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(Un)Civil Societies Report: January 16, 2004

16 January 2004, Volume 5, Number 2
IN FOCUS: THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN KOSOVA. The stoning by Kosovars of a bus full of Russian humanitarians with an armed escort has laid bare ongoing ethnic conflict in the region, the frustrations of international peacekeepers, and the mounting concern many Russians have for their fellow Slavs and co-religionists in the Serbian community in Kosova. A crowd of Kosovar Albanians threw stones at a bus escorted by KFOR troops carrying a delegation from the Russian Andrei Pervozvanny Fund and the Russian-Serbian Society on 7 January, ITAR-TASS and other Russian news services reported. Windows were broken but there were no injuries. The incident happened after the Orthodox Christmas service, celebrated under the old church calendar, at the Visoki Decanci Monastery.

Hari Holkeri, interim UN administration chief, accompanied by KFOR and UN police units, had attended the service. He immediately condemned the attack, Belgrade's BETA news agency reported. The stone-throwers were described variously as numbering "300" by ITAR-TASS, as a "small group" by BETA, and as "three people" by UNMIK. Russia's RTR channel showed a throng of Kosovars jeering and gesturing rudely at the departing bus with shattered windows.

Members of the Serbian National Assembly condemned the attack. "It proves Kosovar Albanians' attitude toward the Orthodox world," ITAR-TASS quoted them as saying.

The Andrei Pervozvanny Fund is named after the apostle, St. Andrew, believed to be the "first-called" apostle in the Orthodox faith. Legend has it that the apostle visited Kyiv in the first century, declaring it to be the site of a magnificent city. The fund, founded in 1992, has made a name for itself seeking out certain conflict zones abroad, such as Kosova and Iraq, and making contributions of humanitarian goods. Journalists from the state RTR and RIA-Novosti agencies, were among the journalists who traveled with the group to Kosova. The fund is a conservative organization that conducts domestic education programs as well as missionary work abroad. The group's website ( describes its goal as, "the formation in society of positive relations with the traditional pillars upholding Russia: state, church, and army." In the past, the organization has awarded its St. Andrew Prize for Faith and Loyalty to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for his efforts "in uniting the Slavic peoples." Another group on the mission to Kosova was the Serbian-Russian Friendship Society. In the Soviet past, "friendship" societies were controlled by the state; today, they are nominally independent but still help to carry out the government's foreign policy goals.

Featured at the top of the news hour on Russian television this week, the story of the bus stoning was emblematic of Russian concerns that Serbs are now living as second-class citizens in a guarded ghetto in Kosova, ignored by the international community. Some 150 Serbs live under virtual house arrest in an apartment complex in Decani protected by KFOR, Russian journalists said. Once a week, soldiers take families to do their shopping at the market, and the housing complex maintains its own clinic to avoid hospital visits. Because of frequent violent attacks, children are told to stay indoors, but parents have a hard time keeping them inside. Most of the working-class people do not have the means to move from the region and start new lives. The government in Belgrade wishes to defend its own interests in Kosova, and wants the international community to ensure the protection of the Serbs who have become a minority there, the report said.

Before the onset of war in 1999, there were 40,000 Serbs in Kosova, Serbian community leaders in Prishtina told Russian reporters. Professor Lubish Folich of Prishtina University said he left Prishtina after finding his apartment occupied by ethnic Albanians, who offered to buy it at half price. Russian peacekeepers, who number about 100 in Kosova, say that in housing disputes, local courts favor those in possession of documents. The few Serbs who risk returning to their homes after they managed to get a court order to evict ethnic Albanians are "sometimes killed," RIA Novosti reported on 7 January.

Although slightly decreased from the previous year, 2003 saw 42 shootings and grenade/bomb attacks in Kosova, according to a August 2003 report from KFOR, which maintains 22,000 troops in Kosova. One of the grimmest incidents has left the community traumatized, despairing of ever being able to enjoy security and justice in Kosova. On 13 August 2003, an unknown person opened fire with an automatic weapon on a group of six Kosovar Serb teenagers swimming in the Bistrica River between Zahac and Gorazdevac. A 19-year-old died instantly, and a 12-year-old boy died on the way to hospital. A third teenager suffered a severe head wound. While the motives were not known, Serbs and Russians blame Kosovar Albanians. On 13 January, Russian TV's "Vesti" aired a Christmas Eve interview with the father of one of the slain boys in a snowy churchyard, with bells ringing. It is one of many unsolved hate crimes that Russian groups have cited in a human rights report on ethnic minorities in Kosova that they have sent to the United Nations and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

As in Russia, the Serbian Orthodox Church is consolidating itself in society after years of persecution in the communist era. In November 2003, Serbian government officials, led by Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, met with Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle and members of the Serbian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod to discuss the current situation in the country and relations between the state and the church, official news agencies reported. "Meetings of this kind can strengthen the grounds of a new tradition and bolster ties between the state and the church in these trying times for both the Serbian state and its people," said Zivkovic in a press statement.

The outgoing Serbian cabinet overturned a 1952 decree that abolished Belgrade University's theological faculty when the country was under communist rule. The faculty has now been restored, "righting a historical injustice," FoNet reported on 9 January. The reassertion of the church has angered some. The Macedonian Orthodox Church, for example, has complained that the Serbian Orthodox Church will not recognize Macedonia's independence and has interfered in its affairs.

In a Christmas message, Bishop Artemi of Rsko-Prizren, who heads the Kosova diocese, said the Serbian Orthodox Church will continue to side with parishes in Kosova. "If the Serbian Church left Kosova, not a single Serb, not a single monastery or cathedral would remain," Bishop Artemi was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti on 7 January. Attacks against clergy and church property in Kosova have fueled ethnic hatred in the region for decades, and Serbs often cite the atrocities committed against the church as evidence that the Kosovars cannot be granted independence. The bishop travels in an armored vehicle; humanitarians and now journalists, too, are advised to have an armed escort.

The United Nations Mission in Kosova (UNMIK) has frequently had to intervene with troops and make public condemnations of ethnically motivated attacks against the Serbs. Nevertheless, on 31 December 2003, UNMIK transferred a final set of responsibilities to local provisional institutions as part of a commitment to gradually introduce self-government to Kosova, the UN news agency IRIN reported on 31 December 2003. The goal has been to try to establish greater autonomy for the region. Some functions, including the supervision of an independent media commission, will not be operational until enabling legislation is passed. UNMIK will retain power over security, foreign relations, minority rights protection, and energy.

In making the transition, the UN Security Council passed a resolution concerning "standards for Kosova" regarding a range of issues including human rights, until the enclave's final status can be determined. The standards include: functioning democratic institutions, rule of law, freedom of movement, returns and reintegration, economy, property rights, dialogue with Belgrade, and the operation of the Kosova Protection Corps -- all issues that directly affect the Serbian and other minorities remaining in Kosova. A representative of the UN secretary-general is to work out a monitoring and implementation mechanism for the standards, and a comprehensive review is expected in mid-2005. At that time, the issue of Kosova's status may also be reviewed, although Serbian leaders say with a lack of protection for the Serbian minority and little improvement in the last four years, they cannot support independence.

At a press conference to release the standards, reported by AFP on 10 December 2003, Holkeri said, "In a sense this document represents a choice.... Achieve the standards and the international community will in due course make the necessary decisions to consider Kosova's final status. Fail them, and Kosova will remain stuck, backward, left behind perhaps for decades to come."

No perpetrators of attacks on religious sites have ever been found, and KFOR says it has "no knowledge of the alleged events," Forum 18 reports. An Orthodox priest told F18 that, while grateful to KFOR for the protection they have afforded, they are critical about the lack of results on investigating such crimes and the slow responses. They noted that troops took 10 hours to assemble a military vehicle escort to travel to a village to comfort the families of the teenagers shot and wounded. Two weeks before Christmas, a hand grenade was thrown into the yard of St. Uros Church, damaging a vehicle; churches are frequently vandalized and property stolen.

These persistent attacks on Serbs in Kosova and the failure to improve the situation there, as well as demands of the international community to extradite war criminals, have moved Serbian voters to back radicals in recent elections, former Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in an interview last week with a Zagreb weekly, as reported by AFP. In December 2003 parliamentary elections, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party won with 27 percent of the vote. Kostunica's reformist Democratic Party of Serbia came in second, with nearly 18 percent. Analysts have disagreed whether the radicalization of the electorate signifies the persistence of ethnic hatred and the search for facile solutions, or dissatisfaction with the government's failure to deliver economic improvements.

DESPITE PRISONER RELEASES, OCTOBER DETAINEES STILL HELD IN AZERBAIJAN. Human rights activists and relatives of Azerbaijanis rounded up after 16 October 2003 demonstrations against what they saw as unfair elections have been hoping for their release. Although the old lists of political prisoners long discussed by the Council of Europe have been whittled down, the new list remains untouched. Opposition leaders believe the detainees should be freed en masse, without examination of each individual case, as a goodwill gesture by President Ilham Aliyev and as evidence of his willingness to end for good the political imprisonment not tolerated by European standards.

Observers of the political scene in Azerbaijan believe Ilham, son of the previous president, Heidar Aliyev, who died late last year, would like to release the prisoners if it depended only on him. The reasoning, observers say, it that he would rather avoid unwarranted attention, after what appears to have been rigged elections. Yet, some analysts say, he faces fierce opposition within his own inner circle from his father's old supporters.

Jahun Mollazade, president of the United States-Azerbaijan Council in Washington, D.C., says the prisoners arrested after 16 October 2003, who number from 70 to 100, should be released unconditionally. "Some of them drove cars on policemen and injured police," he acknowledged in an interview with "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies." "Some are purely political, and some are not. But they should be released en masse." Mollazade said he believed Western leaders would accept the argument that people driven into the streets by frustration at manipulated elections and lack of fair conditions for the opposition should not face further persecution. He cited reasoning that at times of peace talks in the United Kingdom, for example, members of the Irish Republican Army who had committed violent acts were released.

The opposition in Azerbaijan has not made violence part of its credo, and the violent incidents that did take place seem scattered and unsystematic. Film footage distributed by human rights activists shows that the police themselves vehemently clubbed demonstrations, severely injuring some, and also made an unprovoked attack on the opposition Musavat Party. Marchers who were denied a permit for the main public square overturned police cars and threw stones as dozens were clubbed and rounded up. They were taken to pre-trial detention centers where they remain, and where Human Rights Watch, a New York-based international monitoring group that has followed events in Azerbaijan closely, says they are suffering torture and mistreatment, a long-standing pattern in Azerbaijan.

Since Azerbaijan's accession to the Council of Europe, European officials have been attempting to address the chronic political prisoner problem, presenting a list of more than 800 prisoners in total to the government, calling for review of the cases and retrials, or unconditional release. To this they have added others arrested in the last year, and NGOs believe they are also quietly raising the matter of the 16 October detainees.

So far, quiet diplomacy has not been successful. "They have no incentive," one activist told "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies." Although the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international monitors criticized the elections as marred by fraud and unfairness, in the end, Aliyev was recognized as president, and the opposition was urged to begin a dialogue with him and to stop calling each other traitors for trying to strike a deal with him. Mollazade believes, however, that Aliyev does have the incentive, because even if the elections had been fair, he thinks Aliyev would likely have cleared the 50 percent threshold, and could count on the opposition's lack of popularity and absence of a well-organized grassroots following. He would like to be seen as modern, liked by the West, and not hostage to his father's conservative followers.

Releasing long-time political prisoners is not likely to overly complicate the already complex political scene for the opposition in Azerbaijan, but may mean more radical voices will be heard. Former Azerbaijani Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, released from prison on 30 December 2003 under a presidential pardon, told journalists on 7 January that he sees no other way to restore Azerbaijan's control over Nagorno-Karabakh except by military force, "RFE/RL Newsline" reported on 8 January, citing

Hamidov was released from jail along with 160 prisoners, "RFE/RL Newsline" reported on 5 January, citing Turan. Hamidov, chairman of the nationalist Boz Gurd party, was sentenced in September 1995 to 14 years imprisonment upon conviction of charges of embezzlement, abuse of his official position, and causing grievous bodily harm. He was retried at the insistence of the Council of Europe, which had designated him a political prisoner, and sentenced in July 2003 to 11 years imprisonment on the same charges. Hamidov was met by some 150 supporters when he left jail, and a motorcade of some 150 cars accompanied him first to a Muslim pilgrimage site and then to his home.

Opposition leader Isa Qambar, who offered to take the blame for the violence if the prisoners were released, himself remains at large. Authorities are not likely to take him up on his pledge, so as not to make him into a martyr. Qambar has already been criticized from within the ranks of the opposition for claiming over-confidently that his party would win, and later that he had cleared the 60 percent threshold. Analysts believe that he did not even clear 30 percent, and that he needlessly incensed followers by sending them into the streets to cry that the elections were stolen while he stayed at home.

Opposition leaders now see the need to regroup gradually, then take part in local and parliamentary elections rather than boycotting them as they did in the past. Meanwhile, the price for resisting Aliyev remains high. It is not certain when the detainees could expect release; a Council of Europe resolution discusses the requirement presented to Azerbaijan to release all political prisoners by September 2004, including the October detainees. Parliamentary deputies representing the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party appealed unsuccessfully for the release on bail of the detainees, Turan reported on 6 January. The deputies argued that the detainees -- including Democratic Party of Azerbaijan General Secretary Sardar Djalaloglu, People's Party of Azerbaijan Chairman Panakh Huseinov, and Rauf Arifoglu, editor of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" -- do not pose a threat to society and would not attempt to flee the country if released pending trial, say attorneys. The prosecutor-general's refusal branded the appeal slanderous and inaccurate. It further affirmed that the detainees have committed serious crimes and there are no grounds for their release pending trial, "RFE/RL Newsline," reported on 7 January.

The continued detention of the demonstrators has compelled opposition and human rights groups to cooperate to obtain their release and become more active. On 14 January at the Nizami Press Club, the Human Rights Committee organized a roundtable to discuss the October events. Vagif Gajibeili, chair of the committee, reported that 133 persons were being investigated for their part in the disturbances, investigations into 46 cases were completed, and 128 remained in detention.

The committee presented the findings of attorneys on the cases, and planned to raise the cases both at home and abroad. Azerbaijani lawyers said the prisoners should be released. "Even if persons who protested against the falsification of the elections are found to have committed some infraction of the law, they should be released from liability. These actions were aimed against the forcible seizure and maintenance of power by the authorities, and therefore should not be prosecuted, from the perspective of international legal norms and Azerbaijani law," they wrote in an opinion piece distributed to the press.

Ilgar Ibrahiimov, a Muslim clergyman detained on charges of instigating the unrest, remains in custody. Recently, Azerbaijani authorities permitted a member of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture to visit him. Ibrahimov denied that he had incited unrest, and said his arrest was punishment for his activities on behalf of freedom of religion and human rights.

The head of the OSCE office in Baku and a Dutch Embassy official were permitted to visit Etimad Asadov, chair of the United Veterans of Karabakh, another political prisoner arrested in October 2003. Elmir Suleimanova, the human rights ombudsman, has also been permitted to make prison visits. She has met with Rauf Arif-oglu, editor of "Yeni Musavat," Panakh Guseinov, chair of the Popular Front Party, and Arif Gadjyli, deputy chair of the Musavat Party, Turan reported on 14 January.

PACE has taken a strong position for the October prisoners' release, in line with their ongoing advocacy for the old prisoners' list. In a report to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 12 January, parliamentarians urged Azerbaijani authorities to resolve their problem of political prisoners, stressing that "the existence of political prisoners is incompatible with Azerbaijan's membership of the Council of Europe." They have set a deadline for September -- and many hope the lists could be resolved before June -- for release of the prisoners.

Otherwise, says PACE, "Azerbaijan's presence within the Council of Europe will have reached a critical stage" -- diplomatic language implying that Azerbaijan could face suspension from that body. In analyzing the cases of more than 800 prisoners in question, PACE rejects the argument, made by the government of Azerbaijan, that there are legal problems with the cases, that the prisoners are genuine criminals, and that public opinion is pressuring the government to keep them behind bars. PACE goes further to say that the existence of political prisoners is not only a civil rights problem, but it also calls into question the legitimacy of elections, if potential candidates are locked up. PACE urges all political prisoners to submit individual appeals to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.

Finally, PACE takes another important step in calling on the member states of the Council of Europe "to be extremely cautious if they receive extradition requests concerning citizens of Azerbaijan for they may have hidden political motives." The reference is to the frequent misuse of the Interpol system to harass political opposition members.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY PRESSURES ASHGABAT ON RIGHTS. Under pressure from resolutions from international bodies noting its failure to implement human rights measures, Turkmenistan has made a few concessions in recent weeks that officials say are nevertheless insufficient to convince them of genuine progress. In December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) passed a resolution urging Turkmenistan to implement recommendations for improving human rights made by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and to permit the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as lawyers and relatives, to visit prisoners.

The measure, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of 73 in favor and 42 against, with 56 abstaining, was an unusual action for the United Nations, which prefers to leave the handling of the post-Soviet states to the OSCE, but was part of a "double track" to send a "clear message," diplomat Andrea Cavallari told "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies." Cavallari, a UN delegate from Italy, which chaired the European Union in the latter half of 2003, said the international community is still cautious about assessing any recent gestures made by Turkmenistan. They will be watching closely for signs of real improvement. "We needed to maintain pressure on the government of Turkmenistan to be sure that the [government's] obligations will be observed and implemented. We thought the GA was by definition an appropriate forum for publicly continuing this policy," Cavallari said.

The resolution was first passed in committee in November, gaining the support of the European Union, the United States, and Russia, and followed a number of meetings of Western officials with their Turkmen counterparts. In a move that may or may not be related to mounting international pressure, on 20 December 2003 Turkmenistan released Baptist Geldy Khudaikuliev from secret police headquarters, the Forum 18 news service reported. Although he has returned to his family, because unregistered religious activity is seen as criminal activity by the Turkmen authorities, the situation of Baptists and of religious communities remains of concern.

On 8 January, President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree abolishing exit visas, which had been an obstacle for Russians and other foreigners wishing to escape oppressive conditions. The Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and Western diplomats were highly skeptical of the move, pointing out that a list of undesirables could still be maintained to block travel, and restoring legality ought not to get points for good behavior.

While the resolution of one case and the removal of a barrier that should never have existed could be construed as progress, observers are still waiting to see whether any more wide-ranging reforms may come. Neither concession relates to the actual requests of the GA resolution regarding prison visits and cooperation with the OSCE. Turkmenistan has until the March-April session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, where a report on its compliance to date will be given by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to take some real action. "We hope that's the message that they will receive, that there must be some concrete steps," Cavalleri said. The EU and the United States are still considering whether they will table a new resolution on Turkmenistan at the commission this year.

Western nations have been divided about how to handle the pariah Central Asian nation. "We don't want to just throw Turkmenistan out of the OSCE, it is better to engage," one Western diplomat recently told a group of concerned human rights advocates. Peter Zalmayev, representative of the New York-based International League for Human Rights, believes the international community has not really tried serious sanctions against Turkmenistan. "There has not really been a consistent policy of isolation since 1998; there have been sporadic attempts and inconsistency in the approach," Zalmayev told "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies." He and activists from other groups such as Russia's Memorial as well Turkmen exiles living in Russia and Europe have been pleased to see the flurry of resolutions passed recently, but caution that real compliance must be sought.

Zalmayev notes that the European Parliament has proposed a roundtable process, as it did for officials and opposition from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and has invited an official Turkmen government delegation, international experts, and the political opposition in exile for talks. It is likely that Turkmen officials will not come, just as their counterparts in Kazakhstan did not attend a similar event. If the West wants to take up Niyazov's recent rhetorical offers of friendship and goodwill, Zalmayev notes, "this would be the first indication of his goodwill." Sending a representation to the dialogue would be more relevant than signing agreements for vague joint projects.

Right now, human rights groups have little reason to trust the good intentions of Turkmenbashi (Father of all Turkmen), as the Turkmen leader is known. In the last month, he has also passed laws further restricting public associations and religious groups, cramping what little civil society remained in the country. The association's law now criminalizes groups that fail to register, with no recognition of the international human rights principle of the freedom to associate without having to follow registration procedures. Authorities have called in groups and pressured them to sign acknowledgements that they are liable under the law if they do not legalize themselves. So far, they have refused.

"These are two very nasty laws," a Western official, who asked not to be named, told "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies." "They haven't improved cooperation on the ground. The resolutions reflect growing frustration with Turkmenistan's rhetoric; the president is always talking about democracy and human rights for all in his country, and denying that abuses take place, but the reports of human rights groups and the failure to cooperate with monitoring mechanisms belie the claim. Officials are busy trying to ensure that Turkmenistan does not withdraw further into its shell," said the official, but they are limited in the ways they can do it. "We are not in the business of inciting insurrection," the official said.

The handful of ecological, human rights, and health groups that struggle to survive in Turkmenistan are hardly interested in insurrection, but even their mild activities pose a challenge. Some Western democracy program officials question whether pushing the limits too hard will only cause a backlash. Activists contend that the single-issue or low-key groups they are sustaining are able to survive by pleasing the government. While the new law forbids state agencies to form public associations -- a common practice in the Soviet era -- it is only figures loyal to the state who are able to get permission to function.

"They will have one pet group in each sector," said another anonymous official familiar with the law and practice of Turkmenistan. "The law will essentially weed out antigovernment activity and have a further chilling effect on citizens' initiatives. The new law says that a group must disband if it cannot reach its goals; with that kind of criteria, any human rights group is doomed. The legislation also accords the Justice Ministry an overly intrusive role in being able to attend groups' meetings and receive extensive reports on activities and funding, requirements which groups say in principle are acceptable, but in the hands of the Turkmen government can become a tool of repression. The only kind of group you will see registered is the beekeepers," the official said.

With Afghanistan nearby and Turkmenistan's cooperation in the war against terrorism a necessity, Western diplomats do not feel they have much leverage. They fear that if there is no strong government in Turkmenistan, there will be no check against Islamic fundamentalism. They are very much appreciative of Russia's role in first attempting to negotiate a consensus resolution with Turkmenistan's cooperation, then following through with the resolution in the GA and public as well as private diplomacy. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in an interview in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 5 December 2003 that Russia will try to solve the problem of Turkmen treatment of Russian citizens living in that country not only on the bilateral level, but also through international organizations, "RFE/RL Newsline," reported on 8 December 2003.

Russia's interests are clear: the State Duma has become increasingly vocal about reports of mistreatment of the ethnic Russian population in Turkmenistan and media coverage of the issue has increased. RIA-Novosti reported on an incident on 26 December 2003, where unknown persons threw black paint at the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow. Exiles and human rights activists are concerned that Russia may let up the pressure for overall human rights compliance after various major gas deals in the works are reached, or some bilateral arrangement is made to improve the lot of Russians in Turkmenistan.

In the interview, Ivanov suggested that Russian Ambassador to Ashgabat Andrei Molochkov should have been more balanced in assessing the problems of the Russian citizens in Turkmenistan after the Russian media began reporting extensively on the issue, "RFE/RL Newsline" reported on 8 December. Russian diplomats posted to Turkmenistan have been so inactive that the Russian media has accused them, without giving evidence, of being in the pay of Turkmenbashi. Human rights advocates and family members of the detainees have pointed out that Russian Embassy officials have not made efforts to visit those prisoners who hold Russian citizenship.

IRAN Iranian deputies are protesting against a decision by the conservative Guardians Council to bar thousands of candidates in next month's legislative elections. They are continuing a sit-in demonstration in spite of intervention by the country's supreme leader urging the Guardians Council to review the ban.

SERBIA "Serbia's Uncertain Future." Serbia's electorate has clearly registered its unhappiness with the record of the fractious Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, which has governed since the ouster of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. The future, however, seems to offer little hope for anything but an even shakier coalition.

TURKMENISTAN "New Law In Turkmenistan Cracks Down On Civic Groups." Activists were invited to the newly renamed Ministry of Fairness to discuss the draconian association law.

"Niyazov Lifts Exit Visas." Activists welcome the measure.