10 August 2000, Volume 1, Number 13
ARMENIAYEREVAN PRESS CLUB MARKS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. Since 1995, the Yerevan Press Club has received $800,000 from various funds; 7 percent has been spent on salaries, Boris Navasardian, the club's chairman, told a 31 July news conference. He claimed his organization had avoided political bias and assisted Armenian journalists in overcoming isolation, but also noted that journalists' organizations, including his club, had failed to make the government treat them as full partners. Citing parliamentary passivity during the first reading of the draft law on television and radio, Navasardyan said, "society is ready to have public television," adding that one must first "develop a mechanism for a supervisory council [which] should be comprised of representatives from various parties, journalists' and public organizations, but not from presidential appointees." (Armenpress, 31 July)
DRAFT PUBLIC TV AND RADIO/TELEVISION LAWS. The Armenian parliament approved in early July the first drafts of laws on public television and radio and TV. The public television consultative council would consist of presidential appointees with six-year terms, while non-state TV channels would be required to broadcast only in Armenian after an interim period of three years. Given the small amount of advertising revenues in the country, this language requirement could spell disaster for broadcastings' private sector. In addition, the draft TV/radio law stipulates that broadcasters would be held liable for "information that contains state secrets." (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 4 August)
STATE NEWS AGENCY STAFF DEMAND WAGE ARREARS. Employees of Armenia's state news agency Armenpress staged a one-day strike on 7 August to demand back salaries, which have not been paid since March, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Of a total of 36 million drams ($70,000) earmarked in this year's budget of Armenpress, only 8 million drams have been made available to date. Eduard Militonian, who heads the government department for information and publishing, which supervises Armenpress, assured the agency's staff that they would be paid the next day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
ETHNIC MINORITIES IN ARMENIA SAY AUTHORITIES INDIFFERENT TO PROBLEMS. Ethnic minorities living in Armenia are experiencing serious difficulties in preserving their national language and culture. This conclusion emerged from a roundtable organized by the Union of Nationalities of Armenia at the National Academy of Sciences on 3 August. The Association of the Kurdish Intelligentsia pointed out that no Kurdish-language textbooks have been published in 20 years, and a representative of the 7,000-strong Assyrian diaspora noted the absence of representatives of the Atur Association of Assyrians and the Jewish secular community from the Armenian presidential adviser's coordinating council. (MINELRES, 3 August)
AZERBAIJANPRIVATE TV STATION AGAIN DEFIES GOVERNMENT. A private TV channel has again broadcast excerpts from an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basaev despite government warnings not to do so. The ANS station was suddenly taken off the air last week when it first broadcast parts of the interview. The head of the channel, Vahid Mustafaev, criticized the government's handling of the matter, saying it damaged Azerbaijan's international reputation. Basaev was shown describing as a "jihad" (holy war) the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. (BBC World Service, 17 July)
AZERBAIJANI FINANCE MINISTRY BEGINS AUDIT OF OPPOSITION PUBLICATIONS. The Finance Ministry embarked on a review of the financial records of the newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard," the journal "Monitor Weekly," and the Baku Printing House on 2 August, Turan reported. The local tax administration and the prosecutor's office have conducted similar checks over the past two months. The editor of both publications was found guilty of slander by a Baku court in May for publishing allegations that Defense Minister Safar Abiev was implicated in corruption. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
NORTHERN POPULATION HARDLY AWARE OF NGOs. A survey conducted by the NGO Forum in the northern provinces of Azerbaijan shows that local people are poorly informed about non-governmental organizations (NGOs), despite a total of 43 local NGOs in the area. The NGO Forum met with representatives of political parties and local NGO activists to inform them of the NGO Forum objectives and public sector rural work. (NGONEWS digest, 30 July)
SOROS FOUNDATION ISSUES OVER $700,000 IN GRANTS. In the first 6 months of 2000, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Institute-Azerbaijan [OSI-AZ]) has issued $726,000 in grants; $172,000 were allocated in 183 personal grants and $554,000 to 47 organizations. The OSI-AZ has several key objectives: to assist in the growth of an open society and to promote educational development. Established in 1996 along with a sister organization in Armenia, the OSI-AZ's funds expanded in 1998, 1999, and 2000, with as many grants to be allocated in the second half of 2000 as were in the first. (NGONEWS digest, 30 July)
AZERBAIJAN NGO FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS. The Azerbaijan Psychologists Association (APA), which was established in 1997 and officially registered on 19 March 1999, is a non-governmental organization. Any psychologist with a diploma may join it. Its main goals are support for professional research, publications, conferences, and to provide professional consultation and assistance to individuals, especially refugees, and organizations. Contact Javad Efendi, APA president, at email@example.com (NGONEWS digest, 30 July)
OPPOSITION CONVENES DEMONSTRATION. Between 2,000 and 5,000 people attended a rally in Baku on 5 August to demand that the country's authorities ensure that the 5 November parliamentary poll is free and fair. The demonstration was called by 19 of the country's 34 parties from across the political spectrum. Some 300 policemen sealed off the square where the demonstration took place but no incidents were reported, according to Turan. On 4 August, presidential administration official Ali Hasanov told Turan that no further changes are likely to be made to the election legislation as "we believe that [it] provides for the holding of free, fair, and democratic elections." International organizations have urged further amendments to the laws which they do not believe create conditions for a free and fair ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
BELARUSNGO SAYS 'CONGRESS OF SOVIETS' TO PROMOTE PRO-REGIME CANDIDATES. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has said that the "Congress of Soviets" decreed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to convene in September is an "overt and cynical interference" in the parliamentary election campaign, Belapan reported on 2 August. According to Lukashenka's decree, the congress is to receive broad coverage in the state media, including live radio and television broadcasts. The committee believes that the congress's real aim is to promote those candidates for the Chamber of Representatives whom the authorities want to see elected on 15 October. "It should be noted that Belarus's current legislature was also formed by the president of those deputies of the 13th Supreme Soviet who pledged their loyalty to him," the committee added in a statement. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
OPPOSITION UNITY FALTERS BEFORE ELECTIONS? Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the Central Electoral Commission, announced on 1 August that the authorities have already set up 110 local electoral commissions in advance of the 15 October elections to the 110-member Chamber of Representatives. Yarmoshyna added that the local commissions, consisting of 1,400 people, include 59 representatives of the Belarusian Communist Party and 29 representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party. Both parties claim to be in opposition to the regime of President Lukashenka. The Belarusian opposition grouped in the Coordinating Council of Democratic Forces had earlier declared it would boycott this fall's ballot, which it has called a "farce." Meanwhile, another opposition party, the Social Democratic National Assembly of Mikalay Statkevich, has said it will not prohibit its members from running in the ballot if they are fielded by groups of citizens or working collectives. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINAFIRE THREATENS FUTURE OF BOSNIAN MUSLIM WEEKLY. A fire in the Iranian Cultural Center in central Sarajevo has caused severe damage to the nearby offices of the Muslim weekly "Ljiljan," "Oslobodjenje" reported on 2 August. Some 100,000 copies of "Ljiljan" were destroyed by the fire and there was extensive water damage to the weekly's computers. The editors appealed for help from citizens, businesses, political organizations, and other media centers. "Ljiljan" urgently needs money, computers, and a new home, the editors added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August)
CZECH REPUBLICRELIGIOUS GROUPS FACE REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS. Under laws passed in the early 1990s, the Czech Republic established a minimum membership requirement for the registration of religious groups and agreed to subsidize the wages of registered church clergy. Religious groups already registered by the communist regime were automatically registered under the new law of 1991. According to the Ministry of Culture, the motivation behind the proposed law is twofold: to expand and more clearly define the provisions for registration and to liberalize the registration process in order to accommodate smaller religious groups. There are currently 21 registered religious groups in the Czech Republic. Of these, the largest is the Roman Catholic Church, with roughly 4 million members, according to the 1991 census, followed by the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, each with around 200,000 members. A number of faiths and religious communities are active without official state recognition, including Islam, the Anglican Church, and several Buddhist schools. Only two of the currently registered religious groups received their registration under law 308/1991: the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Lutheran Evangelical Church in 1995. (Keston News Service, 2 August)
ANGLICAN CHURCH FORCED TO SIDESTEP RESTRICTIVE RELIGION LAW. Unable to obtain registration on its own due to its limited membership, the Anglican Church has registered as a parish of the Old Catholic Church. Although this arrangement grants certain tax advantages, according to the Anglican Diocese of Europe, it also builds on close ties with their oldest ecumenical partner. (Keston News Service, 3 August)
CROATIAHOW TO CATCH UP IN THE IT-REVOLUTION? Croatia has a long road ahead if it intends to catch up in information technology (IT)--President Stipe Mesic's advisor for IT questions and director of Microsoft Croatia, Goran Radman, told Bayerischer Rundfunk on 17 July that an IT infrastructure has to be built and jobs have to be created. Online networks of Croatians in the U.S. and Europe could be built, linking Zagreb with the rest of the IT world. The U.S. governmental Oversees Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and financier George Soros announced on 26 July they will establish a $150 million fund to spur private business in Croatia and southeastern Europe. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 August)
GEORGIAJEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ATTACKED IN GEORGIAN CAPITAL. Two Armenian Jehovah's Witnesses were attacked in Tbilisi on 2 August by a group of 12-15 members of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who kicked and beat them, stole their personal documents, and destroyed religious literature they were carrying. It was the second such incident within a week. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
FREE MONTHLY NGO NEWS ON CULTURE. The International Association "News & Informational Service" (NIS) publishes a monthly magazine, "Spectator's Guide," which provides brief listings of forthcoming cultural events in Tbilisi. As of June, NIS Association allocated a page in the magazine for NGOs in the field of culture. The service will be rendered for free. (Right to Speech, 17 July)
HUNGARYHUNGARIAN ROMA MARK HOLOCAUST. Romany Holocaust victims were remembered on 2 August in ceremonies held throughout Hungary. State officials were present at several of those ceremonies. The daily "Magyar Hirlap" on 3 August cited Representative Christopher Smith, chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, as saying political leaders and local authorities in countries ranging from Greece to Hungary "keep silent in a shameful way" about the plight of the Roma and "make the Romany minority feel they are not welcome." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
ROMA REPRESENTATIVE DENIES PERSECUTION. Aladar Katai, the head of the Romany local authority in the town of Ozd, told officials on 7 August at the French Embassy in Budapest that the Romany community is not politically persecuted in Hungary, but its members are leaving the country for socio-economic reasons. He acknowledged, however, that current government programs to integrate Roma into the rest of the society are too slow and not leading to the desired results. Meanwhile, statements made by Social and Family Affairs Minister Peter Harrach on Romany migrants seeking refugee status in France have outraged several Romany organizations. Harrach said on 5 August that "some were going abroad to discredit Hungary, not only demanding compensation but making groundless allegations against the state and government." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ISSUES AND EVENTSSALZBURG SEMINAR ON MEDIA AND GLOBALIZATION. The Salzburg Seminar will hold a week-long seminar for journalists and other media professionals on "Mass Media in the Age of Globalization" from 11-18 October. Contact Ingrid Wolf-Hattinger at ihattinger@SalzburgSeminar.org (firstname.lastname@example.org on 3 August)
KAZAKHSTANPROSECUTOR GENERAL ADVOCATES CODE OF JOURNALISTIC ETHICS... Speaking at a press conference in Astana on 5 August, Yuri Khitrin said that a journalistic code of honor and ethics is urgently needed, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 7 August. Khitrin said Kazakhstan's media "have become a battlefield" for settling scores, and claimed that of 148 critical articles checked for accuracy, 44 contained unfounded charges. Khitrin admitted that his office has registered instances in which journalists' or media outlets' rights had been violated, and that some government press centers refused on occasion to release information to the media. He said that his office will not enforce any censorship of the media in Kazakhstan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
...WHILE JOURNALISTS CITE GOVERNMENT VIOLATIONS OF LAWS. Under the pretext of defending private property, the Kazakhstan authorities "are in frequent violation of Kazakhstan's laws" when they hinder TV crews from filming scenes in certain places, according to a 7 August statement by the International Fund to Defend Free Speech ("Adil Soz") and "Internews." The protest, which also claims that officials have also resorted to violence, cites incidents in Semipalatinsk, Chimkent, and Almati. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 8 August)
WORKERS' MOVEMENT TO CREATE NEW COMMUNIST PARTY. The Workers' Movement leadership announced on 2 August its intention to form a new Communist Party, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. They accused Communist Party of Kazakhstan chairman Serikbolsyn Abdildin of being "a puppet of the Kazakh government." They also complained that they were constrained to hold their planned June conference in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk after the Kazakh authorities refused to allow them to do so in Kazakhstan. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
UIGHUR ORGANIZATION WARNS AGAINST RESETTLEMENT OF KAZAKHS FROM XINJIANG. Yusufbek Mukhlisi, who heads the Almaty-based East Turkestan Liberation Front, told RFE/RL's Almaty bureau on 2 August that his organization opposes the mass repatriation to Kazakhstan of the estimated two million Kazakh minority in China's neighboring Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Visiting Kazakhstan last week, Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao reached agreement with the Kazakh leadership that those Kazakhs may emigrate to Kazakhstan. But Mukhlisi argued that their departure would contribute to the "Hanization" of the region which the Uighurs consider their homeland, as the Chinese authorities would bring in more Han to replace the departing Kazakhs. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
KYRGYZSTANKULOV IS ACQUITTED. A Bishkek judge announced on 7 August that opposition leader Feliks Kulov has been acquitted. Nevertheless, his three co-defendants were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment: Janybek Bakhchiev, former head of the Security Ministry Kalkan anti-terrorism center, received seven years, while Nurlan Tokonoev and Kanat Sheishekeev, two former Security Ministry employees, each received five-year suspended sentences. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 7 August)
MOSCOW PAPER TO BE ISSUED IN KYRGYZSTAN. The chief manager of the Moscow-based daily "Moskovsky Komsomolets," Nikolai Bodrovsky, held a news conference in Bishkek on 3 August to announce that the paper will be issued in Kyrgyzstan three times weekly starting on 4 August. The daily is currently issued in 62 cities of the CIS. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 3 August)
OFFICIAL EFFORT TO CLOSE OSH PRIVATE TV-STATION FOILED. Over 20 journalists from Osh stood in front of Osh TV's office on 3 August to protest efforts by the National Agency on Communications (NAC) to end the station's broadcasting on the fifth VHF channel; after two hours of heated debates between NAC officials, journalists, and Osh TV administration, the officials left. Khaliljan Khudaiberdiev, Osh TV owner, announced he would file a complaint against the NAC decree and its unauthorized actions since it lacks official sanction to seal the transmitter. Under Kyrgyz law, only a court verdict or the media outlet's founding body can close down a station. Local journalists believe this incident may be related to the 29 October presidential elections. In their opinion, authorities seem to be making efforts to seize control over all popular media outlets before and during these elections. (Fergana Valley, 3 August)
BISHKEK PAPER SLAPPED WITH HUGE FINE. In Bishkek, the popular Russian-language weekly "Delo N" has been fined almost a million and half soms. For the past year, this Bishkek weekly has been seen as the most critical and independent print media in Russian, since it has provided a lot of coverage of human rights violations and illegal trials. The pretext is that the paper had not paid taxes for the past three years. (email@example.com on 6 August)
TRIAL AGAINST OPPOSITION PAPER POSTPONED. The trial of the "Asaba" weekly was scheduled for 2 August, but Judge Jumaguel Albanova announced that the first court session will be held on 21 August. Parliament deputy Turdakun UsubAliyev accuses the paper of insulting him regularly for the last eight years and demands 50 million soms (about $1.06 million) in compensation. Asaba says that Kyrgyz authorities want to silence the paper ahead of the presidential elections, set for 29 October. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 2 August)
KCHR NOW OPERATES FROM VIENNA. Ramazan Dyryldaev, the chairman of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR), told RFE/RL by phone on 4 August that he is running the committee from Vienna. The other KCHR staff member, Gulhan Borubaeva, is also in Vienna now. She was trapped in the Bishkek KCHR office for four days in July when police sealed it. Dyryldaev and Borubaeva are now at the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights headquarters in Vienna. According to Dyryldaev, the KCHR also continues to work in Bishkek, since his son Almaz Dyryldaev is in hiding there from the police. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 4 August)
NEW ROUNDTABLE WITH OPPOSITION. Arslan Anarbaev of the presidential administration told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek today that a new roundtable discussion between the authorities, opposition, and non-governmental organizations will be held late this month. The chairwoman of the NGO Coalition, Tolekan Ismailova, and the chairwoman of the Public Association for the Social Protection of People, Lidia Fomova, reportedly have already agreed to participate. However, the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights and the Kyrgyz Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law refused. Other parties and organizations are undecided. The first roundtable talks were was held in Bishkek on 8 -12 June, but the main opposition and non-governmental organizations boycotted it. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 4 August)
LATVIANEW HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ISSUED. The Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, has just published an overview of human rights in Latvia for the first six months of 2000. Issues include police misconduct, war crimes cases, the status of non-citizens, and the situation of children, refugees, and the mentally ill. (MINELRES, 5 August)
CHARGES OF ANTI-SEMITISM AGAINST MAGAZINE ARTICLE. The article "Jews Rule the World" in the Latvian magazine "Kapitals" has come under heavy criticism for having anti-Semitic sentiments. The article was condemned by a host of officials, including the office of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, LETA reported on 4 August. The editor of the magazine, Guntis Rozenbergs, apologized for the article one day earlier and submitted his resignation due to "moral responsibility," BNS added. The Jewish community also condemned the article and asked prosecutors to investigate if the article violated laws against inciting ethnic discord. The U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying that the article "by content and characterization" raised the specter of anti-Semitism. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
MOLDOVARADIO BROADCASTS CUT. Moldovan state radio has eliminated its night broadcasts as of 8 August due to a lack of funds, Romanian Radio reported the previous day. As of 14 August, the radio's second channel is also to be eliminated, while medium-wave broadcasts will be cut from 18 to 8 hours daily. The radio will continue its regular 18 hours of daily broadcasts only on FM. The radio's management says the measures are "temporary" and due to MoldRadio being some $1 million in debt to the state company that relays the broadcasts. MoldRadio's entire budget for 2000 is $2 million. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
ROMANIANATMINET LISTSERVE. This is an information source on minority rights in Romania, the Romanian diaspora in neighboring countries, nationalism in general and multi- and intercultural education. The listserve includes calls for papers, conference announcements, grant opportunities, and job vacancies. (MINELRES, 4 August)
RUSSIAJAPANESE, RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS DETAINED. A male Japanese journalist and a female correspondent for the Russian agency Severny Kavkaz-Glasnost were detained by the Russian military en route to Grozny on 4 August for travelling without the required accreditation, Russian agencies reported. A spokesman for Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky said the two would be sent back to Mozdok in North Ossetia. The same day, however, the Japanese Embassy in Russia did not confirm reports that a Japanese journalist had been detained in Chechnya, giving rise to speculation that he may have returned to Japan. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 7 August)
ANOTHER ANTI-SEMITIC BROADCAST ON PETERSBURG CITY-OWNED TELEVISION. "The Jews own Russia" was the answer to the question "Who Rules Russia?" provided at 11:20 pm on 2 August 2000 by a report for the show "Between the Lines." The broadcast was reported to the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) by Leonid Lvov, director of the Harold Light Center for Human Rights in Saint Petersburg. "It is outrageous that a television station owned by the government of Russia's second city would broadcast such hateful, dangerous propaganda against Jews," said Lvov. "There is a definite pattern at work here--the stronger the security services get, the greater the danger not just for the Jewish community, but for all minority groups." This report was based on an article of the same title from the next day's issue of the virulently anti-Semitic local newspaper "Novy Peterburg," which is published by convicted murderer Yuri Shutov, who allegedly has links to the Petersburg administration. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jews Press Release, 3 August)
PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY LINKED WITH NIKITIN CASE DELAY. Following the decision of the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Court to postpone consideration of an appeal against the acquittal of retired Navy captain and environmental activist Aleksandr Nikitin, the Bellona Foundation issued a press release alleging that the office of the presidential envoy to the Northwest district, Viktor Cherkesov, leaked information before the Presidium announced its decision. The group also alleged that Cherkesov has followed Nikitin's case closely and was "quite upset" at the time of his acquittal. Cherkesov is a former first deputy director of the Federal Security Service. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
...AS ANOTHER TELEVISION EXECUTIVE GETS OUT OF JAIL... After spending almost two years in jail, the head of the company Russian Video, Dmitrii Rozhdestvenskii, was freed on 3 August, while he awaits trial scheduled for 28 August on charges of misappropriating state funds and tax evasion. Russian Video was at the center of criminal charges--recently dropped--against Media-MOST head Gusinskii. According to "Segodnya" on 4 August, 12 State Duma deputies, including Unity faction leader Boris Gryzhlov and Duma deputy speaker (Union of Rightist Forces) Irina Khakamada, had appealed last month to a local court to release Rozhdestvenskii. Before she was killed at the end of 1998, State Duma deputy and party leader Galina Starovoitova had also repeatedly applied for the release of Rozhdestvenskii before trial "under her guaranty" because she believed the case against him was "political," Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August)
GOVERNMENT TV: ALL CHANNELS, ALL THE TIME? Businessman Boris Berezovsky is negotiating the sale of his 49 percent stake in Russian Public Television (ORT), Interfax reported on 2 August, citing interviews with "Kommersant-Daily" and "Vedomosti." Berezovsky said no progress in his talks with the government has yet been achieved; but he predicted that the results of those negotiations will become clearer by the fall, "The Moscow Times" reported the same day. According to "Vedomosti," an unidentified Kremlin manager said "the Kremlin intends to get control of ORT and guide the change of ownership of NTV." Anatolii Lysenko, a veteran of the Russian television industry, told the daily that he thinks "this is the logical end of Berezovsky's affairs in ORT." "Currently," he continued, "there are no political or economic grounds in Russia for the maintenance of such a non-state TV network. A nationwide network cannot exist on advertising revenue as of yet." It had been reported earlier that Vladimir Gusinskii's NTV might be bought by Gazprom. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August)
...AND MEDIA-MOST ALLEGES MORE KREMLIN INTERFERENCE. A Media-MOST spokesman confirmed that his company is holding talks with Gazprom about exchanging shares in the company for a loan, but he denied that control over the company will change hands. The spokesman also declared that a statement by the deputy chief of the presidential administration Vladimir Surikov--who told "The New York Times" that Media-MOST would be sold to Gazprom--is a "lie," and charged that Surikov's remarks were intended to influence negotiations with Gazprom and disrupt Media-MOST's work. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August)
RUSSIAN WRITER REPORTEDLY REFUSES OFFER TO HEAD MEDIA-MOST. Aleksandr Kazakov, according to APN's source in presidential circles, recently turned down an offer to head the Media-MOST board of directors. Kazakov is currently chairman of the "Gazprom-media" board of directors and, until recently, was the chairman of the State Property Committee and the first deputy director of the Russian presidential administration. The informed source speculated that Gazprom-media, a partial owner of Media-MOST, and Media-MOST are further linked--it is the Kremlin which will name the new Media-MOST top man. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 7 August)
A BEREZOVSKY NEWSPAPER ALLEGES NEW MEDIA OFFENSIVE. "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which is controlled by business mogul Boris Berezovsky, reported on 4 August that according to its unidentified sources, a plan exists to redirect the activities of the Russian Information Center from providing information about Moscow's "counterterrorism" campaign in Chechnya to providing public relations support for the seven presidential envoys to the federal districts. In addition, there will reportedly be seven new district newspapers and seven new district TV channels. "Novie Izvestiya" reported last month on a Security Council plan to "restore order in the informational sphere." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
BEREZOVSKY CONDUCTS MORE MEETINGS WITH GOVERNORS... In an interview with Russian Public Television (ORT) on 3 August, Boris Berezovsky revealed that he has met recently with Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel and Orel Governor Yegor Stroev. According to Berezovsky, he discussed the formation of a "constructive opposition" to the Kremlin. Last month, Berezovsky also held meetings with Rossel and other regional leaders as part of his attempt to form a new political party. During the interview, Berezovsky also suggested that he "will probably change [his] mind" regarding the sale of his stake in ORT to the government because the possible takeover of NTV by Gazprom would mean that the state "would control all three [television] channels." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August)
...WHILE GUSINSKY RENOVATES BUTYRKA. After spending three days there last June, Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky is donating money to the infamous Butyrka prison for the purchase of medicine and medical equipment, office supplies, food, bedding, kitchenware, and construction materials, Interfax reported on 4 August. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 August, the publisher is also providing 500 copies daily of "Segodnya."("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP TO CHALLENGE ABOLITION OF WATCHDOG AGENCY. In an interview with "Segodnya" on 3 August, Vera Mishchenko, head of the Ekoyuris Institute in Moscow, said that she plans to file a suit in the Supreme Court against the Russian government for its decision to eliminate the State Ecology Committee by merging its functions with the Natural Resources Ministry. Environmentalists have objected to the merger because the ministry licenses the commercial exploitation of natural resources. Mishchenko charged that "no civilized country in the world has such a combination [of functions]." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August)
SERBIAFILIPOVIC TRANSFERRED TO HOSPITAL. A Serbian reporter sentenced to seven years in prison for revealing state secrets after he wrote about atrocities committed in Kosovo was transferred on 8 August because of heart problems, AP reported. Filipovic's wife, Slavica, has complained that her husband lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) since he was arrested in May. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
PROTEST AT JOURNALIST'S SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR LIBEL. The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) protested the suspended sentence of Cedomir Jovanovic, the head of the Democratic Party election headquarters, to five months imprisonment and three years probation. Jovanovic was sentenced on 2 August after being convicted for libel against Radmila Visic, the deputy Serbian information minister and a senior official of the Yugoslav United Left, in the bulletin "Promene," published during Alliance for Change protests in Belgrade. (ANEM Press Release, 3 August)
KOSOVA MEDIA TO SEEK NEW HOME. The OSCE said in a statement in Prishtina on 1 August that the UN Fire Marshall's Office wants to close the tower block that houses the offices of many newspapers and radio stations. The statement called the Media House a "major safety hazard that could lead to loss of life or injury due to fire or electrocution," Reuters reported. It added that "the OSCE will do its utmost to help the media tenants of the tower block find alternative accommodation in Prishtina." Like many structures in Kosova and Serbia, the building has become unsafe because of years of neglect. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 2000
KOSOVAR POLITICIAN FOUND BURNED TO DEATH. In the third apparent attack upon a moderate Kosovar political leader in one week, the charred remains of Shaban Manaj have been found in a deserted part of the village of Ozrim, AP reported from Prishtina on 6 August. UN police are investigating the probably cause and time of death of Manaj, who had been missing for two weeks. The police are treating the case as a murder, but have not suggested what the motive may have been. He was a lawyer and politician belonging to Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
SLOVAKIASLOVAK NATIONALIST DEPUTY WANTS ROMA IN 'RESERVATIONS.' Vitazoslav Moric, a deputy representing the Slovak National Party, said on 4 August that "unadaptable Roma" must be placed in "reservations" to reduce the crime rate, CTK reported. Moric said the state must stop providing social benefits to "people who harm it," deeming the payment of such benefits to Roma "inhumane to the rest of the population." He said placing Roma in reservations would be "completely normal" as "in America there are also reservations for the Indians." He said that if Slovakia does not place "unadaptable Roma" into reservations now, "they will place us there 20 years from now." Moric also said it has been "statistically proven" that most "retarded people" come from among the Roma and asked "What is humane about morons being allowed to give birth to more morons and raise the percentage of morons and crazies in the nation?" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August)
SLOVAK NATIONALIST LEADER SEES NO NEED TO APOLGOZE TO ROMA ACTIVISTS. Anna Malikova, chairwoman of the Slovak National Party (SNS) said on 7 August that she does not believe she must apologize over the statement made by SNS deputy Vitazoslav Moric, who called for "unadaptable Gypsies" to be placed in "reservations." Malikova said that the failure to solve the "genuine Roma problem" suits those Roma activists who "should come up with some proposals instead of strong words that solve nothing." She added that "the SNS is interested in a thorough solution of the problem of the Romany ethnic group, because it is not the Gypsies, but the rest of Slovakia's population that is discriminated against," she said. The Slovak Romany Initiative organization on 7 August launched a criminal suit against Moric, charging him with spreading racial hatred, defamation of a race and propaganda for a movement suppressing civil liberties. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
TAJIKISTANTAJIK SECURITY OFFICIAL SEES THREATS RECEDING. A large-scale opposition movement with significant popular support no longer exists in Tajikistan, Interfax on 3 August quoted Security Council Secretary Amirkul Azimov as saying. Azimov said some legally registered opposition political parties have only minimal influence. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August)
TURKMENISTANMULLAH'S KORAN TRANSLATION BURNT, MOSQUES DEMOLISHED. By order of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, all known copies of a Turkmen translation of the Koran have been burned. The 72 year-old mullah who made the translation has had his home bulldozed and has been sent into exile. ("Keston News Summary," 21 July)
MEDDLING IN ISLAMIC AFFAIRS BY GOVERNMENT. The mullah's situation is not unique. In light of Niyazov's recent statements, it is thought that numerous foreign Muslim teachers have been deported and observers are preparing for further crackdowns on Muslim education and unregistered mosques. ("Keston News Summary," 3 August)
UKRAINENEWS ON CULTURAL CHANGE SOUGHT. The Institute of Social and Cultural Management has set up a network of cultural institutes and NGO centers in regions of Ukraine. The institute was organized by the Center for Creative Initiatives, the League of NGO Resource Centers, and supported by the Ministry of Culture to provide education on NGO management, establish a joint information system, and open NGO centers in regional cultural institutions. The institute is seeking international partners with experience in cultural change, culture management, and funding. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org (CivilSoc mailing list, 26 July)
RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE WEEKLY NOW HAS UKRAINIAN EDITION. July saw the launch of the Ukrainian-language edition of one of Ukraine's most popular weeklies, "Zerkalo Nedeli," which has appeared in Russian since it was founded in 1995. This is the first time that a major Russian-language paper in Ukraine decided to begin publishing in Ukrainian, according to Ivan Drach, chairman of the state Committee for Information Policy, Television, and Radio. ("Kyiv Post," 13 July)
CRIMEAN SPEAKER SLAMS ACCORD BETWEEN PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVE, TATARS. Leonid Hrach has called the 2 August agreement between the Ukrainian president's permanent representative in Crimea, Anatoly Korniychuk, and the Council of Representatives of the Crimean Tatar People an "overt insult to the Crimean Constitution," Interfax reported on 7 August. Korniychuk and Crimean Tatar activist Mustafa Dzhimilev signed a "plan of joint measures oriented towards the resolution of problems of the Crimean Tatar people in the socio-economic sphere," according the agency. "Who delegated those functions to them, who will carry out [that accord], where is, under such circumstances, the place of the official authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea?" Hrach asked indignantly as a session of the Crimean Supreme Council. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August)
UZBEKISTANPOPULAR WEEKLY DISAPPEARS FROM KIOSKS. One of the most popular weekly papers, "Darakchi," vanished from kiosks in Tashkent on 8 August. No one on the weekly's staff could offer an explanation, according to the Centralasian news of Ferghana.Ru reporting on the same day. "Darakchi" appeared during the first days of Uzbekistan's independence and "took the risk" of being critical of the authorities.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, FESTIVALSCONFERENCE ON LESSER-USED LANGUAGES AND THE LAW. The conference "Lesser Used Languages and the Law in Europe," organized by the Academy of European Law--Trier and UNESCO and with the support of the European Union will be held on 7-8 September 2000 in Trier, Germany. It is estimated that in the EU alone there are at least 40 million citizens whose language is not that of their state's official language. With EU enlargement, this number will increase dramatically. The aim of this conference is to review the main international legal instruments, to look at some case studies of language legislation in operation and to consider what new measures may be needed. (MINELRES, 3 August)
HELSINKI CITIZENS ASSEMBLY TO BE HELD IN BAKU. The Helsinki Citizens Assembly will hold its Fifth General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 27 September-1 October 2000 and Summer School for inter-Cultural Dialogue and Understanding (SIDU) in Baku from 27 September-8 October 2000. The assembly and SIDU will be attended by 550-600 people, including civic activists and journalists from the Caucasus and beyond. Deadline for applications is 25 August. Contact email@example.com (NGONEWS digest, 30 July)
ENGINEERING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION. EIF wants to improve engineering education and practice through information technology and the recruitment of women. EIF grant activity supports relevant developmental projects, instructional projects, training programs, engineering education and research through support for improved availability of published information, Internet connectivity, and access in developing countries. Deadlines for project submissions: 28 February, 30 June, and 30 September. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or at: http://www.eifgrants.org (Center for Civil Society International, 2 August)
RECENT PUBLICATIONS, NEW WEBSITESAMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2000. This report documents human rights issues of concern to AI worldwide during 1999 as well as AI activities. There are short summaries on each region with an update for the period January-May 2000 in REGIONAL SUMMARIES. Entries on individual countries and territories, listed by region under REGIONAL INDEX, present a summary of the human rights situation in the country or territory, AI's work with intergovernmental organizations, and information on key international and regional human rights treaties. For more information refer to Amnesty's site: http://www.amnesty.org (Amnesty International, 6 August)
CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN ELECTION DATA WEBSITE. A new, user-friendly website with hard-to-find data on election laws and election results (dating back to 1990) in more than 20 Central and East European countries is now available. The website: http://www.essex.ac.uk/elections is a cooperative effort of the University of Essex: http://www.essex.ac.ukthe International Foundation for Election Systems: http://www.ifes.org and the Association of Central and Eastern European Election Officials: http://www.aceeeo.com(email@example.com on 3 August)
END NOTEANALYSIS FROM WASHINGTON: COMBATTING ANTI-SEMITISM
By Paul Goble
Russian President Vladimir Putin's pledge to fight anti- Semitism and improve economic conditions have contributed to "a noticeable decrease" in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Russia over the last year, according to a report issued this week by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
But, this U.S.-based watchdog organization warns, the difficulties Putin faces in rooting out entrenched anti- Semitic groups in the regions, his own reliance on the security services and the possibility that the Russian economic growth may slow could trigger a new upsurge in anti-Semitism.
The danger of a new wave of anti-Semitism could grow, the UCSJ said, if post-Soviet threats like the alliance between neo-Nazi and Cossack paramilitary groups combine with Soviet-type challenges like increased dominance by the security organs and the suppression of freedom of the press.
According to this group, which has been monitoring anti- Semitism in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states for more than a generation and which currently is conducting research on anti-Semitic incidents in all of Russia's regions, this link-up has already taken place in some places and appears to be gaining ground in others, including in Moscow itself.
Perhaps the worst example is Krasnodar Governor Nikolai Kondratenko, who, the report notes, has publicly accused Jews of conspiring to destroy Russia and even of "inventing" homosexuality to promote that end. In May, he said that Zionists were working together with the United States to "zombify" the Russian population and to incite ethnic conflicts on Russian territory.
But if this threat exists, the UCSJ argues, so too are some reasons for optimism. First of all, Putin's own commitment to oppose anti-Semitism and his efforts to rebuild the law enforcement agencies have significantly reduced the number of anti-Semitic incidents registered in the last years of Boris Yeltsin's presidency. Putin has even ordered the arrest of some extremists, something the report said would have been "unthinkable" under Yeltsin.
Moreover, Putin's own political agenda of recentralizing power and authority in Moscow appears to be directed against the leaders of the country's regions, some of which are headed by openly extremist and anti-Semitic governors. Thus Putin has his own political reasons for moving against such groups.
And finally, the dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Russia in 1998-99 compared to the early and mid-1990s has attracted growing attention from governments and human rights organizations in the West, some of whom had viewed the collapse of communism by itself as the solution to the historical problem of anti-Semitism in Russia and her neighbors.
One example of this was the attention these governments and groups gave to the recent arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky, an oligarch who happens to be Jewish. If some were willing to accept Moscow's argument that his arrest arose from his business activities, many speculated that he had been singled out because of his religious background.
The impact on Russia of this renewed Western concern is uncertain. On the one hand, Putin and his government are unlikely to want to offend countries from which Moscow still hopes to extract assistance and cooperation. But on the other hand, Western statements on this issue could trigger the very thing they are designed to oppose: an upsurge of nationalistic rhetoric and action which could further threaten Jews in the Russian Federation.
Indeed, the mixed Russian reaction to U.S. Vice President Al Gore's selection of Senator Joseph Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate highlights some of the problems ahead, with many Moscow papers focusing on Lieberman's Jewish background and one, the "Vedomosti" business daily, going so far as to suggest on 8 August that "if Gore wins the election, Russia will have a very uncomfortable opponent."
For all these reasons, the UCSJ says, the West will have to keep channels of communication open with Moscow to ensure that its voice is heard on the importance of combatting anti-Semitism but do so in a way that does not further inflame the situation.
That challenge, the report concludes, makes the next 12 months "a crucial time" for determining the future of Russian Jewry--and indeed, of Russian democracy as a whole.