9 May 2001, Volume 2, Number 19
ALBANIAEDUCATION MINISTRY APPROVES TEXTBOOK FOR USE OUTSIDE ALBANIA. The Albanian Education Ministry on 2 May approved an Albanian-language textbook to be used in elementary schools throughout Albania, and in ethnic Albanian areas in Kosova, Macedonia, and Montenegro, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
AZERBAIJANSECURITY OFFICIAL ACCUSES IRAN. Speaking at a seminar in Baku on 1 May, Deputy National Security Minister Tofig Babaev accused Iran and unspecified Arab states of sponsoring radical Islamist sects in Azerbaijan with the aim of stirring up social unrest and overthrowing the Azerbaijani leadership, Turan reported. He claimed that to date some 7,000 people in Azerbaijan have converted to Wahhabism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
BELARUSFOUR OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS ARRESTED OVER UNAUTHORIZED RALLY. Police on 7 May arrested four of the five opposition activists from Barysau, Minsk Oblast, who staged a demonstration in downtown Minsk to mark the second anniversary of the disappearance of opposition politician Yury Zakharanka, Belapan reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
AUTHORITIES BAN MAY DAY MARCH IN MINSK, ARREST DEMONSTRATORS IN HRODNA. Some 1,000 people attended a May Day rally organized by the Belarusian Federation of Trade Unions in a Minsk park, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The authorities did not allow the federation to hold a march in downtown Minsk to celebrate the workers' holiday. There were no officially organized May Day celebrations in the Belarusian capital. The authorities organized May Day meetings in regional centers: Hrodna, Homel, Brest, and Mahileu. Police arrested some 20 opposition activists during a rally in Hrodna. In Homel, several workers displayed placards with antigovernment slogans during an official May Day rally and scuffled with police officers, who tried to wrench those placards from the workers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
PARTY TO DEMAND TRUTH ABOUT VICTIMS OF POLITICAL PERSECUTION. The opposition United Civic Party (AHP) has launched a campaign "We Want To Know the Truth" to increase public awareness of the political persecution and its victims in Belarus, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 2 May. AHP leader Anatol Lyabedzka told journalists that the party, along with other democratic opposition groups, will organize some 30 pickets in Belarusian cities in May to inform people about the disappearances of opposition politicians Viktar Hanchar, and Yury Zakharanka, journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, and others. Lyabedzka said some 50 percent of Belarusians are not aware that those people are missing. He added that 70 percent of those who have heard about the disappearances blame them on the authorities. The AHP is planning to gather some 2,000 people in a live chain in Minsk on 18 May to demand the truth about the disappearances. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
BOSNIAREPUBLIKA SRPSKA COURTS TO FILE WAR CRIMES CHARGES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS. Speaking in Banja Luka on 2 May, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said that local courts will file 14 war crimes charges in the next 10 days, AP reported. He added that Bosnian Serbs can no longer ignore the existence of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and that the Bosnian Serb entity will have to find a way to define relations with the tribunal. "Ignoring it will only keep us in this situation in which only our people are arrested or killed during arrest, while our politicians then compete...[with] each other condemning the arrest," he said. The new government, in power since November, has established an office for cooperation with the tribunal and is preparing draft legislation legalizing such cooperation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
TREBINJE CEREMONY TO REBUILD MOSQUE BROKEN UP BY BOSNIAN SERBS... A ceremony on 5 May to break ground for the reconstruction of a mosque in the Bosnian Serb town of Trebinje, which included the Bosnian Muslim member of the presidency, Beriz Belkic, was broken up by a stone-throwing mob of hundreds of Serbs chanting nationalist slogans, news services reported. Daniel Ruiz, a senior aide to High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch, was one of the delegation to be beaten by protesters, and other members were trapped in the local Islamic community office. A UN statement accused the Trebinje police of failing to "take adequate measures soon enough to ensure security for the ceremony or prevent the assaults," while Petritsch said such a "display of uncivilized and brutal behavior" was an "embarrassment for the Serb republic." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
...AS IS BANJA LUKA MOSQUE CEREMONY. At a groundbreaking ceremony in Banja Luka on 7 May, with up to 1,000 former Muslim residents of the Republika Srpska capital in attendance, hundreds of Serbs throwing stones and bottles and waving nationalist flags broke through police cordons and attacked the ceremony, AP reported. UN officials Jacques Klein and Werner Blatter were trapped in the local Islamic community center as protesters climbed the roof and burned its flag, replacing it with the Bosnian Serb flag. Local police head Vladimir Tatus said he had deployed 300 police, "but the mass overwhelmed them." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
BULGARIASEVERAL THOUSAND TURN OUT FOR MAY DAY PROTEST IN SOFIA. Police estimate that 6,000 people rallied in Sofia on 1 May to protest against the policies of the government of Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov, AP reported. The protesters, most of them supporters of the opposition Socialist Party, accused the center-right government of corruption and of increasing unemployment with its stringent economic reform measures. Protest organizers claim some 15,000 people attended the rally. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
CROATIASEVEN CROATIAN SERBS ARRESTED ON WAR CRIMES CHARGES. Police in eastern Croatia arrested seven ethnic Serbs suspected of war crimes in the war with Yugoslavia, AP reported on 4 May. Milorad Pupovac, a Croatian Serb leader, accused the pro- Western government of continuing the nationalist policies of the previous government of late President Franjo Tudjman and said that the arrests "represent the continuation of ethnic cleansing of Serbs, this time by legal means." Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica also condemned the arrests, saying they "certainly do not contribute to a normalization of relations" between Croatia and Yugoslavia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
CZECH REPUBLICFOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'FLEXIBLE' EU APPROACH TO LABOR MOVEMENT. Jan Kavan called on the European Union to be more "flexible" than the European Commission in formulating a transitional period for the free movement of labor, CTK reported on 6 May. He said he expects the EU's final position to be close to the German proposal of seven years, but "be so flexible that it would set the criteria of an early revision and take into account differentiation among the new members." But Kavan also said that introducing the transitional periods will "have a very negative impact...in psychological and political terms" and add to suspicions that the EU views the Czech Republic as a "second-category member." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
FOREIGN MINISTRY TO APPOINT OFFICIALS ON ROMANY ISSUES. Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous told CTK on 2 May that the Foreign Ministry intends to appoint a Romany official to deal with issues related to the Romany minority, and to have a Romany advisor in place by the end of June. This follows the signing by the Foreign Ministry in early April of a memorandum with the International Romany Union in which it announced a policy that "the Romany minority in the Czech Republic is part of the Romany nation living in Europe." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
ESTONIALAW ON LIABILITY OF STATE OFFICIALS. The parliament by a vote of 44 to zero passed on 2 May the State Liability Law, which stipulates that state officials be accountable for the consequences of their actions, BNS and ETA reported. According to the law, which will come in force on 1 January 2002, the state will compensate damages caused by the action or inaction of officials, from whom it will then exact the appropriate sum. The compensation of damages had been regulated earlier by two articles of the Estonian SSR Civil Code, which became invalid with the adoption of the Law of Obligations Act. Justice Minister Mart Rask noted that the liability law will also apply to government ministers, who will be obliged to pay compensation if they dismiss officials without proper grounds and those officials are later reinstated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
KAZAKHSTANOSCE OFFICIAL CALLS FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE. Meeting in Astana on 3 May with Oralbai Abdykarimov, speaker of the upper house of Kazakhstan's bicameral legislature, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman Adrian Severin called on the Kazakh leadership to embark on a dialogue with the opposition, Interfax reported. Severin was quoted as saying that Kazakhstan needs a strong opposition, as a weak opposition "is hysterical and incapable of compromise." In a lengthy interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 29 April, President Nursultan Nazarbaev claimed that "unfortunately -- and I stress unfortunately -- we do not have in Kazakhstan a normal opposition that would be able to offer the country a program of development and take upon itself the responsibility for implementing it." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
KYRGYZSTANPOLICE THWART MAY DAY MARCH IN BISHKEK... Police prevented some 1,000 participants in a 1 May march in Bishkek from entering a central park to lay flowers at a statue of Lenin, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The march was organized by the opposition parties that aligned last month in the People's Patriotic Movement. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
...ARREST DEMONSTRATORS IN SOUTH. Police detained six of some 30 participants in a May Day demonstration in Djalalabad, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The demonstrators protested declining living conditions and called for the resignation of President Askar Akaev. Edil Korgoldoev, the local coordinator of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, was among those detained. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
DETAINEES RELEASED. Police in southern Djalalabad Oblast released six people detained on 1 May for participating in an unsanctioned May Day demonstration, RFE/RL reported. No charges were brought. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
SENIOR OSCE OFFICIAL VISITS KYRGYZSTAN. Visiting OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman Severin held talks in Bishkek on 2 May with President Askar Akaev, Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev and the speakers of both chambers of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Severin also met late on 2 May with representatives of four opposition and four pro-government political parties to discuss press freedom, relations between the Kyrgyz leadership and opposition, and the plight of jailed opposition leaders, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
LATVIACOURT SENTENCES RUSSIAN NATIONAL BOLSHEVIKS FOR TERRORISM. The Riga Regional Court found the three members of the National Bolshevik Party, who on 17 November 2000 seized the steeple of Riga's St. Peter's Church, guilty of terrorism and illegal border crossing, LETA reported. Russian citizens Maxim Zhurkin and Sergei Solovei were sentenced to 15 years in prison and Dmitrii Gafarov to five years. The lesser sentence for Gafarov was due to his confession during the pretrial investigation and because he was underage. A representative of Latvia's National Bolsheviks, Vladimir Moskovtsev, charged with helping the Russians cross the border illegally, received a suspended one-year jail sentence. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
MACEDONIAOPERATIONS AGAINST INSURGENTS CONTINUE. The Macedonian military continued to use artillery, tanks, and helicopter gunships against positions held by ethnic Albanian rebels around the town of Kumanovo from 5-7 May, AP reported. Military spokesman Blagoje Markovski said on 7 May that the army is conducting "clean-and-sweep operations" and that there have been no casualties among Macedonian soldiers. The government held two unilateral cease-fires over the weekend in an effort to allow civilians to leave the area. International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Annick Bouvier said it appears there has been some intimidation by the rebels in an attempt to keep people in the villages, but that other civilians don't want to leave because they are afraid of separating their families. Commander "Hoxha," a rebel leader who says he is the commander of the National Liberation Army's (UCK) 113th brigade, said "those who have stayed did so of their own will, we did not force them," AFP reported. But some villagers told reporters they were forced to pay exorbitant fees or give jewelry to the rebels before being allowed to leave. Ethnic Albanian officials claimed on 5 May that 10 rebels had been killed during the government's offensive up to that point, and that six civilians had died. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
MACEDONIANS ATTACK ETHNIC ALBANIAN SHOPS, HOMES... The BBC reported on 1 May that Macedonian crowds attacked a mosque in Bitola the previous night. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported that crowds of several hundred Macedonians stoned or burned dozens of Albanian homes and businesses. Police arrested several of the rioters. Police officials in Skopje said on 2 May that crowds of Macedonians attacked at least 15 Albanian-owned shops in Bitola for the second night in a row, dpa reported. Police added that an armed group fired on a police position near Lipkovo, northeast of Skopje, on 1 May. The government will meet on 4 May amid a security situation that a government spokesman described as a "delicate peace." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
...AND EXTREMIST GROUP CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY. A previously unknown group calling itself the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization "Todor Aleksandrov" issued a statement on 3 May claiming it is leading the rioters' attacks on ethnic Albanian shops and other properties, the Beta news agency reported in Skopje. The organization said it is targeting business owners that give financial support to the UCK. It claims to have some 1,200 armed fighters "active" in almost all cities and towns in western Macedonia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
POLANDKWASNIEWSKI APPEALS FOR HELP FOR POLES IN FORMER USSR. Earlier on 30 April, Kwasniewski addressed the second Congress of Polish Emigre Communities in Warsaw and appealed for assistance for Poles living on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Kwasniewski stressed that authorities want to eliminate red-tape formalities that still hamper contacts between Polish expatriates and Poland in the spheres of tourism, science, and business, as well as the processes of receiving temporary residence permits and repatriation. The congress was marred by a statement made by Edward Moskal, chairman of the American Polonia, who accused Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, former head of RFE/RL's Polish Service, of collaboration with the Hitlerites. While many top Polish officials spoke in defense of Nowak-Jezioranski, none of them have dared to openly condemn Moskal for slander. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS TO APOLOGIZE TO JEWS... Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of Poland's Roman Catholic Church, told journalists on 2 May that Roman Catholic bishops "want to apologize for all the evil that was perpetrated by Polish citizens on citizens of the Judaic faith" in Jedwabne and other places, PAP reported. Glemp was speaking after a conference of the Polish Episcopate that decided to hold a special service in a Warsaw church on 27 May to make the apology. "We also want to include within our prayers the other evil that was perpetrated on Polish citizens of Catholic faith and in which Poles of Judaic faith had a part," Glemp added. Asked by journalists whether the word "sorry" would be used during the service, Glemp said the participants in the mass "will apologize to God for their sins". Pressed on whether the word "sorry" will refer to the Jews, Glemp responded that "that is contained within it." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
...WHILE RABBI SAYS EVILS SHOULD NOT BE COMPARED. Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Lodz and Warsaw, told Polish Radio on 3 May that the readiness of the Polish clergy to apologize for all evil perpetrated against citizens of Judaic faith is an important step in the Polish-Jewish reconciliation process. At the same time, Rabbi Schudrich said he considers inappropriate the suggestion made by Primate Jozef Glemp that Jews should apologize for crimes committed against Poles by the communist-era Security Service officers of Judaic faith. He also noted that an act of apology cannot be expected in the Judaic tradition. "From the historical point of view, one has to be careful while comparing different acts; act A with act B, comparing Jedwabne with something else," Schudrich said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
ROMANIATRADE UNION DENOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT. The "Cartel Alfa" trade union confederation on 4 May denounced a 19 February social pact agreement signed with the government, Mediafax reported. The leaders of the trade union, one of Romania's largest, decided to denounce the agreement and resort to protest actions, on the grounds that the government had failed to respect its promises. They particularly resent the new Public Pension Law, the delay in resetting tax levels, and the decrease of VAT values for basic products. Premier Nastase is to meet trade union leaders later this week to discuss trade union complaints. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
EU OFFICIALS ON CHILD PROTECTION. European Commission Delegation to Bucharest chief Fokion Fotiadis said on 2 May that the reform of the Romanian child protection system is on the right track, but that reducing the number of children raised in orphanages depends on improving living standards, Mediafax reported. He added that the Romanian government has made the necessary juridical modifications and now also has the money to implement the reform. Fotiadis said the reform should concentrate on reducing the number of children raised in orphanages and prevent any more children being accepted into these institutions. Baroness Nicholson on 2 May said that the Declaration on Children's Rights ratified by Romania has not been successfully applied due to "significant translation errors," adding that the problem of children's rights has to remain a priority for the government and has to be assumed by the entire Romanian society. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
RUSSIARICHEST 10 PERCENT RECEIVE ONE-THIRD OF INCOME. The wealthiest 10 percent of the population in Russia received 33.3 percent of all incomes in the first quarter of 2001, while the poorest tenth received 2.4 percent of all incomes during the same period, Interfax reported on 3 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
EXPERT SAYS REAL UNEMPLOYMENT AT 10 PERCENT. Economist Tatyana Maleva said on Ekho Moskvy on 2 May that real unemployment in Russia is now approximately 10 percent of the workforce, five times more than the Russian government reports. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
EDUCATIONAL REFORMS SEEN HARDENING SOCIAL DIVISIONS. Both declining government support for public education and the rise of private schools and payments for higher education are seriously reducing social mobility in Russia and threatening the country's future, according to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 May. Graduates of elite private schools overwhelmingly go on to university, the article notes, but fewer than 10 percent of graduates of ordinary public schools do -- despite the fact that surveys show that many of these graduates want to do so. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
LOW SALARIES MAY LEAD NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS TO WORK ABROAD. A study prepared by Valentin Tikhonov for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that was released this week said that nuclear and missile scientists now earn so little from their regular jobs that they must take part-time positions and that many might consider either selling nuclear materials in their possession to foreign governments or hiring themselves out to those governments, AP reported on 1 May. Such a "brain drain," the study concludes, could lead to the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
ACADEMIC WARNS RUSSIANS AGAINST STUDYING ABROAD. In an interview published in "Trud" on 4 May, Viktor Sadovnichii, the rector of Moscow State University, said that he recommends against Russian students going abroad to study. "Our level of instruction," he said, "is higher," and consequently, students going abroad will simply review materials they've already covered. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
CONVICTED AMERICAN STUDENT SAYS RUSSIANS TRIED TO RECRUIT HIM. In a message to his father reported by "The New York Times" on 5 May, John Tobin, the American exchange student convicted of drug possession in Voronezh last month, said that the Russian intelligence services tried to recruit him after his arrest. Because he had refused, Tobin said, he expects to remain in detention for some time. The letter, written in March, was sent out via the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the paper said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
FSB ALLEGES TURKISH SPIES INTERESTED IN REGIONS. The FSB directorate in Chelyabinsk Oblast has noted over the last several years a special interest in the region by Turkey's intelligence services, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 4 May. Stanislav Neginskii, the head of the directorate's group for public relations, told the agency that three Turkish citizens had entered the oblast illegally, including Khamid Yuksel, who pretended to be a businessman and established contacts with local criminal groups. Yuksel is reportedly a member of the special services in Turkey and headed a separate "nationalist terrorist organization," known as the "Gray Wolves." According to Neginskii, other regions in Russia have had similar experiences with Turkey's intelligence services, such as Stavropol Krai, where two agents were exposed in April. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
MOSCOW SAYS REGIONAL PROSECUTORS WILL BE FIRED IF LOCAL LAWS DON'T MATCH FEDERAL ONES. Vladimir Ustinov, Russia's prosecutor-general, said that prosecutors in the regions will be subject to punishment up to and including dismissal if they do not succeed in ensuring that regional legislation corresponds fully to Russian law, Interfax reported on 4 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
DUMA AMNESTY MISTAKE CREATES PROBLEMS FOR COURTS. The Duma's failure in May 2000 to include a list of criminals to whom an amnesty on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe did not apply has created a crisis in Russian courts, according to an article in "Izvestiya" on 4 May. On the one hand, the absence of such a restriction has meant that more than 10,000 dangerous and hardened criminals have been released. But on the other, the only thing the Constitutional Court can do to rectify the situation is to make a subsequent Duma action on this point retroactive, something prohibited by the constitution. "This is a textbook example of a case defying a solution," the paper said. "The Constitutional Court and the public have Duma lawmakers to thank." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
180 INMATES STUDY RUSSIAN AT SPECIAL CAMP FOR FOREIGNERS. The Russian penal authorities currently maintain a single prison camp for foreigners convicted of violating Russian laws, Interfax reported on 29 April. Located in Mordovia, the camp currently has 180 inmates. According to prison officials, "all of those confined there study Russian, work, and in general live a life similar to all other prisoners" in Russia. Meanwhile, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 17, reported that there are currently 1,004 Russian prisoners serving life sentences and that the authorities spend approximately 67 cents a day to feed, clothe, and house each of them. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
PRISONERS BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE. Russian prisoners produced 16 percent more output at prison enterprises in 2000 than in the year before, despite fewer prisoners, Interfax reported on 2 May. Increased production has contributed to increased prison wages and a lowering of tension in Russian places of detention, wardens said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
RUSSIANS, WEARY OF CHECHEN WAR, WANT TALKS. Russians are increasingly weary of the fighting in Chechnya and 46 percent now want political talks between Moscow and pro- independence Chechens, political analyst Lev Gudkov told Interfax on 3 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
CHECHEN GOVERNMENT MOVES BACK TO GUDERMES... The pro-Moscow Chechen administration has relocated to Gudermes, Chechnya's second-largest town, just 10 days after its long-delayed move back from Gudermes to Grozny, the capital, Reuters and AP reported on 5 May. Speaking after a 4 May meeting of Russian security officials at the Khankala Russian military base on the outskirts of Grozny, FSB Chairman Nikolai Patrushev said the decision that the Chechen government should remain in Gudermes was taken for security reasons. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
...AS RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL ON HOLD. Russian Defense Minister Ivanov said in Khankala on 4 May that Moscow has no plans to withdraw any further servicemen from Chechnya at present, Interfax reported. To date, 5,000 out of a total of 80,000 Russian troops have left Chechnya, according to dpa. Ivanov said that although the army has "carried out its main task" in Chechnya, it will now assist the FSB in "neutralizing" Chechen field commanders. Patrushev commented the same day that there are no longer any "large" Chechen military formations, but that individual field commanders continue organizing "acts of sabotage and terrorism that alarm the population and create problems for federal troops." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
MUSLIM CLERGYMAN MURDERED IN CHECHNYA. Mullah Nasruddin Matuev was shot dead on 4 May by two unidentified gunmen in the village of Novye Atagi, south of Grozny, Russian agencies reported. A spokesman for the Chechen Prosecutor-General's Office said Matuev, who was 76, had been trying to persuade young Chechens not to join forces led by radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev. Speaking in Yessentuki on 5 May, Russian Defense Minister Ivanov strongly condemned the systematic murder of representatives of the Chechen intelligentsia, including teachers and clergymen, who seek to "lead the population of Chechnya toward restoration," ITAR- TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
GROZNY TRADERS PROTEST MARAUDING BY RUSSIAN TROOPS. Some 33 Grozny market traders staged protests on 2 and 3 May against reprisals and pillaging on 1 May by Russian troops, AP and Interfax reported. The Russians reportedly broke into storage areas and stole goods, and arrested or beat up dozens of people. Interfax quoted Grozny Mayor Beslan Gantemirov as claiming on 3 May that three people were killed during the raid, but a spokesman for the Russian federal forces denied any connection between the 1 May raid and those deaths, which it said took place no earlier than the morning of 2 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
RUSSIANS CELEBRATE MAY DAY... The Russian Interior Ministry announced that more than 750,000 Russians (organizers said more than 1 million) took part in public marches and meetings on the occasion of May Day in some 1,046 cities and towns across the country, Interfax reported. Workers marched for higher pay and better pensions, communists demanded the resignation of the current government, and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev marched in a parade in Moscow for the first time in a decade. His group, the Russian Unified Social Democratic Party, said that its participation in a May Day rally was a first for social democrats since 1917, Russian agencies reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
...IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. In Kamchatka, mountain climbers and skiers ascended to the top of the Koryakskii Volcano to mark the holidays, while in Ryazan a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered in the city's center to listen to a speech by Communist Party Obkom First Secretary Vladimir Fedotkin on the country's social and economic problems, according to ITAR-TASS and Interfax. In Kazan, some 4,000 people took part in May Day celebrations and to demand the payment of back wages and improved working conditions, according to RFE/RL's Kazan bureau. Many Russians throughout the country used the day off to spend time with families and friends, but one place where the holiday was not marked was the Chechen capital of Grozny, Interfax reported. There, the streets were empty of both people and cars. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
MAY DAY DEMONSTRATION ROUNDUP. The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FITUR) announced on 3 May that 2.5 million Russian citizens took part in May Day marches and meetings this year, Interfax reported. That figure is significantly higher than the one provided by the Interior Ministry on 1 May. FITUR added that May Day festivities took place in 71 of the country's 89 regions and republics in 2001, as compared to only in 60 a year ago. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
DISPLACED RAIL WORKERS WON'T BE UNEMPLOYED. Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko said on ORT on 29 April that jobs will be found for some 500,000 railway workers due to lose their jobs after reorganization of the country's rail system. He noted that Russia's railroads already reduced their number of workers by 540,000 between 1997 and 2000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
LATVIAN MISSION IN MOSCOW ATTACKED BY NEO-NAZI. A Moscow resident threw paint on the walls of the Latvian Embassy in Moscow on 1 May, apparently to protest the conviction in a Latvian court of several Russian National Bolsheviks, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Dmitrii Rogozin, the chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee (People's Deputy), told Interfax on 30 April that the sentences handed down by the Latvian court were unacceptably harsh: "With us in Russia," he said, even for murder the sentences are less. [How can anyone get] 15 years for hooliganism?" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
NEO-NAZI DANGER GROWING. According to an article in "Vek," No. 17, "radical right-wing youth groups have become an integral part of Russia's political landscape," and this neo-Nazi danger is growing. The article suggests that social dislocations following the collapse of the Soviet Union are the primary cause and that the problem, which the journal suggests should not be exaggerated, should be tackled by addressing those dislocations rather than increasing the use of police power. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
SKINHEADS ASSEMBLE AGAIN IN MOSCOW. Some 200 skinheads, neo-Nazis, and supporters of the journal "Russkii khozyain" assembled at the Soviet Army theater in Moscow on 2 May to demand that the Russian authorities "cleanse" the city of what they called "the mafia from the Caucasus and Asia," Interfax-Moscow reported. There were no incidents, the news service said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
MOSCOW SYNAGOGUE TO BE REOPENED. Russia's Chief Rabbi Adolf Shaevich said on Ekho Moskvy on 30 April that there will be a ceremonial reopening of the Arkhipov Street synagogue on 15 May. He noted that the synagogue will be guarded after it reopens. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
NEW WEBSITE LINKS FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES. A new website intended to link all Finno-Ugric groups in Russia and abroad has been launched in the Komi Republic, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 2 May. The site is located at http://finugor.komiinform.ru. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
RETURN OF THE 'KRYASHCHENY.' Christian Tatars, known until 1917 as "kryashcheny" or "the baptized ones," have appealed to Moscow to allow them to identify themselves that way in the 2002 census, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 2 May. The Kryashcheny said that Russian ethnographers support that request. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
RUSSIANS AVOID READING ABOUT POLITICS. Sixty-five percent of Russians say they never read political articles in newspapers, according to a poll reported in "Versty" on 28 April, and 44 percent say they try not to discuss political questions during conversations. The poll, conducted by the National Public Opinion Research Center, found that no more than 7-8 percent read serious publications, and more than half do without periodicals completely. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
MARXIST LIBRARY REVIVED, KOMSOMOL NOT. Moscow communists have set up a library of party literature to refamiliarize people with the ideas of Marx and Lenin, "Izvestiya" reported on 29 April. But surviving members of the Soviet-era Komsomol confessed to the paper that they have not been able to revive that Soviet youth organization, despite what they said is the obvious need for such a group. One of them said that today "we are standing on the ruins of a generation out of which they are making drug addicts." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
BETTER RADIATION MONITORING URGED. Aleksei Yablokov, who served as former President Boris Yeltsin's ecology adviser, told Interfax on 29 April that Russia now has equipment to improve its monitoring of radiation in the country and that it must take steps to ensure that Russian citizens are not accidentally exposed to this health risk. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
ONE MILLION HIV CASES PREDICTED BY END OF 2001. Russian doctors on 3 May predicted that the number of HIV-infected people in the country will reach one million by the end of this year, Interfax reported on 3 May, but the doctors said that many will never register with the medical procession. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
U.S. SEEN AS SOVIET UNION OF TODAY. Writing in "Vek," No. 17, commentator Aleksei Bogaturov argued that "the United States bears such a touching resemblance to our own superpower past. The Americans have become so convinced of the superiority of everything American that they talk about it with disarmingly naive openness. For example, there is a judge in a Southern state who finds it unacceptable that foreigners can raise the price of oil." This American "arrogance" more than anything else, Bogaturov said, is behind Russia's recent shift in tone and direction. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
ROGOZIN SAYS U.S. LOSS OF SEAT ON UN HUMAN RIGHTS BODY 'AN ALARM BELL.' Dmitrii Rogozin, the chairman of the Duma's International Relations Committee, told Interfax on 4 May that the failure of the United States to be re-elected to the UN Human Rights Commission is "an alarm bell." He said that he believes it reflects European anger at Washington's unilateralism and its unwillingness to go along with international agreements on land mines and global warming. At the same time, Rogozin said that Moscow must become more active on the commission or it could suffer the same fate. Meanwhile, on 5 May, Kalamanov, the Russian presidential representative for human rights in Chechnya, denounced the U.S. decision to allow people to view the execution of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh, Interfax reported. He said that Russians would be angered by this event. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
SERBIAPARLIAMENT DEMANDS MORE RIGHTS FOR SERBS IN KOSOVA. The Serbian parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on 4 May demanding greater rights for Serbs and other nonethnic Albanians in Kosova and a rejection of the legal framework being drawn up for the province, AP reported. The resolution calls for "equal rights of all non-Albanians in Kosovo, as well as basic provisions for their security." Yugoslav President Kostunica said he backs the resolution, which states that "the legal framework (being drafted for Kosova) does not offer guarantees for a multiethnic Kosovo." Serbian representatives in Kosova's interim government refused last week to accept the draft, saying that it will open the door to independence for the province. Two Kosovar Serbs were killed in Kosova last week; one was shot to death and the other was strangled. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
MILOSEVIC REFUSES HAGUE ARREST WARRANT. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept a UN war crimes tribunal arrest warrant that was delivered to his jail cell on 3 May, AP reported. The warrant, which listed the war crimes charges against Milosevic, was delivered by the Belgrade District Court, it said, so that he could "get acquainted with its content." A Milosevic lawyer said the warrant was eventually stuck between the bars of Milosevic's cell after he refused to take them. The war crimes tribunal in The Hague said it considered the warrant delivered, concluding a dispute over whether the warrant had actually been given to the former president. The document was delivered to Belgrade officials last month. Court spokesman Jim Landale said the delivery of the warrant is important because it means that Yugoslav officials acknowledge the tribunal's jurisdiction. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
SLOVAKIAMAY DAY RALLIES HIGHLIGHT DIFFICULT SOCIAL SITUATION. May Day rallies took place all over Slovakia, but they were rather sparsely attended, TASR reported on 1 May. The biggest demonstration, attended by 4,000 people, was organized by the Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ) in Liptovsky Mikulas under the slogan "Proper Pay for Adequate Work." KOZ leader Ivan Saktor criticized the government for its insufficient measures against unemployment and the planned privatization of energy and gas companies. "The Slovak premier has to work for Slovakia, not for Europe," Saktor said. CTK commented that May Day celebrations in Slovakia are gradually assuming the character of those in the First Republic (1918-38), when they were primarily used by workers and left-wing parties to call on the government to give people work and to ensure social justice. Some 20 percent of Slovaks are unemployed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
SLOVAK ROMA WANT MORE ROMANY CENSUS OFFICIALS. Leaders of the Slovak Roma are unhappy about the fact that of the 22,000 officials working on the national census in May only some 100 are of Romany heritage, CTK reported on 30 April. The Romany leaders want 617 Romany census-takers, one for every Romany settlement in Slovakia. They dismiss suggestions that there are not enough qualified Roma for the task, arguing that many Roma have driver's licenses, which is evidence that they are literate and therefore competent to conduct the census. The agency said the Romany leaders would be satisfied if some 300,000 Slovaks said they have Romany nationality, which would be much more than the 76,000 who did so in the previous census. Groups of volunteers are planning to travel to Romany settlements in Slovakia to help their inhabitants properly fill out census forms, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
TAJIKISTANOPPOSITION PARTY PROTESTS OFFICIAL REPRESSION. The leadership of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) has issued a statement accusing the Tajik leadership of persecuting and arresting its supporters under the guise of a crackdown on the banned radical Islamist Hizb-ut-Tahrir party, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 2 May. The IRPT warned that such reprisals risk undermining the ongoing peace process and destabilizing the political situation in Tajikistan. On 4 May, Asia Plus-Blitz reported that in Tajikistan's Khatlon Oblast there are 1,480 functioning mosques, many of them unregistered, but only 1,215 secondary schools. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
OSCE OFFICIAL VISITS TAJIKISTAN. On a three-day visit to Dushanbe on 29 April to 11 May, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman Adrian Severin met with President Rakhmonov, Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov, and parliament leaders. Severin noted progress toward democratization and political pluralism since the signing in 1997 of the peace agreement ending the civil war, according to Asia Plus-Blitz on 2 May, adding that he hopes security concerns will not preclude further progress in that sphere. He stressed that the economic and security issues facing Tajikistan can be successfully solved only through enhanced regional cooperation between the states of Central Asia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
UKRAINEMETHANE BLAST KILLS EIGHT UKRAINIAN MINERS. A methane explosion on 5 May killed eight miners at the Kirov coal mine in Makyivka, Donetsk Oblast, Interfax reported. Of the 151 miners working underground at the time, 141 were brought safely to surface, while two are missing. Ukraine's mines are among the world's most dangerous; 306 people died in mining accidents last year in the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May)
THOUSANDS CELEBRATE MAY DAY. More than 10,000 people participated in a Soviet-style May Day rally in Simferopol, Crimea, Interfax reported. Participants held placards reading: "Let Lenin's Name and Achievements Live for Centuries!"; "Sunny Crimea -- Yes, Yes, Yes! NATO and Its Followers -- No, No, No!"; and "Privatization Is the Robbery of the People!" Some 5,000 people celebrated May Day with a march in Kharkiv, which was headed by Communist Party supporters following a scuffle with other participants. There were several separate May Day rallies in Kyiv: the Social Democratic Party (United) gathered 1,500 people; the newly created Communist Party of Workers and Peasants (KPRiS) 1,000; the Communist Party 500; and the Progressive Socialist Party 500. KPRiS leader Oleksandr Yakovenko said his party aims at organizing a "socialist revolution" in Ukraine. Some 3,000 demonstrators in Dnipropetrovsk demanded that Kyiv break ties with the IMF and give Russian official-language status. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May)
UZBEKISTANSTALINIST REPRESSION TO BE MARKED. President Islam Karimov has issued a decree designating 31 August as a national holiday to commemorate the victims of Stalin's purges, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May)
END NOTETHE LENGTHENING SHADOW
By Paul Goble
Three out of every four Russians today recall that they or their relatives fought in World War II. This is remarkable testimony to that conflict's continuing importance in Russian lives -- especially since fewer than three million Russians are still alive who actually fought in that war.
The enormous Russian contribution to the allied victory over Hitler in World War II -- marked on 8 May as it has been every year since 1945 as Victory Day -- is not only one of the defining experiences for all Russians, including those born long after the war's end, but also the most important touchstone of Russian national unity.
Even when they have been unable to agree on anything else or even on how that war was fought, Russians have been unanimous in their assessment of the decisive Russian contribution to victory in the European theater of World War II. And they still view their role more than a half-century ago as having continuing significance.
That attitude sets Russia apart from most other combatant countries that took part in World War II and indeed from virtually all other countries in virtually all other wars throughout history. And that distinction inevitably raises the question as to why this should be so.
The answer must begin with what that conflict cost the Russian people -- and also what it gained them. The German invasion led to the deaths of more than 25 million Soviet citizens, Russians as well as non-Russians. It laid waste to the Soviet Union. And it left a generation united by the suffering it had undergone.
Few have suffered as greatly as did the people of the Soviet Union under the Nazi onslaught. But at the same time, that war made significant contributions both to the Russian people and to the Soviet state, unifying the one and elevating the other in ways that might never have happened had there never been a conflict.
The German invasion and even more the resulting atrocities on Soviet territory unified Russians long divided by the policies of their own government. Faced with the evil of Nazism, Russians ceased to be split by class and came to view themselves as a nation in arms.
Many Russians both then and later have recalled that after the horrors of the Soviet system, the war for a time restored them to a kind of normal and moral existence, one in which they could act against evil and not just be subject to it.
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was only too willing to sponsor this new feeling of national unity as a means to defeating the Nazis, but ever sensitive to challenges to his power, he and his successors moved against it almost as soon as the guns were silent.
And at the same time, the end of the war found the Soviet Union not only recognized as one of the "Big Three" or "Big Four" countries in the world, a status very different from its outcast role of only a decade earlier, but also as a major power in control of half of Europe and with pretensions to much else.
Indeed, it was precisely the Soviet victory over Germany that created the conditions for the rise of the Cold War competition between East and West that lasted for most of the succeeding 50 years.
But the full answer for why so many Russians continue to observe Victory Day must be sought elsewhere, in three other realities with which all Russians must wrestle. First of all, Victory Day serves as a continuing testimony of what the Russian people can do as a people, not as an ideological construct of one kind or another.
As even Stalin acknowledged to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill near the end of the war, Russians had not fought for him or for communism, they had fought for Russia and for themselves. And because they could do so then, celebrations now suggest, they may be able to do so again.
Second, Victory Day serves as a bittersweet occasion to recall Russia's lost power in the world. No country that has suffered the kind of decline Russians have experienced over the past two decades can view such a process with dispassion. Victory Day thus becomes the occasion for remembering a more glorious past.
And third, and almost certainly most important, Victory Day for most if not all Russians is an opportunity to reassert their own moral authority. Given all the horrors of Russian history in the past 100 years, Russians can be proud that they fought and helped to defeat a regime even more obviously evil than their own.
For all those reasons, Russians seem certain to mark Victory Day not only this year but for many years to come, recalling an ever more long-ago time when they or their ancestors reclaimed some of the moral authority their own regimes had striven so hard to take from them.