18 July 2001, Volume
INTERNET NETWORK ON LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.
The Local Government Information Network (LOGIN), an Internet-based information tool for local government officials, with a database on 20 topics of relevance to local government. Working with organizations in each country such as associations of local authorities, NGOs, and private companies, LOGIN provides timely data plus news updates, training opportunities, and legislative updates. The database is accessible in all the regional languages and English. The LOGIN database provides full-text, downloadable documents. For more, contact Kristof Varga at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit LOGIN at: http://www.logincee.org. (Center for Civil Society International, 16 July)PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY E-MAIL DISCUSSION GROUP.
The New Economics Foundation, in cooperation with Bellanet, has initiated a dialogue with NGOs on a World Bank Group discussion paper, entitled "Private Sector Development Strategy," on such topics as the role of the World Bank Group in regard to the private sector and the development agenda as well as debt relief. To participate, send a blank e-mail message to: email@example.com or subscribe via the website at http://www.bellanet.org/wbpsddialogue, or contact Deborah Doane at the New Economics Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the website at http://www.neweconomics.org. (Center for Civil Society International, 16 July)
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES UNVEILED.
Constitutional Court Judge Gagik Harutiunian on 12 July briefed journalists on the changes to Armenia's 1995 Constitution, which he said have been approved by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, RFE/RL reported. Under those amendments, drafted by a presidential commission, the head of state would need parliamentary consent to appoint all government ministers, could no longer veto all cabinet decisions or dismiss most judges. The package of amendments also seeks to boost legal safeguards against human rights abuses and envisages the abolition of the death penalty and a ban on dual citizenship. The amendments will be sent to the National Assembly later this month and if approved will be subject to a nationwide referendum President Robert Kocharian plans to call for next spring. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)MILITARY PROCURACY ACCUSED OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
A special commission of seven senior prosecutors has been formed to investigate allegations by the Presidential Human Rights Commission that the military procuracy headed by Gagik Djahangirian engaged in "brutal" mistreatment of servicemen taken into custody by military police, Armenian Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian said in Yerevan on 13 July, RFE/RL reported. Djahangirian was earlier widely criticized for his handling of the investigation into the October 1999 Armenian parliament shootings. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)'KHRUSHCHEVITE' CHARGE AGAINST MEDZAMOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESS.
A Jehovah's Witness from the town of Medzamor faces trial on charges (with a possible five-year jail term) dating back to the antireligious campaign led by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. (Keston News Service, 10 July)
DEMONSTRATION PARTICIPANTS SENTENCED.
After a seven-week trial, a court in Mingechvir on 10 July handed down prison sentences of four and six years to 18 men who participated in mass protests in Sheki last November against abysmal social conditions and official falsification of the 5 November parliamentary poll, Turan reported. Four of them head local branches of opposition parties. Nine other defendants were placed on probation for nine years. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.
Meeting in Baku on 14-15 July, the Supreme Council of the opposition Musavat Party elected one first deputy chairman and six deputy chairmen, Turan reported. Isa Gambar remains party chairman. The deputy chairmen include Rauf Arifoglu, the editor of the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," who has long aspired to a prominent position within the Musavat Party. Arifoglu was named to the new position of deputy chairman for propaganda issues. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)
DOES TRADE UNION LEADER KNOW WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DISAPPEARANCES?
Uladzimir Hancharyk, head of the Trade Union Federation of Belarus and an aspirant for the 9 September presidential ballot, told journalists on 13 July that he has copies of documents confirming the complicity of state officials in the disappearances of opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar as well as Hanchar's friend Anatol Krasouski in 1999, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Hancharyk showed a photocopy of a handwritten text that he said is a report from General Major Mikalay Lapatsik, the chief of the Main Criminal Police Department, to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau. The report, dated November 2000, allegedly names those who gave orders to kill Zakharanka, Hanchar, and Krasouski, as well as those who executed the orders. Hancharyk added that he has copies of witnesses' and suspects' testimony, reports by forensic experts, and a photograph of the revolver from which the victims were allegedly shot. Hancharyk did not name those involved, but noted that many facts mentioned in the documents support an account made public last month by former investigators Dzmitry Petrushkevich and Aleh Sluchak. Hancharyk added that the documents he has shed no light on the disappearance of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, nor do they mention Valery Ihnatovich and three others who are to stand trial on charges of kidnapping Zavadski. Hancharyk said he will send copies of the documents about the disappearances to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. "Whether he knew these facts or not, he must react," Hancharyk noted. He pledged to make the documents public after hearing Lukashenka's reaction to them (or in the event that the president fails to react). At a news conference later the same day, Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau denied having received the report mentioned by Hancharyk from Lapatsik. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 17 July)INDEPENDENT EXPERT SAYS BELARUSIANS EQUALLY DIVIDED OVER LUKASHENKA.
Alyaksandr Sasnou, deputy director of the Independent Institute of Socioeconomic and Political Studies (NISEPI), said in Minsk on 11 July that 48 percent of Belarusians are satisfied with how President Lukashenka rules the country and 48 percent are dissatisfied, Belapan reported. According to NISEPI polls, 37 percent of voters backed Lukashenka in April and 36 percent in June. Sasnou added that the number of voters wanting to take part in the upcoming presidential ballot increased from 70 percent in April to 87 percent in June. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)WIVES OF DISAPPEARED POLITICIANS APPEAL FOR OSCE SUPPORT.
The wives of several prominent figures who disappeared or died in Belarus appealed to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Paris on 10 July to create an international commission to examine the circumstances of the disappearances or deaths of their husbands, Belapan reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)EXILED OPPOSITION LEADER TO RETURN FREELY TO BELARUS?
The State Border Troops Committee has said Zyanon Paznyak may enter Belarus without encumbrance through any border checkpoint provided he has a valid identity document, Belapan reported on 10 July. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)
SERBS MOURN VICTIMS OF MUSLIMS.
One day after Muslims marked the sixth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, some 2,000 Serbs met near Bratunac to honor 60 Serbs killed by Muslim forces during the 1992-1995 conflict, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Those present at the ceremony included Republika Srpska President Mirko Sarovic and Zivko Radisic, the Serbian representative on the joint presidency. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)MASSACRE COMMEMORATION PASSES PEACEFULLY.
Some 3,000 Muslims marked the sixth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on 11 July at a new memorial just outside the Serb-held town, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Reis-ul-ulema Mustafa Ceric, who heads Bosnia's Islamic religious community, said, "We come not to indict, but not to free from guilt, either." He also suggested that Bosnian Serbs risk being collectively blamed for Europe's worst massacre since World War II unless those directly responsible are tried for war crimes. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)MUSLIM GIRL SHOT DEAD.
Late on 11 July, a 16-year-old Muslim woman was fatally shot through a window in her village home near Vlasenica in eastern Bosnia, Reuters reported. Her family recently returned to the village. UN officials are investigating. This is the second attack on returnees there within two months, AP reported. A UNHCR official said, "This tragedy could have been prevented with the appropriate actions of the local authorities after the first attack." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)
CZECHS TO DOUBLE CHECK LUSTRATION CERTIFICATES...
The Czech government intends to reevaluate the lustration certificates of thousands of civil servants and judges in the wake of the recent scandal concerning false lustration certificates in the Defense Ministry, dpa reported on 13 July, citing the daily "Lidove noviny." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)...BUT TO DEMOCRATIZE VETTING PROCESS.
Deputy Premier Vladimir Spidla on 13 July said he supports the Constitutional Court's ruling of 12 July that those found by the National Security Office (NBU) not to qualify for having access to state secrets can appeal the NBU's vetting decision in court. Appeals against those decisions could previously only be launched by the NBU itself. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)NEW ANTI-ROMA INCIDENT.
Three young men aged 17 to 20 on 13 July broke into a flat of a Romany family in As, west Bohemia, shouting Nazi slogans and causing damage of 10,000 crowns ($250), CTK reported, citing a police spokeswoman. They were detained by police and will be charged with violation of domicile and propagation of racism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)POLL SHOWS 'GREATER TOLERANCE OF EXTREMISM.'
A public opinion poll conducted by the CVVM institute shows Czechs are becoming "more tolerant" of extremists and their activities on both the left and the right wing of the political spectrum, dpa reported on 3 July. Fourteen percent of survey respondents said anarchists are "beneficial" to society; last year only 8 percent were of this opinion and in 1999 7 percent were so persuaded. More than two in three Czechs (68 percent) believe anarchists are "harmful," whereas last year four in five (80 percent) gave this answer and in 1995 -- the first year the question was asked in the poll -- three in four (74 percent) held that opinion. Skinheads are considered "beneficial" to society by 9 percent -- compared with 6 percent in 2000, 1997, and 1996; 4 percent in 1999; and 8 percent in 1995. Nearly four in five Czechs (78 percent) believe skinheads are "harmful," whereas 86 percent held this opinion in 2000 and 83 percent in 1995. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)
GOVERNMENT TO RELOCATE ROMA TO REMOTE VILLAGES.
The government plans to relocate Romany families to the remote northern Hungarian village of Cserhat, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 14 July. According to the newspaper, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry would relocate families from other parts of Hungary to the depopulated village. Bela Osztojkan, spokesman of the National Roma Authority, said he is opposed to the plan, as it represents a "reservation-like" solution to the problems of the Romany minority. Csaba Hende, the political state secretary at the Justice Ministry, said the plan is simply designed to give a chance to those "looking for a home, work, and independence." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)JEWISH ORGANIZATION 'READY TO DEMONSTRATE.'
Federation of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities (MAZSIHISZ) Chairman Peter Tordai on 5 July said MAZSIHISZ is appealing to Premier Viktor Orban to act to overcome the repeated delays in solving the issue of paying compensation to Hungarian victims of the Holocaust, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Tordai said he is no longer ruling out protest "street demonstrations." Government spokesman Gabor Borokai said in reaction that the issue does not figure on the cabinet's agenda and although it may still be discussed, the matter will probably be solved only after next year's elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)
MESKHETIAN APPEAL TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
On 6 July, five NGOs dealing with the repatriation of the Meskhetian minority -- exiled from Georgia under Stalin -- sent an appeal to the Council of Europe (CoE). The appeal claims that "Georgia does not comply with obligations assumed before the CoE concerning the repatriation of the deported Meskhetian population," and requests that a special rapporteur be appointed to monitor the situation and an expert be named to examine Georgia's legal commitment on CoE standards in regard to the Meskhetian population and that in consultation with Georgian NGOs and the government a draft legislative framework be set up on this issue. For more information, contact Marat Baratashvili, president of the Union of Georgian Repatriates at e-mail: email@example.com. (MINELRES, 15 July)JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES COMPLAIN TO EUROPEAN COURT.
On 29 June, the Jehovah's Witnesses filed a suit against the Georgian government with the European Court. The complaint noted that "after almost two years of inaction and lack of prosecution on the part of the Georgian Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs," the Jehovah's Witnesses filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights. The application asks the court to rule that the government of Georgia must prosecute perpetrators of the brutal 17 October 1999 attack on the Gldani congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses by defrocked Orthodox priest Vasili Mkalavishvili and his followers. More than 70 similar attacks have been carried out against Jehovah's Witnesses since the Gldani mobbing, the most recent occurring on 17 June 2001. Video footage available to the media upon request at http://www.jw-georgia.org (Caucasus Institute for Peace, Development, and Democracy, 1 July)MAVERICK PRIEST AGAIN ASSAULTS JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES.
Defrocked Georgian priest Vasili Mkalavishvili and his followers launched separate attacks on prayer meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses in a village near Gori on 9 July and an apartment in Tbilisi on 11 July, Caucasus Press reported on 12 July. Several people were hospitalized with serious injuries after the latter incident. Mkalavishvili has led a witch-hunt against Jehovah's Witnesses since 1999. Meanwhile, over 130,000 people have signed a petition drafted by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia calling on the country's leadership to take steps to end religiously motivated violence. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)RELIGIOUS LEADERS MEET SHEVARDNADZE...
In a "unique" meeting on 10 July, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze spent two hours with religious leaders discussing religious freedom and how to overcome the religious violence that has racked the country for more than a year. Only representatives of the Georgian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Lutheran, Baptist, Muslim, and Jewish communities were invited to attend. Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili), of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate told Keston News Service on 11 July that the meeting had been positive: "There is a real basis for dialogue between the religions that exist in Georgia." (Keston News Service, 10 July)...BUT WILL MEETING END RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE?
Although promoting religious tolerance and ending the religious violence and attacks on minority religious communities were key themes of the 10 July meeting between seven religious leaders and President Eduard Shevardnadze, opinions are divided as to whether the meeting will help end the violence. "It won't end violence in itself," Baptist Union leader Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili told Keston News Service on 11 July. "But if there is follow-up and the statements from the seven religious leaders are taken seriously it will contribute to an end to the violence. It is not the end of the violence but the beginning of the end of the violence." (Keston News Service, 10 July)
TWO OPPOSITIONISTS PREVENTED FROM TRAVELING TO U.S.
Amirzhan Qosanov, a leading member of the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, and Ermurat Bapi, editor of the independent newspaper "Sol-Dat," were told by security officials at Almaty airport on 15 July that the country's National Security Committee had given orders that they were not to be allowed to board a plane to the U.S., Interfax reported on 16 July. The two men were scheduled to testify to U.S. Congress hearings on human rights, democratization, and freedom of speech in Kazakhstan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)
ARRESTED HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST APPEALS FOR HELP.
Noomanjan Arkabaev, the coordinator in Kyrgyzstan's southern Osh Oblast for the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, has appealed to the international community to intercede on his behalf, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 14 July. Arkabaev was arrested in Osh on 27 June and charged on the basis of leaflets allegedly found in his office with appealing for public disorder and the overthrow of the constitutional system. The leaflets, which he claims no knowledge of, call for the resignation of President Askar Akaev. Arkabaev began a hunger strike on 3 July. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)
BAPTISTS ACHIEVE RECOGNISED STATUS.
On 12 July Lithuania's parliament, the Seimas, finally approved the Baptist Union�s application for "recognized" status, the second rank under the complex and controversial four-tier system governing state recognition of religious organizations. It is exactly a year since the application was lodged. "My first reaction was that I couldn't believe it," the Union's executive secretary told Keston News Service. "Everything had been going so slowly." An official at the Justice Ministry told Keston that "the door is now more open than it was" for other groups to gain recognized status. (Keston News Service, 13 July)
NEW LAW CLOSES DOOR TO FOREIGNERS?
Poland has passed legislation on nationality, residence, and refugee rights, which will generally make it more difficult to settle in Poland. The law was passed to standardize Polish law with EU legislation. The legislation introduced technical measures, such as a new database and new visa format to make it easier to share information on criminals, but also tightened up certain procedures. Whereas until 9 July a foreigner could apply for resident status after three years, that term is now five years; years of study in Poland will not be taken into account. The potential resident will also have to prove that (s)he not only can support (him)herself, but also provide health care. This will affect graduates from African countries, even those who have started a family in Poland. The law will also crack down on fake marriages with criteria such as whether the couple live together, how long they knew one another before the wedding, and what they know about one another. The law will, however, take into account humanitarian criteria, such as that of war refugees, who will be given temporary refuge until their country is at peace again. The legislation has tightened up procedures on persons whose application is "clearly unjustified." This concerns "refugees" from countries where there is no conflict or persecution of any particular group or people whose applications for refugee status were already refused once. Until now foreigners affairs were dealt by the Interior Ministry, but now a new Office for Repatriation and Foreign Nationals has been established. ("Gazeta Wyborcza," 10 July)PRESIDENT ASKS FORGIVENESS FOR JEDWABNE POGROM.
"For this crime, we should beg the souls of the dead and their families for forgiveness. This is why today, as a citizen and as president of the Republic of Poland, I apologize," Aleksander Kwasniewski said in Jedwabne on 10 July, at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Jedwabne pogrom. In 1941, Polish neighbors herded into a barn and burned alive hundreds of Jedwabne Jews. The National Remembrance Institute is currently clarifying the role of the Nazi troops in the massacre. Kwasniewski's speech and the dedication of a monument to the murdered Jews were broadcast live on Polish Television. The inscription on the Jedwabne monument reads: "In memory of the Jews of Jedwabne and surrounding areas, men, women, and children, fellow-dwellers of this land, murdered and burned alive at this site on 10 July 1941." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)
CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION PROPOSAL RESUSCITATES OLD DEBATE...
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Senator Karoly Szabo on 12 July said the UDMR will propose in the ongoing debate on amending the constitution to replace its first article, which defines Romania as "a national and unitary state," with one defining it as a "civic state." The UDMR also said Romania should have "more than one official language," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The UDMR has opposed Article 1 ever since it was first debated by the Constituent Assembly in 1991, but has been overruled on the matter. President Ion Iliescu said in reaction that Article 148 in the constitution stipulates that neither the national and unitary state definition nor the country's republican form of government can be changed. Spokesmen for the National Liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and the Greater Romania Party also said they are opposed to the UDMR proposal. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)...AND NGOS SAY BASIC DOCUMENT DISCRIMINATES AMONG CITIZENS.
The Romanian Association of Former Political Refugees (AFRPR) and the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania-Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) on 12 July told journalists that Romanians citizens who are also nationals of another country are subject to discrimination, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The AFRPR and APADOR-CH say that the constitution's Article 16, which prohibits foreign nationals from holding public office, is discriminatory when applied to holders of dual citizenship, and that the constitution also stipulates that international legislation on human rights prevails over internal legislation (Article 20). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)REPORT SHOWS POVERTY, 'GRAY ECONOMY' GROWING.
A report presented to the government by the Institute for Research of Life Quality (ICCV) on 13 July shows that between 20 and 37 percent of Romanian economic activity is in the "gray economy" area and that 44 percent of Romania's population is living in poverty. Fifteen percent is living below minimum subsistence levels and the poverty rate grew by 60 percent over the last two years, Mediafax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)
MOSCOW POLICE ARREST TIBETAN DEMONSTRATORS.
On 11 July, Moscow police arrested and then released 10 demonstrators protesting China's application to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Russian and Western agencies reported. The International Olympic Committee is currently holding a meeting in the Russian capital. Moscow police told the demonstrators that "you are on Russian soil and must obey Russia law." One protester responded that "this is the same thing that would happen in China." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)A PETERSBURG PALACE FOR THE PRESIDENT.
"Vremya MN" reported on 10 July that reconstruction work on three buildings in St. Petersburg, including the Konstantin Palace, will soon allow Putin to occupy them when he is visiting his native city. On the same day, Interfax reported that the government is creating a commission to oversee the construction of a highway bypass around the northern capital and that treasure hunters are looking into reports that valuables buried by the imperial family are to be found beneath the Ksheshinskaya Palace in St. Petersburg. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev said that his city will bid to host the Olympic Games sometime after 2012, when he hopes that "our city will turn into a luxurious St. Petersburg with brilliant streets and a sufficient number of hotels so that we need not be ashamed." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)TENSIONS INCREASE BETWEEN MOSCOW, PERIPHERY.
According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 11 July, the disproportionate amount of investments coming into Moscow has increased the difference in the standard of living between the capital and the Russian provinces and consequently increased tensions between the two as well. It called on the city to consider trying to help the regions lest this lead to a political problems and attacks on the city's achievements. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)PUTIN SAID TO HAVE HUNTED DOWN DISSIDENTS.
According to Rome's "Repubblica" on 11 July, Putin never worked for the KGB's foreign intelligence service but rather for its Fifth Administration, which was in charge of eliminating all forms of dissent in the USSR. In the first installment of what the paper says will be a six-part series, it quotes an anonymous colleague of Putin's from the Leningrad section of the KGB who said he and the current Russian president were trained to hunt for dissidents. The paper also cites former KGB General Oleg Kalugin as asserting that Putin worked in East Germany not for the KGB's foreign intelligence arm but as a Soviet liaison officer with the Stasi political police. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)SUPREME COURT BACKS FSB ON ANONYMOUS DENUNCIATIONS.
The Russian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a group of civil rights activists against the use of anonymous denunciations by the Federal Security Service (FSB), Ekho Moskvy radio reported on 12 July. The court said that the FSB's use of such denunciations is appropriate and does not violate the constitution. But Lev Ponomarev, who heads the group "For Human Rights," said the decision "may allow the FSB to fabricate cases," and that his organization will now appeal the Russian court's decision to the European Court for Human Rights. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)LIST OF CLOSED CITIES PUBLISHED.
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 12 July published the list of some 90 cities and locales that are closed to foreigners and other outsiders for security reasons. Among them are the nuclear centers at Zheleznogorsk in Siberia and Snezhinsk in the Urals, the chemical center at Shikhany in the Volga region, and Arctic naval bases at Polyarny, Severomorsk, and Vidayevo. Many of these places were well-funded during the Soviet period but now face economic hardships. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)PUTIN SAYS PARDONS COMMISSION 'TOO HUMANE.'
People's Deputy Duma faction leader Gennadii Raikov said that Putin has asked him to evaluate the work of the Presidential Pardons Commission, Interfax reported on 13 July. Raikov said that Putin told him that he "doubts that all the 2,600 convicts pardoned by the commission deserved to be released and believes it is worth looking at how the commission is making its decision." Raikov for his part said he was surprised by the large number of pardons in recent years. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)PAMFILOVA CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT TO COOPERATE WITH NGO COMMUNITY.
Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Movement for Civil Dignity, said in Moscow on 11 July that "without the interaction of the structures of state power with nongovernmental social organizations, it will not be possible to improve significantly the situation in the country." She said that the 12 June 2001 meeting between Putin and representatives of NGOs showed that the authorities have realized "that over the last decade a force of a new kind has arisen and that the authorities are ready to cooperate with it." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)KREMLIN SAID TO BE CREATING A 'SUBSTITUTE' FOR CIVIL SOCIETY.
According to an article by former State Duma deputy (Yabloko) Viktor Sheinis in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 7 July, the Kremlin is seeking to "imitate" the institutions of civil society, because "the imitation of democracy require[s] the imitation of civil society." Sheinis suggested that the Kremlin-created Union of Unions is one such imitation and stands in sharp contrast to the Democratic Conference that in fact is an effort by civil society to advance its interests. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS TO BE SET UP IN FEDERAL DISTRICTS.
Interregional human rights commissions are to be set up in all seven of the federal districts, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 10 July. Sergei Kirienko, the presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, told a meeting in Nizhnii Novgorod of human rights representatives from the seven districts that these groups will work to ensure that local laws correspond to federal legislation in the human rights area. He said these bodies will also play a role in promoting the reform of the judicial system and in giving advice on interethnic and interconfessional relations. Viliam Smirnov, the deputy chairman of the human rights commission in the Office of the Russian President, said that Putin backs the idea. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)LOCAL COURT LIQUIDATES HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP.
A raion-level court in Yaroslavl Oblast upheld an earlier decision by the same court liquidating the regional branch of the human rights group Memorial, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 11 July. The group is being liquidated because it failed to reregister by September 2000. The group in Yaroslavl was created in 1988 and participated among other things in the construction of a monument to the victims of political repression in the cities of Yaroslavl and Tutaevo. The group also worked together with a television studio to create a series based on interviews with the victims of political repression. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)PUTIN SIGNS LAWS PERMITTING IMPORTATION OF NUCLEAR WASTES...
President Vladimir Putin on 11 July signed into law a group of measures allowing the importation of spent nuclear fuel for permanent storage, Russian and Western wire services reported. At the same time, Putin called for the creation of a special commission to supervise the process, which is to be chaired by Nobel Prize-winning academician Zhorez Alferov and will consist of presidential administration and government officials as well as Duma deputies. The same day, Putin signed into law legislation limiting smoking in public, guaranteeing the right of Russians to hold referenda, and an act on ratifying a convention on paying sailors, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)...BUT CONTROVERSY FAR FROM OVER.
Even though officials say no nuclear wastes are likely to be imported immediately, opponents of such imports expressed outrage on 11 July at Putin's endorsement of them. Environmentalist groups said they would protest on Red Square on 12 July, Interfax reported. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky said that Putin's action was "a political mistake" and that he will pursue plans to arrange a referendum on the issue, Russian agencies said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)RUSSIANS FAR MORE LIKELY THAN OTHER NATIONALITIES TO BE VICTIMS OF TERRORISM.
According to a report in "Krasnaya zvezda" on 12 July, a Russian on average is "100 times" more likely to suffer as the result of a terrorist act than are citizens of developed countries. Historian Igor Bestuzhev-Lada told the paper that terrorism is becoming an increasing threat because of the resources terrorists now command, but that the phenomenon itself reflects the conflict known throughout history between civilizations being born and those that are dying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)U.S. GLOBALISM SAID LATEST VARIANT OF BOLSHEVISM.
According to an article in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 10 July, American globalism is the latest reincarnation of bolshevism, an ideology that seeks to assert that there is or should be a single center of power in the world. The article also said that the extradition of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the international tribunal in The Hague represents a victory for globalism, but also threatens Russian leaders, including Putin and former President Boris Yeltsin, with the possibility of being tried for their "crimes" in Chechnya. Consequently, Moscow must oppose globalism before it is too late, the paper concluded. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)GENERAL ADMITS RUSSIAN TROOPS ACTED 'LAWLESSLY.'
The commander of the joint Russian forces in Chechnya, Lieutenant General Vladimir Moltenskoi, on 11 July condemned "large-scale crimes" and "lawless acts" committed by Russian troops during the security sweeps in the villages of Sernovodsk, Assinovskaya, and Kurchaloi last week, AP and dpa reported. He compared the brutality in the two former villages to "an outrage, like an ancient Mongol horde," and said that unspecified measures will be taken to try to win back the trust of the local Chechen population. In Moscow, Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii suggested that the methods used in conducting such security operations could be revised, or that they may be dispensed with completely. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)COUNCIL OF EUROPE DENOUNCES RUSSIA ON CHECHEN ACTIONS.
Council of Europe President Lord Russell-Johnston on 12 July issued a statement saying that Russia's behavior in Chechnya is "unacceptable" and that the Russian security services are responsible for most of the human rights violations there, Reuters reported. Russell-Johnston said "the failure to bring to justice those responsible for crimes constitutes a blatant violation of Russia's obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and as a party to its most important conventions." He expressed the hope that world leaders with close ties to Putin will seek to influence him. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)MISTREATMENT OF SOLDIERS INCREASED IN LAST YEAR.
Mikhail Kislitsyn, the chief military prosecutor, said that the mistreatment of soldiers by their officers and comrades in arms doubled in the North Caucasus Military District between the first half of 2000 and the first half of 2001, "Izvestiya" reported on 16 July. For the army as whole, Kislitsyn said, such mistreatment, commonly referred to by the Russian term "dedovshchina," rose by 29 percent. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)5,000 SOLDIERS DESERT EACH YEAR.
According to an article in "Novaya gazeta," No. 49, some 5,000 soldiers desert every year from the Russian army. The number is so large that "often their commanders don't even look for them." Eighty-six percent of the deserters are new recruits who have been in the army for less than a year, and only 24 percent attempted to avoid service before joining up or being drafted. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)PARENTS TRY COURTS TO AVOID SENDING SONS TO CHECHNYA.
Local courts in the Republic of Mordovia are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge in lawsuits filed by the parents of would-be military draftees, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 12 July. According to RFE/RL's Mordovia correspondent, local parents do not want their sick children sent to the army and are trying to solve the problem through the courts. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)MOSCOW PLANS TO REDUCE NUMBER OF NONRESIDENT WORKERS.
The government of the city of Moscow is developing a program for the next three years intended to reduce the number of foreign workers by approximately 20 percent and to control the daily influx of 3 million day workers into the capital, Interfax-Moscow reported on 16 July. The city plans to set up eight migration control points at the railroad stations. Its officials noted that during the past 12 months, more than 2 million people, including 1 million from CIS countries, were detained for violation of passport regulations, and that over the same period more than 513 organizations employing such illegals were fined. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)RUSSIA NEEDS TO ATTRACT 3-4 MILLION MIGRANTS FROM CIS COUNTRIES EACH YEAR.
According to participants in a Moscow roundtable on "The Problem of Resettlers and Civil Society," the Russian government needs to attract 3 to 4 million migrants from countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States every year to compensate for negative demographic trends, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia is expected to have a labor shortage of approximately 10 million by 2016. Meanwhile, the same day, the State Statistics Committee told Interfax that Russia's population in that year will be 134.4 million, 10.4 million fewer than now. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)PATRIARCHATE PLANS TO OPEN CHURCHES IN PRISONS.
The Russian Orthodox Church plans to open churches in most prisons and camps in the near future, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 10 July. It has already constructed a church in a camp near Khabarovsk and reported that more than 100 prisoners have been baptized in the last year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)ORTHODOX CHURCH REJECTS POLYGAMY AS SOLUTION TO DEMOGRAPHIC CRISIS...
Father Vsevolod Chaplin, the official representative of the Moscow Patriarchate, told Interfax on 9 July that the Russian Orthodox Church does not accept the proposal by Mufti Ravil Gainutdin that polygamy should be extended beyond traditional Islamic areas in order to address Russia's demographic decline. At the same time, however, Chaplin said that the church as an institution will not oppose polygamy among Russian Muslims if that is what they consider a part of their popular traditions. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)...DENIES IT IS BEHIND EFFORT TO DEREGISTER SALVATION ARMY IN MOSCOW.
An official of the Patriarchate said that the Orthodox Church is not behind efforts by the Moscow authorities to prevent the Salvation Army from registering in Moscow, strana.ru reported on 9 July. But the official said that the church does believe that the Salvation Army's assistance programs are designed to "buy the souls" of Russians and persuade them to convert. The same day, a Moscow court postponed until 11 September a hearing on whether the Salvation Army can be registered there. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)LAW ENFORCEMENT WORRIED ABOUT ISLAMIC EXTREMISM IN RUSSIA.
A conference of the heads of law-enforcement agencies in Moscow on 10 July concluded that a variety of assistance groups, as well as Muslim countries abroad, are increasingly active in promoting Islamic extremism within Russia, Interfax reported on 10 July. The participants, who included FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev, Tax Police head Fradkov, and Constitutional Court Chairman Marat Baglai, among others, noted that the number of Islamic religious educational institutions is growing and that some of these are spreading fundamentalist ideas among Russian Muslims. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)MUSLIM LEADER DENIES WAHHABI DOCTRINE IS TERRORIST.
In an interview published in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 12 July, Ravil Gainutdin, the chief of the Council of Muftis of Russia, denied that there is anything in Wahhabi doctrine that sanctions terrorism. He said those who make that charge and those who justify their actions by reference to Wahhabism are mistaken. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta-religii," No. 13, carried a review of a new book by Konstantin Polyakov entitled "The Arab Countries and Islam in Russia," which argues that Arab governments have played a major role in the extension and radicalization of Islam in Russia over the last decade. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)ANTI-SEMITISM SAID TO HAVE DECREASED UNDER PUTIN.
Nikolai Butkevich, a spokesman for the U.S.-based Union of Councils of Soviet Jews, said in Moscow on 11 July that anti-Semitism increased dramatically during the last two years of Boris Yeltsin's presidency, but has noticeably decreased under Putin, ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)JEWISH GROUPS WON'T BACK EMIGRATION.
Zinovii Kogan, the head of the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations in Russia (KEROOR), told Interfax on 9 July that his group plans to issue before the end of 2001 a social doctrine for Russian Jews analogous to those issued by the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian Muslims. He said that his group hopes to attract Jews from all groups to participate in the drafting of the document. But he said that the document will not support the idea of Jewish emigration from Russia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)ANOTHER SOVIET-ERA TRADITION REVIVED.
The Labor Ministry is reviving the Soviet-era system of boards of honor in the workplace and elsewhere, Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 July. The ministry hopes to give public recognition in lieu of salary increases for "meritorious labor," just as Soviet officials did. The one innovation is that at least some of the photographs to be put up on the walls of enterprises will also show up on websites, the radio station said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)MIDDLE CLASS SAID CREATING ITSELF.
"The Moscow Times" reported on 13 July the results of a Comcon study showing that "the middle-class Muscovite works hard, eats out, owns a car, and has a monthly income of $500." All of this puts him far above most Russians, the paper noted, but Comcon Director Yelena Koneva said that "the distinguishing characteristic of this middle class is its inner drive. The middle class has not formed because they have money, they have money because they are middle class." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)TWO RUSSIANS IN THREE FAVOR PROPISKA SYSTEM.
According to a poll conducted by monitoring.ru and reported by Interfax on 12 July, 68 percent of Russians believe that citizens of the Russian Federation should have to register at their place of residence via the propiska system. Only 23 percent said that this system, which governments have used to restrict migration and control the population, should be abolished. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)
POLICEMEN, MAYOR, CHARGED IN ROMANY MURDER CASE.
Three policemen and the mayor of the eastern Slovak village of Magnezitovce were charged with "assault" on 9 July in connection with the killing of Karol Sendrei, TASR, CTK, and international agencies reported. The 51-year-old Rom died of multiple wounds on 6 July at the police station in Revuca. He had been taken to the station together with two of his sons after an incident in which the Magnezitovce mayor's son, who is a policeman, was also involved. One of Sendrei's sons told the daily "Sme" that police chained them to a radiator and beat them up. He said his father "died chained to the radiator next to us." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)INTERIOR MINISTER BELIEVES ROM DEATH INVESTIGATION 'IN GOOD HANDS.'
Interior Minister Ivan Simko on 13 July told journalists in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, that he has met the official in charge of the investigation of Rom Karol Sendrei's death in a police station on 6 July and believes the investigation is "in the hands of a capable man." Simko said he refuses to define the case as a "racially motivated crime" before the investigation is completed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS POLICE GUILTY OF TORTURE.
Amnesty International on 11 July accused Slovak police of Sendrei's death under "suspicious circumstances" and of having tortured him and his two sons, AP reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July)ROM'S FUNERAL TURNS INTO PROTEST DEMONSTRATION.
The 10 July funeral of Karol Sendrei, who died while in police custody last week after having apparently been beaten, turned into a demonstration against police brutality and anti-Roma discrimination, CTK reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)HISTORIC TOMBSTONES DESECRATED IN JEWISH CEMETERY.
Eleven tombstones dating back over 100 years were destroyed by unknown perpetrators on 7 July in the Jewish cemetery of Zvolen, western Slovakia, CTK reported on 10 July. The cemetery was restored in 1998. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)
JUSTICE MINISTRY SEEKS TO BAN OPPOSITION PARTY.
The Tajik Justice Ministry has asked the Supreme Court to impose a nationwide ban on the activities of the Adolatkhoh (Justice) Party, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 4 July. At the ministry's request, the Supreme Court suspended the party's activities late last year for a period of six months on the grounds that it had violated the Law on Political Parties by including in its membership lists persons with no connections with the party. During that time, the party failed to comply with that law, a Justice Ministry official said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July)TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR CHURCH BOMBING.
Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 13 July handed down the death penalty on two men identified as Islamic militants who were found guilty of the bomb explosion last fall at a Christian Korean Mission in Dushanbe that killed nine people and injured a further 30, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July)AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL QUESTIONS DEATH SENTENCES.
In a press release dated 17 July, Amnesty International (AI) expresses concern that brothers Sherali and Dovud Nazriev, who were sentenced to death two months ago on charges of attempting to assassinate Dushanbe Mayor Ubaidulloev last year, are innocent. AI believes the men were ill-treated while in custody and that their trial was unfair. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July)
ELECTION OFFICIAL URGES NEW ELECTION LAW.
Mykhaylo Ryabets, the head of the Central Electoral Commission, told journalists on 10 July that it will be "simply impossible" to conduct next year's parliamentary election campaign under the current election law, Interfax reported. According to Ryabets, neither his commission nor any other body will be able to control the election campaign and prevent mass violations of election procedures since the current election law does not provide for clear-cut election regulation mechanisms. President Kuchma has already vetoed three election bills passed by parliament this year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July)
U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN AT DEATH OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on 12 July that the U.S. government is deeply concerned by the death in custody of detained Uzbek human rights activist Shovriq Ruzimorodov, AP reported. Referring to claims that Ruzimorodov was subjected to torture in detention, Boucher noted that torture of detained persons constitutes a violation of both Uzbekistan's Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July)...POLICE BLOCK ACCESS TO HIS FUNERAL.
The police blocked all entry within one kilometer of the Ruzimorodov home in the southwestern province of Kashkadaria, and turned away fellow rights defenders who traveled from Tashkent to view the body and take part in funeral services. Activists reported that police threatened to arrest them and "tear [them] to pieces" if they investigated the case further. The activists were interrogated and expelled from the area. Human Rights Watch urged the international community in Tashkent to demand a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation of Ruzimorodov�s death. (Human Rights Watch Press Release, 10 July)