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(Un)Civil Societies Report: August 14, 2002

14 August 2002, Volume 3, Number 33
POLICE OFFICIAL PROMOTED AFTER ASSAULT ON PARLIAMENT DEPUTY. Yerevan police chief Major General Ashot Gizirian was named on 9 August to head the Interior Ministry department for the struggle against organized crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Gizirian was accused last month of beating up a parliament deputy detained for suspected drunken driving. An Interior Ministry spokesman rejected those allegations. Aram Zakharian, head of the police department in the Aragatsotn province, succeeds Gizirian as Yerevan police chief. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS FORMER PRISON HEAD'S SENTENCE. The Armenian Appeals Court's Chamber for Criminal and Military Cases on 9 August left unchanged the Review Court's 16 July ruling upholding the guilty verdict handed down by a lower court in May to former penitentiary system head Mushegh Saghatelian, Noyan Tapan reported. Saghatelian was found guilty of abuse of power, fraud, and attempting to procure false testimony implicating President Robert Kocharian in the October 1999 parliament shootings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

KARABAKH PRESIDENT WINS SECOND TERM. According to preliminary returns, Arkadii Ghukasian was re-elected on 11 August for a second term as president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with 89 percent of the vote, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. His closest challenger, former parliament speaker Artur Tovmasian, polled 7.7 percent, Christian-Democratic Party Chairman Albert Ghazarian 2.1 percent, and Unity movement co-Chairman Grigorii Afanasian 1.3 percent. Voter turnout was 75 percent. No violations of voting procedure or complaints by the defeated candidates have been registered. Casting his ballot in Stepanakert on 11 August, Ghukasian argued that criticism of the poll by Azerbaijan, Russia, the Council of Europe, and others was tantamount to rejecting democracy, Reuters reported. Ghukasian reaffirmed his commitment to the Karabakh peace process, but at the same time branded Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev as "a politician on his way out" and said Azerbaijan's "destructive" position hinders such a settlement. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

OPPOSITION PARTIES PLAN PROTEST AGAINST REFERENDUM. Leaders of almost all the 27 political parties that on 30 July vowed to boycott the planned 24 August referendum on sweeping changes to the country's constitution met in Baku on 7 August to discuss preparations for a Consultative Council that will coordinate future opposition actions, reported on 8 August. That council will comprise leaders of political parties that succeed in collecting 500 signatures in their support. The participants also agreed to stage a protest on 20 August against the referendum. Meanwhile, representatives of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party reformist wing, the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, the Musavat Party, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, and the U.S. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, set up a group on 7 August that will monitor the voting on 24 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

TALKS BETWEEN AUTHORITIES, NARDARAN VILLAGERS MAKE NO PROGRESS... Two rounds of talks, on 5 and 7 August, between senior Azerbaijani officials and residents of the village of Nardaran on the outskirts of Baku failed to make any progress toward resolving the tensions between them, Turan reported on 8 August. Djabrail Alizade, who is chairman of the Union of Baku and Baku Villages, said the officials demanded "concessions" from the villagers, who continue to insist that eight residents detained during and after the 3 June clashes between villagers and police be released. Alizade said the villagers are no longer prepared to negotiate with anyone except President Heidar Aliev, and that they plan to stage a new protest demonstration on 10 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

...AS VILLAGERS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT REFERENDUM, APPEAL TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. At a demonstration on 10 August, residents of the village of Nardaran on the outskirts of Baku vowed to boycott the planned 24 August referendum on constitutional amendments unless their demand for the release of villagers detained following a 3 June clash with police is met, Interfax and Turan reported. They also plan to ask the Council of Europe to conduct an independent inquiry into that clash. Villagers expressed anger at the screening on Azerbaijani State Television on 9 August of a two-hour documentary portraying the villagers as Islamic extremists, according to the independent newspaper "Ekho" on 10 August, as cited by Groong. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

PRESIDENT AFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO KARABAKH PEACE. According to ITAR-TASS, President Aliev, speaking on 10 August to journalists at Baku's Bina Airport, affirmed: "I do not want war. I want to resolve the Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, so blood will not be spilled and young men killed." Aliyev rejected opposition arguments that the death of an Azerbaijani officer on the front line last week constituted a violation of the cease-fire agreed between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1994, according to Azerbaijan State Television, as cited by Groong. Aliyev said both countries want the cease-fire to continue. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

DEMONSTRATOR JAILED FOR 10 DAYS. A court in Hrodna has sentenced Svyatlana Nekh, the leader of the local branch of the opposition Youth Front, to 10 days in prison for her part in a demonstration to mark two years since the disappearance of journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, Belapan reported. On 7 August, Nekh went on hunger strike to protest her incarceration, Belapan reported on 8 August. Fifteen young people formed a "chain of concerned people" in Hrodna on 8 July and stood in silence, holding photos of the missing journalist. After an hour, when a Polish television crew had left the scene, the police arrested 10 of the demonstrators. They were all charged with violating regulations for holding street demonstrations. Most of them received warnings, while Uladzimir Chervanenka was fined 200,000 rubles ($110). Dzmitry Ivanouski and Yury Istomin have yet to be tried. The judge said 22-year-old Nekh received the harshest sentence because of her record of participating in unauthorized demonstrations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 August)

RELIGIOUS, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CALL ON LEGISLATORS TO REJECT NEW RELIGION BILL. A coalition of Jewish, Greek Catholic (Uniate), Protestant, and human rights groups on 9 August called on Belarus's Council of the Republic to reject a new bill on religion that places constraints on small denominations and ensures the Russian Orthodox Church's dominant rule in the country, AP reported. "Practical application of this law will lead to a large number of legal disputes and will create a threat to interfaith harmony, [leading] to the destabilization of civil society," the groups said in a statement. The bill, which was already passed by the lower house, the Chamber of Representatives, prohibits churches with less than 20 years' presence in Belarus from publishing literature or establishing missions and bans organized prayer by denominations with fewer than 20 Belarus citizens as members. The Russian Orthodox Church, as well as Roman Catholic and Muslim representatives in Belarus, did not sign the 9 August statement. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

ISLAMIC CHARITY OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH TAX FRAUD. In Sarajevo on 9 August, Bosnian prosecutors presented evidence that Enaam Arnaout, who heads the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation, and three other senior charity leaders -- Munib Zahiragic, Mohammed Anas Tallawi, and Alen Cosic -- failed to file tax returns for 1999-2001, AP reported. They are suspected of having embezzled some $950,000 in charitable donations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

ASHDOWN ORDERS JUDICIAL REFORMS. Paddy Ashdown, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia, announced the establishment of a system of councils that will appoint and monitor the work of judges and prosecutors, AP reported from Sarajevo on 7 August. His aim is to free the judiciary from the influence of nationalist leaders, organized crime, and corruption. Local and international officials will make up the councils, which start work in September. Observers note that all significant reforms or decisions in Bosnia since the Dayton agreements were signed at the end of 1995 have been the result of decrees by the high representative. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

GOVERNMENT ADOPTS ACTION PLAN AGAINST CHILD LABOR. The government approved a national action plan against child labor on 7 August, BTA reported. The key objective of the plan is to reduce the number of teenagers and children who do not attend school at all or not on a regular basis. According to a national survey, only 14 percent of the 1.3 million children under the age of 18 in Bulgaria do not work at all. The majority of the country's working children is engaged in housework (41.8 percent) and farm work (31.8 percent), while 6.4 percent work in the private sector, mostly in trade and services. The government action plan also aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor such as prostitution, drug trafficking, and begging. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

TRADE UNION STARTS TALKS WITH POTENTIAL BULGARTABAC BUYERS. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNSB) began talks on 6 August with representatives of the candidates in the privatization of the state tobacco company Bulgartabac, BTA reported. The talks are focusing on the social aspects of the privatization. According to the state Privatization Agency's recommendations, bidders for the tobacco company should guarantee some 6,000 of the current 9,600 jobs after its restructuring. Meanwhile, workers of two Bulgartabac subsidiaries on 5 August launched strikes to protest possible job cuts. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

PRAGUE POLICE LAUNCH SWEEPS TO ROOT OUT ILLEGAL ALIENS... Police on 5 August began a major dragnet to round up illegal aliens in Prague following the murder of a police officer by a Russian-speaking man in the city's subway on 2 August, local media reported. The suspect is believed to be a down-and-out, 53-year-old Russian citizen who has resided in the country since 1996. The resulting controls have included random document checks and resulted in more than 80 detentions of foreigners in the first two days, the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 8 August. The inspections, along with a highly visible police presence in the city center, will continue, the paper quoted a police spokeswoman as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

...AS DEADLY RAMPAGE HIGHLIGHTS PRESENCE, PLIGHT OF FOREIGNERS. Czech Police President Jiri Kolar told Frekvence 1 radio on 7 August that the suspect, believed to be former Muscovite Aleksandr Kruchinin, had a Czech residency permit until March, when Czech authorities rejected his request for a renewal. Kolar said the suspect's world "crumbled" and he was psychologically exhausted after that rejection. Media have reported that the man's actions were aimed at drawing attention to the difficulty of obtaining Czech residency. Kolar also told the station that Kruchinin's wife was apparently murdered in Moscow one year ago, adding that he lived in Prague with his son. City police chief Radislav Charvat said the crime will be probed by a special commission that could signal a need to amend the law on foreigners' stays in the country, CTK reported. On 29 July, about a dozen Belarusian asylum seekers demonstrated in front of the Czech Interior Ministry to protest alleged incompetence and arrogance on the part of immigration officers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

OPPOSITION ACCUSES LEADERSHIP OF FORCING POPULATION TO RESORT TO VIOLENCE. National Movement leader Mikhail Saakashvili and United Democratic Party Chairman Zurab Zhvania have accused the Georgian authorities of leaving the population no alternative to violence to overthrow the present leadership, Caucasus Press reported on 8 August. They noted in particular efforts to prevent local and municipal councils that were elected on 2 June from embarking on their official duties, and expressed the hope that the Tbilisi municipal council will be able to do so within two weeks. Votes cast for seats on that council are currently being recounted following complaints of falsification by the National Movement and other parties. Saakashvili and Zhvania warned of "a dreadful outcome" in the event of a popular uprising. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

POLL SHOWS PUBLIC DOES NOT CARE. A public opinion poll conducted by the Median Market Research polling institute shows that only 10 percent of Hungary's population is interested in learning more about communist-era secret service agents and informers, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Some 77 percent of respondents said they do not want to know if a friend or a relative collaborated with the secret services. Nearly half (47 percent) believe that communist secret police files should not be open, while 22 percent said the names of all informers and agents should be made public. Fourteen percent believe that details relating to the communist secret service files should be made public if they involve people who were active in politics or held key positions in the media or churches after 1990. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

PROBE LAUNCHED INTO POSSIBLE ELECTION FRAUD. Police on 8 August launched an investigation into possible election fraud by FIDESZ parliamentary deputy Ferenc Papcsak in Szabolcs County, Hungarian media reported. The decision on the probe was taken after a local weekly reported that during the campaign for the second round of the elections in that county, voters were offered money to support Papcsak. Papcsak, who won the round with 55.43 percent of the vote, has denied the allegation and said the cash offer in exchange for voting for "a certain candidate" was made on behalf of his Socialist rival. A local couple recorded the offer, which was printed in the weekly "NyirTer." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

EU QUESTIONS FAIRNESS OF OPPOSITIONIST'S TRIAL. In a statement released in Brussels on 12 August, the European Union expressed concern over the seven-year prison sentence handed down 10 days earlier to Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, one of the co-founders of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK), Reuters reported. The statement called on the president and government of Kazakhstan "to adhere to their international obligations of respect for democracy, the principles of international law, and human rights." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

DATE SET FOR SENATE ELECTIONS. President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a decree on 7 August scheduling elections to the Senate (the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) for 8 October, Interfax reported. The Senate has 39 members, of whom seven are appointed by the president and the remainder are elected from the country's 14 oblasts and the cities of Astana and Almaty. Senators serve for a period of five years, and of those popularly elected, half are elected every three years. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

INTERNATIONAL FORCES ARREST FORMER KOSOVAR GUERRILLA LEADER. UN police backed by KFOR troops arrested Rustem Mustafa, better-known as Remi, in Prishtina on 11 August, Reuters reported. The former commander of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) is linked "to the torture and murder of at least five illegally detained persons," the UN civilian administration (UNMIK) said in a statement. The statement did not include any details. Several other former UCK members have been arrested in recent months, but Remi is the highest-ranking one to date. Already in 2001, his name appeared on a U.S. list of persons seeking to destabilize peace in the Balkans. After his arrest, Remi said in a press statement that he is innocent of any crimes and proud of what he did for his people during the 1998-99 conflict, Hina reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

KOSTUNICA HAILS 'MULTIETHNIC' MITROVICA... Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 9 August that UNMIK's arrest warrant against Mitrovica Serb politician and vigilante leader Milan Ivanic is politically motivated, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Kostunica added that the arrest of Ivanic could destroy the last hope to have at least one multiethnic city in Kosova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

...WHILE IVANIC'S BACKERS PROTEST. Several thousand Serbs protested in Mitrovica on 9 August against attempts to arrest Ivanic, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. In a letter to UNMIK head Michael Steiner the next day, Ivanic said that he is willing to appear in court but not under arrest and only with written guarantees from Belgrade and the UN. He added that he suspects that the entire affair is an attempt by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to get his name removed from the ballot in the 26 October local elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

KOSOVA'S SERBS TO VOTE IN SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS? Kosovar Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic said in Jagodina on 7 August that members of the province's Serbian minority will take part in the 29 September Serbian presidential vote, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He added that UNMIK and the Serbian election commission will soon give their approval, and the OSCE will work out the details. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

POLICE ATTACKED WHEN TRYING TO ARREST ISLAMIST. Police in a village in Kyrgyzstan's southern Djalalabad Oblast were forced to open fire when they were attacked while trying to arrest a man suspected of belonging to the banned Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, Russian agencies reported on 8 August. One villager received a gunshot wound. Deputy Interior Minister Kalmurat Sadiyev told journalists in Bishkek on 6 August that 35 Hizb ut-Tahrir sympathizers have been arrested in Kyrgyzstan since the beginning of the year, but he added that a recent slowdown has been registered in the activities of such outlawed Islamic organizations, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION POLITICIANS, VISITS AKSY... Askar Akaev met in Bishkek on 9 August with opposition parliament deputies Adaham Madumarov and Omurbek Tekebaev and with People's Party Chairman Melis Eshimkanov and Emil Aliev, a leading member of the Ar-Namys Party, reported. No details of the talks were disclosed. On 10 August, accompanied by Security Council Secretary Misir Ashyrkulov, Akaev traveled to Aksy Raion, the scene of violent clashes between police and demonstrators in March. He visited a monument to the five people killed when police opened fire of the demonstrators and again affirmed that those responsible will soon be brought to trial. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

...AS SUPPORTERS OF JAILED PARLIAMENTARIAN PLAN NEW PROTEST. Supporters of opposition Kyrgyzstan faction leader Ishenbai Kadyrbekov announced in Naryn on 12 August that they will stage a new protest on 30 August unless the court case against Kadyrbekov is shelved, reported. Kadyrbekov is accused of slandering residents of a Bishkek hostel. His supporters claim that libel suit and similar cases brought against other Kyrgyzstan faction deputies are politically motivated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

RIGA CRITICAL OF MOSCOW'S VIEWS OF LATVIA'S MINORITIES. The Foreign Ministry released a statement on 31 July saying that comments by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the report on Latvia by the Council of Europe's European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance once again "demonstrated its inadequate understanding" of the situation of ethnic minorities in Latvia, BNS reported. It claimed that its Russian counterpart totally ignored the report's conclusions praising Latvian policy on ethnic minorities and noting that the UN, OSCE, and European Council have found the human rights situation in Latvia to be in compliance with international standards. The Russian ministry mentioned only shortcomings in the report and urged Latvia "to ratify the convention on protecting national minorities and harmonize Latvian legislation with it." ("RFE/RL Baltic States Report," 12 August)

SECURITY CALLS FOR PROSECUTION FOR ANTI-SEMITIC ACTIONS. The Lithuanian State Security Department has sent a request to the Taurage area chief prosecutor asking that criminal charges be brought against Saulius Ozelis, the leader of the Lithuanian Freedom Union's branch in Taurage, for inflaming ethnic tension during several anti-Semitic actions this year, BNS reported on 7 August. Ozelis tore up and tried to burn an Israeli flag in Taurage on 17 April, but was stopped by police. On 28 July he burned a mock Israeli flag, allegedly to protest the offer made by Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Jerusalem Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to provide a $10,000 award for information leading to conviction of a Nazi war criminal in Lithuania. The department concluded that as the Israeli flag is universally recognized as the symbol of the Jewish nation, Ozelis intentionally attempted to incite public violence against Jews, a crime under the Lithuanian Criminal Code. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADER REBUFFS 'LIES.' The chairman of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH), Arben Xhaferi, said that comments about the existence of a new ethnic Albanian guerilla organization called Army of the Republic Ilirida (ARISH) -- as made by the Macedonian Interior Ministry and by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski -- are lies and provocations, "Dnevnik" reported on 12 August. Xhaferi's statement came after he met with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano in the Albanian town of Pogradec on Lake Ohrid on 11 August. According to "Utrinski vesnik," Nano said that Macedonian secret services are behind the rumors, which burden an already strained bilateral relationship, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. On 10 August, the Albanian Foreign Ministry protested that comments from official Skopje about alleged ethnic Albanian extremism in Macedonia harm bilateral relations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

POLICE CHIEF DISMISSES REGIONAL EXECUTIVE OVER BEATING OF MANAGER... The commander of the Polish police has fired the deputy provincial police chief in Szczecin following the police inaction during the brutal beating of Henryk Walus, the head of the Odra clothing company, by shipyard workers on 7 August, Polish media reported on 8 August. The Szczecin police have arrested five shipyard workers suspected of participating in the beating. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

...AS TRADE UNIONS SAY VIOLENT PROTESTS INDICATE GROWING CRISIS... "We are deeply concerned about the events at the Odra plant since they are a sign of a growing crisis in Poland," the leftist National Trade Unions Alliance (OPZZ) said in a statement on 8 August. The OPZZ simultaneously recalled that "for months many companies do not pay wages to their workers, forcing people to live on the verge of the bread line [and] depriving them of basic human dignity." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

...AND OPPOSITION LEADER BLAMES INTERIOR MINISTER. Civic Platform leader Maciej Plazynski told journalists on 8 August that Interior Minister Krzysztof Janik should also bear some of the responsibility for the police inaction during the beating incident in Szczecin, PAP reported. Plazynski recalled Janik's public comment on the lack of police intervention during the road blockade by Self-Defense farmers on 1-2 August. Polish media quoted Janik as saying on 2 August that the police would not use force during the blockade as long as the law was not broken. "[The] police are not blind and deaf to people's problems," Janik said on Radio Zet the same day, spawning much media speculation that police will not intervene in protests deemed "right" by the Interior Ministry. "The police and the Interior Ministry are not for [exercising] social sensitivity," Plazynski commented. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENTS TO LABOR CODE. Following a two-day debate, the Senate on 7 August endorsed without any changes the amendments to the Labor Code that were passed by the Sejm in July, PAP reported. The amendments introduce stricter sick leave and recruitment requirements and allow employers to cut employee wages. The amendments are seen as a compromise between organizations of employers and the leftist National Trade Unions Alliance. The Solidarity trade union opposed the amendments, saying they are too liberal and harmful to workers' interests. Since the Senate did not introduce any changes to the bill, it will not return to the Sejm but will be submitted directly to the president for approval. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

PRESIDENTIAL AMNESTY PROTESTED. On 11 August, members of associations representing people who participated in the 1989 uprising against communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu protested a recent decision by President Ion Iliescu to grant amnesty to three officers involved in the attempts to quash the uprising in Timisoara, Mediafax reported. The amnesty was granted in July, but became public only after the official gazette "Monitorul oficial" published the presidential decree. The three, one of them holding the rank of general, were sentenced to between eight and 12 years in prison. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

MINERS ON HUNGER STRIKE. Twenty miners at the Lupac pits near Resita are on hunger strike protesting the Industry Ministry's failure to allocate money for the pit's safety improvement, Romanian radio and Mediafax reported on 8 August. Thirty-four miners began the strike two weeks ago, but several had to halt their protest due to the deterioration of their health. Four miners have been hospitalized. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

NATIONAL COUNCIL AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BEGINS WORK. Cristian Jura, director of the newly established National Council Against Discrimination, told journalists on 7 August that the council has a staff of 50 and will impose fines on any employer found guilty of practicing ethnic, religious, gender, or other forms of discrimination when hiring, the daily "Jurnalul national" reported the next day. The council will act on complaints received by those affected but will also initiate its own investigations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

THE PUTIN ERA SO FAR... Writing on 8 August in "Novye izvestiya," which is owned by self-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovskii, commentator Otto Latsis argued that the era of President Vladimir Putin has been characterized by a laudably liberal approach to economic policy combined with a creeping authoritarianism. According to Latsis, the government managed to "get by without making any serious mistakes between 1999 and 2001." And due to the lucky circumstances -- "rather than the efforts of reformers" -- the prices of Russia's exports rose and imports dropped. As a result, budget revenues rose, and foreign debt was diminished somewhat. At the same time, Latsis wrote, there has been a "campaign against free speech," the subversion of the Federation Council, the paralysis of the political opposition in the State Duma, the revival of Stalin-era music for the national anthem, and the abolition of the Presidential Pardons Commission. "All this forms the almost finished picture of a managed [upravlyaemaya] democracy," he wrote. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

...AS ANALYST COMPARES PUTIN TO MUSSOLINI RATHER THAN DE GAULLE OR PINOCHET. "What follows is fascism, the elements of which are already a hard fact of life, particularly in Chechnya," Latsis continued, "but it is unlikely to take the form of Stalin's or Hitler's fascism throughout the rest of the country. That is too difficult and absolutely unnecessary. But a corporate state of the Mussolini type, with 'socialist' phraseology, is a grim possibility." With such a state, Putin can't expect stable or solid public support or a reliable political party behind him, Latsis argued. However, "the periodic winking at the chekists -- a plaque in memory of [former CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Yurii] Andropov, the rehabilitation of [former KGB official Yurii] Plekhanov -- will seem completely logical." Latsis concluded that Putin's alliance with the United States after 11 September gave Russia a "unique opportunity," but the period following makes Latsis uneasy about whether the opportunity will really be seized. "The transformation of Russia into a modern European state cannot be combined with restoring the atavisms of Stalinism -- even if Russia retains its eight seat among the G-7." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

RUSSIA SAYS 'NO THANKS' TO PEACE CORPS. The Russian authorities intend to reduce the number of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers working in Russia, "Kommersant-Daily" and other Russian news agencies reported on 13 August. According to "Kommersant-Daily," 30 of 64 volunteers currently working in Russia have been refused visa extensions, in many cases because regional authorities complained about their lack of qualifications. According to "The Moscow Times" on 13 August, the Peace Corps has responded by deciding not to send an additional group of volunteers that had been scheduled to arrive in Russia in September. According to, the administration of Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast sent a letter to the Education Ministry complaining that "volunteers do not know Russian and, in many cases, have little education." The site claimed that the Peace Corps acknowledges that about 90 percent of volunteers have no experience or certification for teaching, which is the main activity that the Peace Corps is engaged in Russia. Ekho Moskvy reported that "waiters and truckers" were teaching business in Khabarovsk and one volunteer in Voronezh was "more interested in UFOs than working with his students." "Kommersant-Daily" reported that one volunteer was a former officer of the CIA and another was arrested in Khabarovsk for being "overly curious." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

TAX MINISTRY WANTS CITIZENS TO PROVE THEIR EXPENSES. The Tax Ministry has drafted an amendment to the Tax Code according to which citizens will have to document not only their incomes, but their expenses as well, "Vedomosti" reported on 10 August. They will then be required to prove the legitimacy of any excess assets. However, Labor Minister Aleksandr Pochinok told Ekho Moskvy the same day that placing the burden of proof on citizens violates the constitutional principle of presumption of innocence and contradicts the Tax Code itself. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS BIGGER BUDGET SHARE. An unidentified local government official in St. Petersburg was quoted by the East-West Institute's "Russian Regional Report" on 12 August as saying that a "major recentralization of power" is being planned for Russia. According to the fortnightly publication, Afgat Altynbaev, chairman of the Federation Council's Local Government Committee, has said that local government will become a reality in Russia only when it controls 30-35 percent of the country's revenues, not the 5-7 percent it controls on average today. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

LOCAL NGOS TAKE UP PUTIN SUGGESTION ON TRANSPARENCY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Following President Putin's call for public disclosure of budget practices at the local level, a group of nongovernmental organizations in Yaroslavl Oblast is preparing to monitor the activities of local officials at all levels of power, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 6 August. At each municipal raion, public organizations in the oblast are forming partnerships called the Citizens Coalition to promote transparency and openness about the budget resources of municipal organizations. As part of this effort, Citizens Coalition has organized seminars and master classes on budget analysis and on conducting public hearings in local legislatures. The group is supported in part by the British Westminster Foundation for Democracy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

AA CELEBRATES 15 YEARS IN MOSCOW. The Moscow fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) will celebrate its 15th anniversary on 10 August, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 8 August. There are 29 AA groups in Moscow and 300 nationwide. The total number of members is unknown because the group does not maintain such statistics, according to the daily. According to the daily, there are 500,000 children under the age of 14 who already suffer from alcoholism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

OREL PROSECUTOR FINDS ONE WAY TO STOP THE COMPLAINTS. The nongovernmental organization Unified Europe appealed on 7 August to the chief federal inspector of Orel Oblast, Anatolii Mertsalov, complaining of pressure from the local prosecutor's office, "Vremya novostei" reported the next day. After lodging several complaints to "indifferent" employees at the prosecutor's office about the antics of nationalists in the city and oblast -- most recently fascist slogans were painted on the doors of the building next to their establishment -- Unified Europe found itself the subject of an inspection by local prosecutors. Unified Europe Director Dmitrii Krayukhin believes the prosecutor's office may be trying to settle an old score. Last year, the NGO won 18 local legal cases for violations of the rights of victims of political repression. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

DUTCH AID WORKER KIDNAPPED IN DAGHESTAN. A Dutch citizen who works for Doctors Without Borders in Daghestan was kidnapped at gunpoint on 12 August, Western and Russian news agencies reported the next day. Argan Erkal was seized by three armed men late in the evening in the capital of Makhachkala. He had been working in the republic for about one year. No ransom demands have yet been issued, and Doctors Without Borders has declined to comment on the incident, Reuters reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

POLITICAL PARTIES 'MOST CORRUPT'? In a 7 August interview in "Rossiiskaya gazeta," INDEM think tank head Georgii Satarov analyzed the results of a May study that his organization conducted on corruption in Russia. The INDEM study found political parties to be the most corrupt organizations in Russia, followed by the traffic police, the State Duma, and prosecutors' offices. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)

ANOTHER ST. PETERSBURG POLITICAL PARTY REPORTEDLY IN THE WORKS. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 9 August that Vladimir Litvinenko, deputy chancellor of the St. Petersburg Mining Institute and a close associate of President Putin, is planning to set up a sort of counterpart to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RCPP), which, according to the daily, might even provide the RCPP with some competition. According to the daily, the potential membership of the grouping remains secret, but it suggests that it is probable that many business leaders will join the new association while continuing as members of the RCPP, Yevgenii Primakov's Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other elite business groups. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

ONE-THIRD OF PUBLIC BELIEVES ST. PETERSBURGERS DISPROPORTIONATELY REPRESENTED IN POWER. Sociologists with the group conducted a recent poll of 1,350 Russian citizens that found that 32 percent of respondents agree with the statement that "persons from St. Petersburg occupy all key posts in the government," reported on 9 August. Forty-one percent of respondents disagreed. Older respondents were more likely to agree, while only 24 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that St. Petersburgers dominate the federal government. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

GOVERNMENT TO EARMARK MORE FUNDS FOR JUDICIARY. The government plans to allocate nearly one-third more in funding for judicial reforms in next year's budget, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 August. According to the news agency, the government plans to allocate 25.5 billion rubles ($807,000) in 2003 for measures such as higher salaries for judges and repairs to courthouses. In order to attract more qualified specialists to the judiciary, judges' salaries will be considerably increased beginning on 1 October 2003. Earlier in the month, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov announced that his office staff will be increased by 4,000 employees, an increase that Ustinov said is connected to the adoption of the new Criminal Procedures Code, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

LIBERAL RUSSIA CALLS FOR CHECHEN PEACE TALKS. In a statement released on 6 August, the Liberal Russia Party urged the Russian leadership to begin talks with "the legitimately elected president of Chechnya," Aslan Maskhadov, as the sole way of resolving the Chechen conflict. The statement argues that the conflict in Chechnya is not "terrorism" but a collision between the desire of some Chechens to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to self-determination, including the right to secede from the Russian Federation, and the desire to preserve Russia's territorial integrity. The statement further condemns recent calls by some Russian politicians for military intervention to destroy Chechen fighters ensconced in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. The statement was posted on the party's website ( and signed by its five co-Chairmen Sergei Yushenkov, Viktor Pokhmelkin, Vladimir Golovlev, Boris Zolotukhin, and Boris Berezovskii. It was also printed in full in "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which is controlled by Berezovskii. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)

'UNIFIED RUSSIA' BACKS KADYROV FOR CHECHEN PRESIDENT. Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 9 August at the end of a tour of Russia's regions, Aleksandr Bespalov, general secretary of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party, argued that Chechnya only stands a chance of becoming a "full-fledged" republic of the Russian Federation if current administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov becomes president, Interfax reported. Bespalov also expressed support for the article of the draft Chechen constitution that stipulates that only persons who have lived for the previous 10 years in Chechnya are eligible to contest the presidency. Also on 9 August, Kadyrov said in an interview with "Gazeta" that he will run for president, Interfax reported. He further predicted that military operations in Chechnya will wind down by the end of September, at which time, he continued, Chechnya will have its own defense ministry. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

TENSIONS RISE IN RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN KAZAN, MOSCOW. "Argumenty i fakty," No. 32, argues that tensions between Kazan and Moscow are continuing to ratchet up in the ongoing battle over Tatarstan's 1994 power-sharing agreement, which Moscow would like to abandon. According to the weekly, Kazan is refusing to drop the agreement and has "essentially slammed the door" in the face of federal officials. The situation, according to the weekly, resembles that which existed in 1993, during which Moscow contemplated the use of armed force. As evidence of the republic's "hardened" stance, the weekly noted that President Mintimer Shaimiev recently met with Tatarstan nationalist leaders, while a number of local Muslim women have appealed a federal Interior Ministry policy that does not allow them to wear headscarves in passport photos ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

TURKISH CITIZENS ACCUSED OF SPREADING RADICAL ISLAM IN BASHKORTOSTAN. Law enforcement officials in Bashkortostan issued a warrant on 9 August seeking the deportation of three Turkish citizens from the Russian Federation for taking "actions contrary to Russia's national interests," such as allegedly teaching a radical version of Islam, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 August, citing BashInform and "Izvestiya." The three Turks, Caliskan Seydi and two associates who were not named, are reportedly followers of the radical Suleymanji and Nurdjular Islamic sects, which are banned in Turkey. Seydi began his activities in Oktyabrskii, where he opened up a boarding school in September 2001. The branch of the Federal Security Service in Bashkortostan told "Izvestiya" that the children attending the school came mostly from Oktyabrskii's orphanages and from poor families, suffered from malnutrition, and that the only type of literature allowed at the school was of the extremist Islamic variety. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

NEWSPAPER CONSIDERS FUTURE OF RUSSIA WITH CHINESE AS SECOND-LARGEST ETHNIC GROUP. Russian migration officials have said that by 2010 Russia could have as many as 8 million to 10 million Chinese residents, which would make them Russia's second-largest ethnic group, moving ahead of Tatars, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 7 August, citing In an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 August on the coming "yellow wave," Natalya Airapetova, a professor at the Institute of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University, was quoted as saying that in China considerable pressure is being created by the large number of unemployed people -- a number that is only going to get larger over the next 10 years. "It is impossible to exclude the possibility that Russian territory could become an attractive area for these millions of unemployed [Chinese]," she said. "We should at long last develop Eastern Siberia and the Far East, if we don't want to lose these territories forever. This is a quite real danger, although we refuse to think of it because of our 'strategic partnership' with China." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

URALS CITY TO SET UP SEPARATE MEDICAL CLINIC FOR ASIAN IMMIGRANTS... Authorities in Yekaterinburg are hoping to open a Russian-Chinese medical center in the fall to cope with high demand for medical services among the city's Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, Ren-TV reported on 9 August. According to the station, 20,000 Chinese and 5,000 Vietnamese immigrants live in the city, and on Mondays, when markets are closed, they reportedly fill the corridors of city hospitals. Nina Yegorova, head of an Outpatient Clinic No. 1, told the station that there "is not enough time for our [local] patients." Pavel Yefimov, head of City Hospital No. 23, declared "no one knows what kind of diseases they have, what epidemic threat for our residents they pose because we know that there are people among them who die of tuberculosis and other diseases." According to the station, the city will provide the premises for the Chinese clinic while the Chinese government will pay the salaries of the doctors who come from China. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

...AS VIETNAMESE TRADERS IN MOSCOW PROTEST TREATMENT BY POLICE. Meanwhile, an estimated 1,000-2,000 entrepreneurs identified as being from Vietnam staged a rally in Moscow on 9 August to protest what they believe was an illegal seizure by local police of goods worth more than $1 million, NTV and Interfax reported the next day. According to Interfax, the goods were mostly Adidas sports clothing, which officers from the administration for combating organized crime confiscated from a warehouse rented by the Vietnamese traders. According to NTV, the police had not carted away the clothing yet, and the traders had circled their trucks around the warehouse. An unidentified Vietnamese male told NTV in Russian: "Vietnam and the Soviet Union were like brothers in the past. This is Russia now." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

INTERIOR MINISTRY TAKES CONTROL OF CENSUS. In an interview in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 7 August, Interior Ministry (MVD) Colonel General Aleksandr Chekalin, a member of the State Census Commission, detailed his ministry's role in conducting the upcoming national census. Chekalin noted that the MVD is responsible for counting several categories of people, including military personnel, people living in closed cities and towns, foreigners, the homeless, and people without citizenship. The MVD will also be protecting census takers who are working "in residences where poor and socially dangerous people live." In addition, Chekalin said, the MVD will be protecting the population from people who might pose as census takers for criminal purposes. Finally, the MVD will be responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of the information gathered by census takers. It will provide 24-hour security for all census offices. Chekalin noted that police officers themselves will not have access to census information. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)

COAL MINERS LAUNCH SUMMER PROTEST. A group of coal miners from Vorkuta in the Republic of Komi launched a protest rally in Moscow on 12 August in front of the Energy Ministry, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. According to Yevgenii Shumeiko, the deputy chairman of the Independent Union of Coal Miners of Vorkuta, 25 miners are participating in the picket. The miners are demanding a meeting with President Putin as well as limits on coal imports, increased state regulation of the production and sale of coal, and higher pensions for retired miners. According to Interfax, from time to time the miners struck their helmets on the city pavement in the same manner as during the large-scale miners' protests held in Moscow in the summer of 1998. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

APARTMENT DWELLERS BLOCK MOTORWAY TO DEMAND HEAT. An unspecified number of residents in the town of Kola in Murmansk Oblast on 10 August blocked a motorway in their area to protest the lack of heat and hot water for the past two months, TV-Tsentr reported. Several dozen apartment blocks housing around 3,000 residents have been without heat and hot water. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

'TIS THE SEASON FOR VIGILANTES. As harvest season approaches, "Izvestiya" on 7 August ran a long feature on the growing problem of vigilantism. Each year, numerous people are attacked and some are killed by farmers and dacha residents trying to protect their ripening crops of potatoes and other vegetables. The paper notes that in many cases the thieves are homeless people or alcoholics and gives details of two recent cases in Khabarovsk Krai and near the city of Amursk. The paper also conducted a small vox pop on the issue and found considerable support for those who take justice into their own hands. "It is impossible to rely on the authorities," said bookkeeper Aleksei Ustinov. "I would take revenge in accord with the amount of harm done to me and forgive small transgressions." Translator Vladimir Nesterenko told the paper: "After all, you can rely on yourself more than on the police. However, we aren't living in a jungle." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)

KOSTUNICA AIDE SAYS U.S. IS WRONG TO ATTACH CONDITIONS TO ASSISTANCE. Predrag Simic, who is an adviser to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, said that U.S. Congress may make future aid to Belgrade conditional on Serbia's ending its support for "parallel structures" in Kosova, Deutsche Welle's Serbian Service reported on 6 August. Simic added that such conditions burden not only Yugoslav-American relations, but also U.S. policy in the Balkans. He did not elaborate. Washington currently makes its assistance to Serbia dependent primarily on the latter's cooperation with The Hague-based war crimes tribunal. "Parallel structures" include the Bridge Watchers, whom many observers believe receive support and encouragement from Belgrade. Simic once headed a Belgrade research institute under Milosevic and later became an adviser to Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic. He is not known for his pro-U.S. views or support for an American role in the Balkans. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

OFFERS LAST WORD IN RADICAL CHIC? T-shirts featuring the image of Osama bin Laden are on sale in Dushanbe's bazaar for between $8-10, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. Said Abdullo Nuri, chairman of Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party, has condemned as an act of sacrilege the trade in T-shirts featuring a man who has discredited Islam, the agency noted. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

OPPOSITION STAGES PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS. The National Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan organized six separate protests in various districts of Ashgabat on 11 August against the policies of President Saparmurat Niyazov, its website ( and RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported on 11 and 12 August. The movement's activists distributed leaflets in the capital early on 11 August appealing to the population to struggle against Niyazov's regime and affirming its readiness to bring about the "normalization" of the political situation in the country. Police tried but failed to prevent the gatherings. On 13 August, Niyazov told a session of the Cabinet of Ministers that the 8-9 August session of the People's Council demonstrated "the unity and cohesion of the Turkmen people" and their determination to implement his projects to transform their lives, ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August)

NIYAZOV REJECTS PROPOSAL TO MAKE HIM TURKMEN PRESIDENT FOR LIFE... Addressing a session of the People's Council in Turkmenabad (former Charzhou) on 9 August, President Niyazov rejected a proposal enthusiastically endorsed by its 3,000 delegates the previous day to make him president for life, reported. He noted that the council already approved in December 1999 abolishing all constitutional limitations on his presidential term. Niyazov said in February 2001 that he will step down in 2010, and in June 2002 he said that presidential elections may be held in 2007-08. Also on 9 August, Niyazov declined the three-fold "Golden Age" order the People's Council voted to award him the previous day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

...BUT RENAMES MONTHS AND DAYS OF WEEK. In keeping with his predilection for returning to the roots of Turkmen culture, Niyazov instructed the People's Council on 8 August to rename the months and the days of the week, Reuters and Interfax reported. January will henceforth be known as Turkmenbashi (one of Niyazov's titles), April will be renamed after his late mother, and September after the Rukhname, his volume of spiritual writings. During his address to the council on 8 August, Niyazov affirmed that Turkmenistan "is on the right path" and that "everything in our country is calm and bright," ITAR-TASS reported. He added that he sees no need "to copy European or oriental models of state development." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

PARLIAMENT DECREES NEW AMNESTY... The People's Council adopted a resolution on 9 August to amnesty virtually the entire prison population with the exception of murderers and recidivists on 1 December, reported. Over 16,000 people will benefit from the amnesty; a similar act of clemency last year extended to 9,000 prison inmates. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

...AS PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES WAGE HIKES. Addressing the People's Council on 9 August, President Niyazov said that wages in both the state and private sectors will increase as of February 2003, Interfax reported. At present the average wage is 600,000 manats ($115 at the official and $30 at the black market exchange rate). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)

COURT REDUCES SENTENCES FOR COMPOSER'S DEATH. The Lviv Oblast Appeals Court on 7 August reduced the prison terms of two men convicted of beating to death popular composer Ihor Bilozir in Lviv in May 2000, which subsequently fuelled Russian-Ukrainian tensions in the city, UNIAN reported. The court cut the sentences of Dmytro Voronov and Yury Kalinin to 10 and eight years in prison, respectively. The Lviv Oblast Court had sentenced the two men to 15 and 12 years for premeditated murder but the Supreme Court, following an appeal, sent the case for review. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

TWO PRISONERS DIE OF MISTREATMENT. The bodies of two Uzbek men jailed for their alleged membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir were handed over to their relatives for burial on 8 August, AP reported. Both had reportedly been subjected to beatings for continuing their religious observance in detention; one of the men, Muzafar Avazov, had suffered a fractured skull. Avazov was sentenced two years ago to a 20-year prison term, and Khusnuddin Olimov to 15 years' imprisonment. Both were serving their sentences in the Zhaslyk colony in Karakalpakistan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August)

MUSLIM SCHOLAR DECRIES USE OF FORCE AGAINST ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS. Islamic scholar Sheikh Mohammad Sodik Mohammad Yusuf told journalists in Tashkent on 7 August that he believes the repressive measures routinely employed by the Uzbek authorities against practicing Muslims suspected of belonging to the banned Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir are counterproductive, AP reported. He argued that "religious extremism should be fought through education. A person can be put in prison, but one cannot jail an idea." Uzbek human rights organizations estimate that at least 7,000 Muslims are serving jail terms for their religious beliefs. Yusuf served prior to the collapse of the USSR as a senior Muslim cleric, but left Uzbekistan in the early 1990s, returning in 1999 from his voluntary exile in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Turkey. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)

CONTROL OVER DISTRIBUTION OF HUMANITARIAN AID TO BE TIGHTENED. The Uzbek government has issued a decree imposing more stringent controls on the distribution of international humanitarian aid, Interfax reported on 6 August. At the same time, it will issue multientry visas for foreign aid workers and streamline the process for their registration. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY INDIGNANT OVER LATVIAN DEPUTY'S COMMENTS. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 9 August expressing its indignation at what it deemed to be Russophobic comments made by Latvian parliament deputy Aleksandrs Kirsteins in the newspaper "Lauku Avize," LETA reported on 10 August. The ministry is particularly angered by Kirsteins' claims that Russia "occupied" Latvia as an ally of Nazi Germany, and by his calls for Russia to compensate Latvia for damages incurred during the occupation. Kirsteins responded to the ministry's attack by noting that many "USSR-type" officials still work in the Russian ministry who do not want to be reminded of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. He added that he had not told "Lauku Avize" anything that had not been discussed at international meetings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August)