13 June 2001, Volume 2, Number 24
INTERNATIONALNEW UN-LINKED NGO NETWORK. A global network will link NGOs among themselves and to the UN. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has emphasized the importance of promoting a representative and inclusive relationship with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and is granting consultative status to an increasing number of organizations. The NGO Informal Regional Network will also include small and isolated organizations into a system for information, support, and the opportunity for collaborative action. It will provide a forum for exchange of views, information dissemination, and practical experiences of cooperation with other UN system agencies. International Association Znanie has been selected regional coordinator for Eastern Europe and the CIS and will serve as advisor and facilitator to all NGOs which want to obtain consultative status at the UN. In future, it will provide a network with help communication platforms, databases, news on education and training, and help in obtaining funding. Contact Patrick van de Coevering, International Association Znanie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Center for Civil Society International, 10 June)
ARMENIAPRESIDENT ADVOCATES DE JURE INDEPENDENCE FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Speaking in Brussels on 6 June following his meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi, Armenian President Robert Kocharian said that a settlement of the Karabakh conflict should provide for both de facto and de jure independence for the currently unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent reported. Kocharian added that Armenia is currently discussing three "very important points" that could lead to a solution to that issue. He did not elaborate. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
CATHOLICOS SEEKS TO JUSTIFY EXCOMMUNICATION OF MOSCOW ARCHBISHOP. Catholicos Garegin II told a news conference in Echmiadzin on 7 June that his decision last month to defrock Archbishop Tigran Kyureghian, who headed the Moscow diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was justified given that Kyureghian had rejected his authority, and was trying to establish a separate church, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kyureghian had decided to form a splinter group named the Moscow Union of Armenian Churches that would recognize only the authority of the National Ecclesiastical Assembly, the church's supreme body. He insists that Garegin's decision to excommunicate him is invalid. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
AZERBAIJANAZERBAIJANIS FROM ARMENIA FORM GOVERNMENT IN EXILE. Representatives of an estimated 3 million Azerbaijanis whose ancestors lived on territories that now comprise part of the Republic of Armenia have established a government in exile and are considering how to reclaim those territories, according to the Azerbaijani daily "Ekho" on 6 June, as cited by Groong. The government in exile is one of several bodies that claim to represent the interests of Azerbaijanis from Armenia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
BELARUSINVESTIGATORS ACCUSE TOP OFFICIALS OF POLITICAL MURDERS... Two former prosecutors, Dzmitry Petrushkevich and Aleh Sluchak, have sent a letter via e-mail to a number of Belarusian media outlets in which they accuse top officials of organizing a death squad and killing opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar as well as ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, the Charter-97 website and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 11 June. Petrushkevich and Sluchak claimed that the death squad was organized by former Interior Minister Yury Sivakou following an order from Security Council Secretary Viktar Sheyman. According to the two investigators, after the KGB and the Prosecutor-General's Office had traced the death squad and tried to find the body of Zavadski, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka fired KGB chief Uladzimir Matskevich and Prosecutor-General Aleh Bazhelka. Petrushkevich and Sluchak added that Sheyman then ordered the release of the arrested commander of the death squad from jail. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
...AND INTERIOR MINISTER OF CONSPIRING WITH SUSPECTS. Petrushkevich and Sluchak also wrote that Valery Ihnatovich and Maksim Malik, who were arrested on charges of killing Zavadski, threatened during interrogations to take revenge on investigators and their families. Petrushkevich and Sluchak claimed that Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau, who oversees the investigation of the Zavadski case, made several unrecorded visits to Ihnatovich and Malik in jail. Petrushkevich and Sluchak suggested that Navumau supplied the suspects with personal information about investigators and their families in order to make the suspects' threats more plausible. Quoting Interior Ministry spokesman Dzmitry Parton, Belapan reported on 11 June that Navumau denied the allegations. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
BOSNIAMASS GRAVE FOUND. Amor Masovic, who heads the Bosnian government's commission for missing persons, said in the Malusa region on 10 June that the authorities have exhumed the bodies of 15 persons there, all apparently victims from the Serb-run labor camp at Foca during the 1992-1995 war. Masovic added that the authorities learned about the grave from an anonymous letter received from a Serb, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
U.S. PLEDGES $25 MILLION FOR REFUGEE RETURN. Ambassador Thomas Miller said in Sarajevo on 11 June that Washington will provide an additional $25 million in its aid package for 2001, for a total of $73 million, Reuters reported. He noted that this is less than $75 million in 2000, but added that the amount is "remarkable" in view of declining foreign aid contributions for Bosnia. The money will go for infrastructure projects where returnees represent an ethnic minority. Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija cited declining aid as a major problem in facilitating refugee returns. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
BULGARIAROYALIST MOVEMENT FEARS ELECTION RIGGING... Emil Koshlukov, the campaign manager of the National Movement Simeon II, on 8 June said he fears the outcome of parliamentary elections scheduled for 17 June will be rigged, dpa reported. He said campaign posters bearing the portrait of the former monarch and names similar to those of the movement are causing confusion among the electorate. Koshlukov alleged that the intention is to get members of the public to cast votes for insignificant groups in the belief that they are voting for the National Movement Simeon II. He also said the movement has little chance of monitoring the voting, as almost none of its officials are represented on local electoral commissions. Koshlukov also urged the ruling United Democratic Forces alliance to have the courage to accept the outcome of the elections and be ready to give up power "calmly and peacefully." Most public opinion polls show the National Movement Simeon II winning the ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
...AS GUN SHOTS ARE FIRED OUTSIDE ITS SOFIA OFFICES. A spokesman for the National Movement Simeon II on 10 June said gun shots were fired outside its Sofia offices on the same day, AFP reported. The spokesman said a man fired two shots from an automobile before driving off. No damage or injuries were reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
CZECH REPUBLICFORMER COMMUNIST PROSECUTOR GOES ON TRIAL. A former communist prosecutor went on trial on 11 June on charges of murder dating back to the late 1940s, AP reported. Karel Vas, 85, is accused of forging evidence against General Helidor Picka, who was accused in 1949 of spying for the British intelligence service during and after World War II. Vas is accused of inserting forged documents into Picka's files during his court trial. Picka was found guilty of espionage and treason and was executed in 1949. If convicted, Vas faces 15 years in jail. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
ASYLUM-SEEKERS GROWING. Over 7,200 people have requested asylum in the Czech Republic this year, a 179 percent increase over the same period in 2000, according to data released by the Interior Ministry and reported by CTK on 7 June. More people requested asylum in the first five months of 2001 than over the entire year in 1999. In 2000, a total of 8,787 requests for asylum were submitted to the authorities. The data showed a marked increase in asylum-seekers coming from European countries. Out of the 1,596 requests for asylum registered in May 2001, 378 came from Ukrainian citizens, 276 from Romanians, 205 from Moldovans, 136 from Vietnamese, and 111 from Indians. Citizens of Belarus and the Russian Federation were also among those who applied for asylum in May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
COMMUNIST PRESIDENT PARDONED CONVICTED NAZI CRIMINALS. The Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes (UVD) has recently obtained documents thus far kept secret showing that Czechoslovak President Antonin Zapotocky granted pardons to four Nazi war criminals condemned to death after the war, CTK reported on 8 June, citing "Mlada fronta Dnes." One of those pardoned was Max Rostock, a member of the SS and commander of a unit stationed in Kladno, who was sentenced to death for having personally participated in the 1942 massacre in the village of Lidice. Zapotocky also pardoned Richard Schmidt, sentenced to death for ordering an attack on the village of Beniky near Kosice, which was used by partisans as a camp; Ernest Hitzegrad, a Nazi police commander; and Kurt Max Walter Richter, a member of the Gestapo in Jicin. UDV Director Irenej Kratochvil said the documents "will help break the still-persisting myth...that the communists were staunch fighters against fascism." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
HUNGARYPREMIER SAYS HUNGARY CAN AFFORD 'UP TO 4 MILLION' MAGYAR SETTLERS. Viktor Orban on 7 June told a business forum in Budapest that Hungary's rapid development growth might soon lead to a labor shortage and that the 4 million-strong ethnic Hungarian population from neighboring countries could become a solution to those shortages. He said Hungary is prepared to amend its immigration regulations for that purpose and that the country, whose present population is 10 million, "could provide a home to as many as 14 million," Hungarian media reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
PREMIER DENIES FAVORING MASS IMMIGRATION. Viktor Orban on 8 June denied his intention had been to encourage mass immigration when he told a business forum in Budapest one day earlier that more workers will be needed to keep up the country's pace of economic growth. Cabinet spokesman Gabor Borokai said Orban was only hinting that the Status Bill may help meet a labor shortage by permitting ethnic Hungarians from neighboring countries to take jobs in Hungary. In related news, Bela Marko, the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Romania, and Bela Bugar, the chairman of the Hungarian Coalition Party in Slovakia, criticized Orban's remarks, saying they could lead to a large-scale resettlement of ethnic Hungarians from their historic homelands. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
FIDESZ RULES OUT FORMING GOVERNMENT WITH EXTREMISTS. Attila Farkas, the spokesman of the major coalition party FIDESZ, told "Nepszava" on 9 June that the party is ruling out the possibility of forming a government with the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP). Farkas was responding to MIEP Chairman Istvan Csurka's announcement last week that MIEP will not name a candidate for prime minister at next year's elections, but that it is prepared to hold talks on forming a government. Csurka also said that MIEP's settlement policy continues to be that Hungary should take in ethnic Hungarians from abroad in order to boost its declining population. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
KAZAKHSTANUIGHUR ACTIVIST FOUND DEAD NEAR ALMATY. The body of an Uighur activist who had been missing since 24 May has been found, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Dilbirim Samsakova had been the chairman of the Almaty-based Nazugum Foundation. She adopted two Uighur children orphaned after their parents were killed in crossfire between Almaty police and alleged Uighur terrorists last year. About one thousand people, mainly Uighurs from Almaty Oblast and neighboring Kyrgyzstan, took part in the burial ceremony held on 11 June. (RFE/RL Kazakh Service, 12 June)
UIGHURS OPPOSE UZBEK MEMBERSHIP OF SHANGHAI FORUM. The heads of two organizations representing Kazakhstan's Uighur minority held a press conference in Almaty on 6 June, at which they expressed their concern at the possibility that Uzbekistan will accede to the Shanghai Forum during that body's summit in Shanghai next week, RFE/RL's bureau in the former Kazakh capital reported. The Uighurs characterized the Shanghai Forum, which currently comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as an "anti-Uighur" group. They also announced the disappearance on 24 May of Uighur activist Dilbar Samsakova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
KYRGYZSTANREGIONAL COURT CONSIDERS APPEAL BY HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS. The Jalal-Abad Province Court began on 8 June considering appeals by several local human rights activists, fined by a district court in May. About 30 people held a demonstration in Jalal-Abad on 1 May, marking Labor Day and protesting declining living conditions. Police detained six participants for several hours and accused them of holding an unsanctioned demonstration. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 8 June)
LITHUANIAPARLIAMENT FORMS JEWISH HOLOCAUST COMMEMORATION COMMISSION. The parliament on 7 June formed a state commission for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Jewish Holocaust in Lithuania, ELTA reported. Lithuania will mark the Jewish Holocaust Day on 23 September with events throughout the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
PENTECOSTALS WATCHING PARLIAMENT'S BAPTIST RULING. The Union of Pentecostal Churches is watching closely whether parliament votes on 14 June to grant the Baptist Union the status of a "recognized" religious faith. The head of the Pentecostal Union told Keston News Service on 31 May that the union had prepared an application for recognition. The government recognizes nine faiths as "traditional" and grants them rights denied to other faiths, but no religious communities have yet acquired the second-tier status of a "recognized" faith. (Keston News Service, 4 June)
MACEDONIAPRIME MINISTER WANTS TO 'DESTROY REBELS.' Ljubco Georgievski said on 8 June that "Macedonia must mercilessly confront the terrorists. Any delay would only mean deepening and a spreading of fighting," AP reported. "Without destroying them first, it is not possible to start a political dialogue" with ethnic Albanian representatives, he added... ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
ALBANIA SLAMS MACEDONIAN CALL FOR 'STATE OF WAR.' The Albanian government said in a statement on 7 June that Georgievski's proposal to declare a "state of war" will only make matters worse, dpa reported. The Albanian government called for a solution to the crisis through dialogue and democratic reforms to raise the legal status of the ethnic Albanian population to "European standards." Referring to the rampage in Bitola against ethnic Albanian shops and property, the statement pointed out that "there is no valid reason that can justify the savage ethnic violence and hatred." The statement added that "the government of Albania calls on the Macedonian authorities to take measures to secure the lives and properties of Albanians in Bitola," Reuters reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
REBEL MOVE TOWARD CAPITAL LEADS TO REFUGEE WAVE. On 9 June, the UCK occupied the 90 percent ethnic Albanian community of Aracinovo near Skopje, RFE/RL reported. Ethnic Albanians and Macedonians alike sought to move families out of the area. Some adult males returned to their homes to defend their property. Many Albanian men of military age were turned back at the Kosova border by Macedonian border guards. Some Albanians were told to go home because they might face a military call-up, while others were told that they are suspected of links to the UCK or that their papers are not in order. Some 7,000 persons had fled their homes over the weekend as of the evening of 10 June, UNHCR officials said in Skopje. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
HOPES DIMMING FOR PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT. Trajkovski announced a peace plan on Macedonian television on 8 June. It provides for the proportional representation of ethnic Albanians in government at republican and local levels and increased use of the Albanian language in official dealings, as well as a partial amnesty for UCK fighters, unspecified confidence-building measures, and the gradual return of Macedonian forces to their barracks. It is not clear whether Trajkovski's proposal includes changes to the constitution to give the Albanians and their language full equality with the Slavs and the Macedonian language, which are minimum Albanian demands. Ethnic Albanian political leader Arben Xhaferi criticized the proposal as vague. EU security policy chief Javier Solana visited Skopje on 9 June, saying afterward that "all political leaders support [Trajkovski's] plan," Reuters reported. He has given the political leaders until a 25 June EU meeting in Luxembourg to improve the Albanians' legal status. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES ON CRISIS. After a religious service in the town of Stip, Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) leader Gospodin Gospodin Stefan said, "our belief teaches us to be patient and just, but if terrorists come to steal territories from Macedonia, then the church agrees to use against the terrorists what is necessary in situations like this," according to the Skopje daily "Utrinski vesnik" of 11 June. Meanwhile, on Radio Spektar, Stefan pointed to a deep moral crisis as the basis for the current interethnic problems in Macedonia. The leader of the Islamic Religious Community of Macedonia, Reis ul-Ulema Hafiz Arif Efendi Emini, told the same station: "I call for a return to reality, and that we reach realistic and rational conclusions. We all live in this area and we have to stay here. We should tell the devil: Stop." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
POLANDPOLICE EXPEL PROTESTERS FROM PREMIER'S OFFICE. Police on 7 June removed by force a group of sugar industry workers and three parliamentary deputies from Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's office, PASP reported. The group was protesting what they see as the government's delay in the creation of the Polish Sugar holding to unite 49 nonprivatized sugar refineries... ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
ROMANIAPRESIDENT, FORMER MONARCH, PATRIARCH, ISSUE JOINT APPEAL. Ion Iliescu, former King Michael, and Patriarch Teoctist on 11 June jointly appealed to Romanians in the country and the diaspora to "display solidarity" to help overcome the country's poverty and the problem of abandoned children, Romanian Radio reported. The appeal said Romania's suffering can end only if economic progress and integration into the EU and NATO are achieved, and that these objectives "must stand above any other political or personal interests." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
RUSSIAYABLOKO TO SEEK NUCLEAR WASTE REFERENDUM. The leadership of Yabloko on 10 June decided to initiate a national referendum on the permissibility of importing nuclear wastes into Russia for permanent storage, Interfax-Northwest reported. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky has already called for such a referendum, noting that the Duma approved allowing such imports even though polls show that 90 percent of Russians oppose doing so. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
RUMYANTSEV SAYS ECOLOGISTS SERVING COMPETITORS OF RUSSIA. Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 7 June that protests by ecological activists and liberal politicians against the importation of nuclear wastes into Russia constitute "an action planned and paid for by Russia's competitors in the West." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
FSB TAKES CHARGE OF INTERIOR MINISTRY. According to an article in "Novye Izvestiya" on 7 June, generals from the Federal Security Service (FSB) are effectively taking over the Interior Ministry, despite the traditional mistrust between the police and the security organs. The paper added that this is in many ways a good step because the FSB is significantly less corrupt than the Interior Ministry has been. But the paper pointed to a danger: the imported FSB officers may assume total control of the Interior Ministry and their actions there may become a model for the takeover by the security agencies of other bodies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
PAVLOVSKII WANTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Gleb Pavlovskii, director of the Fund for Effective Policy and a Kremlin adviser, told Interfax on 7 June that early parliamentary elections would ensure that the parliamentary and presidential votes would not take place at the same time and that the larger parties would be in a better position to expand their share of Duma seats. He said that the country's political system is undergoing "a reconstruction" that will mean that "the political landscape will be very different by the fall of next year from what it is now." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
MINISTER IN DAGHESTAN WOUNDED IN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Magomedsalikh Gusaev, the minister for nationalities and the media in Daghestan's government, received leg wounds early on 8 June when a bomb exploded in his car as he was preparing to drive to work, Turan reported. His life is not in danger. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
SOVIET EFFORT AGAINST UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS A MODEL IN CHECHNYA. According to an article in "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie" on 8 June, Russian officials are now drawing on the experience of Soviet campaigns against Ukrainian nationalists in western Ukraine in the period after World War II as a model for how to fight armed bands and a nationalist underground in Chechnya. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
MILITARY EXONERATED OF SHELLING CHECHEN VILLAGE. Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov and Prosecutor-General Viktor Dakhnov both gave credence on 10 June to Russian military denials of responsibility for the shelling early that morning of the village of Shami-Yurt in Achkhoi-Martan Raion southwest of Grozny, Russian agencies reported. One civilian was killed in the attack and several houses damaged. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
RUSSIA SEEKS TO PROTECT CHECHEN OFFICIALS. In the wake of the murder last week of one local Chechen official and the ensuing resignation of three more, the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, ordered on 8 June that all local officials of the pro-Moscow administration and local imams, 228 persons in all, be issued Makarov pistols to enable them to defend themselves against attack, Russian agencies reported. Chechen government spokeswoman Alla Vlazneva told ITAR-TASS the same day that six local administrators have been murdered so far this year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
YUSHENKOV SAYS NEMTSOV'S IDEAS ON CHECHNYA ARE 'FASCIST.' In an interview published in "Inostranets" on 5 June, Duma deputy Sergei Yushenkov explained his failure to join the SPS by arguing that its leader Boris Nemtsov has a variety of ideas with which he does not agree. Yushenkov said that Nemtsov's plan for Chechnya, for example, is "fascist" and resembles "what the Third Reich did. The only difference is that the Nazis didn't make public statements. They just acted." Yushenkov said that Nemtsov's plans specifies that "the governor of Chechnya should be anyone other than an ethnic Chechen. We have seen this kind of thing already in the Soviet Union, when the authorities always appointed a representative of the nonindigenous ethnic group as [Communist Party] second secretary." Yushenkov said he favors negotiations with Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov but does not believe that time is ripe for discussing Chechen sovereignty. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
OFFICIAL DENIES DISPLACED PERSONS WILL BE FORCIBLY RETURNED TO CHECHNYA. Vladimir Kalamanov, the human rights commissioner for Chechnya, denied on 7 June that displaced persons will be forcibly returned from Ingushetia to Chechnya, Interfax reported. "Kommersant-Daily" on 7 June had claimed that the previous day the chairman of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, Ruslan Badalov, had handed to a visiting OSCE official a petition signed by some 10,000 Chechen displaced persons appealing to European public opinion to prevent their forced repatriation. On 6 June, Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev complained to Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov that the displaced persons are no longer being provided with hot meals or even with bread, and that the tents in which they have lived since late 1999 need replacing if they are to spend a further winter in Ingushetia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
PRESIDENT MAY SET UP SPECIAL STAFF ON NATIONALITY QUESTIONS. While in Ufa on 10 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin faced serious criticism from Bashkir and Tatar officials concerning his approach to ethnic issues and federalism, Interfax reported. Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov and Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev pressed him to appoint a special adviser on nationality questions and to speak out on these issues, Interfax reported. Putin agreed that "it is difficult to resolve these questions in the cabinet" and that "perhaps it is necessary to create some sort of organ in the presidential structures which could deal with questions of interethnic policy." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
MOSCOW IGNORES PROPOSALS FROM REGIONS. In an interview published in "Vek" on 8 June, Vladimir Zorin, the deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, said that deputies in Nizhnii Novgorod have made some 400 recommendations to the Duma over the last five years but that 399 of them were rejected. He said that this pattern holds for other regions as well. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
TATARS CONCERNED ABOUT MOSCOW'S MOVES AGAINST SOVEREIGNTY. A group of public organizations in Tatarstan -- including the Tatar Public Center, Milli Mejlis, Ittifaq, the Assembly of Idel and Ural Peoples, and the Human Rights Fund -- believe Moscow wants to "annihilate" the republic's statehood, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 7 June. They have called on the citizens of Tatarstan to take part in a 14 June seminar on the defense of sovereignty. The paper also reported that Moscow has rerouted trains around Kazan in recent months just as it did in Chechnya, which the paper considers a clear warning. Shamil Ageev, the chairman of Tatarstan's Trade and Industry Chamber, said Moscow intends to move forcefully against any independence-mindedness among Tatars. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
JEWISH EMIGRATION FROM BIROBIDJAN SLOWS. Interfax-Eurasia reported on 8 June that the number of Jews who left the Jewish Autonomous Oblast for Israel during the first five months of 2001 was only 221. That is a significantly slower rate than during the last two years. In 1999 as a whole, 3,000 Jews from Birobidjan emigrated to Israel, while in 2000, 1,106 did so. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
ANTI-SEMITIC SAMARA MAYORAL CANDIDATE. A mayor candidate in Samara has called for the expulsion of all Jews from Russia, according to the local Jewish newspaper. Oleg Kitter, a former deputy mayor of Samara, was put on trial earlier this year for inciting ethnic hatred (illegal under Article 282 of the Criminal Code), but the presiding judge appears reluctant to deliver a verdict, allowing Kitter to continue in the mayoral campaign while making illegal anti-Semitic statements to the media. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry, 11 June)
FSB CLAIMS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD ACTIVE IN 49 RUSSIAN REGIONS. The Federal Security Service (FSB) said on 8 June that representatives of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood have expanded their activities beyond Chechnya and now have organizations in 49 of the country's regions and republics, Interfax reported. The FSB said that the work of these groups is being coordinated by Saudi terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, among others. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
PATRIARCHATE INVESTIGATING BUSINESS ACTIVITIES OF HIERARCHS. The Russian Orthodox Church's management office is set to launch an investigation of links between senior churchmen and business activities, APN.ru reported on 7 June. The website agency said that the leak of this information points toward a power struggle within the church as hierarchs compete to be the successor to Patriarch Aleksii II. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
CHILDREN'S HEALTH IN NORTH A CATASTROPHE. According to a report in "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Krug zhizni" on 8 June, in some regions of the Russian north up to 40 percent of young people suffer from tuberculosis. More than half of all children in the region suffer from lung disorders, 96.1 percent have infectious diseases, and 92 percent have dental problems, the newspaper supplement said. Meanwhile, the World Bank approved providing Moscow with an $80 million loan to help relocate people from the Far North, Interfax-AFI reported on 8 June. But the same day, the Russian government stopped negotiations on a possible World Bank loan to fight HIV infections and tuberculosis, the news service reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
DRUG USE UP 18 TIMES AMONG YOUNG SINCE 1991. Tatyana Dmitrieva, the director of Moscow's Serbskii Institute, said that over the last decade the number of regular drug users among Russian youth increased 18 times, Interfax reported on 7 June. That was more than twice the rate of increase of drug use among adults, she said, adding that the ever more youthful face of drug abuse in Russia is a matter of increasing concern. Meanwhile, health officials reported that approximately 25 percent of Russian young people begin smoking before the age of 10, the news agency reported the same day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
OFFICERS STEAL MONEY INTENDED TO BUY FOOD FOR SOLDIERS. According to an article in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 6 June, military prosecutors have uncovered a series of cases in which senior officers have stolen money that was intended to purchase food for soldiers and then sought to cover up the theft. During the first eight and a half months of 2000, the prosecutors said, the amount of money involved totaled at least 59 million rubles ($2 million). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
SOTSPROF AUTHORIZES ITS MEMBER UNIONS TO STRIKE. The Federal Coordinating Council of the Union of Unions of Russia (SOTSPROF) decided to allow its individual member unions to stage strikes at their discretion at any time between 19 June and 31 December 2001, Interfax reported on 7 June. This decision, SOTSPROF head Sergei Khramov said, frees the unions from having to notify management 10 days in advance of any labor action. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
POCHINOK WANTS TO MAKE FAILURE TO PAY WAGES ON TIME A CRIME. Labor and Social Development Minister Aleksandr Pochinok said in an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 7 June that he believes new administrative and criminal penalties should be established for those employers who do not pay their workers in a timely fashion. He said that existing legislation governing nonpayments is difficult to apply and thus largely ineffective. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
FEWER RUSSIANS GROWING THEIR OWN VEGETABLES. According to an article in "Izvestiya" on 7 June, only 34 percent of Russians now grow their own fruits and vegetables, down from 47 percent four years ago. Instead, they are purchasing food and then using their dachas simply for recreation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
ONE RUSSIAN IN THREE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT 12 JUNE HOLIDAY IS FOR. According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 7 June, 39 percent of Russians do not know what holiday their country will be marking on 12 June, the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Proclamation of the Declaration of the State Sovereignty of Russia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
HEAD OF HOUSE OF ROMANOV SEES NO RETURN TO MONARCHY. Prince Nikolai Romanov, who is the head of the House of Romanov, said in an interview published in this week's "Rossiiskie vesti" that he is convinced Russia will remain a republic. Acknowledging "Russia is unpredictable" and that "Russians respect both tsars and the whip," Prince Nikolai said, "I nonetheless think that monarchy is an anachronism." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
SCIENTISTS SAY THEY'LL IGNORE NEW RULES. Russian scientists say that they will largely ignore a new Academy of Sciences directive that they report their contacts with Western scholars, "The Moscow Times" reported on 7 June. One scientist told the paper that he has seen the directive but "did not pay much attention to it." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
HUMAN RIGHTS HEAD TAKES ON RAIL FARE INCREASES. Oleg Mironov, the Russian human rights ombudsman, told Interfax on 8 June that he will seek "immediate measures" to reduce the 30 percent increases in rail fares that were introduced on 1 June. He said the hikes have created hardships for many Russians and that limiting their ability to travel compromises their human rights. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
RUSSIA BARS KGB CRITIC FROM FLYING TO U.S. CONFERENCE. UPI reported on 7 June that the head of the Glasnost Foundation, Sergei Grigoryants, who is also an outspoken critic of Soviet and Russian security activities, was bound on 6 June for a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference in Washington, DC. He was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for five hours, officers confiscated his plane ticket and $3,000 on charges he was taking unauthorized cash out of the country -- charges the activist denies. Grigoryants was allowed to leave Russia the next day. (UPI, 7 June)
AMERICAN EXCHANGE STUDENT'S SENTENCE REDUCED. The Voronezh regional court on 7 June decided to reduce the prison term of U.S. exchange student John Tobin, Interfax reported. Tobin, who was convicted of drug possession in April, is now to serve 12 months in prison rather than the 37 months the court of first instance sentenced him to. Tobin's lawyers said that they will appeal and seek the complete vindication of their client who continues to insist he is innocent of all charges. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
RONALD MCDONALD FOUNDATION SUCCESSFUL IN RUSSIA. In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 8 June, Khamzat Khasbulatov, the president of the Ronald McDonald Foundation, described how his group, funded by the ubiquitous hamburger chain, has successfully operated in Russia for the past 11 years. Khasbulatov said the group has distributed more than $4.5 million to medical, cultural, and educational institutions in Moscow and elsewhere. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
SERBIAYUGOSLAV JUSTICE MINISTER SUGGESTS MILOSEVIC TO BE EXTRADITED WITH OR WITHOUT LAW. Echoing recent comments by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Momcilo Grubac said on 8 June that Belgrade must find a way to extradite former President Slobodan Milosevic or risk international isolation, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
SLOVAKIAPOLICE CLASH WITH DEMONSTRATORS. On 9 June, police in Bratislava clashed with some 1,000 opponents of globalization and used tear gas to disperse a demonstration against the use of motor vehicles in the city, AP and CTK reported. Antiglobalists and anarchists from Slovakia and the Czech Republic gathered downtown for an authorized "street party," and after several hours moved to some of Bratislava's busiest streets, for which they lacked authorization. Five demonstrators were detained but no injuries were reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
TAJIKISTANOSCE CHAIRMAN NOTES COUNTRY'S PIVOTAL ROLE. Following talks in Dushanbe on 7 June with President Rakhmonov, OSCE Chairman in Office Mircea Geoana said Tajikistan "is a very important country for the OSCE and its stability is important for the strategic balance in the Central Asian region," AP reported. Geoana pledged support for Tajik environmental, human rights, and reform programs, but stressed that the volume of that aid will depend on the progress made toward democratization. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
TURKMENISTANOSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS. Mircea Geoana held talks in Ashgabat on 8 June with Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov, Russian agencies reported. In a reference to Niyazov's insistence that democratization in Turkmenistan should be adapted to national traditions, Geoana told him that economic and democratic transformations and the observation of human rights must be pursued regardless of such specifically local factors, Interfax reported. The two also discussed regional security and the situation in Afghanistan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
PRESIDENT'S FATHER'S MONUMENT COLLAPSES... Independent sources in Turkmenistan reported on 6 June that a monument to President Niyazov's father, Atamurat Niyazov, collapsed. The monument, commemorated on 8 May 2001, is in an Ashgabat park created on the site of 1948 Ashgabat earthquake, in which some 90,000 people perished. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
...WHILE HIS SON CALLS FOR END TO DISCORD. On 5 June, President Niyazov visited two districts of the eastern Lebap Region to launch a wheat-harvesting campaign. At a welcoming ceremony at Turkmenabat airport, the center of Lebap Region, Niyazov said: "I would like to ask you to eradicate regionalism here. Some people say that they are Turkmens, some people say that they are Uzbeks. We all have the same roots. Uzbeks are becoming like Turkmens and Turkmens are becoming like Uzbeks." At a meeting with elders, Niyazov asked: "Is there any religious discord here? I have heard that in Atamurat [District, on the Turkmen-Uzbek border] some people go to one mosque, and others go to another mosque. I ask you to eradicate this." Speaking with village elders in the Sayat District, Niyazov said: "We have no disagreement with neighbors. Here our main neighbor is Uzbekistan and our relations, thank God, are good. We are building [border] posts to maintain order, not to have discord tomorrow." (Turkmen TV, 5 June)
FAILURE TO SPONSOR UN RELIGIOUS SITES RESOLUTION. A United Nations resolution calling on states to protect religious sites, adopted on 31 May, was not sponsored by Turkmenistan. Places of worship have been destroyed in the past few years in that country, in government campaigns to suppress religious activity by non-registered communities. Turkmen officials failed to respond to Keston's questions. (Keston News Service, 8 June)
NEW DEADLINE FOR CONSCRIPTED BAPTIST. A young Baptist forcibly drafted into the armed forces last month has been transferred out of the military unit where he had been subjected to torture, Keston News Service has learnt. However, he has been given a deadline of 10 June to swear the obligatory military oath or face prosecution. He refuses to serve in the armed forces or swear the military oath on religious grounds. Turkmenistan has no alternative service and imprisons conscientious objectors. (Keston News Service, 7 June)
UKRAINEALLEGATIONS OF U.S. PROBE AGAINST KUCHMA NOT CONFIRMED. Quoting an unidentified Ukrainian diplomat in Washington, Interfax reported on 11 June that the U.S. authorities are not conducting any investigation involving Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. Last week, Ukrainian lawmaker Hryhoriy Omelchenko alleged that Kuchma's former bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko has been given special witness status in the U.S. after he passed to the U.S. authorities audio recordings suggesting that no less than $1 billion dollars has been deposited into U.S. bank accounts that either belong to or are controlled by Kuchma. The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington inquired at the U.S. Secretary of State's office about the probe into Kuchma's alleged financial operations and was told that no such investigation has been opened. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June)
TWO RUKHS AGREE ON ELECTION BLOC, PLEDGE TO REUNITE. The Ukrainian Popular Rukh led by Yuriy Kostenko held a congress in Kyiv on 9 June, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported. Kostenko and Hennadiy Udovenko, the leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine, signed a declaration on joining "a single bloc of national democratic forces" for next year's parliamentary elections. The two Rukh factions also pledged to merge into a single organization following those elections. Rukh split in February 1999 in a struggle over leadership between Kostenko and Vyacheslav Chornovil. Chornovil died in an automobile accident the next month, and Udovenko replaced him as the leader of the Rukh faction. "This is the first step toward the unification of our parties, toward the creation of a powerful national democratic party of state-building orientation," Udovenko commented. The congress was addressed by former Premier Viktor Yushchenko, who noted that the two Rukh factions' declaration is "an argument in favor of the consolidation of democratic forces of Ukraine." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June)
CRIMEAN TATARS TO ACQUIRE UKRAINIAN CITIZENSHIP. By late 2001, Ukrainian citizenship should be granted to 6,000 deported Crimean Tatars from Uzbekistan who returned to the Crimea, said Vadym Petrov, first deputy head of the Crimean committee for nationalities and deported persons, according to the 5 June "Ukrainian Weekly." Validity of the Ukrainian-Uzbek agreement on simplification of the process of renunciation of Uzbek citizenship and acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship by formerly deported people of the Crimea was extended until the end of this year. According to law-enforcement agencies, to date 261,100 deported persons and their descendants have been registered in the Crimea, including 258,000 Crimean Tartars and about 3,000 Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Germans. (MINELRES, 12 June)
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BELIEVERS PROTEST POPE'S UPCOMING VISIT. Some 3,000 people, including several hundred priest and nuns of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), staged a march in Kyiv on 7 June to protest Pope John Paul II's trip to Ukraine scheduled for 23-27 June, Interfax and Reuters reported. In a separate protest action, some 300 members of the Association of Ukrainian Farmers picketed the parliamentary building, demanding that they be given the right to private ownership of land. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June)
REGIONALHUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: U.S. CENTRAL ASIAN POLICY 'INCONSISTENT.' According to Human Rights Watch, rampant corruption, lack of rule of law, and repressive policies characterize governance in Central Asia and threaten U.S. interests. Repression aggravates social tensions. It widens the gulf between Muslim believers and secular governments, exacerbating a dangerous fault line. It undermines economic reform, deters honest investment, and stunts the development of strong civil societies. U.S. policy toward the region during the past eight years has failed to address these problems effectively, largely because it has been inconsistent. U.S. rhetorical assertions of the importance of human rights and democratization as key for full relations have been coupled with assistance that granted benefits without regard for human rights performance. U.S. policy toward Central Asia should emphasize more clearly that mutual interests in economic transition and political stability can be advanced only through respect for human rights and rule of law. Words must be followed by actions. The Bush administration should tie cooperation to specific, measurable improvements on human rights obligations. See http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/uzbekistan0605-bck.htm. (Human Rights Watch, May)
NEW WEBSITES, PUBLICATIONSFOUR WEBSITES ON CENTRAL ASIA. The International Crisis Group's Central Asia Project is producing a series of reports on topics related to the potential for conflict in Central Asia at http://www.crisisweb.org/; the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) has a website at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cess/; the CentralAsia-L Announcement List for Central Asia Studies can be found at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~casww/CASWW_CentralAsia-L.html; the Central Asian Studies website includes other discussion lists, such as the Ferghana-Valley, the AnthEurasia (for anthropology of the former Soviet Bloc), and the Central-Asia-Inst-List (for institution-building, visit CASWW at: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~casww/ (Central Asia Forum website: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~centasia/, 9 June)
WEBSITE FOR AIDS ORPHANS. The AIDS Orphans Assistance Database (AOAD) is at http://orphans.fxb.org/db/. Interested individuals or organizations can complete a simple online form. The database can be searched using different parameters and is updated daily. (Civil Society International, 7 April)
END NOTETOWARD WELFARE PLURALISM
By Paul Goble
A United Nations group has concluded that neither the state nor the market can be relied on to solve social welfare tasks in most countries and that the institutions of civil society -- communal, religious, and nongovernmental organizations -- must play a larger role.
Writing in the current issue of the publication of the United Nation's World Institute for Development Economics Research, Germano Mwabu, Cecelia Ugaz, and Gordon White suggest that both the state and the market have serious limitations as delivery vehicles for social welfare services.
Countries that have relied on the state to provide such services, the authors suggest, have often discovered that bureaucrats do not use resources rationally because they set prices for such services at levels that encourage overuse and ultimately undermine the ability of the society to support its poorest members.
But countries that have turned to the market, these authors argue, have discovered that the market too has "serious problems" as a delivery mechanism for social services. Many social services -- such as immunizations -- benefit society as a whole more than any particular individuals, and thus societies who rely on the market alone tend to underspend on such programs.
Moreover, these UN specialists argue, recent research shows that many low-income countries which turn from government-provided to market-provided services not only underspend but create conditions which lead to the underutilization of the services that do exist. And that in turn has increased rather than decreased the divide between the wealthiest and the poorest members of society.
Because of these limitations in these two approaches, many countries are seeking to find a new middle way to address the provision of social services, a way that the authors describe as welfare pluralism. They suggest that the government should remain responsible for those things that benefit the society as a whole more than particular individuals
And the UN experts argue that the market should be the primary delivery mechanism for other services from which individuals gain the most -- with the qualification that the state should always be ready to help those with too little money to take advantage of these services.
But even societies that use both government- and market-provided welfare are discovering that there is a range of services that neither the state nor the marketplace seems capable of resolving. And the UN experts suggest that this gap should be filled by the institutions of civil society, which will be in a position "to avoid the familiar inefficiencies of state supply and the social exclusion sometimes associated with market provision."
There are many reasons to turn in this direction, the UN specialists say. Civil society institutions "can be a low cost provider, can respond directly to community needs and seem to be in a better position to reach the poor." But because few government officials or market managers have viewed these institutions in this way, several things will have to happen to allow them to play this role.
First, the UN experts say, "governments must reduce impediments such as overzealous regulations that constrain the formation and operation of civil society organizations." Second, civil society institutions need a great deal of outside support in building up their management capacity. And third, these institutions to be most useful to society must develop feedback and evaluation loops to allow them to respond quickly to social problems.
On the one hand, the United Nations specialists are saying nothing more than many countries are already doing. In the United States, for example, the government is discussing involving faith-based institutions to help cope with a wide variety of social ills.
But on the other hand, the UN recommendations are more far-reaching. They point to a vision of society in which government bureaucracies, market entities, and private institutions become partners in societal management, an arrangement far in advance of most social theory today.
And consequently, the UN experts' call for welfare pluralism is in fact an appeal for a reconsideration of the nature of the relationship among state, economy and society that is at least as profound as the shift from the state-centered visions of the past to the market arrangements of today.