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(Un)Civil Societies Report: November 9, 2000


9 November 2000, Volume 1, Number 26
INTERNATIONAL
TRANSLATION COMPETITION 2000. The Open Society Institute (OSI) Center for Publishing Development announced a competition to support translation of books on publishing. The project promotes local-language access to international titles on such issues as management, marketing, copyright issues, and others. In last year's competition, 11 publishers received grants. The application deadline is 30 November. For more information, contact ygenova@osi.hu (MINELRES, 4 November)

ARMENIA
JOURNALISTS PROTEST POWER CUTS TO INDEPENDENT TV. Armenia's National Press Club on 1 November issued a statement deploring all restrictions on journalists and actions to disable television transmitters, Noyan Tapan reported. The statement was presumably prompted by the 30 October cutoff to the transmitter that airs Noyan Tapan's television news, shortly before exclusive footage showing Vartanian's arrest was to be broadcast. Power supplies to the transmitter were resumed only after 24 hours. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

U.S. FUND INAUGURATES 'ALTERNATIVE' PRINTING PRESS. The Eurasia Foundation opened a printing press in Yerevan on 1 November that is intended to provide independent publications with an alternative to state- controlled publishing facilities, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported. The press is located at the Gind publishing company and will give it the technical capacity to print all Armenia's newspapers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

AZERBAIJAN
ELECTORAL FALSIFICATION DECRIED. The leaders of the Musavat, Liberal, National Independence, and Popular Front Parties told journalists on 5 November that their monitors had registered widespread procedural violations, including ballot-stuffing and refusal by local election officials to allow monitors to observe the voting. Gambar and AMIP deputy chairman Nazim Imanov spoke of "total falsification," as did a statement released by the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, which said the party will not recognize the official outcome of the poll as valid. Reuters quoted Gerard Stoudmann, head of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as saying that the OSCE's monitors registered ballot-stuffing and the refusal to allow observers access to polling stations at an unspecified number of precincts. A second, unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters on 5 November that there had been little, if any, improvement over previous elections but that it is too early to say whether the falsification was so extensive as to determine the outcome of the ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

BELARUS
LUKASHENKA HAILS OCTOBER REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY. On the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka reminded Belarusians how the uprising had allowed them to acquire statehood and develop their national culture, Belarusian Television reported on 6 November. Lukashenka stressed that the Belarusian people today face the future with hope, particularly following last month's legislative elections, in which, he said, voters "supported the president's domestic and foreign policies oriented toward building a strong democratic state and enhancing the well-being of the Belarusian people." However, the Minsk authorities did not allow the country's two Communist Parties to stage marches in the city center on 7 November to commemorate the 1917 revolution. As in Russia, the anniversary of the October Revolution remains a state holiday in Belarus. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)

NON-STATE JOURNALISTS ASK FOR INTERNATIONAL HELP. The Belarusian Association of Journalists has appealed to international organizations to send monitors to Belarus to look into the media situation in the runup to next year's presidential ballot, Belapan reported on 3 November. The association fears that most of the country's independent media outlets may be closed by January 2001, when all economic entities are obliged to re-register under a presidential decree. "Many are unable to re-register because the process lacks a clear legal framework. In addition, the central and local authorities have created a lot of bureaucratic barriers to prevent the newspapers from re- registering," the association said in a statement, adding that the situation of Belarus's independent media is "critical." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

SOROS SUES GOVERNMENT OVER SEIZED PRINTING PRESS. The Soros Foundation has sued the Belarusian government over its seizure of Soros-owned printing equipment in the Minsk-based independent publishing house Magic, which prints most of Belarus's independent and opposition periodicals, AP reported on 3 November. Last month, the tax authorities froze Magic's bank accounts and confiscated its equipment, saying the company owes taxes. Magic denies the charge. "This is a serious warning to any potential investor to stay away. Lukashenka's regime has not only strangled independent voices, but in stifling a legitimate commercial enterprise he now shows that Belarus has no respect for private property," the Soros Foundation said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

POLICE DISPERSE RALLY TO COMMEMORATE 'FOREFATHERS.' Police on 1 November dispersed a rally in Hrodna, northwestern Belarus and arrested some 30 people from the opposition Belarusian Popular Front who were marking All Saints Day, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 1 November. In Belarus, the 1 November is called Dzyady--the Day of the Forefathers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

BULGARIA
STRASBOURG COURT RULES STATE MEDDLED IN MUSLIM LEADERSHIP. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found that the Bulgarian government violated the rights of Bulgaria's Muslim community to freely choose their leadership by rejecting a validly-elected leader and accepting a rival leader in his place. In its ruling on Hasan and Chaush v. Bulgaria, the court found that the government violated Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. The court cleared the government of accusations it had violated the right to a fair trial (Article 6). (Keston News Service, 7 November)

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST AMENDMENTS TO DRAFT LABOR CODE. Some 5,000 demonstrators rallied in Sofia to protest draft changes in the country's labor legislation that many workers feel will reduce their rights, AP reported on 1 November. Meanwhile, hundreds of railway workers staged a demonstration to demand a 15 percent rise in their average monthly salary of 203 leva ($88). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

CZECH REPUBLIC
CENTER FOR INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM TO CLOSE. Prague's Center for Independent Journalism, a fixture on the media assistance scene in the Czech capital for nearly a decade, will close at the end of the year, according to an announcement from the New York-based Independent Journalism Foundation (IJF). In announcing the decision, Nancy Ward, IJF vice president and executive director, said that although there is still work to be done in the Czech Republic, IJF officials think it is time to direct efforts toward areas where the independence of media are at greater risk. From 1991 to 1996, the center published a quarterly magazine, "Kmit," the region's first journalism review. The center was a model for other training centers, in Bratislava, (1993); Bucharest, (1994); and Budapest, (1995). (Independent Journalists Network, 6 November)

GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES COUNCIL. The Czech government on 1 November approved draft legislation that would set up a new government Council for Ethnic Minorities, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Rychetsky told CTK on 1 November. By taking this step, the cabinet thus met another key element of the Council of Europe's framework convention on the rights of ethnic minorities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

CHARGES FILED AGAINST PUBLISHER OF 'MEIN KAMPF.' The Prosecutor-General's Office has filed charges against the publisher of the Czech-language version of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" for supporting and promoting movements that seek to suppress the rights and freedoms of citizens, "Pravo" reported on 1 November, according to CTK. If convicted, Michal Zitek could face up to eight years in prison. Zitek said that he expects to be exonerated in what he called a "political" case but added that if he loses, he will appeal to the European human rights court in Strasbourg. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November) GEORGIA

PROSECUTOR GENERAL COMMENTS ON ITALIAN JOURNALIST'S MURDER. Georgian Prosecutor-General Djamlet Babilashvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 31 October that he, too, believes that Italian journalist Sergio Russo may have been murdered because he had proof that Russian forces are using banned chemical weapons in Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Greens Chairman Giorgi Gachechiladze had suggested that possibility last week. Babilashvili said that a video believed to corroborate that hypothesis was found to be missing from Russo's belongings after his death. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

DRAFT ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES UNVEILED. Georgian newspapers on 1 November published the new draft anti- corruption program prepared by a special commission headed by Supreme Court chairman Lado Chanturia, Russian agencies reported. The draft analyzes the causes of widespread corruption and outlines measures intended to eradicate it, focusing on corruption within the police and cracking down on tax evasion. In an introduction to that document, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said corruption threatens to undermine the foundations of Georgia's statehood and described the struggle against it as one of his top priorities. Commentators fear the program will target primarily "survival corruption" by low-level officials who demand small bribes to feed their families and that senior officials who have illegally acquired large sums will be required at best to pay back taxes and at worst to resign, according to Caucasus Press. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

HUNGARY
JEWISH CEMETERY VANDALIZED IN BUDAPEST. Some 30 Jewish gravestones were vandalized in the Hungarian capital on 2 November, Jewish community leaders told AP. The damage to the stones was put at 5 million florints ($16,000). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR ROMA AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Experts from the Council of Europe on 4 November called on the Hungarian government to introduce ethnic quotas for Roma in some government agencies, Nepszabadzag reported. It also called for the elimination of rules that allow for the immediate eviction of squatters, a regulation often used against Romany citizens. Meanwhile, Hungarian President Ferenc Mladl said that he is committed to seeing the Roma achieve their goals as full members of Hungarian society even as they preserve their distinctive national identity. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

KAZAKHSTAN
THREE NEW PERIODICALS PUBSLIHED. RFE/RL reports that two new newspapers, the Russian-language "Megapolis" and the bilingual "Begin-Segodnya" (Weekly), began publication on 7 November in Almaty. "Megapolis" is headed by Armanzhan Baitasov, 31 TV Kanal's chief editor, as part of its expansion into a new media outlets, and Petr Svoik, a well known political figure and co-chairman of the Azamat movement, is reportedly also a member of its editorial board. "Bugin-Segodnya" weekly is headed by Nurzhan Mautov, a former member of the "Sol-Dat" newspaper's editorial board. Mautov told RFE/RL that his new newspaper will provide unbiased information. The same day, another bilingual newspaper, "Pravda Kazakhstana," set up by Kazakhstan's communist party, started operations in Astana. (RFE/RL Kazakh Report, 7 November)

PRESIDENT IMPLICATED IN REPRISALS AGAINST DEMONSTRATORS. Former architecture professor Arken Uaqov has published a book accusing President Nursultan Nazarbaev of playing a key role in crushing the protest demonstrations in Almaty and other cities in December 1986 against the election of ethnic Russian Gennadii Kolbin as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported on 31 October. Uaqov was sentenced to four years in a labor camp for his role in the December 1986 protests but was pardoned in 1994. In 1986 Nazarbaev was chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

PARDON FOR RUSSIAN 'SEPARATISTS?' Viktor Kartashkin, who heads Russian President Vladimir Putin's Human Rights Committee, told journalists in Moscow on 1 November that a visiting Kazakhstan delegation told him last week that the 12 Russians sentenced by a Kazakhstan court in June on charges of planning to establish an autonomous Russian republic on Kazakhstan territory may soon be released, Interfax reported. Some Russian officials suggested the charges against those men had been fabricated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

KYRGYZSTAN
DEFEATED PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER SAYS OUTCOME WAS FALSIFIED. Opposition socialist Ata-Meken Party chairman Omurbek Tekebaev said in Bishkek on 31 October that the results of the 29 October presidential poll in Bishkek were falsified, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported (RFE/RL Newsline, 1 November). Aides to Tekebaev said in Bishkek on 3 November that they have filed suit challenging the official election outcome, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. They noted irregularities during the election campaign, interference by local officials, and falsification of the poll returns. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

ELECTION COMMISSION ADMITS SOME IRREGULARITIES. The chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Sulaiman Imanbaev, admitted in Bishkek on 1 November that there were some irregularities during the presidential poll. He said that the CEC agrees with some criticism by the OSCE Mission and is ready to cooperate with it in the future. However, according to Imanbaev, generally the election was held in a fair and democratic way. On 30 October, Imanbaev said that the OSCE, which gave a negative evaluation of the Kyrgyz presidential poll, implements orders from certain "international forces" which he would later name. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz Report," 1 November)

U.S. EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT OVER PRESIDENTIAL POLL. In a written statement released on 2 November, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. is "disappointed that the conduct of the...election in Kyrgyzstan did not meet international standards," Reuters reported. He said the overall conduct of the poll "denied the people of Kyrgyzstan the right to exercise their vote in a free and fair political contest." (RFE/RL Newsline, 3 November) The EU also criticized the vote. France, which is the current EU chair, has issued a statement noting "serious violations" during the 29 October Kyrgyz presidential poll, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 November. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

MOSQUES TO BE REREGISTERED. Djolbors Djorobekov, who heads Kyrgyzstan's government commission on religious affairs, said in Bishkek on 1 November that all the country's estimated 1,300 mosques must be reregistered with the Ministry of Justice next year, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The qualifications of all imams will also be evaluated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

LATVIA
TV, RADIO COUNCIL PROPOSES SUBSCRIPTION FEES. The Latvian National Radio and Television Council on 3 November supported council chairman Ojars Rubenis's proposal to introduce changes to the way public broadcasting organizations are financed, BNS reported. The council wants to introduce a monthly subscription fee of 0.6 lats ($0.96) per household and 1.5 lats from a legal entity owning a television set. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

MOLDOVA
WRITERS' UNION CONDEMNS RUSSIAN STATEMENT ON TRANSDNIESTER. The council of the Union of Writers of Moldova on 3 November issued a declaration sharply criticizing a statement by the October plenum in Tiraspol of the Union of Writers of the Russian Federation, AP Flux reported. The Moldovan writers said that the Russian appeal was aggressive and chauvinistic and inappropriate from people of culture. Moreover, they said, the Russian appeal was an open call for separatism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

ROMANIA
POPE DONATES MONEY FOR ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Senior Romanian Orthodox clergy said on 2 November that Pope John Paul II has donated $100,000 toward the construction of a huge Orthodox cathedral in Bucharest that will accommodate up to 2,000 people, AFP reported. The pope made the donation shortly after his historic visit to Romania in May 1999. Construction of the cathedral is expected to begin later this year or early next year in downtown Bucharest. Construction costs are estimated at $100 million. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

RUSSIA
MEDIA MINISTRY SAYS NEW MEDIA LAW TO BE READY THIS MONTH... In an interview with "Vremya novostei" on 2 November, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin said that his ministry will finish work on the new law on the media at the end of this month. At that point, the ministry hopes to conduct a roundtable and seminars on the law at which journalists can participate in preparing the legislation. He stressed that work on the law will not be conducted in secret. Lesin added that he agrees with some of those people who say that they do not think the ministry will be necessary in the future, but he noted that will be the case only after the completion of the process of forming a mass media market. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

...AS SECURITY COUNCIL HEAD SAYS FOREIGN, DOMESTIC MEDIA TO HAVE EQUAL CONDITIONS. In an interview with "Vek" on 3 November, Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov gave more details about his views on the council's information security doctrine. On the issue of foreign-owned media, he noted that the "doctrine calls for identical rules of the road for Russian and foreign media. Why does, for example, Radio Liberty have the right to unlimited broadcasting in Russia, while [government] Radio Mayak does not have similar rights in the United States?" He added that "a total of 38 electronic and 66 hard-copy media are registered in Russia in which foreign legal entities have invested or are among the founders," while "as many as 1,157 foreign publication have obtained permission to distribute their products in this country." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF DOWNPLAYS MAJOR MEDIA LAW CHANGES. Speaking to journalists in London on 31 October, Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said that he does "not see the need for a major change to legislation on mass media which is already in place," Reuters reported. He added that "the Security Council is for full freedom of speech, people's right to access information, and even punishment for those deliberately concealing information from the people." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

BUT WILL THE SECURITY COUNCIL SEEK TO REIN IN FOREIGN MASS MEDIA? The Russian Security Council is drafting amendments to the country's media law that will significantly rule the role of the 1,157 foreign mass media organizations which currently operate in Russia, "Segodnya" reported on 1 November. A Council official, Anatoli Streltsov, said that the amendments should give "priority to Russian journalists in obtaining information and operating in the economically most significant sectors of the information market." In addition, the author of the Information Security Doctrine said foreigners should not be allowed to own more than 20 percent of any Russian news outlet. The paper reported that some in the presidential administration oppose the Security Council's proposals because they believe that domestic Russian journalists are "just as dangerous" as their international counterparts. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 6 November)

BEREZOVSKII GIVEN TWO-DAY REPRIEVE? Boris Berezovskii has been summoned to appear at the Office of the Prosecutor-General on 15 November, an unidentified source close to Berezovskii told Interfax on 4 November. Earlier, a deputy prosecutor announced that Berezovskii would be summoned to appear on 13 November. Meanwhile, hearings in the lawsuit filed against Media-MOST by Gazprom Media were postponed until 14 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 November. According to the agency, the two sides need more time to work on the text of areconciliation agreement; a Gazprom Media spokesman told reporters that Media-MOST was reportedly not satisfied with the agreement presented to the court on 3 November. Media-MOST press spokesman Dmitrii Ostalskii said earlier that the new accusations against Gusinskii are "an attempt to disrupt the agreement" reached between Media-MOST and Gazprom over the former's debt to the latter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2November 2000). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

BEREZOVSKII SAYS HE'S READY TO BECOME POLITICAL MARTYR... In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 2 November, Boris Berezovskii called his latest summons to the Prosecutor- General's Office to answer questions in the Aeroflot case "political blackmail". Berezovskii noted that he is supposed to report to the prosecutor's office on the same day as Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii, concluding that this coincidence illustrates "the same policy of trying to intimidate those who have influence in the mass media." Berezovskii declared that he is ready to go to jail but only when it is made clear that the case against him is primarily political. "Kommersant-Daily," a newspaper in which Berezovskii owns a controlling interest, argued that the new charges stem from an attempt by the prosecutor's office to regain its position and avert proposed legal changes to its status. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

...AS GUSINSKII REPORTED NOT LOOKING FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM. "Kommersant-Daily" also suggested that once negotiations between Media-MOST and Gazprom over the latter's debt to the former are concluded, the "matter will be quietly dropped." Media-MOST issued its own statement on the summons of 1 November, insisting that the new charges against its head "don't hold up any more than charges against Gusinskii in relation to the Russian Video case, which were dropped for lack of evidence." On 22 November, a Moscow court will consider a suit by Gusinskii against Deputy Prosecutor-General Vasilii Kolmogorov for defamation, Interfax reported. Kolmogorov had sent a letter to State Duma deputy (Unity) Aleksandr Gurov last summer saying that detectives have proven that Gusinskii engaged in criminal activities. A Media-MOST spokesman on 2 November denied reports that Gusinskii is asking for political asylum in the U.K. or anywhere else. Gusinskii has dual Israeli-Russian citizenship. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

USTINOV WINS PARTIAL COURT VICTORY AGAINST NTV. A Moscow court on 31 October ruled partly in favor of Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov in his suit against NTV and its general-director and anchorman Yevgenii Kiselev, Interfax reported. Ustinov had objected to an NTV report aired in the middle of September that raised doubts about whether Ustinov could be objective in the Mabetex affair since he was indebted to Borodin for the latter's help in procuring both his job and an apartment in Moscow. The reports also cast doubt on the legality of the way the apartment was obtained. The court declined to comment on whether Ustinov's apartment was obtained legally but deemed that parts of the broadcast defamed Ustinov. NTV's lawyer told the news agency that the station will appeal the court's decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

FORMER FSB OFFICER REQUESTS ASYLUM IN LONDON. Aleksandr Litvinenko has requested political asylum in the U.K., saying that he fears the FSB may be seeking to kill him to prevent him from revealing information, including on last year's apartment bombings in Moscow. Litvinenko gained notoriety in 1998 when he claimed that an FSB deputy department head had tasked him with killing Boris Berezovskii. He was fired from the FSB the following year and has been the subject of three criminal cases in Russia, one of which is still pending. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November)

SAKHALIN NEWSPAPER CLOSED BY AUTHORITIES BEFORE RECENT ELECTIONS. In October, the monthly catalog of actions against the press that "Versiya" publishes based on information compiled by the Glasnost Defense Fund included one murder: On 3 October, the general-director of the Togliatti-based television channel Lada-TV Sergei Ivanov was killed outside his home in a contract-style murder. In Sakhalin Oblast, "Sovershenno verno" was shut down just before the 22 October gubernatorial election. The official reason for its closure was that it had refused to publish a statement by one of the gubernatorial candidates, Sergei Ponomarev. However, according to the media law, the closure is only valid in the case of questions over the newspaper's registration with the Media Ministry or if the publication had called for authorities' overthrow or in the case of inflaming interethnic tensions. "Sovershenno verno" editor Yevgenii Antonov attributed the newspaper's closure to the introduction of political censorship in Sakhalin. Meanwhile, in Bryansk Oblast, a local television station, the 60th Channel, had its electricity turned off, and for two full days journalists prepared and transmitted their broadcasts using a diesel generator. The station, claiming that it had paid its electricity bill in full, appealed to a local court. Workers at the station believe that the electricity shut-off was a "punishment" ordered by Bryansk Governor Yurii Lodkin, who is frequently criticized in the station's reports. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 November)

COMMUNISTS IN PSKOV OFFER PRINTING PRESSES TO INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS... The Pskov branch of the Communist Party, having found funds to acquire printing presses for its two local publications, has put that equipment at the disposal of independent newspapers forced to find printers outside the oblast, "Obshchaya gazeta" reported on 19 October. Among the publications using printers in other regions, mainly St. Petersburg, are "Panorama" and "Tak nado!"--both of which came under increasing pressure from the authorities earlier this year. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 November)

...WHILE ADMINISTRATION ACQUIRES STAKE IN TV STATION. "Obshchaya gazeta" reported on 19 October that the oblast administration has bought a 75 percent stake in what was until now Pskov's only remaining independent and radio company, Telekom. Gubernatorial elections are scheduled to take place in the oblast on 12 November. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 November)

EAST SIBERIAN ELECTRICITY SUPPLIERS CUT OFF TELEVISION, RADIO, AND BOSS'S SPEECH. The electricity supplier in Primorskii Krai, Dalenergo, cut off electricity supplies to the city's radio and television center on 31 October because of unpaid bills totaling 20 million rubles ($719,000), RFE/RL's correspondent in Vladivostok reported. Residents were deprived of all radio and television broadcasting for three hours. A representative of the krai's branch of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company called Dalenergo's action illegal, since the company's broadcasts are considered of national strategic importance. According to ITAR-TASS, Dalenergo head Yurii Likhoida was holding a press conference when the cut-off occurred. He had been explaining that his company wanted to halt energy supplies to telecommunication facilities but was not planning to do so just yet. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

MIDDLE CLASS GROWING. The State Statistics Committee announced on 31 October that the proportion of the Russian population that is very rich and very poor has decreased and that the middle class has therefore grown, "Vedomosti" reported on 1 November. According to the newspaper, the number of people with a monthly income exceeding 2,000 rubles ($72) has almost doubled in a year, from 18.5 percent to 35.2 percent. In addition, in September the average monthly income was 2,192 rubles, which is 30 percent higher than a year ago. The daily notes that members of the "real middle class" can be found mainly in Moscow; in that city, the number of mortgages has almost doubled from the level recorded this summer. The number of car loans remain few even in the capital, but "such lending programs have only been launched quite recently," the newspaper pointed out. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

WHILE 80 PERCENT OF WEALTHY LIVE IN MOSCOW. Four out of every five wealthy Russians live in the country's capital, Natalya Rimashevskaya, the director of the Institute of Social-Economic Problesm of the Population, told "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 30 October. She said that she used $3,000 a month family income as the cutoff point for the wealthy and noted that 400,000 Muscovites have incomes of that size or more. But she noted that the average income for all Russians is still less than 70 percent of that in1997 before the August 1998 financial crash. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 6 November)

SERBIA
RADIO B92 SEEKS RETURN OF EQUIPMENT. Radio B92 filed charges on 5 November against the public company Srbijasume seeking to annul the contract which set up the joint company Srbijasume B92, which broadcasts as Terra Television. B92 claims that Terra TV is illegally using B92 equipment. (mediawatch@freeb92.net) Radio B92 Press Release, 6 November)

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP ACCUSES SECURITY SERVICE OF EDITOR'S MURDER. The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on 31 October accused the Serbian state security service of last year's murder of Slavko Curuvija, the owner and editor in chief of the daily "Dnevni Telegraf," Reuters reported. The HLC said it received a document from the state security service revealing that undercover surveillance of Curuvija was being organized by Belgrade state security chief Milan Radonjic. The report, the HLC said, stated that the undercover agents "were withdrawn a few minutes before Curuvija was gunned down by three men." The HLC has filed a criminal complaint against the Serbian and Belgrade state security heads. "Dnevni Telegraf" was banned in 1998 by the government "for spreading fear, panic, and defeatism," but it re- registered itself in Montenegro. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November)

SERBIAN INMATE REVOLT SPREADS TO THIRD PRISON. Serbian prisoners demanding better treatment and inclusion in an anticipated amnesty staged a riot on 6 November, prompting revolts in other prisons, AP reported. The first riot had begun the previous day in Sremska Mitrovica, in northern Serbia, and spread to a prison in Nis and a jail near Pozarevac. Prisoners started several fires and took over sections of the institutions. Officials from Serbia's Justice Ministry are to meet with the prisoners and discuss their demands, which reportedly include that Serbian prisoners be among those granted freedom in an amnesty expected to apply to ethnic Albanians imprisoned in Serbia after being taken from Kosova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)

ETHNIC ALBANIAN ACTIVIST FREED FROM SERBIAN PRISON. Flora Brovina, a doctor, poet, and human rights activist from Kosova, was released from prison in Pozarevac on 1 November on orders from Yugoslav President Kostunica, dpa reported. Upon reaching Kosova, Brovina kissed the ground as she was welcomed by cheering ethnic Albanians. She said "I know that the war is over but until the moment that all [the Kosovar Albanians] who are in a Serbian jail are released, I cannot see freedom." Brovina, 50, spent 18 months in jail on terrorism charges after being arrested in Prishtina in May 1999. The UN's Kosova administrator, Bernard Kouchner, welcomed her release and called on Kostunica to "release all ethnic Albanian political prisoners who remain in Serbia." Eleven others were released along with Brovina; between 700 and 1,000 are thought to still be jailed in Serbia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

SLOVAKIA
MINORITIES CAN DECLARE THEMSELVES IN CENSUS. The office of Slovak deputy prime minister for human rights and ethnic minorities told CTK on 3 November that all Slovak citizens, including those of Moravian nationality, can declare their ethnic affiliation in the upcoming 2001 census. The Association of Moravians living in Slovakia had complained that there was no special column for declaring Moravian nationality, but the minorities office said that any Slovak citizen can write down whatever nationality he or she identifies with. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

PREMIER DISCUSSES CHANGES IN FINANCING OF UNIVERSITY EDUCATION. Mikulas Dzurinda informed students at Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice on 6 November about changes the government is preparing in the system of financing universities and colleges, CTK and TASR reported. According to Dzurinda, the current participation of students in funding education is low or even non-existent, while state subsidies are granted to all students regardless of the means at their disposal. He said the government is considering the idea that talented students from poorer families be allowed to study free or receive scholarships, while the children of wealthier parents or students who want to study but do not qualify for financial assistance would have to pay for their education. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November)

UKRAINE
YUSHCHENKO DENIES DISCRIMINATION AGAINST RUSSIAN SPEAKERS. Premier Viktor Yushchenko told the 24 October "Stolichnye novosti" that there is no "mass Ukrainization of the population" in Ukraine, citing official data on the use of the Russian language in the country's educational and cultural spheres. Yushchenko said Ukraine has 2,561 general education schools in which instruction takes place in Russian: those schools are attended by 2.3 million children or 34.1 percent of their total number. Additionally, 1.8 million schoolchildren (26.6 percent) learn Russian as a subject at Ukrainian-language schools. Some 35 percent of students at Ukrainian universities and colleges receive instruction in Russian. In Crimea, all higher educational institutions offer instruction only in Russian; the percentage of Russian-language higher-educational institutions is also high in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions: Donetsk Oblast (89.3 percent), Luhansk Oblast (85.6 percent), Odesa Oblast (49.8), and Kharkiv Oblast (41.9 percent). Of the some 800 titles in Ukraine's catalogue of periodicals, 50 percent are published in Ukrainian, 25 percent in Russian, and 25 percent are bilingual. In eastern and southern regions, 30-50 percent of state television and radio broadcasts are in Russian. According to Yushchenko, in some regions non-state broadcasting companies provide coverage that is 70-90 percent in Russian. Ukraine also has 30 Russian-language theaters and 36 that stage plays in both Ukrainian and Russian, Yushenko stated. Commenting on the state policy of promoting the Ukrainian language -- often criticized by Russian circles in Ukraine and some Russian politicians in Moscow -- Yushchenko said: "One needs to understand our natural desire to pay more attention to the Ukrainian language, insofar as its use was artificially limited in Ukraine for a long time. ...It is necessary to create incentives for a wider use of the official language, to make it prestigious." ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 31 October)

CHORNOBYL NOT TO BE CLOSED BY 15 DECEMBER? The Council of National Security and Defense also recommended on 1 November that "appropriate ministries and government bodies" check the technical condition of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and study "possibilities for supplying fresh nuclear fuel to the plant in the next few months," Interfax reported, quoting "sources close to the [council]." Premier Viktor Yushchenko commented later the same day that this recommendation was made at a "working discussion level." Ukraine previously pledged to close the Chornobyl plant by 15 December ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November). Meanwhile, Ivan Plyushch pledged on 4 November to propose a bill that would keep the Chornobyl plant operational past the 15 December deadline for its closure if the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development fails to provide money to complete two nuclear reactors at Rivne and Khmelnytskyy, Interfax reported. Plyushch's remark followed his meeting with IMF official John Odling-Smee, whom he urged to renew the fund's suspended $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine. EBRD President Jean Lemierre said in Kyiv the previous day that the EBRD is ready to lend Ukraine $100 million to compensate for the energy loss owing to Chornobyl's closure, but he made that credit conditional on the restoration of the IMF's loan program. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

U.S. OFFERS $400,000 FOR INTERNET DEVELOPMENT. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual and U.S. Coordinator for Assistance to the Newly Independent States William Taylor announced on 1 November that their government is offering $400,000 in grants next year to develop Internet sites for free public use in Ukraine, Interfax reported. The grants will be distributed among 12-14 winners of a competition to establish Internet access sites at Ukrainian libraries. They will cover the costs of computer equipment and software, connection to the Internet, as well as expenditures on training and telecommunications. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November)

REGIONAL
TRAINING PROGRAM FOR CENTRAL ASIAN JOURNALISTS. The Central Asia Media support Project (CAMsP) will hold a training program in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 12-16 December for 12 print journalists from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In collaboration with the Kazakhstan Press Club, program participants will be introduced to the political, economic, and social conditions in Kazakhstan and ways of overcoming censorship. They will have the opportunity to conduct field research and write reports which will be discussed with media specialists and published on the CAMsP website. For further information: contact@cimera.org. For more information on CAMsP's activities: http://www.camsp.osh.kg (Center for Civil Society International, 3 November)

U.S. DEPLORES CENTRAL ASIAN STATES' LACK OF COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY. A resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on 1 November notes the tendency of Central Asian leaders to manipulate elections to remain in power indefinitely and urges them to comply with their OSCE commitments to protect human rights and freedoms, including media freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. It encourages the U.S. administration to raise with the OSCE the possibility of excluding from that organization any state that "engages in clear, gross and uncorrected violations of its OSCE commitments." It also advocates an increase in VOA and RFE/RL broadcasting to the countries of the region to provide the population with "unbiased news." ("RFE/RL Newsline", 3 November)

END NOTE
MINORITY MEDIA AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION

By Paul Goble

A recent survey of the national minority press in Bulgaria highlights the ways that such media can help mobilize ethnic communities and the contribution they can make to the integration of these groups into the broader society.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, together with a Bulgarian survey agency, last week published the results of a survey of the ethnic press in Bulgaria. That survey included 19 ethnic publications--seven Romany, three Armenian, two Wallachian and Romanian, two Jewish, two Russian, two Turkish, and one Macedonian--for the period from May 1999 to May 2000.

Only one, "Evrena," the newspaper of the Armenian community, was self-supporting. And one large minority, the Turkish community, generally relied on publications from abroad rather than generating its own output. The authors of the survey reached three general conclusions, each of which appears to be applicable to the ethnic minority press in other countries as well.

First, the authors found that the publications of those groups that are the most integrated into Bulgarian society had the largest print runs per capita. Publications directed at the Jewish community, for example, generally produce one issue a month for every two Jews among the population, whereas there is only one issue of a Romany newspaper for every 10 Romany citizens each month. This "circulation paradox," the authors of the survey suggest, reflects cultural differences among the groups and also the important role that the ethnic press can and does play in helping integrate communities into the broader society.

Some members of the dominant community view the ethnic press as a threat to national unity, but the survey suggests that it plays the opposite role. As the authors of the study note, the prevailing opinion among ethnic groups in Bulgaria is that the ethnic publications directed at them should be issued in both Bulgarian and those groups' native tongues, an arrangement that would appear to promote national consolidation.

Second, the survey's authors concluded that the newspapers of such minorities will need subsidies from either community groups or the government in order to continue. Because those groups are small, the publications seldom are able to attract the necessary advertising or subscription income. Even the one self- supporting newspaper in the survey was able to cover only 80 percent of its costs through advertising and newspaper sales.

Consequently, the national government and other institutions of the majority national community may have a compelling interest in providing subsidies to ensure that the newspapers of ethnic minority communities will not only continue to appear but even gain in influence.

And third, the authors of the survey pointed out that those communities that do not have a strong domestically produced ethnic press are more likely than others to turn to publications from their co-ethnics abroad. They cited the case of Bulgaria's 800,000 Turks, the ethnic minority that in the past has presented some of the biggest challenges to Sofia.

The Turkish-language paper with the largest circulation has a printrun of only 7,000, "too small," the authors of the survey argue, for the large community it serves. As a result, ethnic Turks in Bulgaria turn to "Yumit" and "Zaman," subsidiaries of Turkish newspapers produced in Turkey.

The survey's compilers noted that Bulgarian Turks accept these newspapers from abroad "as ethnic publications," but precisely because the focus of these newspapers is on Turkey, rather than on Bulgaria, such media outlets may promote separatist or even irredentist feelings rather than generate the kind of integrationist feelings that the domestic ethnic press appears to do.



Bulgaria is far from the only country in Eastern Europe and in the post-Soviet area that is wrestling with the problems of ethnic minorities and the ethnic press. The conclusions of this survey suggest that other governments, some of which have been openly hostile to the non-majority press, may want to reconsider their views about the role that minority media play. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

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