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Russia: Police Detain Protesters Against China's Olympic Bid

Moscow, 13 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russian police today quickly broke up two protests in Moscow by groups opposed to China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics. An American protester, John Hocebar, with the Free Tibet group said China should not be allowed to host the games because of its human rights record and actions in Tibet, which he said includes discrimination against ethnic Tibetans.

A reporter, Alexander Levy, with Reporters sans Frontieres said at least six people were detained.

The incidents came shortly before the International Olympic Committee was to meet in the Russian capital to decide the site of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

The five contenders are Beijing, Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka, Japan. The winner is expected to be announced around 1700 Prague time.

Beijing is widely considered to be the favorite despite concerns about China's human rights record.

Beijing's Olympic bid organizers said yesterday in Moscow that their bid document guarantees reporters covering the games will have full press freedom if Beijing is chosen.

Human rights groups and members of the U.S. Congress have urged the IOC not to choose Beijing. They all argue that awarding the games to China will reward a repressive regime that regularly imprisons and executes citizens.

The winning city is guaranteed at least $1.2 billion from contracts already negotiated for television rights and sponsorships.

The IOC began its session in Moscow yesterday with festivities at the Bolshoi Theater. On 16 July, the IOC will decide on a successor to its President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is leaving his post after 21 years.

A report from Hong Kong says China has printed millions of commemorative stamps in anticipation of Beijing winning the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

The "South China Morning Post" reported today that the stamps will go on sale tomorrow morning in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau, provided China wins today's International Olympic Committee vote.

The "Post" said that if the IOC votes against the Beijing bid, the stamps -- printed in three different versions for sale in the different areas -- will be destroyed. It is not known how much they cost to print.

The "Post" said more than three million stamps are in Hong Kong ready to go on sale.

The report said post office officials in Hong Kong were concerned about the prospect of being embarrassed if the Chinese bid fails, but had given in to pressure from Beijing to print the stamps.