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(Un)Civil Societies Report: January 25, 2001

25 January 2001, Volume 2, Number 4
EAST EUROPEAN STUDIES CALL FOR PAPERS. East European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is currently soliciting submissions for its Occasional Papers Series from various disciplines in the humanities field of East European studies. EES regularly publishes these papers for dissemination in printed booklet format and makes the text available for downloading in PDF format on the program's website. Please provide all manuscripts in both hard and electronic copies (Word or Word Perfect). Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis; there is no formal deadline. For inquiries e-mail to Program Assistant, Meredith Knepp ( (CivilSoc mailing list, 19 January)

ARMENIA SUSPENDS BROADCASTING OF RUSSIAN TELEVISION. Armenia stopped rebroadcasting the programs of the Russian state TV channel ORT on 20 January after ORT's leadership refused to sign a new contract under which it would finance those broadcasts, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. The second Russian state TV channel, RTR, signed a new contract with Yerevan agreeing to do so. Commenting on 17 January on the likelihood that broadcasting of one or both channels would be suspended, Armenian presidential press spokesman Vahe Gabrielian stressed that the Armenian decision was prompted by financial, not political considerations, according to Noyan Tapan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

NO PROGRESS FOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AHEAD OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE VOTE. The Jehovah's Witnesses have not seen any progress in their attempts to register, despite Armenia's commitment to end discrimination against religious minorities. The Jehovah's Witnesses claim a membership of 19,000 in Armenia, the only south Caucasian state where they have been refused registration. An official of the Council of Europe told Keston from Strasbourg that the Committee of Ministers is "fully aware" of the continued refusal to register the group, as is the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, adding that if the Committee of Ministers goes ahead and votes to allow Armenia to join, Jehovah's Witness registration "will be one of the criteria of post-accession monitoring." (Keston News Service, 16 January)

TWO AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS ASSAULTED. Haji Zamin, a journalist employed by the independent daily "Azadlyq," was assaulted and beaten near his Baku home late on 17 January by three unknown men who threatened to kidnap him, Turan reported two days later. Zamin, who has repeatedly reported on official corruption, managed to escape. On 19 January, Etibar Mansaroglu, who writes for the newspaper "Etimad," was attacked and severely beaten near a Baku market. He has been hospitalized with head, eye, and internal injuries. The Council of Editors representing Azerbaijani journalists on 19 January appealed to President Heidar Aliyev to take measures to protect the country's journalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

BELARUSIAN PROTESTANTS ACCUSE STATE MEDIA OF SLANDER CAMPAIGN. Leaders of Protestant Churches in Belarus have accused the government-controlled media of mounting a slander campaign against Protestant denominations, Belapan reported on 16 January. Syarhey Tsvor from Belarus's Pentecostals told a 15 January roundtable on religious relations that many state newspapers carry "biased and libelous articles" that present Pentecostals as "wild fanatics." Tsvor recalled that last November, Belarusian Television broadcast a documentary "Ekspansiya" (Expansion) that "flagrantly encroached on the Christians' rights and defiled their feelings" by presenting Pentecostals as a "mystical and fanatic cult." Another participant in the roundtable said the government favors Orthodoxy to the detriment of other faiths, evicting some non-Orthodox churches from their premises and encouraging some state media to indulge in propaganda of "religiously chauvinistic national patriotism." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

JOURNALIST NOT ADMITTED TO BELARUSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER'S BRIEFING. Valerii Shchukin, who is a correspondent with the opposition newspaper "Nasha volya," was prevented from entering a news conference given by Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau on 16 January, Belapan reported. In a skirmish with police at the entrance to the Interior Ministry building, Shchukin was seriously injured by broken glass and taken to the hospital for surgery. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

NATO FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF DEPLETED URANIUM POISONING IN BOSNIA. Lieutenant Colonel Rodger Rudolph, SFOR's environmental and preventative medicine officer, told AP on 18 January that an investigation in Bosnia-Herzegovina had confirmed that there had not been any significant health hazard for the peacekeepers of the population arising from the use of depleted uranium shells in 1995. He said that someone who remained one meter away from such a shell for a year would be exposed to less radiation than he would receive from the internationally accepted safe exposure standard for the general public. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

BOSNIAN INTERNEWS LINKS WITH UNIVERSITY. The Bosnian media assistance organization, Internews BiH, has announced a two-year partnership with the University of Sarajevo to provide technical assistance for its journalism program, beginning in the 2001 spring semester. Under the agreement, Internews BiH will provide comprehensive training in print, video, audio, and computer-based journalism technologies. The University of Sarajevo will furnish space and facilities to house the new journalism training center. Internews BiH will also maintain computer networks and provide basic and advanced computer training to students of the university's Faculty of Political Science. (International Journalists' Network, January 16)

GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE 1980S ETHNIC CLEANSING. A documentary film depicting the forced assimilation campaign of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria in the 1980s has prompted strong reaction from political and judicial authorities. Prosecutors say they will reopen an investigation into the last communist prime minister, Georgi Atanasov, on charges he was among those who ordered the campaign. The film, which was based on investigative reports by RFE/RL's Tatiana Vaksberg, was broadcast on national television on 9 January. In 1999, the military prosecutor for the Sofia district closed an investigation into those believed responsible for the assimilation campaign. The prosecutor said at that time there was no clear evidence showing who had issued the orders. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 16 January)

BULGARIAN RADIO, TV COUNCIL HITS BACK AT PROTESTING JOURNALISTS. The National Council for Radio and Television, in a statement released on 16 January, rejected the demand of a group of Bulgarian radio journalists that it resign because it has failed to select a new radio director. The journalists said the selection criteria had been changed at the orders of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. The council said the journalists' demand for the council to resign was not a "Prague-style" protest aimed at safeguarding freedom of speech but an attempt to eliminate the council and "restore direct political dictates over the mass media," RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The council was set up in 1998 as an independent body, and Socialist opposition leader Georgi Parvanov said that he will disband it if his party returns to power. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

BULGARIAN HACKER RAIDS PRESIDENTIAL WEBSITE. President Petar Stoyanov's press office on 19 January said it is stepping up security measures after Stoyanov's official website was hacked by an intruder earlier last week, Reuters and AP reported. The intruder left a message saying: "Why did I do it? Very simple: when my parents live in misery and I cannot find a job without the proper connections, when most of my friends seek their fortune abroad, what else is left?" Presidential spokeswoman Neri Terzieva said that despite precautionary measures, it cannot be guaranteed the incident will not happen again because "Bulgarian hackers are so talented." In another incident, the website of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces was invaded on 18 January. The hackers left a message including obscene remarks and their own nicknames. Bulgaria has no legislation punishing cyber-crime. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

PROSECUTOR LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION OF CROATIAN MEDIA BOSSES. The Zagreb county Prosecutor's Office has begun looking into charges that Ninoslav Pavic, several other media tycoons, and some key businessmen close to Tudjman tried to establish a monopoly on the media for the benefit of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), "Republika" reported on 18 January. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

CROATIAN SYNAGOGUE TO BE REBUILT. The Zagreb Jewish community plans to rebuild the centrally-located synagogue destroyed by the pro-Axis Ustasha regime in 1941, "Vecernji list" reported on 18 February. The small community hopes for financial assistance from abroad as well as from the city administration. The building will be located at Praska ulica 7 off Jelacic Square. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

CZECH PRESIDENT CHIDES TV STRIKERS. Vaclav Havel on 18 January said the attempt one day earlier by the TV journalists' striking committee to take over the station and appoint a manager was "slightly unnecessary," CTK reported. Havel spoke on return from his vacation in the Canary Islands and added that he was "not sure" that the information he has on the incident is correct and whether the action deserves to be called an "occupation" of the station by the strikers. Trade Union Confederation head Richard Falbr said the action was "the result of a provocation" set to coincide with the Senate's debates. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

CZECH TV JOURNALISTS APPOINT 'TRANSITIONAL MANAGER'... Journalists at Czech Television who continue the labor sanctions appointed Ladislav Paluska, a former finance director of the station dismissed by controversial manager Jiri Hodac during his short tenure, as the TV station's new acting director on 17 January. They said they were doing so to fill a "managerial vacuum" created by the fact that Vera Valterova, appointed interim director by Hodac before he resigned, has not produced any documents certifying that her appointment was legal. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

...BUT STEP CRITICIZED BY BOTH SUPPORTERS AND OPPONENTS. Prime Minster Milos Zeman said Paluska will not receive the backing of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), adding that the party rejects "actions on the margin of the law, even if they do not exactly breech it." Supporters of the striking committee, among them Christian Democratic Party Chairman Jan Kasal, also criticized the action, calling it "imprudent." Civil Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus denounced the move, calling it "a gross mistake" committed by "strike patrols" who now "open the eyes of those who believed they were fighting for a just cause." ODS Deputy Chairman Ivan Langer compared the action with those of the communist People's Militia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

CZECH SENATE RETURNS TV BILL TO LOWER HOUSE. The Senate on 17 January returned to the Chamber of Deputies the bill amending the law on the Radio and Television Council. The vote was 39 in favor of returning the bill and 14 against. The lower house is expected to override the Senate's veto, as the CSSD and the ODS have a solid majority in that chamber that they do not have in the Senate. But even in that case, President Havel can still veto the bill. This postpones again the appointment of the new Radio and TV Council, CTK reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

SURVEY SHOWS RUSSIANS RESIDING IN ESTONIA NOT WORSE OFF THAN ESTONIANS. A recent survey by the Integration Foundation showed that stories about Russians suffering great economic hardships in Estonia are a myth, ETA reported on 19 January. It indicated that the number of average-income people is roughly the same among citizens of Estonia and non-citizens. The only significant difference is in the percentage of the skilled workforce, which is 35 percent among non-Estonians and 22 percent among Estonians. The survey showed that the economic situation of households is relatively similar, especially for low-income families, and differences are caused by the location of residence rather than ethnic background. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

HUNGARY'S JEWS PROTEST BARDOSSY RETRIAL PROPOSAL. The Federation of Jewish Religious Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) on 18 January protested against the judicial initiative launched by the Hungarian Justice and Life Party to have Horthy-era Prime Minister Laszlo Bardossy retried. MAZSIHISZ said that Bardossy was one of World War II's "darkest figures," who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky said any politician or party that disputes the historically well-established Bardossy crimes "seriously jeopardize Hungary's peaceful future." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

1,066 SOLDIERS TO BE AMNESTIED THIS YEAR. High ranking officers announced at a 17 January press conference that due to a Presidential Decree on the Tenth Anniversary of Kazakhstan's Independence, 1,066 soldiers found guilty of committing "light" crimes would be amnestied in the first six months of 2001. ("RFE/RL Kazakh News," 17 January)

A NEW RUSSIAN POLITICAL PARTY. Gennadii Beliyakov, a leader of the Russian community in Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL that on 14 January several organizations of Russians living in Kazakhstan, such as Lad, (a Russian community of Semirechie Cossaks) held a special session at which it was decided to create a new political party, the Russian Party. Beliyakov said that since ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan represent about 30 percent of the population, the aim of the new party is that Russians should hold one-third of all positions on Kazakhstan's state boards, ministries and in the national government. ("RFE/RL Kazakh News," 17 January)

EDUCATION MINISTRY WITHDRAWS CONTROVERSIAL RESTRICTIONS. Following pressure from believers and human rights activists, Kazakhstan's Education and Science Ministry has withdrawn certain provisions of the directives banning religious believers from activities in educational establishments. Visits by religious figures will no longer be completely banned, and religious groups will be allowed to rent facilities and to offer aid, within the guidelines of a decree "on organizing work to prevent religious extremism." (Keston News Service, 16 January)

KYRGYZ OPPOSITIONIST SENTENCED TO SEVEN-YEARS IMPRISONMENT. The Bishkek Military Court on 22 January handed down a seven-year prison sentence to former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys Party chairman Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov was taken into custody in the courtroom after the verdict was announced. The court had acquitted Kulov last August on charges of abusing his official position while serving as national security minister in 1997-1998, but decided one month later to review that verdict. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

AKAEV PLEDGES TO RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS. Speaking at a conference in Bishkek on 19 January to mark the 10th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court, President Askar Akaev admitted that due to what he termed "the difficulties of the transition period," human rights are not adequately respected in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Three days earlier, Akaev had instructed the government, political parties, and NGOs to draft a 10-year human rights program. Speaking at the conference, Constitutional Court chairwoman Cholpon Baekova said international human rights organizations' criticisms of the country's penitentiary system are entirely valid. She called for a total reform of the Interior Ministry. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

KYRGYZSTAN REGISTERS DECLINE IN BIRTHRATE BUT ALSO IN INFANT MORTALITY... The birthrate in Kyrgyzstan has fallen by over 30 percent, from 29.3 in 1990 to 21.4 in 1999, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 18 January, citing data released by the Health Care Ministry. Infant mortality was 30 per 1,000 live births in 1999 and perinatal mortality -- 43 cases per 100,000 population. In 1988, the corresponding figures were 53.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (the highest indicator of any Soviet republic at that time) and 72 deaths in childbirth per 100,000 population. Almost 90 percent of women in Kyrgyzstan currently suffer from anemia as a result of an inadequate diet. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

NEO-NAZI GROUP WINS COURT CASE. The Supreme Court of Latvia granted a major victory to members of the banned neo-Nazi group Perkonkrust ("Thunder Cross") on 16 January, according to the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, when that court reduced the sentences of several defendants and released one altogether. In addition, the court held that the Perkonkrust members will not have to pay $32,000 to the Riga city council for damages to the memorial, and that one of the accused can sue the city for damages because of his "unlawful imprisonment." (Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, 17 January)

POLITICAL CHARGES AND COUNTERCHARGES FLY. On 19 January, opposition Social Democratic leader Branko Crvenkovski gave Public Prosecutor Stavre Djikov what Crvenkovski called documentary evidence of wire-tapping, "Vesti" reported on 21 January. Crvenkovski charged that the government eavesdropped on conversations of President Boris Trajkovski, Djikov, several ministers, leaders of opposition parties, and journalists from some 10 media outlets. Djikov said that he will work to clear up the matter as soon as possible. For her part, Interior Minister Dosta Dimovska told "Dnevnik" of 19 January that the Interior Ministry possesses bugging equipment but only to use against what she called foreign intelligence agencies. She denied that the ministry eavesdrops on domestic politicians or journalists. Dimovska called for the matter to be cleared up quickly. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

MACEDONIA'S ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY TAKES SHAPE. The official name of the new Albanian-language university will be the University of Southeast Europe in Tetovo, MIC news agency reported on 16 January. Members of the governing board will be Zamir Dika, Murtezan Ismaili, Reshat Nexhipi, Bajram Polozani, and Danilo Gligorovski. Ferid Murat and Arben Xhaferi will be honorary members. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

MONTENEGRIN MEDIA DO NOT TACKLE CORRUPTION, SAYS MEDOJEVIC. Media in Montenegro do not give enough in-depth treatment to the problem of corruption and its consequences, the director of the Podgorica Center for Transition, Nebojsa Medojevic, said on 17 January. According to a survey, 18 percent of Montenegrins think corruption could be tackled successfully if all the information about it was disclosed. Only 7.83 percent said they got their information about corruption through the media, and then from independent or private media. ("Anem Report," 17 January)

EXTREMISTS WALK OUT OF PARLIAMENT IN PROTEST. The parliamentary group of the Greater Romania Party (PRM) in the Chamber of Deputies on 17 January walked out in protest against the approval of an article in the Local Public Administration Law granting minorities the right to use their mother-tongue in contacts with the authorities and to post bilingual street signs, Mediafax reported. PRM deputy Anghel Stanciu said the article is unconstitutional as it introduces Hungarian as a "second official language." He added that the PRM will contest the law in the Constitutional Court. On 16 January, the PRM asked the court to rule that the new house regulations approved by the Chamber of Deputies are unconstitutional, and announced it will also challenge the restitution law approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 16 January. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

UNESCO HEAD SAYS MEDIA FREEDOM UNDER THREAT IN RUSSIA... In a letter to Russian President Putin, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said that he is concerned about the state of media freedom in Russia and especially about the situation of NTV, Reuters reported. Matsuura called on Putin to intervene in that case, which the UN official said is "but one recent illustration of this worrying development." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

...AS MEDIA-MOST OFFICIAL ARRESTED. The Office of the Prosecutor-General on 16 January arrested Anton Titov, the head of the Media-MOST financial department, Russian agencies reported. He has not yet been indicted, his lawyer said. In response, Media-MOST issued a statement saying that "the hypocritical nature of the Russian authorities has displayed itself fully today. Only two days after President Vladimir Putin made a public statement on his devotion to freedom of speech and his readiness to curb abuses by the Office of the Prosecutor-General," that office arrested Titov. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

PROSECUTORS SEIZE GUSINSKII'S PROPERTY. The Office of the Russian Prosecutor-General on 19 January confirmed that officials have seized Media-MOST head Gusinskii's country house near Moscow because the article of the criminal code under which he is charged allows for the confiscation of property, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, the Spanish government decided on the same day to hand over Moscow's request for Gusinskii's extradition from Spain to a court, something the Russian news service said his supporters welcome. That came about even as Deputy Prosecutor-General Vasilii Kolmogorov was on his way to Spain to press Moscow's case against Gusinskii. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

KISELEV DENIES MEDIA-MOST PLANS TO FIRE HIM. NTV Director-General Yevgenii Kiselev on 19 January denied rumors that the management of Media-MOST plans to dismiss him from his position, Interfax reported. "These reports do not correspond to reality and are deliberate disinformation" aimed at "splitting the management of Media-MOST," said Kiselev, who is himself a member of the Media-MOST board of directors. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

GAZPROM-MEDIA TO SELL NTV STAKE ONCE IT GETS IT. Gazprom-Media Director Alfred Kokh said in Moscow on 19 January that his company will sell a 19 percent stake in the NTV television network if the Arbitration Court rules in its favor and transfers these shares from Media-MOST to Gazprom-Media, Interfax reported. Kokh added that he is surprised that Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii did not make use of an earlier accord when he sought to sell NTV shares to U.S. media magnate Ted Turner. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

KOVALEV DENOUNCES DRIFT TOWARD TOTALITARIANISM. In a keynote address to an "extraordinary congress" on protecting human rights in Russia, Duma deputy and longtime human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev said that the drift toward totalitarianism begins with "subtle technical methods," some of which may not in and of themselves appear to be so bad, Interfax reported on 20 January. He called on those attending to respond quickly when "the constitutional fundamentals, civil society, and the supremacy of law and human rights are endangered." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

PACE DELEGATION CONTINUES TOUR OF CHECHNYA. A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe headed by Lord Frank Judd visited Grozny, the Russian military base at Khankala, and the infamous detention center at Chernokozovo on 16 January. Meeting in Khankala with Russian troop commander Lieutenant General Valerii Baranov, Lord Judd expressed concern at frequent reports that Russian servicemen extort bribes from civilians and subject them to maltreatment, Reuters and AP reported. He said that Russian troops must demonstrate "responsibility and decency" in order to bring stability to Chechnya. Judd met in Grozny with women who appealed for help in tracing missing male relatives, and with selected inmates of the Chernokozovo detention center who assured him they are treated well. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

MEGA-INTELLIGENCE SERVICE SAID TO BE IN THE WORKS. Writing in "Versiya," no. 1, Yuri Nersesov said that a draft document calling for the merger of the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Protection Service, the Federal Agency for Governmental Communications and Information, and the Interior Ministry's Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime into a single Federal Security Department has been circulated to presidential envoys in the federal districts. Nersesov said that if this plan goes through, the new agency's capacities "will be even greater than those of the former KGB, and its director will become the second most influential person in Russia." The interior and emergency ministries will lose their forces, and the regional leaders will have no say in its operation. Nersesov said that he believes the likely head of this new department will be Sergei Ivanov, the current secretary of the Russian Security Council. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

MOSCOW PREPARED TO CONTINUE WALLENBERG PROBE. FSB Colonel Vladimir Vinogradov, who served on the joint Swedish-Russian panel that investigated the case of former Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, said in Moscow on 16 January that the Russian authorities are willing to continue the probe but via requests to the Foreign Ministry rather than via the commission itself, Reuters Reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

RUSSIANS PREFER NOT TO SUBSCRIBE. A ROMIR survey reported by ITAR-TASS on 20 January found that 76 percent of Russians prefer to buy newspapers and magazines each day rather than subscribe to them. They do so, the survey found, because of the high price of subscriptions. It reported that most readers focus on crimes, accidents, and local news. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN RUSSIA. Sergei Kovalev, a prominent Russian human rights activist, told "Segodnya" on 18 January that Russia is moving toward a Pinochet-type regime in which human rights are at risk. He added that the first emergency congress of civil rights activists from across Russia will open in Moscow on 20 January. He rejected suggestions that he is predicting fascism, but said that "something resembling the Pinochet regime is being quietly constructed in Russia. What do you think would be the reaction in Germany if its federal chancellor announced that he had served in the Gestapo and was proud of it? But our president says that he takes pride in his service in the KGB." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

RUSSIA'S GERMAN COMMUNITY REVIVING. Leonid Krenzler, the chairman of the German national and cultural community in Stavropol Krai, told ITAR-TASS on 21 January that in-migration of ethnic Germans from the North Caucasus and Central Asia and decreased out-migration to Germany has swelled the size of Stavropol's German community from 13,000 in 1980 to more than 18,000 now. He said that his group is seeking to revive an old German settlement there with funding from both Moscow and Berlin. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

UNCONTROLLED IN-MIGRATION SEEN THREATENING RUSSIA. Writing in "Vek," no. 2, Irina Demina said that Russia is threatened by uncontrolled illegal in-migration. She noted that the government is preparing a draft concept paper on the management of migration and will include it in the 2002 budget. She further argued that immigration policies of the center and the regions must be harmonized and that both governments need to devote more attention and funds to this problem. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Department of International Relations of Ural State University, and the Sverdlovsk Regional Fond for the Advancement of International Relations Studies, invite papers for the conference: "The Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights in Russia: Legal Norms, Judicial Actions, and Political Practice," to be held at the Ural State University of Yekaterinburg in early April 2001. Abstracts should be submitted until 15 February. Further information and application forms may be obtained from Andreas Umland: (subject heading: ECHR) (Center for Civil Society International, 8 January)

TOP SERBIAN PRIZE TO RFE/RL JOURNALIST. The jury voted unanimously on 17 January to award the Jug Grizelj prize, Serbia's most prestigious distinction for journalism, to RFE/RL's Omer Karabeg for his weekly Radio Most (Bridge) series, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Radio Most brings together individual experts and political figures from different former Yugoslav republics and with differing points of view to discuss timely topics. Most appears in English translation in RFE/RL's "South Slavic Report" ( Most is also regularly reprinted in several periodicals in the region. Collections of Most have twice appeared as books, including a collection of Serbian-Albanian dialogues on Kosova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

FIRST ELECTRONIC MEDIA TO BE LAUNCHED IN PRESEVO. The first electronic media in the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia is expected to be launched during the coming week, the future director of Radio Presevo, Nasuf Behljulji, told the press on 12 January. The Federal and Serbian governments have both contributed to the setting up of this new electronic media which will broadcast the majority of its programming in Albanian with some programs in Serbian. ("Anem Report," 13 January)

HADZI DRAGAN ANTIC DISMISSED. Former Belgrade daily "Politika" General-Director Hadzi Dragan Antic has been dismissed from the media house for failing to turn up for work. "Politika" was closely controlled by Milosevic's regime while he was in power and after the victory of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia in September's Federal elections, Antic was demoted to the position of assistant in the marketing department. After spending some considerable time in one of Serbia's monasteries, Antic recently left the country for Cuba. ("Anem Report," 15 January)

HUNGARIAN INTELLECTUALS DEMAND MORE OPEN MEDIA IN VOJVODINA. Ethnic Hungarian intellectuals in Vojvodina condemned the strong influence exerted by a single ethnic Hungarian party over almost all state-run media in the province, a Radio B92 correspondent reported. A forum of ethnic Hungarian intellectuals issued a Declaration on Hungarian Media and sent it to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Prime Minister-designate Zoran Djindjic, Vojvodina parliament President Nenad Canak, and Vojvodina Prime Minister Djordje Djukic. ("Anem Report," 15 January)

SOCIALISTS SACK MAGAZINE EDITOR. The editor of the Socialist Party of Serbia magazine "24 Hours," Dusan Cukic, has been dismissed. He was replaced by the former director of the Student Cultural Centre, Slavoljub Veselinovic, the Belgrade daily "Glas javnosti" reported on 15 January. According to the report Cukic, who was appointed at the suggestion of party leader Slobodan Milosevic when the magazine was founded two months ago, was dismissed because of dissatisfaction in the party leadership. The new editor is reported to be a close friend of senior party official Ivica Dacic. Cukic will continue to work for the magazine as foreign policy editor. ("Anem Report," 15 January)

INDEPENDENT MEDIA IS THE FIRST STEP IN CRISIS SOLUTION: MATIC. "When I came to southern Serbia on 15 December, I found an information void. There was not a single free media organization here, so I had to play the role of a gardener in nurturing media to fill that void," Serbian Information Minister Biserka Matic told Radio B92. "Free and independent media is the first step toward solving the constant crisis in southern Serbia," Matic concluded. ("Anem Report," 18 January)

MEDIA AND RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES WORKING TOGETHER. The Serbian Orthodox Church stated on 18 January that a seminar was held from 10-13 January in Thessalonica under the auspices of the Istanbul Patriarchy. Bishop Irinej of Backa, Mufti Hamdija Jusufspahic of Belgrade, Roman Catholic theologian Jakob Pfajfer, and Pact for Stability in Southeastern Europe coordinator Bodo Hombach participated in the seminar. The statement issued by the Orthodox Church said that the aim of the seminar was to achieve mutual understanding among public media and religious communities in Southeastern Europe as well as to ensure that public media on the European and world scene be better informed about the positive examples of cooperation in the establishment of peace and the resolution of conflict. ("Anem Report," 19 January)

KFOR PLAN TO CEASE GUARDING ORTHODOX CHURCHES ON HOLD? Protests against plans to transfer responsibility for guarding Serbian Orthodox sites in Kosova from the international peacekeeping force KFOR to international and locally-recruited police under the control of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) seem to have had some effect. An UNMIK spokesperson has told the Keston News Service in Prishtina that in view of the protests and the unpreparedness of the police for this role, the plan is now "on hold." (Keston News Service, 15 January)

NGOS IN KOSOVA. The Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, a grant-giving foundation in Prishtina funded by the EU and with an independent Kosovar board (and two international observers), provides services, information, training, and project grants to the nearly 400 local NGOs now operating in Kosova. The KCSF website is at For further information, contact the KCSF executive director, Lulzim Peci, at (Center for Civil Society International, 18 January)

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES EUROPEAN MINORITY LANGUAGE CHARTER. The cabinet on 17 January approved the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages, CTK reported. The charter refers to the use and protection of minority languages in education, the judiciary, state and local administration, the media, and culture. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said the decision "brings us closer to the amendment of the constitution." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

SLOVAK CENSUS TO HAVE QUESTIONNAIRES IN ROMANY. The Slovak government decided to add the Romany language to the list of minority languages in which the May 2001 census will be conducted, Deputy Premier Pal Csaky told CTK on 18 January. Csaky said the census will not have a separate entry for a "Moravian nationality." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

SLOVAK 'MEIN KAMPF' PUBLISHER INDICTED. Agnes Burdova, publisher of the first Slovak translation of Adolf Hitler's infamous "Mein Kampf," has been charged with support of a movement suppressing citizens' rights and freedoms, CTK reported on 18 January, citing Markiza TV. If convicted, she faces a sentence of between three and eight years in prison. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January)

MISSING JOURNALIST'S MOTHER COMPLAINS OF PRESSURE. Lesya Gongadze, mother of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, told the parliament the same day that she is being pressured "to agree immediately to the burial of the body" found near Kyiv last year and believed to be her son's. "But I am the mother and want to know whose corpse I am burying," she added. Lesya Gongadze called for an additional examination of the body in order to establish the cause of her son's death. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

WHOSE BODY ARE GONGADZE'S WIFE AND MOTHER TO BURY? Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office has agreed to give the body of a man found near Kyiv in November last year to the wife and the mother of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze for burial, Interfax reported on 20 January. At the same time, the Prosecutor-General's Office refused to give Gongadze's mother and wife a certificate confirming his death, saying that it has not been officially established with absolute certainty that Gongadze was killed and that the body is his. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

KUCHMA'S FORMER BODYGUARD INTERVIEWED BY RFE/RL. On 29 December 2000 and 9 January 2001, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service broadcast live interviews with Mykola Melnychenko, a major in the reserve of the Ukrainian Security Service and a former presidential bodyguard, who provoked an enormous political scandal in Ukraine by publicizing tapes that allegedly prove President Leonid Kuchma's complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. On both occasions, Melnychenko contacted the Prague-based studio of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on his own and spoke by telephone in the live program called "Vechirnya Svoboda" (Evening Radio Liberty). ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 January 2001)

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFERS TO HELP EVALUATE 'MOROZ TAPES.' The Council of Europe on 17 January offered to arrange for an expert evaluation of the audio recordings that allegedly implicate President Kuchma in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and are widely known as the "Moroz tapes." The council added that it will take such a step only following the Ukrainian parliament's official request for help in establishing the authenticity of the tapes. Interfax reported that the same day that the parliamentary commission headed by Oleksandr Lavrynovych decided to send the tapes as well as genetic samples of the body believed to be Gongadze's to the Council of Europe for independent tests. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)

EUROPEAN ACADEMY PROJECT: MINORITY RIGHTS INFORMATION SYSTEM. At the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano a new information system on minority rights focused on the legal aspects of minority protection is currently being developed. This information system will try to fill a niche and become a major consultation center for minority questions in Eastern and Western Europe. The Information System on Minority Rights in Europe will include the most important legal texts on minorities, international treaties (Council of Europe, OSCE, UN, etc.), as well as national legislation and case law. The Framework Convention and its State Reports (Council of Europe) will provide the basis of this information system, which will be completed by reports of minority groups and expert opinions (e.g. of the advisory committee). In addition to that, specific documents about minority groups (statistics, history, etc.) will be available. For more information contact Eva Maria Haberland: (MINELRES, 16 January)