7 December 2000, Volume
OSCE, UN, AND OAS FREE SPEECH APPEAL.
States must act to stop the killing of journalists and amend defamation laws, say OSCE, UN, and Organization of American States (OAS) free speech representatives after a 30 November meeting of the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, and the OAS special rapporteur on freedom of expression with representatives of NGOs, UNESCO, journalists associations, and human rights experts in London. The meeting was held under the auspices of ARTICLE 19 and assisted by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The full joint statement can be found at http://www.article19.org/docimages/865.htmEUROPEAN ROMANY OFFICIALS MEET.
The first meeting of elected Romany officials resulted in the creation of a European network of parliamentarians, mayors, and local councilors of Romany origin. The meeting provided a first opportunity for the close to 100 participants from mostly Central and Eastern European countries to exchange experiences and discuss strategies to improve the participation of Roma in the political life of the countries they live in. With only five members of parliament, some 20 mayors and about 400 local council members, the Roma are still underrepresented in public office, although they constitute significant minorities in many countries. For further information contact Jens-Hagen Eschenbacher, OSCE/ODIHR public affairs officer at 48-22-5200600. (MINELRES, 2 December)NEW GRANT-MAKING GUIDELINES FOR CHARITY KNOW HOW.
Charity Know How (CKH) was set up in 1991 to help revitalize civil society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) by funding partnership projects between British NGOs and the NGOs of those regions. Small grants for NGO partnerships are provided, but grant guidelines have been modified. Applications must now include a principal NGO beneficiary in at least one of the countries in these four regions: Balkans and Carpathians, Caucasus, Central Asia, or the western CIS. The next deadline is 23 January. More information from: firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.charityknowhow.org (Center for Civil Society International, 29 November)USAID, NGO PARTNERSHIP GRANTS.
USAID partnership grants are available for small U.S. private voluntary organizations or NGOs with annual revenue of under $6 million and their counterparts in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. A copy of grant conditions is at: http://www.usaid.gov/procurement_bus_opp/procurement/solicitation/ The deadline for proposal submission is 22 December at 2 p.m. (Center for Civil Society International, 30 November)NIS EXCHANGES AND TRAINING PROGRAMS.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Office of Citizen Exchanges is offering a grant opportunity for U.S. organizations to conduct exchanges and training programs in collaboration with partner organizations for the New Independent States. For more information see the website at: e.usia.gov/education/citizens/nis/ The RFP is at e.usia.gov/education/rfps/. Proposals should focus on exchange programs in: Media Internships (Ukraine or Belarus/Ukraine, Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia Regional); Women's Leadership Programs (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- single country and regional); Public Advocacy Training for NGOs and associations (Russia, Belarus/Russia, Belarus/cross-border); Prevention of Trafficking in Women and Girls (Russia, Belarus, and Moldova -- single and multicountry). The deadline for proposals is 19 December. (Center for Civil Society International, 28 November)
U.S. CITIZEN MURDERED.
The chief of the U.S. Republican Institute's Azerbaijan and Georgia program, John Michael Alvis, was found stabbed to death in his Baku apartment/office on 30 November, Turan reported, quoting Baku's police chief, Major-General Magerram Aliev. Aliyev said that robbery was the probable motive for the killing. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December)ANONYMOUS THREAT MADE TO NAKHICHEVAN REPRESENTATION...
An unidentified person on 28 November gave the editorial staff of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" a tape containing threats by an anonymous individual to blow up the Baku representation of the exclave of Nakhichevan unless its staff desist from unspecified "criminal activities," Turan reported. The tape also accused the staff of the representation of involvement in murder and kidnapping. The newspaper's staff passed the tape to the Baku police. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)...AS OPPOSITION CALLS OFF PLANNED DEMONSTRATION.
Representatives in Nakhichevan of the local branches of the Azerbaijan Popular Front, Musavat, and Democratic parties announced on 27 November that in response to pressure and intimidation from the exclave's leadership, they decided to cancel a rally planned for the following day, Turan reported. The demonstration was to protest the falsification of the 5 November parliamentary election. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)OPPOSITION PLANS NEW PROTEST DEMONSTRATION.
The six opposition parties that last month signed an agreement not to recognize the outcome of the 5 November parliamentary poll have applied to the Baku municipal authorities for permission to convene another demonstration on 9 December to protest the falsification of the outcome of that ballot, Turan reported on 4 December. Those parties are the Musavat, Liberal, Democratic, Civic Solidarity, and Azerbaijan National Independence Parties and the two wings of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party. Thousands of people attended earlier protest rallies in Baku and other cities on 18 November. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER FINED.
A Baku district court has found "Yeni Musavat," the newspaper of the opposition Musavat Party, guilty of publishing an article insulting the Saatly district electoral commission and fined the newspaper 1 million manats ($20,000), Turan reported. "Yeni Musavat" had claimed that the outcome of the 1995 parliamentary poll in Saatly, in which President Heidar Aliev's brother Djalal was elected, was falsified. The suit against the newspaper was brought by Ragim Azizov, who was appointed Saatly election commission chairman only after the 1995 ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)
NEW CROATIAN DAILY APPEARS.
Ivo Pukanic, who publishes the hard-hitting weekly "Nacional," launched his new daily "Republika" on 4 December, AP reported from Zagreb. A lead article accuses four prominent individuals of joining together as early as 1997 in an attempt to dominate the media scene. Among the four is Nino Pavic, who owns a number of newspapers, including the daily "Jutarnji list" and the weekly "Globus." The other three men are Herzegovinian politician Ivic Pasalic, Tudjman-era business kingpin Miroslav Kutle, and Vinko Grubisic, who owns a Zagreb TV station. Kutle is on trial for embezzlement. Pasalic is at the center of several political and business scandals that have emerged since the new government took office less than one year ago. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)MEDIA BOSSES ARRESTED.
Police arrested Ninoslav Pavic and six of his associates in Zagreb on suspicion of being involved in an illegal media cartel, AP reported on 5 December. They have not been formally charged. Officials of the Interior and Justice Ministries said the previous day that they are investigating Pavic and several other men mentioned by the new daily "Republika" as being involved in illegal activities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Ivica Pasalic, who is a member of the parliament and was mentioned by "Republika," is not among those arrested. The mass- circulation daily "Jutarnji list," which is published by Pavic, wrote on 5 December that the fact that it sells 165,000 copies daily is proof that the public trusts it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)DAILY GETS NEW CHIEF EDITOR.
The managing body of "Vjesnik" voted on 4 December to name Zlatko Herljevic editor-in-chief of the troubled daily, Hina reported. Herljevic was born in Rijeka in 1956 and has a degree in political science from Zagreb University. He became a journalist in 1982 and joined the staff of "Vjesnik" in 1995. "Vjesnik" was founded during World War II is arguably Croatia's most serious daily newspaper. It nonetheless lost thousands of readers during the administration of the late President Franjo Tudjman, when it functioned as a mouthpiece for his government. The newspaper's staff and managers have been trying since early 2000 to restore its reputation and readership. Herljevic told Hina that he wants "Vjesnik" to be a serious, independent, and critical voice. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)
INTERIM ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM APPROVED.
The Georgian government has approved an intermediate program for eradicating poverty, Caucasus Press reported on 28 November. The document will now be submitted to the IMF and World Bank, which, it is hoped, will fund the program. The final draft, which will comprise a three-year program of economic, political and social measures to overcome poverty, will take effect in March 2001. At present, 52 percent of the Georgian population lives below the poverty line. Caucasus Press on 16 November cited the State Statistics department as estimating that 625 million lari ($320 million) will be needed annually to eliminate poverty. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)
OPPOSITIONIST BANNED FROM FOREIGN TRAVEL FOR FIVE YEARS?
Amirzhan Qosanov, the vice chairman of the Kazakh Republican People Party's Executive Committee, will not be able to leave Kazakhstan for five years, according to some Kazakh news agencies. Qosanov told RFE/RL on 1 December that he had learned about that decision of Almaty Migration Police from the media. According to these media reports, the Almaty City Migration Police decided not to allow Qosanov to leave the country due to a recent law denying foreign travel for five years for anyone with access to state secrets. Qosanov denies that he had access to state secrets while working as the Kazakh cabinet's press secretary three years ago. He also says that he has been abroad more than 30 times after his having left the press secretary position. According to Qosanov, the Almaty City Migration police's decision to withdraw his travel passport is politically motivated. ("RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 1 December)INCREASE IN DRUG ADDICTION REGISTERED.
Speaking in Almaty on 27 November, Kazakh National Security Department official Rakhat Aliyev said the number of drug addicts in Kazakhstan has increased 300 percent over the past five years, Interfax reported. The number of women addicts grew by 500 percent, while that of child addicts soared by 900 percent over that period. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 November)KYRGYZ LABORERS PROTEST CONDITIONS.
Some 20 young Kyrgyz who have worked as hired laborers in neighboring Kazakhstan convened a meeting in Bishkek on 28 November to publicize the severe conditions on Kazakh tobacco plantations, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. One speaker said that up to 40,000 Kyrgyz employed on three plantations in Almaty Oblast are treated "as slaves" and have not been paid for months. A Kyrgyz government official told RFE/RL that Bishkek will raise the issue at a 30 November meeting in Astana of CIS labor ministers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)PRESIDENT CLAIMS AUTHORSHIP OF PROPOSED NEW NATIONAL ANTHEM.
The two chambers of Kazakhstan's parliament on 2 December discussed a proposal to replace the current national anthem with one whose text is said to have been written by President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 4 December. The opposition newspaper "Sol-Dat," however, pointed out that the text in question was first published in "Egemen Kazakhstan" several years ago, at which time authorship was attributed to the prominent poet Tumanbai Moldagaliev. Deputies scheduled the first vote on adopting the new anthem for April 2001 and the second for one month later. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)
OPPOSITION PARTY DEMANDS IMPRISONED LEADER'S ACQUITTAL.
The opposition Erkindik Party on 4 December issued a second statement in Bishkek demanding the acquittal and release of its chairman, Topchubek Turgunaliev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. TurgunAliyev was sentenced in September to 16 years' imprisonment on charges of masterminding a plot to assassinate President Akaev; that sentence was reduced last month to six years' imprisonment. Six other men sentenced on similar charges were amnestied by Akaev last week. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)TWO JOURNALISTS CHARGED WITH DIVULGING STATE SECRETS.
The chief editor and a journalist for the independent Kyrgyz newspaper "Delo Nomer" were charged on 29 November with divulging state secrets in an article the newspaper published in July on the trial of former Vice President Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov was accused of abuse of his official position while serving as national security minister but was subsequently acquitted. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December)CONFUSION OVER 'AMNESTY' PERSISTS.
None of the six men pardoned last week by Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has yet been released from jail as the amnesty has not been officially promulgated, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 1 December. The six had been sentenced in September to up to 17 years ' imprisonment on charges of plotting to assassinate Akaev. Two of the men may reject the amnesty as they do not consider themselves guilty. They have already petitioned the Supreme Court to acquit them. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)COURT THROWS OUT LIBEL SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION PAPER.
A Bishkek district court on 1 December rejected one of two libel suits brought by Deputy Security Minister Boris Poluektov against the newspaper "Delo Nomer," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The court has not yet begin hearings in the second case. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)
ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN INITIATED.
Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins on 29 November announced the beginning of the country's largest-ever campaign to inform the community about the problem of corruption and the means to fight it, BNS reported. The campaign--which is financed by the PHARE anti-corruption legislation, education, and public information program, the Latvian government, and other institutions--will last until July 2001. It will include the publication of various booklets and the production of television programs to explain what corruption is and how to combat it. Stressing that any anti-corruption efforts will be in vain without public support, the organizers of the campaign said efforts will focus on informing and educating young people as well as journalists. Berzins noted that "there is no way to eliminate corruption in the twinkling of an eye, but it is possible to keep making consistent steps toward curbing it." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)
JOURNALISTS AGAIN UNDER THREAT.
Early in the morning of 27 November, someone fired shots into the front door of the home of journalist Aleksandr Comovski. Later that day, the transmitters of the national broadcasters TV A1 and TV Sitel were left without electricity, thus limiting the signal of these two TV stations to the Skopje area. In addition, unknown persons called TV Sitel and informed the employees that a bomb had been planted on their premises. The Macedonian Press Center "condemns all attempts to silence the media" and reminds journalists it also operates the Lawyers Network for Assistance to Media and Journalists, which offers free legal assistance and representation. (Macedonian Press Center, 28 November)
POLICE DEFEND 'ANTI-SECT' UNITS AGAINST ADVENTIST CRITICISM.
Units set up to monitor new religious movements are being trained to deal with criminal activities by sects, say police. Adventist church leaders have expressed concern that 'anti-sect' training material gives a distorted picture of minority religious groups and could lead to discrimination against them. The Adventists, whose church is one of 15 Christian denominations recognized under special laws, alleged that Catholic centers were also giving "sect training sessions" to school directors and teachers with the backing of the Education Ministry. An Adventist pastor had been barred from schools in the southeastern city of Zamosc after his church was labeled a "threatening sect" in a ministry brochure. Another 139 religious associations are also registered as having church rights. However, religious minorities frequently complain of pressure from the Catholic Church, which nominally comprises at least 95 percent of the country's 39 million citizens. (Keston Institute, 30 November)MORE NURSES GO ON STRIKE OVER WAGES.
Hundreds of nurses began hunger strikes throughout Poland on 27 November and thereby joined the protests in the health service against the government's failure to pay wage rises, Polish media reported. Some hospitals, particularly in the Silesia region in southern Poland, have started accepting only emergency cases because of staff shortages. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 November)
EXTREMISTS WANT COALITION WITH PDSR.
The Steering Committee of the Greater Romanian Party (PRM) said on 29 November that the electorate has "clearly signaled" it wants a coalition between the PDSR and the PRM and that the PRM is ready for this partnership. The PDSR would "assume a great responsibility if it allies itself with political forces that have repeatedly proved their incompetence and inclination toward treason," the committee said. Iliescu responded that the PDSR is ready for a "dialogue" with the PRM but cannot envisage a coalition with it because the two parties' programs are "incompatible." PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said later on 29 November that if the PDSR "boycotts" the PRM after his victory in the presidential runoff, he intends to make use of his "presidential prerogatives" to dissolve the parliament and announce early elections. The constitution does not provide for such presidential prerogatives. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)EXTREMIST LEADER COMPLAINS OF 'MEDIA PERSECUTION'...
PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor has denounced the "furious campaign of lies and insults" allegedly launched by state television and "numerous newspapers" against himself and his party since 26 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 4 December. Tudor claimed that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had noted in January that "there are no extremist parties in Romania." Also on 4 December, European Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori said in Brussels that "it goes without saying" that EU cooperation with candidate countries "depends on their ability to respect human rights and democracy." On 1 December, President Bill Clinton said he expects Romania to "respect the rule of law [and] human and minority rights." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)...THREATENS JOURNALISTS WITH LABOR CAMPS...
PRM Iasi deputy Anghel Stanciu on 29 November said that journalists who have "sold out to the West" could be sent to labor camps. In this connection, he mentioned the planned Bucharest-River Danube canal: in the 1950s, many communist regime opponents perished in forced labor camps at the Danube-Black Sea canal. Stanciu later denied making that statement, saying it had been "distorted" and "taken out of context," Mediafax reported. On 28 November, PRM Secretary-General Gheorghe Funar said that if the PRM "comes to power," the UDMR will be outlawed. Funar commented that UDMR leaders have "nothing to fear" because they will "benefit from the personal protection" of future President Tudor, who is known to be "a Christian soul who can wrong no one," Mediafax reported, citing the Cluj-based Hungarian language daily "Szabadsag." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)...AS FRENCH REPORTER ALSO THREATENED.
The Paris-based journalists organization, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), protested on 30 November the statements of the vice president of the far-right Romania Mare party, and threats against Stefan Susai, an Agence France Presse (AFP) correspondent in Iasi, Romania. According to information collected by RSF, in a 29 November 2000 statement which he made in Iasi (in the country's north), the Romania Mare party official said: "We must intern journalists in work camps." Susai, the local AFP correspondent in Iasi who reported these comments, was told to retract the reports that included the statements by Romania Mare leaders, and, having refused, received a number of anonymous telephone threats. The caller said: "From now on, be careful in the street. Are you not concerned about what might happen to your wife and daughter?" A Mr. Stanciu, the Romania Mare official reported to have made the remarks, denied making the comments, even though several recordings of his comments are available. (Reporters Without Borders, 30 November)
JOURNALIST REGRETS LACK OF OPPOSITION.
The editor-in-chief of "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Vitalii Tretyakov, wrote a lengthy riposte to Gleb Pavlovsky's 28 November assertion that a new political attack on President Vladimir Putin has begun with the alleged aim of provoking a government crisis and revising the constitution. Instead, according to Tretyakov, "if there is anything that Russia as a democratic society suffers from today it is the complete, not to say utter, absence of opposition. Which is, in general, a bad thing." Ticking off the usual reasons for the rise of a political opposition -- mass dissatisfaction with their leader; strong opposition parties; opposition in the regional or political elites; or popularity of counterideology -- Tretyakov dismisses them all. As for the media, Tretyakov claims, that after "seizing the commanding heights in the electronic media the Kremlin went no further. And it was right. First, it did not dismantle freedom of speech, which is a good thing from every angle. Second, it did not take away from the people one of the few achievements of the political reforms of the preceding period. Third, by preserving pluralism of the press the Kremlin effectively consolidated its democratic image, which had been on the point of being eroded by certain actions. After all, nothing comes so cheap and yet is valued so highly as freedom of speech. Even given Putin's present popularity." ("Nezavisimaya gazeta," 30 November)NEW JOURNALISTS UNION ESTABLISHED.
An agreement establishing a new union for journalists, the Media Union, was signed on 30 November by the Russian Press Institute's Vitalii Ignatenko, the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters' Eduard Sagalaev, and new Media Union head Aleksandr Lyubimov, ITAR-TASS reported. "Sovetskaya Rossiya" reported earlier that the Kremlin wanted to replace the current leader of the Union of Journalists, Vsevelod Bogdanov, with Aleksandr Lyubimov, the president of VID television, because Bogdanov has been too vocal in defense of the freedom of the press. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December)VOLGOGRAD ISP VERSUS SORM...
Bayard Slavia, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Volgograd -- with only 1,420 subscribers and a six-person staff -- has, at least for now, scored a victory against the Russian government Service for Operative-Investigative Measures (SORM), "The Wall Street Journal" reports. Under SORM regulations, ISPs and telephone operators in Russia must install a special device to route all their traffic via local law-enforcement agencies so that SORM can monitor any and all communications, although court warrants are required in criminal cases. For ISPs, such arrangements violate their privacy contracts with clients, and ISPs must pay for this equipment out of their own pockets. Loss of license is the likely penalty for those who refuse to cooperate. Nail Murzakhanov, who heads the small Volgograd ISP, refused to play by SORM rules -- he responded by taking the ministry to court and a Moscow Arbitration Court session was slated for 21 August. A week before it met, Murzakhanov received a letter from the ministry saying it had dropped its claims against Bayard Slavia and canceled its threat to withdraw the license, the paper reports. ("The Wall Street Journal," 27 November)SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF BLASTS 'TOTALITARIAN' METHODS OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA.
In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" published on 29 November, Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov strongly criticized what he described as the "toughest totalitarian" methods of Russia's privately owned media outlets. Those outlets, he said, reflect the interests of Russia's economic and political elites. "The experience of recent years shows that citizens and society at large do not get sufficient and sufficiently truthful information about the actions of the state, its plans, its intentions," he noted. "That's why we are proposing to bolster state media and their capacity to keep both Russians and foreigners informed." Ivanov also noted that the Security Council's information security doctrine favors "equal rules" for national and foreign media. "We favor full freedom of speech, the right of the people to have access to information, but the information lines connecting us with the outside world should see two-way traffic," he remarked. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)PROSECUTORS ISSUE INTERNATIONAL ARREST WARRANT FOR GUSINSKII.
Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii has been put on the international wanted list, Valerii Nikolaev, a senior prosecutor in charge of specially important cases, told reporters on 4 December. Media-MOST spokesman Dmitrii Ostalskii said that Gusinskii, who divides his time between Spain, Britain, Gibraltar, and Israel, is not in hiding and "authorities in the countries where Gusinskii is spending time are perfectly aware he is there." He added that the issuing of an international arrest warrant is "one more move to intimidate Vladimir Gusinskii and the Media-MOST company as a whole." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)GUSINSKII CONFIRMS EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL PROPOSALS TO OBTAIN STAKE IN NTV.
Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii told Reuters on 26 November that he is looking for foreign investors to buy a sizable stake in NTV, possibly as soon as Christmas (the agency did not specify which Christmas, Orthodox or Catholic/Protestant, Gusinskii was referring to). Gusinskii said that he already has several proposals. "Kommersant-Daily" reported the previous day that among the interested buyers are Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and companies linked to Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi and U.S. media magnate Ted Turner. Interfax reported on 23 November that Gazprom-Media and Media-MOST will begin negotiations on 27 November with representatives of Deutsche Bank about the sale to a Western investor of 25 percent plus one share of NTV. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 November)ONE OF ACCUSED IN KHOLODOV CASE SAYS CONFESSION WAS COERCED.
Lieutenant-Colonel Pavel Popovskikh, a former intelligence chief in Russia's paratrooper units, has recanted his confession to have conspired to commit the murder of journalist Dmitrii Kholodov, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. Kholodov, an investigative journalist with "Moskovskii komsomolets," was killed in October 1994 by a booby-trapped briefcase. Popovskikh said during the trial in a military court of both himself and his alleged accomplices that investigators agreed to give him necessary medical assistance only if he confessed to the murder. Popovskikh also testified that in 1994 he never had any contact of any sort with then Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. According to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, the prosecution is arguing that six former paratroopers, including Popovskikh, concocted the briefcase murder on their own initiative, simply to please the Russian Defense Ministry by ridding it of a journalist who was seen as meddling in military affairs. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)POPE GETS 20 YEARS FOR ESPIONAGE...
The Moscow City Court on 6 December found U.S. businessman Edmond Pope guilty of spying and sentenced him to 20 years in a high-security prison--the maximum sentence demanded by the prosecution. According to that ruling, Pope, who was arrested in April, had bought top-secret documents on a high-speed underwater torpedo. Pope's defense, however, maintains that the information he obtained was already in the public domain. The court's ruling came just a couple of hours after Pope's final statement, in which he stressed his innocence and asked the court to acquit him. "Two months of hearings, 15 volumes of documents, more than 10 witnesses, 200 appeals from the defense...and that comes down to writing the 20-page conviction in two hours!" Pavel Astakhov, Pope's lawyer, commented to journalists. "Excuse me, but you really have to be naive to believe that the decision was not made beforehand."SUTYAGIN CASE HEADING FOR TRIAL.
Igor Sutyagin, a researcher on security issues at the USA and Canada Institute, who has been imprisoned in Kaluga Oblast on suspicion of treason for the past 13 months, will soon receive a trial date, "The Moscow Times" reported on 29 November. According to the daily, the Federal Security Service finished its investigation and issued formal charges against Sutyagin on 26 October. The official charges state that Sutyagin analyzed information from open sources for use against Russia. In addition, "The Moscow Times" reported citing Sutyagin's lawyer, he could have gotten access to classified information from conversations with high-level military officials. The trial is likely to be closed to the public since the case is considered classified.("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)MOISEEV'S RETRIAL TO START AGAIN FROM SCRATCH.
Valentin Moiseev, who is accused of espionage, has been told his retrial will have to start from the beginning again because the judge presiding over the proceedings has fallen ill, "The Moscow Times" reported on 30 November. Moiseev was found guilty of treason for allegedly passing state secrets to a South Korean diplomat from 1992 to 1998, but the Supreme Court overturned that conviction, citing violations committed by the Federal Security Service (FSB) during investigation of Moiseev's case and ordering a retrial, which began in September of this year. A new judge will now consider Moiseev's case. Moiseev's lawyers have pointed to numerous violations during both trials so far, including the fact that Moiseev has not been allowed to read the charges against him. "The Moscow Times" notes that before the case first came to trial, Putin, who at the time was head of the FSB, told "Komsomolskaya pravda" that Moiseev's guilt "was proven without a doubt." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)BEREZOVSKII WRITES A CHECK FOR THE SAKHAROV FUND.
Yelena Bonner, wife of the famous civil rights activist and physicist Andrei Sakharov, told reporters on 30 November that Boris Berezovskii has written a $3 million check for the U.S. Sakharov Fund in order to prevent the Andrei Sakharov museum in Moscow from having to close. Berezovskii issued a statement in Moscow the same day noting that the museum is "very relevant in the context of today's situation in Russia" where "society once again has to defend basic rights and freedoms," Interfax reported. Bonner said that Berezovskii had approached her in the summer asking if she would become co-director of a Fund for Legal Opposition to Vladimir Putin, which he intended to set up. Bonner declined that offer. She said that it was clear that Berezovskii wanted her name, "but I am not giving my name for anything in the world." She continued, "I, personally, am very grateful to you [Berezovskii]. Like it or not, even the dissident movement cannot exist without money." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December)MOSCOW SALVATION ARMY RISKS CLOSURE.
Two years after it first applied for reregistration, the Moscow Corps of the Salvation Army has lost a second court battle to overturn the rejection of its application, and now risks closure. The deadline for reregistration is 31 December. On 28 November, the Moscow City Court rejected the Moscow Corps' appeal against the decision of the Presnenski district court of Moscow. Having been refused reregistration by the Moscow City Department of Justice, the Moscow Corps appealed to the Presnenski district court. However, the court confirmed the refusal on the grounds that the Salvation Army is a 'militarized' organization subordinated to a foreign central body. Colonel Kenneth Baillie, the head of the Salvation Army in Russia and the CIS, told Keston News Service that he was concerned that two Russian courts had made decisions based not on the law but on the reasoning of ill-disposed officials. The co-director of the Moscow-based Slavic Center for Law and Justice, Vladimir Ryakhovsky, who represented the church this week in court, told Keston on 21 November that the Moscow Corps was refused reregistration on formal grounds (lack of clarity in the statute and minutes). Another reason given was that since it is subordinated to a foreign central body it cannot be reregistered as a religious organization but can exist only as the representative office of a foreign religious organization -- in contradiction to last April's ruling of the Constitutional Court relating to the Jesuit order. (Keston Institute, 30 November)PATRIARCH ASKS OLD BELIEVERS TO RETURN TO FOLD.
Addressing a Russian Orthodox Church conference on 27 November, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II called on members of the Old Believers sect to forget their past grievances with the Church, ITAR-TASS reported. Aleksii said that the schism over the past three centuries "remains a cause of deep sorrow for our people," and he called past persecution of the Old Believers unfair. According to the agency, on 27 November priests from Old Believer parishes were allowed for the first time to participate in public prayers at Moscow's Assumption Cathedral. The agency also reported that there are 15 Old Believers parishes in Russia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 November)AVAR NATIONAL MOVEMENT DISBANDED IN DAGHESTAN.
The Avar National Movement created in 1990 as a counter-balance to "Tenglik," the militant organization that represents the republic's Kumyk minority, has been disbanded, Glasnost-North Caucasus on 2 December quoted Avar leader Gadzhi Makhachev as having told a press conference on 27 November. Makhachev said the movement had been disbanded because he believes that its continued existence could increase the likelihood of clashes between Daghestan's various ethnic groups. The Avars are the largest ethnic group in Daghestan, accounting for 28 percent of the population, followed by the Dargins (16 percent), Kumyks (13 percent), Lezgins (12 percent) and Laks (5 percent). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)ELECTION COMMISSION NIXES ENVIRONMENTAL REFERENDUM...
The Central Election Commission on 29 November rejected an appeal by environmental groups to hold a nationwide referendum on environmental issues, claiming that the groups did not collect a sufficient number of valid signatures. Almost 2.5 million signatures were submitted--some 500,000 more than required; however, the commission asserts that only 1.9 million are authentic, Interfax reported. Had it been held, the referendum would have posed three questions: Are you in favor of a ban on the import of radioactive materials for storage, burial, or reprocessing on Russian territory? Do you want Russia to have a federal environmental protection agency that would be separate from an agency on the use and management of natural resources? And do you want Russia to have a legally independent state forestry service? ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)...AS BILL ALLOWING IMPORTED NUCLEAR WASTE IS FREE TO MOVE FORWARD.
Environmentalists told "The Moscow Times" on 30 November that the commission's decision clears the way for the State Duma to consider a bill that would amend current legislation and allow Russia to accept spent nuclear fuel from abroad for long-term storage. If the commission had agreed to accept the signatures, consideration of the bill next month would have been canceled, as stipulated by the referendum law. Thomas Nilsen, a researcher at Norway's Bellona Foundation, told the daily that the chances of the bill passing in December are very high. Some of the groups that gathered the signatures have already said that they will appeal the commission's decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)PUTIN CALLS FOR REVIVING OLD NATIONAL SYMBOLS...
In a televised address on 4 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will ask the State Duma to readopt the national anthem of the Soviet Union (without the words) and the coat of arms of Tsarist Russia as well as retain the tricolor flag but make the red victory flag of World War II the official banner of the Russian armed forces. Responding to critics of that move, Putin declared that "if we agree that the symbols of previous eras, included the Soviet era, mustn't be used at all, then we will have to admit that our fathers' and mothers' lives were useless and meaningless, that they lived in vain. Neither in my head nor my heart can I do that." Putin said that there are those "who see these symbols as the embodiment of the darker sides of our history," but even during those darker periods there are events and people worth remembering, he commented. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)...AS STATE COUNCIL RUBBER-STAMPS HIS DECISION.
Members of the Presidium of the State Council on 4 December endorsed the same choices as President Putin regarding Russia's national anthem, flag, and coat of arms, ITAR-TASS reported. State Duma Chairman (Communist) Gennadii Seleznev told reporters that the State Duma will vote for the new anthem in the second and third readings and will ask the president to issue a decree on the new words for the old melody. The bill making the Soviet anthem Russia's new anthem was passed in the first reading in early 1999. An unidentified Kremlin source told ITAR-TASS that if the bills on the flag and coat of arms pass quickly through the lower legislative house, then the government will present a version of the land code. A bill on trade in agricultural land will be considered separately. Draft legislation on political parties will be submitted by year's end, and, together with the bills on the anthem, flag, and coat of arms, is considered top priority. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)LABOR CODE DRAFTED AND PROTESTED.
The Russian government has submitted its draft labor code to the State Duma, amid protests from organized labor, reported "The Moscow Times." The government plan cuts back labor unions' power, cuts maternity leave in half, and proposes a 56-hour work week. Other controversial provisions of the government labor code include: temporary work contracts should be more widely used; labor unions would no longer have a voice in decisions to fire workers; 12-hour days could be introduced if workers agree. Pro-labor union deputies introduced their own draft labor code in May. The Duma is set to consider these and two other versions on 21 December, but is unlikely to pass any new code in that session. The head of the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center in Russia said that the biggest problem is the lack of mechanisms to bring people to accountability. In a country where workers are not paid for months at a stretch, legal "guarantees" of getting salaries twice a month are not worth the paper they are written on. ("The Moscow Times," 1 December)
PETITION FOR URGENT REGULATION OF MEDIA SECTOR.
More than 25 national and local media outlets belonging to the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) sent a petition on 28 November to senior members of the Serbian and Yugoslav governments demanding urgent measures to regulate the media sector. The petition demands include: temporary distribution of radio transmission frequencies according to legal criteria preceded by publication of all current licenses for radio frequencies and TV channels; publication of all applications for temporary frequency allocations; and investigation of public sector media outlets' financial and other deals. (ANEM Press Release, 28 November)CONCERN OVER STATE AND PARTY OFFICIALS SERVING ON MEDIA BOARDS.
The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) expressed its concern on 30 November about the "possible dangerous consequences of appointing senior state and party officials to the boards of management of media companies" and called on "representatives of the new authorities not to accept such appointments." (ANEM Press Release, 30 November)EUROPEAN, SERBIAN UNIVERSITY HEADS MEET.
Some 40 rectors of an unspecified number of Serbian and European universities opened a conference in Belgrade on 4 December on the theme of "Serbian universities on the road to European integration," "Danas" reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)
In a letter to Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested the arrest and imprisonment of journalist Nikolai Gherasimov. According to RSF information, Gherasimov was arrested on 7 November. The Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) reports that Gherasimov was arrested as he was collecting materials at a Baku oil and gas trade fair and held in a special prison in Akdash village near Krasnovodsk. He has also spoken out against the cult of personality in Turkmenistan. The journalist is a correspondent for the Azerbaijan Azerpress news agency and has worked for the newspapers "Akhal Durmushi" (Akhal's Life) and "Neytralniy Turkmenistan" (Neutral Turkmenistan), as well as the recently closed labour newspaper "Khalk Sesi" (The Voice of the People). Gherasimov was allegedly sentenced to a five-year prison term for "fraud" after a speedy trial. According to the CJES, Gherasimov's seven-year-old son is now orphaned since his Azerbaijani mother was killed under unexplained circumstances while on a visit to her native country. The CJES also reports that there may be reason to hope that Gherasimov will be released under the terms of a 21 December amnesty. (Reporters Without Borders, 30 November)
POLITICIAN SAYS PRESIDENT INVOLVED IN JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE...
Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz told the parliament on 28 November that President Leonid Kuchma ordered that independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze be "gotten rid of" and "systematically monitored" the implementation of his order, Interfax reported. According to Moroz, Gongadze's disappearance was planned and carried out by Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, with the participation of presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn. "It is necessary to put an end to the country's sliding into the darkness of criminality and banditism," Moroz noted. He added that the parliament and courts should "draw conclusions" from what he says. Gongadze, a 31-year-old editor of the Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda," disappeared on 16 September. Many in Ukraine believe that Gongadze, who was highly critical of the government, was the victim of a politically motivated attack. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)...PRESENTS AUDIO RECORDING TO SUPPORT HIS CLAIM...
Following his address to the parliament, Moroz played journalists an audio recording that he said he believes to be taped conversations between Kuchma, Kravchenko, and Lytvyn about Gongadze. According to Moroz, the recording testifies to the fact that Kuchma "personally gave instructions" with regard to the Gongadze case and monitored how those instructions were implemented. Moroz said the tape was provided to him by an unnamed officer from Ukraine's Security Service. Moroz added that the officer is ready to testify in court if a trial is opened in connection with the Gongadze case. Moroz also noted that unspecified foreign experts have said the recording is authentic. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)...AS UKRAINIAN INTERNET NEWSLETTER PUBLISHES 'MOROZ'S TAPE.'
The Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda" (http://www.pravda.com.ua) on 28 November published a transcribed version of the recording that Moroz had made available earlier the same day. Nine "episodes" of conversations between unidentified interlocutors are presented; those people discuss Georgian-born Gongadze and ways to get rid of him. The options included deportation to Georgia and kidnapping by Chechens for ransom. The conversations are in a Ukrainian-Russian linguistic mix (popularly called "surzhyk" in Ukraine) and include ample use of four-letter words and other obscenities. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November)PARLIAMENT TO EVALUATE 'MOROZ TAPE.'
The parliamentary special commission investigating the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze is to evaluate the audio recording that was made public by Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz on 28 November, Interfax and the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported the next day. Moroz believes the tape proves that President Leonid Kuchma was involved in Gongadze's disappearance. A group of officers from Ukraine's Security Service said in a statement on 29 November that it is "impossible" to eavesdrop on the head of state's communications links or offices. Meanwhile, fragments of the recording have been placed on the web in real audio format at http://www.volkskrant.com/real/buitenland/koetsjma.html. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November)SOCIALIST LEADER SUED FOR SLANDER.
Presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn has sued Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz in a Kyiv district court for slander, Interfax reported on 30 November. According to Lytvyn, Moroz committed slander by publicly alleging that Lytvyn, along with President Leonid Kuchma and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, are responsible for the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Meanwhile, the state printing house "Presa Ukrayiny" has refused to print an issue of the "Tovarysh" newspaper, the Socialist Party's press organ, containing the materials produced by Moroz alleging the involvement of Kuchma, Kravchenko, and Lytvyn in Gongadze's disappearance. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December)PRESIDENT DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE.
Leonid Kuchma has denied his complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, as alleged by Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. In a conversation with Georgian President Shevardnadze in Minsk on 1 December, Kuchma said both Moroz's allegation and the tape the latter provided to support his claim constitute "a provocation, possibly, with the participation of foreign special services," Interfax reported. Kuchma noted that it is necessary "to find out" which special services were involved. Shevardnadze remarked that, alternatively, Kyiv could simply "guess" which countries' special services took part. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)UKRAINIAN POLITICIAN SAYS PRESIDENT SHOULD RESIGN OVER JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE.
Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz has said President Leonid Kuchma should resign in connection with the latter's alleged involvement in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 5 December, citing UNIAN. According to Moroz, Kuchma's resignation should be demanded by "the people, public and political organizations, [or] at least the Supreme Council." Ukraine's legislation does not provide for a procedure to impeach the president. Moroz said he is certain of the authenticity of the audio recording he made public to support his claim of Kuchma's complicity in Gongadze's disappearance. Meanwhile, lawmaker Oleksandr Holub told UNIAN that "Moroz's tape" was first offered by 10 ex-servicemen of Ukraine's Security Service to Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, but the latter refused to publicize it. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December)CHORNOBYL VICTIMS DEMAND MORE SOCIAL SUPPORT.
Some 10,000 people affected by the Chornobyl nuclear accident in 1986, including participants in the Chornobyl cleanup operations, marched in Kyiv on 3 December to demand more government spending on social care and increased support for them, AP reported. More than 2.2 million Ukrainians are eligible for benefits related to the consequences of the Chornobyl accident. Meanwhile, the only remaining Chornobyl reactor was restarted on 1 December after a shutdown caused by an electricity supply failure last week. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December)
INTERNET GROWS SLOWLY IN CENTRAL ASIA...
Of about 60 million people populating the huge area between Russia and China, experts say at most 450,000-500,000 are online, Reuters reported. Kazakhstan, with some 15 million people, has the "highest concentration of users with some 250,000" online. Tajikistan "has just 400-500 users and only opened its first Internet cafe in June." Several factors contribute to such low Internet user rates. Regional governments are suspicious if not hostile to the Internet. Indeed, the Paris-based journalists organization, Reporters Without Borders, earlier this year declared the Central Asian governments "Enemies of the Internet." And users with low salaries have to pay high Internet access fees. Reuters says the "average monthly wage is $100 in Kazakhstan and Internet access in an upscale cafe costs about $5 an hour. In Tajikistan, where the average wage is $10 a month, an hour on the Internet can cost about $4." (Reuters, 26 November)...AND IS ASSISTED IN THE CAUCASUS.
With support from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Program for Internet Community Development in the Caucasus (ICD) promotes the use of the Internet as a democracy-building and community-organizing tool for professionals in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The first year of the program aims to develop two distinct online communities -- one for the development of small businesses and for organizations that aid refugees and internally displaced persons. The training, educational, and outreach activities of the program aim to build the local capacity of professionals in these fields to use and create multilanguage online resources. For more information, visit http://www.projectharmony.org or write to email@example.com. Contact Information for the ICD program: Paul Lawrence, program director, firstname.lastname@example.org (Center for Civil Society International, 4 November)
COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMENTS ON DRAFT CROATIAN AND SERBIAN LAWS.
The comments on the Croatian Draft Telecommunication Law and the Model Law on Public Information for Serbia are now available on the Media Division's website at http://www.humanrights.coe.int/media/. The latest version of the Media Division's forthcoming training program is also available, including a seminar on government communication organized in Zagreb in cooperation with the OECD and the OSCE and the Belgrade-based Conference on Media for a Democratic Europe. (Council of Europe, 29 November)NEW PUBLICATION ON CARPATHIAN REGION.
"Rusyns of the Trans-Carpathian Euroregion: Multi-ethnic Outpost" is in "The Central Europe Review," Vol. 2, no. 40, 20 November 2000, or on: http://www.ce-review.org/00/40/pozun40.html (MINELRES, 22 November)FORTHCOMING BOOK ON RUSSIAN FASCISM.
"Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, and Movements," will be published by M. E. Sharpe of New York in January. For more information, see: http://www.mesharpe.com
A DANGEROUSLY DEEPENING DIVIDE
By Paul Goble
A recent World Bank study found that the income gap between the wealthiest and poorest countries has grown so great that it threatens to divide the world economically and politically.
In 1990, people in the wealthiest 20 percent of countries had incomes 60 times those of the incomes of residents of the poorest 20 percent. Now, that ratio has increased to more than 74 times.
Moreover, this increase in income inequality has come about not only because the rich are getting richer as the result of globalization -- something that has attracted much comment in recent years -- but also because the poor are getting poorer for the same reason -- a trend that has not received as much attention.
According to the study, the number of poor people in the world has increased from 1,200 million in 1987 to 1,500 million now and is expected to climb to 1,900 million in 2015.
And these poorest people are often in desperate straits. According to UN figures, 2,600 million of the world's people lack access to basic sanitation, 1,300 million cannot obtain safe drinking water, 1,000 million are without adequate housing, and 840 million are chronically malnourished.
As a result of these environmental factors, more than 18 million people die each year from poverty-related causes, according to the World Health Organization. Moreover, 40 percent of children in the poorest countries are stunted in their growth, and 250 million children in these countries are forced to work as soldiers, servants or prostitutes.
All this is taking place at a time when people in the richest countries are richer than they or anyone else has ever been and when these countries have had a peace dividend of more than 500,000 million dollars -- money that some activists could believe could be used to help the poorest of the poor.
And that development is occurring even as the advocates of globalization argue that it will ultimately improve the living conditions of all people everywhere. In the long term, this argument may prove to be true. But for those living in poverty today, that long-term prospect appears irrelevant or illusory at best.
That is especially true because neither the governments of the world's wealthiest countries nor their own regimes appear willing to do much about the fate of the world's poorest.
Despite their own economic prosperity, most of the world's wealthiest countries increasingly are focusing on their own needs rather than on those of others. The poorest countries, unless they provide some natural resource that the richest ones need, are often ignored or given lectures on what they should do to help themselves.
And their own governments, Thomas W. Pogge points out in the current issue of the American journal "Dissent," are frequently even worse. Most of these regimes, he notes, "have little incentive to attend to the needs of the poor, as their continuation in power depends on the local elite and on foreign governments and corporations" rather than on the attitudes of their own people.
The rulers of these countries, he continues, "can sell the country's resources, buy arms and soldiers to maintain their rule, and amass personal fortunes." For all these reasons, he argues, "they like the global economic order just the way it is."
But this situation is unlikely to be sustainable for long either within these countries or between them and the more developed world. Within these countries, the fundamental weakness and illegitimacy of regimes almost certainly will lead opposition groups to challenge those in power, sometimes via the ballot box but more often in the streets.
And this imbalance between rich and poor, if left unaddressed, seems likely to lead some wealthier countries to mobilize the poorer ones against other wealthy states, to tempt poorer countries to form cartels when they can, and to power more waves of immigration from poorer to wealthier countries, something many in the latter do not want.
All these developments are likely to destabilize the current international order, not only directly but by challenging the self-confident assumptions of those among the wealthiest countries who believe that helping the poorest countries is not in their national or even personal interest.