representative, Akhmed Zakaev, Interfax quoted presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii as saying on 6 November. Yastrzhembskii stressed, however, that the meeting should not be regarded as "a political dialogue" between the federal authorities and the Chechen people. Maskhadov's spokesman, Mairbek Vachagaev, told Ekho Moskvy that "intensive preparations" are underway for the Kazantsev-Zakaev meeting. On 5 November, Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov complained that Maskhadov "is spreading rumors that the talks will result in the withdrawal of Russian troops and his return to power," Interfax reported. As a result of such rumors, Kadyrov said, there has been a steep increase in the number of Chechens flocking to join the ranks of Maskhadov's fighters. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)RUSSIAN PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE LATEST CIVILIAN DEATHS IN CHECHNYA.
Following a protest demonstration by some 1,500 residents of the Chechen town of Argun on 10 November, Russian military and civilian prosecutors launched an investigation the next day into the circumstances of a raid by Federal Security Service (FSB) forces on the town during the night of 8-9 November during which at least six civilians were killed by mortar fire and a further 21 wounded, and 40 homes were destroyed, Reuters reported. Interfax reported on 9 November that the FSB forces surrounded the town and then fought a five-hour gun battle with Chechen militants, taking 12 of them prisoner. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)PUTIN REPORTEDLY ANGRY WITH GENERALS FOR THEIR FAILURE IN CHECHNYA.
According to an article in "Novaya gazeta" on 5 November, President Putin is angry that Russian generals have not won the war in Chechnya and as a result, the paper said, he has ceased to believe in the effectiveness of the senior commanders. That may lead to the dismissal of more generals and also increase tensions between the Defense Ministry and the Kremlin. But if Putin is unhappy with the military, the Russian people are not. According to a poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax on 6 November, 72.2 percent of all Russians trust the Russian army. Only 21 percent said they do not trust it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)MOSCOW SAYS SELF-DETERMINATION CANNOT BE USED TO JUSTIFY SECESSION.
Dmitrii Knyazhinskii, a Russian representative to the 56th UN General Assembly, told that body on 9 November that the right of peoples to self-determination cannot be invoked as a justification for undermining the territorial integrity or political unity of existing sovereign states, Interfax reported. He said that the international community must "decisively block any separatist manifestations and firmly and in a thoroughgoing manner defend the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of their borders." He also expressed Moscow's concern about financial mismanagement at the UN. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)PUTIN AGAIN WARNS AGAINST 'DOUBLE STANDARDS' ON TERRORISM...
After his 6 November meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, President Putin said there must not be "a policy of double standards" about terrorism because that could lead to "a split in the common international position," Russian and Western agencies reported. Putin continued that "there cannot be good and bad terrorists, our terrorists and others. All those who have resorted to arms in order to resolve political disputes, all those organizations, all those structures and individuals who carry out those policies should not be tolerated." The two leaders released a joint statement saying that "terrorism is an absolute evil and represents a global challenge to all mankind," ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)...TELLS INTERIOR MINISTRY TO FIGHT EXTREMISM...
President Putin told Interior Ministry officials on 10 November that extremism is "the most acute problem" and that they must fight against it, Interfax reported. Justice Minister Yurii Chaika said on 9 November that his ministry has prepared and will in the near future send to the Duma for consideration a new bill on combating extremism, the news agency said. Chaika said that the new draft is very different from that proposed in 1999, due to changes in the world situation. Among other things, the new draft calls for the creation of a federal center for the struggle against terrorism. Meanwhile, Russian skinheads on 12 November killed another Moscow resident and prosecutors announced further arrests of participants in the 30 October pogrom in which two North Caucasians were killed, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)...SAID LEANING TO DEMILITARIZING LAW ENFORCEMENT BODIES.
"Kommersant-Dengi," No. 44, reported that President Putin currently is leaning toward approving the request of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that military-type units in the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Emergency Situations Ministry, and the Customs Service should be transferred from those agencies to the Defense Ministry. The weekly also reported that Kremlin officials are planning to cut Interior Ministry personnel from 2 million to 500,000, Prosecutor-General's Office personnel from 50,000 to 35,000, and the Customs Service from 60,000 to 25,000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)RUSSIANS SPLIT ON TRUSTING INTERIOR MINISTRY.
A poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax on 8 November found that 51 percent of Russians do not trust the Interior Ministry while 41.4 percent do. But the proportion saying that they trust the ministry is 3 percent higher than in a comparable poll conducted in March 2001, the news service said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)FEDERAL PROSECUTOR COMPLAINS ABOUT LOCAL POLICE.
In an interview with "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 6 November, the deputy prosecutor-general for the Urals federal district, Yurii Zolotov, said the crime rate in his district has dramatically risen over the last year. In two regions within the district -- the Sverdlovsk and Tyumen oblasts -- the number of crimes has risen 16 and 10 percent respectively. Part of the problem, according to Zolotov, is a lack of effectiveness among law enforcement officials. More than 900 officials have been subject to disciplinary action, and some leaders of the police and the Prosecutor-General's Office have been dismissed. However, in some cases the rising crime numbers are the result of increased scrutiny, according to Zolotov. For example, the number of bribery cases in the district rose 16.6 percent. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)LUZHKOV SAYS GOVERNMENT MUST USE AGENTS TO PENETRATE EXTREMIST GROUPS...
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said on 7 November that the Russian authorities should use special agents to penetrate extremist groups in order to be able to neutralize them, Interfax-Moscow reported. He said that the FSB, the militia, and other services should take the lead in doing so. Moscow Deputy Mayor Valerii Shantsev added in an interview on Ekho Moskvy the same day that that the government should create special subdivisions of the FSB to track the activities of extremist groups. Meanwhile, also on 7 November, police in a Moscow district detained two youths who had drawn swastikas and written fascist slogans on the wall of a school, Interfax-Moscow reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)...AND PROMISES TO END EXTREMISM IN MOSCOW.
On 8 November, Mayor Luzhkov told a special session of the Moscow interagency antiterrorist commission that law enforcement personnel there must react "quickly and effectively" to any manifestation of extremism, Interfax-Moscow reported. He said, "It is necessary to put an end to extremism regardless of the slogans under which it operates." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)FSB SAID UNINTERESTED IN FIGHTING EXTREMISM AMONG THE YOUNG.
"Izvestiya" reported on 6 November that despite President Putin's call for a crackdown on extremist actions by the young, "Russian law enforcement officials say that Russia has bigger problems to deal with than to chase after racist and other extremist groups." Indeed, the paper reported, "no one at the Federal Security Service (FSB) deals with such cases." Meanwhile, an article in "Moskovskie novosti" on 6 November speculated that the FSB may have been behind the 30 October pogrom in Moscow as part of an effort to set the pogromists against the antiglobalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)SOCIOLOGIST SAYS NEO-FASCISTS ANTI-MUSLIM MORE THAN ANTI-SEMITIC...
Writing in "The Moscow Times," Russian sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky opined that "the extreme right in Russia today is first and foremost anti-Caucasian rather than anti-Semitic" and view Muslims as their main enemy. Kagarlitsky also notes that the authorities' own propaganda has laid the groundwork for far-right violence, since "the police for some years now have been doing all they can to terrorize 'persons of Caucasian nationality' on the streets -- blatantly trying to demonstrate to us all that they are second-class people and undesirable elements in Moscow." ("The Moscow Times," 13 November)...NOTES ROOTS IN SOCIAL MALAISE...
Kagarlitsky also noted in "The Moscow Times" that "fascism has not only ideological but also social roots." Many of those involved in right-wing violence "are young people from low-income families with dismal prospects." Although they "acutely feel their low social position, but unlike trade-union activists or left-wing organizations, they do not feel any strong group affiliation and have a very unclear understanding of their own interests." ("The Moscow Times," 13 November)...AND SUGGESTS WAYS TO ADDRESS PROBLEM.
As for possible solutions to this serious social problem, Kagarlitsky observed: "If the battle against right-wing extremism is to be undertaken seriously, then strengthening the police force is not the answer. Resolving social problems is [by providing] good employment opportunities and good-quality education accessible to all." ("The Moscow Times," 13 November)RUSSIAN NEO-NAZIS PROFILED.
According to an article in "Gazeta" on 9 November, "the average age of contemporary Nazis [in Russia] is 20 years. They are teenagers from the outer suburbs, school students, and the unemployed." Some of them, the paper said, are active believers in Nazi ideology, while others are "hitmen" who do not care about politics but want to lash out at any available "enemy" group. The two largest extremist groups in Moscow have a total of 1,000 regular members and an unspecified number of additional sympathizers, the paper said. Meanwhile, "Obshchaya gazeta" reported on 7 November that over the last several years Russian neo-Nazis have killed no fewer than 15 foreigners in Moscow. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)ENVOY ACCUSED OF IGNORING ETHNIC MINORITY RIGHTS...
Bashkortostan authorities continue to refuse the registration of the Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy, which aims to protect the interests of Bashkortostan's Tatar minority, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 8 November. Elfir Saqaev, the vice president of the autonomy, told RFE/RL that his group has been trying since September 1999, but has been unable to achieve a successful result even in the courts. Saqaev said presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko, to whom the group has sent dozens of letters and telegrams, is partly to blame. However, Kirienko, on a visit to Bashkortostan, declared that Bashkortostan is pursuing the correct nationalities policy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)...AS MODERATE TATAR NATIONALIST GROUP FACES MORE PRESSURE?
RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported the same day that the Tatar Public Center (TOTs) in Ufa has been told that it must change its name and drop the Tatar attribute in order to reregister. Local Justice Ministry officials told the group that if it keeps the Tatar designation, it will not be allowed to participate in political activities. Meanwhile, in Kazan, the Prosecutor-General's Office in Tatarstan is preparing materials to present in court against some of the organizers, such as TOTs, of meetings and activities in Kazan held on 14 October. The organizers are accused of making speeches and using slogans that "threatened the constitutional security and territorial wholeness of the Russian Federation." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)ROMANY COMMUNITY TO BE PUT UNDER EXTRA SCRUTINY IN KEMEROVO.
At a recent meeting, the administration of the city of Kemerovo decided to monitor more strictly the construction of private housing in the city by Romany families, nns.ru reported on 7 November, citing the Kemerovo newspaper "Nasha gazeta." According to the newspaper, city authorities believe that only four houses have the proper documentation, and that the residents of the remaining housing are therefore not paying the proper taxes. In addition, one Romany leader reportedly has nine expensive automobiles and an enormous cottage, and that following a police raid on his home a large quantity of narcotics and huge sum of money were discovered. In Krasnodar, officials recently resolved the problem of the construction of illegal housing there by deporting the Romany families involved and tearing down their homes. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)KRASNODAR LEADER: 'TIME FOR [NON-RUSSIANS] TO GO HOME'...
NTV reported on 6 November that at a recent gathering of the Fatherland-Kondratenko movement in Krasnodar Krai, Governor Aleksandr Tkachev had a message for non-ethnic Russians residing in the krai: "The main people in the Kuban are the Russian people, and all those who come to us should adapt themselves to us, to our ways and traditions, and think about us. And those who come today -- you've stayed for a while. Enough! Time to go home -- to Turkey, Georgia, and so on." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)...AS DUMA DEPUTY SLAMS 'ZIONIST-AMERICAN NEW WORLD ORDER.'
State Duma deputy (Agro-Industrial group) Nikolai Denisov, who also spoke at the gathering, declared that "it looks as if the Zionist-American new world order has now entered a new phase of its development. The 10-year period of...oppression of the former republics of the Soviet Union by the G-7 is now being complemented by the physical extermination of compatriots by means of unleashing a third world war." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)REDEFINING THE 7 NOVEMBER HOLIDAY...
The Russian government plans to hold a military parade on Red Square on 7 November, not to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution but rather the 60th anniversary of the defeat of German troops near Moscow in 1941, "Moskovskaya pravda" reported on 6 November. The paper noted that during the 7 November 1941 parade, many of the participants marched directly from Red Square to the battle lines near the city. It said that today's Kremlin officials thus see great symbolism in the date as marking "the beginning of the end of the myth of the invincibility of Russia's enemies and the resurrection of the belief in Russia's own victory." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)...BUT PUTIN REITERATES OPPOSITION TO BURYING LENIN.
President Putin on 5 November reiterated his opposition to any move in the near future to remove Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin from the mausoleum on Red Square and bury him as Lenin and his family requested, "Vremya MN" reported on 6 November. As he has in the past, Putin said that "actions of that kind could violate civil peace and the consolidation of society." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)7 NOVEMBER HOLIDAY PASSES 'WITHOUT EXCESSES,' MVD SAYS...
The Interior Ministry said on 7 November that the four major marches in Moscow to mark the national holiday took place "without excesses," Interfax reported. More than 3,000 police and internal forces officers were on guard in the Russian capital, Interfax said. According to a poll conducted by ROMIR and reported by Interfax on 7 November, older, less well-educated, and poorer Russians are far more likely to view 7 November as the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution while younger, more well-educated, and richer Russians are more inclined to view it as the Day of Peace and Accord. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)...AS YOUNG AND OLD GATHER TO REMEMBER...
Meanwhile, in Vladivostok ORT reported that only about 100, mostly elderly, people gathered to march down the city's central thoroughfare. In St. Petersburg, TV-Tsentr reported that a rally of some 3,000-5,000 people gathered on the city's main square was led by young people. In Chelyabinsk, the gathering organized by the Communist Party was said to have drawn a group of about 5,000 people, while in Kazan, the crowd of some 1,000 was estimated to be a quarter of last year's gathering, according to ITAR-TASS. In Yekaterinburg, city officials accidentally gave leftist organizers and a local trading company permission to use the same space for different rallies; however, no incidents occurred. In Vladikavkaz, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov laid flowers on the Monument to the Eternal Flame, declaring that "on this day, it is important for all of us to look into the future and think about building a new Russia." He continued, "It's impossible to move forward with your eyes turned to the past." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)...AND LIPETSK RESIDENT BURNS RUSSIAN FLAG.
Of the various 7 November demonstrations held across Russia, one of the most dramatic occurred in Lipetsk, where locals set fire to a Russian flag, RIA-Novosti reported. According to the agency, the rally was organized by the local branch of the Union of Rightist Forces and the regional committee of the Communist Party. According to the agency, some 200 people attended, including Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council and Lipetsk Oblast head Oleg Korolev. Speakers at the rally called for the resignation of the Russian government of the "antipeople" "Putin regime" and also spoke out against the new Labor Code and Land Code. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)'WALKING TOGETHER' YOUTH GROUP MARCH, CLEANUP.
Up to 10,000 members of the pro-Kremlin youth group Walking Together participated in one of the 7 November marches wearing t-shirts featuring Putin's portrait, Russian and Western news agencies reported. After their march, they helped clean several city streets. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)ZYUGANOV TELLS COMMUNIST MARCHERS THAT PUTIN 'LACKS THE WILL' TO LEAD RUSSIA OUT OF CRISIS.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told more than 10,000 Communist marchers on 7 November that President Putin "lacks the will to lead the country out of crisis," and instead is dancing "to the tune of the United States by leading Russia into war," Russian and Western agencies reported. Zyuganov also said that the U.S. is attempting to use the campaign in Afghanistan "to establish a pyramid-like world order in which the United States and its allies form the pinnacle and all others must serve them." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)LEFT RADICALS ANGERED BY BEING KEPT OFF RED SQUARE.
Speakers at a march and rally organized by left-radical groups on 7 November said they were angry that their members were not allowed to march on Red Square, but are sure they will be able to do so next year, Interfax reported. Viktor Shepinov of the Russian Komsomol (Bolsheviks) said his group is for "the complete expropriation of property," for proletarian internationalism rather than "great power chauvinism." Anatolii Kryuchkov of the Russian Communist Party-Revolutionary Party of Communists said that the retreat of communism over the last decade was only "a temporary" phenomenon that will be overcome as "true Leninists-Stalinists" return to the fold. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)40 PEOPLE PROTEST COMMUNIST HOLIDAY.
A group of 40 young people took part in a small demonstration organized by right-radical parties on 7 November to protest the commemoration of the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Interfax reported. They carried signs saying among other things: "Russia for the Russians, Moscow for the Muscovites, Russia without the Reds, Russia without the Blacks." Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church held a memorial service the same day for those who died resisting the Bolsheviks during the October 1917 revolution, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)ORTHODOX HIERARCH WANTS STATE RELIGIOUS COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHED.
Noting that he speaks only for himself, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 9 November that he would like to see a new government organization like the Soviet-era Council on Religious Affairs set up to work with the Church on key issues. He noted that the Soviet-era body had "a positive and constructive importance" for the church because it provided an established point of contact between the hierarchy and the state. He said that the Patriarchate was pleased by the response of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to Moscow's call for reunification, and that he believes that reunification will soon take place. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Patriarchate sharply criticized Russia's reality television program "Behind the Glass" for undermining public morality and privacy, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)JACKSON-VANIK DROPPED IN EXCHANGE FOR CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN LISTENING POST IN CUBA?
Russian and American officials at various levels continued to prepare for the upcoming Russian-U.S. summit in mid-November, Russian and Western agencies reported on 6 November. Moscow media suggested that U.S. President George W. Bush's backing for an end to the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment was Washington's response to Moscow's closing of the listening post at Lourdes in Cuba. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)NORILSK NOT REALLY CLOSED, DEPUTY MAYOR INSISTS.
Nikolai Bova, the deputy head of the Norilsk city government, said on 9 November that Norilsk will not become a closed city again, Interfax-Eurasia said. Instead, in recognition of its "strategic importance" to Russia, the city will simply be able to impose tighter restrictions on visits by foreigners. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)'UNSUPERVISED' CHILDREN SEEN AS THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY.
In an interview published in "Krasnaya zvezda" on 9 November, Vladimir Melnikov, the deputy chairman of the security and defense committee of the Federation Council, said that Russia's 1.5-3 million "unsupervised" children (bezprizorniki) constitute a threat to national security. He said that "this enormous army of young men and women really can be lost for the country and for society." Melnikov said that 90 percent of the young people now on the streets are "social" rather than real orphans because their parents have abandoned them. They commit ever more crimes and ever more frequently end up in penal institutions, he said. He suggested that the military could play a useful role in overcoming this problem by organizing activities for young people. The same day, Patriarch Aleksii II expressed his concern that Russia lacks a carefully developed youth policy, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November)LUZHKOV CALLS FOR STATE COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION.
Moscow Mayor Luzhkov said in an interview published in "Moskovskie novosti" on 6 November that he intends to seek the creation of a state committee for the affairs of migration and ties with compatriots. Meanwhile, an article in "The Moscow Times" the same day suggested that the Interior Ministry, which recently acquired responsibility for dealing with migration, is poorly equipped to do so. Svetlana Gannushkina, the head of the Civic Assistance NGO, told the paper that the Interior Ministry is "incapable of dealing with the human side of migration. Working with migrants requires a high-level human rights culture, which the Interior Ministry does not have." An official of the now-defunct Ministry for Federation Affairs, Nationalities, and Migration Policies added that "putting the Interior Ministry in charge of migrants is like founding an animal rights society in a meat factory." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
COURT THROWS OUT DECREE ON COOPERATION WITH HAGUE.
The Constitutional Court ruled in Belgrade on 7 November that a controversial government decree from earlier this year permitting the extradition of Yugoslav citizens to The Hague is invalid, AP reported. The decree was opposed by backers of former President Slobodan Milosevic. Constitutional law expert Slobodan Vucetic told the news agency that "this decision does not mean that Yugoslavia cannot or will not cooperate with The Hague tribunal.... [But] there is now an added urgency to pass legislation to finally regulate cooperation with The Hague." Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic said the court's ruling will have no practical effect on his work. He noted that the government did not cooperate with The Hague in the past on the basis of the decree, but on the basis of The Hague tribunal's mandate from the UN. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATES MILOSEVIC'S WIFE.
A Belgrade prosecutor has ordered an investigation into charges that Mira Markovic, the wife of Milosevic, illegally used her influence when he was still in power to obtain a downtown Belgrade apartment for her grandson's nanny, AP reported on 7 November. If convicted, she could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison. Many current Serbian leaders have sought to put Milosevic-era officials behind bars on relatively minor but provable charges. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)PRIME MINISTER SAYS 'GLAD' TO FIGHT TERRORISM...
After his meetings in Washington on 6 November with U.S. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, Zoran Djindjic said: "We are happy to, for the first time in the last 50 years, to be part of the democratic world fighting against the common evil. And although we are a small part of this, we are on the right side," VOA reported. He expressed surprise that Bush administration officials were able to discuss Balkans issues with him and his team despite their focus on Afghanistan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)...BUT HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER NOT SO SURE.
A veteran Serbian human rights activist, Professor Vojin Dimitrijevic, told "Die Presse" on 7 November that "there is a danger [in Serbia] that the entire society may take the Afghan side. This is because of latent anti-Americanism and the xenophobia that dates from the Milosevic era." He also warned against Muslim "fundamentalism" in the Balkans but did not give evidence that this is a serious problem. Dimitrijevic argued that there has not been much terrorism in Serbian political history, but perhaps some of his Austrian readers may disagree with him. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
HOLOCAUST DENIAL PUNISHABLE OFFENSE.
The Slovak parliament on 8 November passed an amendment to the Penal Code making the denial of the Holocaust and belittling its crimes a punishable offense, CTK and AP reported. Justice Ministry official Daniel Lipsic argued against the amendment, saying a free society should not punish people for expressing opinions, even if those opinions are extremist. The deputies rejected another amendment to the code that would have strengthened punishments for those spreading false alarm. Two people are currently being prosecuted for that offense in connection with hoaxes related to alleged "anthrax letters." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)STRANGE DUO TO HEAD REGIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
Vladimir Scuka of the Romany Civic Initiative is to head the Central Electoral Commission for regional elections scheduled for 1 December, and Rudolf Pucik of the Slovak National Party is to be Scuka's deputy, CTK reported on 8 November. They were chosen by draw. Pucik has acquired a reputation for his sharp attacks on the Romany minority. Pucik and Scuka told journalists that, despite "discords" between their formations, the commission will work "for the benefit of Slovak citizens." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
LEFTISTS MARK OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY...
Some 1,500 people participated in a march and a rally organized by leftist parties and organizations in Kyiv on 7 November to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, Interfax reported. The demonstrators adopted a resolution that condemns the government for "moral and social terror against the working people," slams Ukraine's cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, and protests the recently adopted Land Code allowing private land sales. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko slammed the government for permitting U.S. transport planes to cross Ukrainian airspace in the campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban. There were also October Revolution demonstrations in other Ukrainian cities: Simferopol (3,000 people), Sevastopol (3,000), Dnipropetrovsk (1,000), Odessa (300), Kharkiv (200), and Lviv (100). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)...WHILE PRESIDENT PROMISES LAND TO PEASANTS.
Leonid Kuchma said on 7 November that he will certainly sign the Land Code, but added that the parliament will have to pass some 30 other bills in order to enact the code properly, the New Channel television quoted Kuchma as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November)CRIMEA'S RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS PUSH FOR ETHNIC ENCLAVE.
The Russian Bloc of Crimea, established by regional branches of Ukraine's Slavic Party and Party of Slavic Unity, is calling for the transformation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea into a Russian autonomous entity and the reinstatement of Russian as the state language, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. According to the bloc's coordinator, Sergei Shuvainikov, "national-patriotic forces" on the peninsula intend to lead a campaign for the rights of Russians and their recognition as the indigenous people of Crimea and Ukraine as a whole. The bloc opposes Ukrainian leadership's plans to grant the Crimean Tatars membership quotas on official bodies of the autonomous republic or to give them the right to elect their own deputies in constituencies where they constitute a majority. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)
BULGARIAN WOMEN CAN.
Bulgaria ranks first in the region in the number of women who are parliamentary deputies, BTA reported on 6 November, citing Stanimira Hajidimitrova, the coordinator of Gender Task Force within the Balkan Stability Pact. Hajidimitrova said this is due to the campaign called "Women Can, Want, and Know," which was launched by the pact and whose main purpose is to train women in leadership skills. The Gender Task Force -- Bulgaria was set up in 2000 and unites 20 women's organizations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)SLOVENIA'S PRESIDENT IN AUSTRIA: PUT THE PAST BEHIND US.
On the first state visit to Austria by a Slovenian president since independence in 1991, Milan Kucan said in Vienna that problems in Austro-Slovenian relations left over from the past should be left to expert commissions and historians, "Die Presse" reported on 7 November. He rejected Austrian calls for repeal of former Yugoslav legislation that confiscated the property of Slovenia's German-speaking minority at the end of World War II. Kucan added that Slovenia wants compensation for work done by Slovenian forced laborers in Austria during that war. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)SLOVAK OFFICIAL SAYS HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW OUT OF LINE WITH INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION...
Deputy Foreign Minister Jaroslav Chebo told journalists in Bratislava on 6 November that the Hungarian Status Law is out of line with international law and with European standards on national minorities, TASR reported. Chebo said Budapest should consider amending the law before it comes into effect on 1 January 2002. Chebo said the law's implementation will amount to discrimination, thus breaking one of the basic EU principles. He is expected to meet his Hungarian counterpart Zsolt Nemeth in Budapest on 16 November to discuss the Status Law. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)...ROMANIA'S POSITION ON STATUS LAW 'UNCHANGED'...
Foreign Ministry State Secretary Mihnea Motoc told the Council of Europe on 8 November that his country's position on the Hungarian Status Law "remains unchanged," Mediafax reported. Motoc later told the agency that Romania continues to be "open to a dialogue" with Budapest. Meanwhile, Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Chairman Bela Marko clarified on 8 November that the recently established joint commission of his party, Hungarian historic churches, and nongovernmental organizations will not be involved in issuing "Hungarian ID cards," but only in recommending who is eligible for receiving those cards in Hungary, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)...AND HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS FOR HELP ON STATUS LAW NEGOTIATIONS.
On 8 November in Strasbourg, Janos Martonyi asked the Council of Europe and the OSCE for help in launching negotiations with Romania and Slovakia on the implementation of the Status Law, Hungarian media and Mediafax reported. Martonyi said Budapest is ready to consult with its neighbors in an effort to eliminate differences and facilitate the law's implementation on 1 January 2002. Bruno Haller, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said the assembly intends to examine the law from the same perspective as the Venice Commission did when scrutinizing it; that is, by comparing it with legislation on rights extended to minorities living abroad in EU states and in other countries. Haller said it is "difficult to understand" why criticism of the law persists after the commission gave its recommendations. The Hungarian MTI news agency cited OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Ralph Ekeus as saying the implementation of the Status Law poses no risk of creating tension in the region. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)MUSLIMS OF CAUCASUS CALL FOR BOMBING HALT IN AFGHANISTAN DURING RAMADAN.
Participants at an international conference on the theme "Islam and Terrorism Are Incompatible" that opened in Baku on 8 November addressed an appeal to U.S. President Bush to call a halt in the bombing of terrorist targets in Afghanistan for the duration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-November, Turan reported. They affirmed that "there is no doubt that the world must take action against terrorism," but added that carrying out antiterrorism operations "only against Muslim countries is tantamount to equating Islam with terrorism." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)AZERBAIJANI MUSLIM CLERIC TO MEET ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS.
On 8 November, Caspian News Agency reported from Yerevan that Azerbaijan's senior Muslim cleric, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade, will meet, probably in Moscow, at the end of this year or in early 2002 with Armenian Catholicos Garegin II. Pashazade declined an invitation from Garegin to attend the celebrations in September to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's state religion. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November)
CENSORSHIP BY VISA DENIAL?
By Catherine Cosman
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs systematically denies visas to foreigners who have been critical of the war in Chechnya, reports Oleg Panfilov, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. According to Panfilov, there are at least 10 names on this visa blacklist:
Andre Glucksmann, French philosopher
Eckhardt Maas, German translator
Aleksandr Ginzburg, Russian emigre and dissident
Carlotta Gall, American journalist
Petra Prohazkova, Czech journalist and activist
Kristina Szatori, Hungarian journalist
Atis Klimovics, Latvian journalist
Iva Zimova, Canadian journalist
Nadezh Vankovenberg, French journalist
Sergei Naumchik, RFE/RL Belarusian Service reporter
The stories of three individuals give some insight into how the Russian authorities have handled these visa denials:
Petra Prohazkova has covered Chechnya since 1992. She was a reporter for the leading Czech newspaper, "Lidove noviny," and later for Czech television. In 1999, Petra first reported on the situation in Daghestan and then in the spring of last year, she turned away from journalism. She, along with her husband who is a native of Chechnya, set up an orphanage for Russian and Chechen children where 52 children now live. In January of this year, the Russian Federal Security Service informed Petra that she could no longer live in Russia. One month later, she was deprived of the humanitarian visa which she had been granted the previous summer. Without any explanation, the visa office in Ingushetia presented Petra with an exit visa valid for 10 days. On 3 March, Petra left Ingushetia for Moscow en route to Prague. In Moscow, she found that her apartment had been sealed off by the authorities and so she could not get any of her belongings. When Petra reached Prague, she applied at once for a tourist visa and was refused by the Russian authorities. She was told to apply for an invitation from her husband in Ingushetia. In early summer, Petra's husband got a piece of paper which said: "Czech citizen Petra Prohazkova cannot enter the territory of the Russian Federation for five years." Since then, the Russian authorities have never given any explanation for their action. Petra wants to return to Russia to work and to live with her family.
Hungarian journalist Kristina Szatori has lived in Russia and worked for German television there since 1987. On 20 October 2000, Kristina returned from a short holiday in Europe. Arriving at Sheremetovo airport, she was pulled out of line by Russian officials without any explanation and taken off to another building at the airport. She was told to keep quiet and sit down. For several hours, no one talked to her. After 14 hours of detention, one officer answered Kristina's question about what was going on. The officer told her that she is an enemy of the people and that he is defending his county by detaining her. Kristina said she would like to make a phone call. The officer responded by saying that she had seen too many Western movies. The officer began to use foul language and said he could chain her to the floor and leave her there. Under Russian law, the officer said, Kristina had no right to make a phone call. He said that since she is under detention that her rights were temporarily suspended. Kristina was in detention for a total of 18 hours. Kristina was put on a flight, five minutes before it was due to depart. Only at that point were her documents were finally returned to her by the Russian authorities. In response to official inquiries from the Hungarian and German foreign ministries, Russian officials have said that it makes no sense to ask about her case. Kristina will not get an entry visa to Russia for five years. Kristina has lived in Russia for 13 years and felt that the country had become her second home.
Atis Klimovics is a reporter for the leading Latvian newspaper, "Diena." She began working in Russia in 1992, visiting many parts of the North Caucasus and Moscow on a journalist's visa. In 1994, when the first Chechen war began, she began focusing on Chechnya. After 1995, her accreditation as a journalist in the Russian Federation lapsed. She was first refused a visa by the Russian Embassy in Latvia in 1997, just before the presidential elections in Chechnya. Her paper phoned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow to ask why she had been refused a visa and the response was that Atis did bad reporting on Chechnya. After that, Atis, along with many other journalists, began to travel to Chechnya on a tourist visa. She was then refused a tourist visa for Russia when she applied in Latvia and so applied from Lithuania and managed to go to Chechnya several times. She made several reports on Latvian national television about Chechnya and Daghestan. The last time Atis managed to do this was in 1999 when she went to Ingushetia for five or six days. When she returned to Riga, NTV reported that she was in Chechnya and that Chechen bandits planned to capture her. In this way, Atis was criticized for going to Russia on a tourist visa and listing Chechnya as being on her route. Two years later, Atis went to a travel agency in Riga to ask for a Russian visa. To her surprise, she succeeded in getting a Russian visa stamped in her passport. The next day, Atis got a call from the travel agency saying that she should return her passport. After her passport was returned to her, Atis discovered that the visa stamp had been removed without a trace. In response, the tourist agency simply told her that she had been refused a visa for Russia. Atis thinks she was blacklisted for a visa because she compared official Russian statements about the war with what she saw on the spot.
(For more, see Oleg Panfilov's program on RFE/RL's Russian Service, "The State versus the Press," 16 August, euro.svoboda.org.)