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(Un)Civil Societies Report: August 31, 2000

31 August 2000, Volume 1, Number 16
COUNSELING FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN. Officials from the Network for Democracy Program told the "Albanian Daily News" of 19 August that they plan to set up centers offering support to girls and women in Shkodra, Pogradec, Korca, and Puka. The offices will provide counseling to traumatized women and also launch an awareness campaign to combat family violence, trafficking in prostitutes, and other social issues. They will also provide legal assistance to women and advocate better employment opportunities for them. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 August)

BROADCASTERS' LICENSING PROCESS COMES TO AN END. Sefedin Cela, who is chairman of the National Council for Radio and Television (KKRT), told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 23 August that the licensing process for private stations will conclude on 1 September. Cela said that 24 television stations have applied for licenses. He acknowledged, however, that the KKRT excluded 15 from the tender for failing to fulfill basic legal preconditions. The council also turned down the applications of 11 radio stations that did not meet the conditions. All excluded companies will have the opportunity to appeal the KKRT's decision, however, the "Albanian Daily News" reported. Parliament passed a law on public and private broadcasting in November 1998. That measure defined the legal framework for the creation of the KKRT and set the rules and procedures for media companies to receive licenses. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 August)

BRIEF REFUGE FOR YEREVAN'S STREET KIDS. More than 50 percent of the youngsters who leave the Zatik Children's Home in Yerevan turn to a life of crime, admits its founder, while another 15 percent commit suicide. Ashot Mnatsakanyan adds that only two or three inmates in 100 actually become reintegrated into society--reflecting continuing indifference to the plight of Armenia's homeless children. Founded in 1994, Zatik currently houses around 130 youngsters aged between three and 18. They come from Armenia, Russia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno Karabakh, the victims of civil war, economic depression, and family tragedy. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting's Caucasus Reporting Service, 25 August)

OPPOSITION JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN HIJACK CASE. Police searched the Baku apartment of Rauf Arifoglu, the editor of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," on 22 August and claimed to have found a pistol, Turan reported. Arifoglu, who told his colleagues the police had planted the weapon themselves, was arrested, apparently on suspicion of involvement in the failed 18 August attempt by Musavat party member Mehti Huseynli to hijack an Azerbaijani Airlines plane. Huseynli had called Arifoglu on his mobile phone to dictate a list of demands to the Azerbaijan authorities. On 23 August, the heads of 14 media outlets issued a statement calling for Arifoglu's immediate unconditional release, Turan reported. They said they will call a three-day strike of all journalists if that demand is not met. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

PROTESTS OVER EDITOR'S ARREST. Meeting in Baku on 23 August, the heads of 15 Azerbaijani media outlets agreed to hold a three-day "strike" starting 24 August, Turan reported. During that period, they will issue a joint newspaper each day whose headlines will call for the release of Rauf Arifoglu, the arrested editor of the opposition Musavat party's newspaper "Yeni Musavat" and for an end to pressure on the independent press. Three small political parties issued a statement in Baku on 24 August condemning what they termed a campaign of repression against the opposition Musavat Party and the 22 August arrest of Rauf Arifoglu, editor of the party's newspaper "Yeni Musavat," Turan reported. Amnesty International, the OSCE's media representative, international journalists' organizations, and EU states' ambassadors in Baku have all registered their concern over Arifoglu's arrest. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 25, and 28 August)

GOVERNMENT CONTINUES ANTI-OPPOSITION CAMPAIGN. Shayin Abbasov, who heads the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front's Ordubad (in Nakhichevan) branch, told Turan on 24 August that claims by the Azerbaijani authorities that Mehti Huseynli had maintained regular contacts with Popular Front member Ilgar Sayidoglu were untrue. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani investigators on 25 August again searched the editorial offices of "Yeni Musavat," the organ of the opposition Musavat Party, and examined computers for evidence connected with the failed 18 August attempt by a Musavat party member to hijack an Azerbaijani Airlines plane, Turan reported. And later that day, the Prosecutor-General's Office issued a statement saying that Arifoglu's arrest was not connected with his journalistic activities. Investigators have also questioned up to 10 members of the Musavat party and promised to help them find employment if they agree to quit the party. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 28 August)

MUSAVAT PARTY FEARS IT MAY BE BARRED FROM PARLIAMENTARY POLL... The opposition Musavat Party issued a statement in Baku on 23 August condemning Arifoglu's arrest as government pressure intended to compromise the Musavat party and suppress the non-government media, Turan reported. It called for Arifoglu's immediate release, and also expressed concern that the authorities may use the abortive 18 August attempt by a Musavat Party member to hijack an Azerbaijani Airlines internal flight as grounds for annulling the party's official registration and barring it from taking part in the 5 November parliamentary elections. Musavat was barred from contesting the party list seats in the 1995 parliamentary poll on the grounds that many of the signatures collected in its support were allegedly forged. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

...AS DOES THE POPULAR FRONT. The Presidium of the Supreme Council of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front (AHCP) plans to picket the Central Electoral Commission on 1 September to protest that body's refusal to register the party for the 5 November parliamentary elections, Turan reported on 28 August. The Central Electoral Commission has said it will register the AHCP only if the party ends the infighting between its two rival factions. Also on 28 August, AHCP First Deputy Chairman Ali Kerimov told Nikolai Vulchanov of the OSCE'S Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that he believes the inner-party differences could be resolved provided that the rival wing abandons its "insubordination" to the party's ruling body. Kerimov proposed drafting a new list of AHCP parliamentary candidates based on that compiled last month by AHCP chairman Abulfaz Elchibey. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

POPULAR FRONT AND MUSAVAT TO FORM ALLIANCE? Opposition Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar said on 28 August that the intensification of official pressure on opposition parties is aimed at preventing their participation in the 5 November parliamentary poll. He said that Musavat still hopes to participate in that ballot and to form an alliance with the AHCP to contend the 25 mandates to be allocated under the proportional system. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

POLICE DISPERSE DEMONSTRATION BY MUTALIBOV SUPPORTERS. Police in Baku on 28 August forcibly dispersed 30-50 supporters of exiled former President Ayaz Mutalibov who tried to stage a picket outside the Russian embassy, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. The picketers want the Azerbaijani parliament to enact legislation formalizing Mutalibov's status as former president and to shelve legal proceedings against him. Mutalibov is accused of stealing arms and ammunition, instigating and participating in mass public disturbances, and complicity in the alleged coup attempts against President Heidar Aliyev in October 1994 and March 1995. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

PRESIDENT WANTS BROADCASTING TO REFLECT STATE IDEOLOGY. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 23 August introduced Viktar Chykin, newly appointed chief of the State Broadcasting Company, to journalists and briefed them on what he expects from state broadcasters, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Lukashenka emphasized the important role of state ideology in radio and television, saying that "ideology is not subject to privatization." "We will never allow oligarchs or other non-state people to enter the [broadcasting] sphere," he added. Lukashenka also promised to transform a local Minsk channel into a second national television channel. Commentators say Lukashenka is paying more attention to the electronic media in view of the upcoming legislative elections. "The main thing [Lukashenka] expects from television is to prevent any dissenting view from slipping in there.... Comrade Chykin will not allow any dissenting view to get through," writer and former television employee Uladzimir Khalip told RFE/RL. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

MINSK COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY IMPRISONED OPPOSITION DEPUTY. The Minsk City Court on 23 August rejected an appeal by Supreme Soviet Deputy Andrey Klimau and his two business associates to overrule the verdict whereby they were handed down prison sentences, Belapan reported. Klimau, arrested in February 1998, received a six-year sentence in March for embezzlement and forgery. Many Belarusian commentators regard that verdict as politically motivated. Before the controversial 1996 constitutional referendum, Klimau was one of the most vocal of Lukashenka's critics and signed a motion to impeach him. "I have realized that the authorities want Klimau's physical destruction. He was tortured and beaten in his cell, he was refused...medical care, he was sent to hospital only after the intervention of an international organization, and now [there is] this unjust verdict and the refusal to change it," Klimau's mother told RFE/RL. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

SUPREME COURT ANNULS PRISON TERMS FOR TWO OPPOSITIONISTS. Belarus's Supreme Court on 25 August granted a request by Social Democratic Party leader Mikalay Statkevich and Supreme Soviet deputy Valery Shchukin to annul their prison sentences and send their case to the Minsk City Court for retrial by a different panel of judges, Belapan reported. In June, the court handed down Statkevich a two-year suspended sentence and Shchukin a one-year suspended sentence for participation in unauthorized street protests last year. Both politicians are planning to take part in the 15 October legislative elections. Had their appeal been rejected, they would no longer have been eligible to run. The Supreme Court agreed with the defendants that the lower court's verdict was based on inadmissible evidence and that their misdemeanors are punishable under the Administrative Offenses Code rather than the Criminal Code. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

U.S. AMBASSADOR TO OSCE ARGUES AGAINST SENDING OBSERVERS TO POLLS. David T. Johnson said in a statement last week that sending international observers to Belarus's 15 October elections "at the urging of a regime that seeks such observation as a badge of legitimacy would be a mistake." Johnson noted that the Belarusian government has made no real progress toward complying with the OSCE's four conditions to democratize the electoral process. And he called Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's recent pledges to undertake some democratizing measures "overdue, inadequate, and hollow in the absence of meaningful implementation." According to Johnson, the elections are taking place at a time of increased political repression and harassment of journalists, while Lukashenka's announcement of a "period of peace" comes late and cannot be put to the test by the opposition or international community. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

CURTAINS FOR 'BOSNIAN' LANGUAGE? The Bosnian Constitutional Court will challenge the legality of certain nationalist stipulations in the respective entity constitutions, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 24 August. The court objects to provisions in the federation constitution establishing "Bosnian" and "Croatian" as official languages, together with the Latin alphabet. In the Republika Srpska, the court does not like the provisions providing for close cooperation between the state and the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as for official status for the "Serbian" language and the Cyrillic alphabet. Serbo-Croatian is actually one language with dialect differences based on geography, not ethnicity. It has, however, become an axiom of nationalist political correctness over the past decade to claim a "national language" for each ethnic group. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 August)

DOLE OPENS MISSING PERSONS' INSTITUTE. Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, who heads the International Commission for Missing Persons, inaugurated an institute in Sarajevo on 28 August to help trace the fate of those missing since the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. He stressed that "no project is as essential to reconciliation and peace as this one, which can bring [comfort] to thousands of families...," Reuters reported. During the 1990s, Dole was an outspoken supporter of Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosova. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 August)

FIRST NEW MOSQUE. Some 10,000 Bosnian Muslims attended a ceremony near Prijedor on 26 August to consecrate a new mosque. It is the first Islamic religious building to be constructed in the Republika Srpska since the 1992-1995 conflict. Local officials said, however, that the reconstruction was "illegal" because the Islamic community did not obtain the proper legal documents, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Muslim religious leaders claim that some 170 Islamic religious buildings were destroyed during the conflict, including two historical mosques in Banja Luka that were registered with UNESCO as cultural properties of international importance. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

WAR CRIMES WITNESS KILLED IN EXPLOSION. An explosion killed Milan Levar in front of his Gospic home on 28 August. A bomb squad from Zagreb is investigating, "Vecernji list" reported. Police have a "very precise tip," Reuters noted. Levar testified in 1997 in The Hague against ex-soldiers regarding Croatian war crimes against Serbian civilians in 1991. His testimony and that of a colleague marked the first instance of Croats testifying against Croats in conjunction with atrocities committed in 1991. Levar, who helped organize the 1991 defense of Gospic against Serbian rebels, recently said that he and his family have been frequently harassed by right-wingers and extremist war veterans. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS 'OPERATION LEAD' RECALLS STB TACTICS. Vaclav Havel said in Plzen on 23 August that the "Operation Lead" campaign, designed to discredit Chamber of Deputies deputy chairwoman Petra Buzkova, is reminiscent of methods used by the secret police during the Communist era, CTK reported. Havel said he is not interested in what effect the affair will have on the Social Democrats but rather "that it is only the top of a certain iceberg, of things that are happening in the country." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

GOVERNMENT OFFICE SAYS NEWSPAPER INVENTED 'OPERATION LEAD'... The Czech Government Office has filed charges against two reporters for the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" accusing them of having invented the "Operation Lead" document in an effort to discredit the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD), CTK reported on 28 August. The daily denies the allegations, according to which the reporters planted the document on a government computer. "Operation Lead" was an alleged smear campaign against CSSD member and deputy chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies Petra Buzkova. Many members of the CSSD said at a meeting on 26 August that they disagree with Premier Milos Zeman's explanation that an "institution" created "Operation Lead." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

DAILY ON IMPLICATIONS OF PREMIER'S CHARGES. "Mlada fronta Dnes" (MfD) questioned in its 29 August issue whether it is proper for the daily to continue covering developments in the "Operation Lead" case in light of the lawsuit filed by Czech Premier Milos Zeman against two MfD reporters on charges of fabricating the entire affair, CTK reported. In an editorial, Petr Sabata wrote that there is a danger that in the future any politician will be able to accuse a newspaper of trying to discredit him/her if something unpleasant is written. Sabata asked if readers can now trust MfD's reporting on the scandal given that it has been made, "through no fault of its own," a part of the case. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR CRITICIZES MINORITY POLICIES. Russian Ambassador to Estonia Aleksei Glukhov has criticized Estonia's policies toward its Russian-speaking minorities and called on the EU to put pressure on that country, "Postimees" reported on 25 August. Glukhov accused what he called the "nationalistic" government of trying to break all links with Russia and Russians, "despite our common history." This, he said, has made life for ethnic Russians "unbearable." But the leader of the Russian Baltic Party in Estonia, parliamentary deputy Sergei Ivanov, criticized Glukhov's statements for being confrontational and undiplomatic. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

OSCE COMMISSIONER PRAISES INTEGRATION... During his visit to Tallinn on 23 August, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel commended Estonia for its progress toward integrating its minorities, ETA reported. Van der Stoel said that Estonia has made "remarkable progress" since his first visit in 1993, and he praised the government for bringing the country's language law into full compliance with international standards. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

...BUT 'REPATRIATION' STUDY PROVOKES CONTROVERSY. A draft proposal by an Interior Ministry official promoting the repatriation of Russian citizens to Russia has sparked controversy in Estonia, BNS reported on 23 August. The document, drafted by the head of the ministry's department dealing with aliens, Jaak Valge, proposed that those aliens who are not integrated into Estonian society could be repatriated using state funding. Population Minister Katrin Saks denounced the proposal as "not a serious document." And Prime Minister Mart Laar similarly noted that the proposal has "nothing in common with the government's policies," "Postimees" added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

WEAK POINTS IN CONSTITUTION HIGHLIGHTED. Speaking on 24 August at a conference in Tbilisi pegged to the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Georgian Constitution, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Spencer Yalowitz suggested that the basic document could be amended to provide stronger guarantees of freedom of religion, Caucasus Press reported. Yalowitz called for greater democratization of local government, specifically the election of local district officials, who are currently appointed by Tbilisi. He also reportedly advocated the "immediate" clarification of Georgia's territorial structure. Meanwhile, Georgian Popular Front chairman Nodar Natadze was more negative, saying the constitution "was written to ensure the functioning of a police state," according to Interfax. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

JOURNALISTS UNION TO BE EVICTED FROM OFFICE? The Tbilisi city authorities are attempting to evict the Georgian Union of Journalists from the offices it rents in the city, Caucasus Press reported on 25 August, quoting the union's chairman, Tamaz Bibiluri. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

EXPLOSION DAMAGES MONASTERY. A bomb blast during the night of 26-27 August damaged an iron cross erected by a religious sect near Mtskheta and blew out windows in a nearby monastery, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Transmitters belonging to the Georgian Ministry of Communications were also damaged. Members of the sect told police that shortly before the blast, unknown men forced them into a bus and drove them to a neighboring village. The Georgian Orthodox Church views the sect with mistrust, and a criminal investigation into its activities is under way. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

FRANCE TO REJECT ROMA'S ASYLUM BID? French authorities are likely to reject the applications of the 46 Roma from the Hungarian town of Zamoly who are seeking political asylum in Strasbourg, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 23 August. A French government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "although there is anti-Roma feeling in Hungary, it is not to such an extent or so institutionalized as to justify granting political asylum." Jozsef Krasznai, leader of the Zamoly group, said he will organize a briefing in Strasbourg to inform the press about the anti-Romany measures taken by the Hungarian government. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

ANOTHER ROMA LEADER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST EMIGRATION. "The National Gypsy Authority does not support the emigration of Roma but believes that the problems brought to light by the present situation [of the Zamoly group seeking political asylum in France] must be solved," Florian Farkas, the chairman of the National Gypsy Authority, said on 25 August. The authority intends to establish an information center to demonstrate to the West the reasons behind some Romany families' decision to emigrate, Farkas announced. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST CALLS FOR TALKS WITH ISLAMIC MILITANTS. Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights Chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev issued a statement from his temporary headquarters in Vienna on 22 August arguing that not only military but also political methods should be used to end the ongoing fighting in Central Asia. He called upon the governments of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to embark immediately on negotiations with the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Dyryldaev also appealed to the UN and the OSCE to mediate in such talks. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

TRIAL OF OPPOSITIONIST CONTINUES. The trial resumed on 28 August in Bishkek's Pervomai District Court of Topchubek TurgunAliyev and seven other defendants accused of planning to assassinate President Akaev last year, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Three National Security Ministry officials told the court on 28 August that the prosecution has failed to demonstrate that the accused had formed an armed group capable of carrying out the assassination. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL LANGUAGE REGULATIONS. The government on 22 August approved regulations to the language law adopted late last year, BNS reported. Justice Minister Ingrida Labucka said the regulations are in line with all international norms and that recommendations from experts were taken into consideration. The controversial 11 regulations, which deal with issues such as language proficiency for professionals and the spelling of transliterated names, have sparked protests by the left-wing parliamentary opposition and ethnic Russian activists. The regulations and law itself go into effect 1 September. The OSCE has said it will refrain from comment until it has examined a certified English translation of the regulations, LETA added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

MOSCOW SAYS LATVIAN LANGUAGE LAW DISCRIMINATES AGAINST RUSSIANS. In a statement released on 25 August, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the Latvian language law discriminates against ethnic Russians and other minorities living in Latvia. The ministry noted that Riga continues "to ignore the demands of a large part of [its] own population as well as European human rights standards." It added that "we see this as a result of a number of foreign partners' silent tolerance of the Latvian authorities discriminatory policy against national minorities." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

ELECTION COVERAGE BAN PROTESTED. The journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders has protested to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic about his government's ban on media coverage of the 24 September elections. The organization said this action was "an arbitrary and partisan act that obliges the government press to follow" the government boycott of the poll and asked the authorities to continue "the liberal policy they have put in place until now towards the media." (Reporters Without Borders, Press Release, 29 August)

CATHOLIC CHURCH ASKS FOR RECONCILIATION. The Conference of Bishops of Poland's Roman Catholic Church issued a letter on 26 August calling the year 2000 a "time of reconciliation and grace," dpa and AP reported. "We ask forgiveness for those among us who show disdain for people of other denominations or tolerate anti-Semitism," the bishops wrote, adding that "anti-Semitism, just like anti-Christianism, is a sin." The bishops admitted that while undertaking noble efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust, Poles also showed indifference or enmity. "We should also efficiently overcome all signs of anti-Judaism, which stems from wrong interpretation of the Church's teaching, and of anti-Semitism, which is hatred stemming from nationalist or racial ideas that still exist among Christians," the bishops said. They noted, however, that anti-Polish sentiments among some Jewish groups should be "countered with equal determination." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

RADICAL FARMERS' LEADER SAID TO BE 'PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE.' Presidential candidate Dariusz Grabowski on 28 August said Self-Defense farmers' trade union leader Andrzej Lepper is a "prisoner of conscience," PAP reported. Lepper, who is running in this year's presidential race, was arrested last week for his repeated failures to appear in court. "I regret that those who have brought about trouble for the Polish countryside are at large, while those who care about those wronged are put in jail," Grabowski commented. He offered to put up bail for Lepper in order to enable the latter to conduct his election campaign. A Silesian branch of the Alliance of Farmers' Trade Unions and Agricultural Organizations has also appealed for Lepper's release, saying that his arrest was a "drastically disproportionate" measure. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

NATIONAL SUMMER COURSE ON ROMANY LANGUAGE. The second session of National Summer Courses of the Romany Language (organized by the Romanian Ministry of National Education [MEN] for teachers of Roma who teach the Romany language four hours a week) took place in Calimanesti between 31 July-16 August 2000. The courses were sponsored by the Ministry of National Education and the U.K. and French embassies in Bucharest with the assistance of the Romani CRISS Organization. Out of the 47 trainees, 41 were Roma and 6 non-Roma teachers. (MINELRES, 24 August)

COMMANDOS RAID 'GLASNOST' OFFICE. Wielding automatic rifles, masked commandos on 28 August charged into the central Moscow offices of the veteran Russian human rights organization the Glasnost Foundation, "The Moscow Times" reported on 30 August. Its director, Sergei Grigoryants, said that about 10 commandos had held a dozen people--including a 10-year-old child--facedown on the floor for 40 minutes; they kicked Grigoryants in the head and back. A police official arrived, refused to show any documents, and then demanded that Grigoryants produce his papers. When Grigoryants said the law required that the police first show identify papers, the group "left without a word."

PUTIN ORDERS 20 PERCENT WAGE HIKE FOR MILITARY, POLICE. President Vladimir Putin on 24 August issued a decree raising the wages of the armed forces, police, prison guards, customs officials, and tax police by 20 percent. That hike is to go into effect on 1 December. "The Moscow Times," however, points out that the increase may not be as generous as it appears: the military and police have been exempt from paying income tax but are due to begin making such payments next year. Under the new tax policy, a flat income tax rate of 13 percent will apply. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

HOMELESS SENIOR CITIZENS WINDING UP ON THE STREETS OF SIBERIAN CAPITAL. Homeless senior citizens are increasingly visible on the streets of Krasnoyarsk, RFE/RL's correspondent reported on the 12 August edition of "Korrespondentskii chas." The elderly have lost their apartments and homes for a variety of reasons, such as lost documents or illness. One 74-year-old woman who has lived on the streets for seven months moved to the krai from Belarus. She purchased an apartment and lived there for some time with her oldest daughter, but once her money ran out, her daughter threw her out. According to Yulii Baladinoi, director for the center for medial and social help of the Sovetskii raion, the city simply does not have the facilities or social services to cope with the flood of homeless and helpless elderly, whose ranks he estimates at more than 2,000 persons. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23 August)

PUTIN SAYS LATEST DISASTER HIGHLIGHTS COUNTRY'S PLIGHT. President Vladimir Putin told the cabinet on 28 August that the Ostankino TV tower blaze "highlights what condition essential facilities, as well as the entire country, are in," Interfax reported. "Only economic development will allow us to avoid such calamities in the future," he added. Media Minister Mikhail Lesin said it will take two or three days to restore television broadcasts to Moscow, while months will be needed to renovate the tower. Moscow prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation on damage to property through negligence. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

PUTIN ORDERS TV BACK ON THE AIR BY NEXT WEEK. President Vladimir Putin on 28 August ordered the government to ensure that national television stations resume broadcasting in Moscow City and Moscow Oblast within one week. Media Minister Mikhail Lesin, for his part, said he hopes broadcasts will be resumed by the end of this week using UHF channels and cable television. Due to the Ostankino blaze, broadcasting in the Moscow area has been heavily disrupted, and according to "The Moscow Times," two stations are currently acting as the only source of televised news for Moscow residents: Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii's TNT channel, which is relaying NTV news and is broadcasting on UHF, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's cable station Stolitsa. The latter was reportedly ordered by the Moscow city government to show video-cassettes of news programs pre-recorded by state-owned Russian Television, Russian Public Television, and TV Tsentr. Meanwhile, TV-6, which has links to LUKoil, has begun Internet broadcasting at http://www.TV6.Ru/TV6-Moscow(LIVE).htm, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

NTV PLUS TNT EQUALS?... In the aftermath of the 28 August TV tower fire, Russia's private television station NTV transferred its programs to TNT, a small Media-MOST channel which did not broadcast from Ostankino. NTV Director Yevgenii Kiselev offered to let other channels use TNT to broadcast their own news bulletins. But Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin told Ekho Moskvi radio station on 28 August that "NTV news reports are exploiting the situation and...misleading viewers." (Agence France Press, 28 August)

...TV AD MARKET IN FLAMES. "The effect of the fire on the advertising market is comparable to the effect of the financial crisis of August 1998," Lesin informed Ekho Moskvy Radio in the same interview. TV ads represents about 40 percent of the Russian advertising market, with the highest ad budgets and revenues in Moscow, according to Sergei Koptyev, president of an advertising association, cited in the Russian daily "Vedomosti" on 28 August. Russian advertisement agencies could see their earnings drop 30 to 50 percent as a result of the fire, Koptyev said. (Agence France Press, 28 August)

MORE PEOPLE EXPECT RETREAT FROM PRESS FREEDOM... An instant telephone poll conducted by the Ekho Moskvy radio show "Rikoshet" found that 68 percent of those surveyed expect "that Russia will undergo a new period of censorship and samizdat," while 32 percent do not. During this five-minute survey, 682 people called in (Ekho Moskvy, 24 August). Boris Nemtsov, deputy speaker of the Duma, also expressed concern on 28 August that "Putin probably wants to pressure the press" and that means that Russia will "move away from democratic principles." (Union of Rightist Forces Press Service, 28 August)

...AND THAT JOURNALISTS' FINDINGS BETTER THAN DUMA'S... "Rikoshet" also found that 83 percent of those who responded during a five-minute call-in poll think that journalists' investigative reports are more effective than those of the Duma, while 17 percent had the opposite opinion. During this survey, 1,102 people called the radio program. (Ekho Moskvy, 25 August)

FSB, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY MOVE ON INTERNET. "Segodnya" reported on 22 August that an order recently signed by Communications Minister Leonid Reiman will require all Russia's Internet service providers (ISPs) and operators of telephone, cellular, and paging networks to draw up plans for installing monitoring devices and forward them to the Federal Security Service (FSB). According to the daily, which is owned by Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-Most, the decree stipulates that the FSB can monitor any of the companies' customers and does not have to let the companies know whom it is monitoring or why. The newspaper also reported that a similar Communications Ministry order requiring the ISPs to install special eavesdropping equipment was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the order was just an internal memorandum and therefore did not have the force of law. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

CHARGES PRESSED AGAINST RFE/RL REPORTER BABITSKY. The Ministry of Internal Affairs Investigative Committee completed its work on 24 August in regard to the criminal case against Andrei Babitsky, an RFE/RL correspondent who is charged with use of a falsified passport. The Russian General Procurator sent the case to be tried in a regional court in Makhachkala, Daghestan, Interfax reported on 24 August. Genri Reznik, one of Babitsky's lawyers, told RFE/RL's Russian Service on 25 August that the Procurator had made "a gross error" in the reporter's case and that "political interests" had taken precedence over "juridical reasons."

'RUSSIAN VIDEO' TRIAL OPENS IN ST. PETERSBURG. The court case against Dmitri Rozhdestvensky, director of the "Russian Video" company, began on 28 August. Charges against Media-MOST boss Vladimir Gusinsky in the "Russian Video" case were recently dropped. After spending two years in pre-trial detention, Rozhdestvensky will likely still face a long trial--his case materials constitute 40 volumes. The Russian businessman now faces three charges: giving his deputy a car (VAZ-21099) bought with company funds, embezzlement of about $20,000, and theft of construction materials. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 28 August)

MARII EL GOVERNOR DENIES PRESS CHARGES OF CENSORSHIP... Denying charges in the national press that an issue of "Sovershenno sekretno" had been destroyed by order of the Marii El governor, local authorities held two press conferences. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 25 August)

...WHILE PERM GOVERNOR SAYS AGITPROP IS DEAD... The governor of Perm Oblast, G. Igumnov, opposes forming an oblast newspaper controlled by the local administration. As Igumnov told "Zvezda" on 25 August, "there is no need to resurrect agitprop," which died long ago. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 25 August)

...AND SIMBIRSK WORKERS ARE 'PAID' WITH PAPERS. More than two-thirds of "subscribers" to "Narodnaya gazeta," the organ of the Simbirsk Oblast administration and local legislature--receive that newspaper as part payment of their wages, the website reported, citing the "Simbirskii kurer." Of the so-called subscribers, 70-75 percent are agricultural workers whose labors are rewarded with "official" reading materials instead of rubles, 10-15 percent are organizations funded from the oblast budget, and the remainder--a mere 10-20 percent--are individuals. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23 August)

TATARSTAN TV GETS ITS OWN TRANSMISSION CHANNEL. Tatarstan Television obtained its own channel on the state TV company on 25 August. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told journalists during the ceremony that "opening our independent channel is another achievement of the sovereignty decade." Shaimiev added that "there was a time when Tatarstan Television broadcasted only an hour and a half a day. Then volume was increased threefold. If we are able to fund creative groups, we could bring transmission volume to round-the-clock broadcasting, [while] at the same time we shouldn't lose our niche on the Russian TV channel." ("RFE/RL Tatarstan Report," 28 August)

BARKASHOV BACKS DOWN OVER BARRED MEETING. In a rare show of unanimity, both the city and oblast authorities issued orders last month not to allow the local branch of the Russian National Unity (RNE) movement to hold an open meeting in the oblast capital, "Veche Tveri" reported on 25 July. The city leadership strictly instructed officials not to allow the RNE to hire any public premises, while the oblast administration gave similar instructions to its employees. Strong opposition to the proposed meeting also came from several social organizations, World War II veterans, and the oblast's intelligentsia. RNE leader Aleksandr Barkashov himself is reported to have taken the decision to cancel the meeting in Tver. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23 August)

WOMAN ATAMAN NOT YET IN THE CARDS. A movement for female Cossacks has been founded in Altai Krai, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 August. The new movement will be headed by Lyudmila Maslyukhova, the wife of a Cossack businessman, and will focus on problems of Cossack culture, songs, dances, and traditional Cossack cuisine. The Ataman for the krai's Cossack society, Yurii Belozertsev, told the agency that despite the entrance of women into the ranks of the Cossack organization, they will not receive traditional ranks and titles. "We will not yet have a female Ataman," he commented. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23 August)

LOCAL CHECHENS COMPLAIN OF DISCRIMINATION. The head of the Chechen diaspora in Tomsk Oblast has appealed to local authorities to defend members of his community against nationalistic acts by other residents of the oblast, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 22 August. According to the Chechens, many of whom have been living in the area for more than 10 years, they have recently faced discrimination based on their nationality; in particular, some have been beaten up by other Tomsk residents who served in the army or militia in Chechnya. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23 August)

NALCHIK REGIME SMELLS VICTORY. "Opposition leaders in Kabardino-Balkaria say the ruling regime has launched the final phase of its campaign to crush Adyge Khase, [founded in the 1980s as a Kabardinian culture group] the only rival political group in the North Caucasian republic. President Valerii Kokov effectively declared open season on Adyge Khase last month when he created a pro-government organization of the same name in a bid to "divide and conquer" its supporters. Since then, members of the original group have been subjected to increasing pressure from the authorities while its official newspaper, "Khase," looks set to close down. The paper claimed the authorities had set up three more branches of the "bogus" Adyge Khase in the Chegemsk, Zolsk, and Chereks regions but no official charter had yet been presented to the Ministry of Justice. In May, the Justice Ministry attempted to have Adyge Khase's charter revoked on the grounds that the organization had no official status as a socio-political organization. However, the case was later thrown out of local courts. It was then, according to Adyge Khase leaders, that the Nalchik regime began to target its representatives, preventing them from attending party conferences and threatening some with physical violence." (Institute on War and Peace Reporting's Caucasus Service, 25 August)

PATRIARCH OFFERS WORDS OF SUPPORT FOR PUTIN. In a message broadcast by state-run Russian Television on 22 August, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II came to the defense of President Putin, who has been fiercely criticized by most Russian media outlets for his handling of the "Kursk" disaster. Commenting that the tragedy of the sunken submarine is that of "all the people," Aleksii said he can "testify to the deep grief that has gripped Vladimir Vladimirovich" over this tragedy. "I am sure that the president and the government will do everything to help the families of the dead. Have courage and forgive," he added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

CHECHNYA ELECTS NEW MUFTI. Meeting in Gudermes on 22 August, Chechnya's Muslim clergy elected Akhmed-hadji Shamaev as their mufti, ITAR-TASS reported. He succeeds Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, who stepped down as religious leader after his nomination as interim administration head. Shamaev is 51 and a former teacher of physics, chemistry, and sports. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

EU ALLOCATES MORE HUMANITARIAN AID FOR CHECHNYA. The European Commission announced on 23 August it will earmark additional funds for victims of the war in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. The precise sum was not specified, but the new monies will increase to 20 million euros ($22 million) EU aid to Chechnya for this year. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

TATARSTAN'S PRESIDENT URGES MOSCOW, REGIONS TO COOPERATE. Mintimer Shaimiev told Ekho Moskvy on 26 August that creating a single legal space in Russia would be possible but that it should be done with respect for the opinions of both Moscow and the regions, ITAR-TASS reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

RIGHTS GROUP TO SUE [STATE] OVER 'KURSK' DISASTER. Veronika Marchenko, head of the Mothers' Right group, told Reuters on 26 August that her group will sue the Russian state for covering up information on the sinking of the "Kursk" submarine and for inefficient response. She also said legal action will not begin for several months, since many victims' relatives are now trying to recover bodies from the "Kursk." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

500,000 EXPECTED TO SIGN PETITION FOR REFERENDUM BY SEPTEMBER. A nationwide petition drive to initiate a referendum in support of the environment expects to gain half a million signatures by 1 September. The initiative has been undertaken in 54 regions of Russia by a wide array of ecological, student, cultural, and civic groups, the Greenpeace Initiative reported on 28 August. For more information, send an e-mail to:

RUSSIA OFFERS TO ASSIST UZBEKISTAN IN FIGHT WITH ISLAMIC MILITANTS. The first deputy chief of the Russian army general staff, Colonel-General Valerii Manilov, told journalists in Moscow on 24 August that Russia is ready to offer assistance to Uzbekistan to neutralize fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who have twice invaded that country this month, Russian agencies reported. Manilov characterized the present situation in Uzbekistan as "under control." Uzbek Deputy Prosecutor-General Azimzhon Ergashev told Interfax on 24 August that the Islamic militants "are criminals and cannot be regarded as opposition members." Uzbek government troops have orders to kill the militants rather than take them prisoner. Also on 24 August, Tashkent police chief Shurakhim Rasulov told Interfax that Interior Ministry and army troops have surrounded the area where the Islamist gunmen who infiltrated from neighboring Tajikistan earlier this week are believed to be located. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

UZBEK CLERGYMAN RISKS EXTRADITION. Uzbek Imam Khadji Khudjaev was arrested by Russian police in Omsk last weekend, apparently at the request of the Uzbek authorities, and may be extradited to Uzbekistan, where he faces charges of involvement in the February 1999 Tashkent bombings, according to an Amnesty International press release of 23 August. Khudjaev fled Uzbekistan three years ago to escape Uzbek police harassment of people thought to belong to independent Islamic congregations. He then settled in the city of Ishim in Tyumen Oblast. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

FORMER SERBIAN LEADER 'DISAPPEARS.' Ivan Stambolic, whom Slobodan Milosevic ousted as Serbian president in 1987, disappeared while on his daily jog in a park near his Belgrade home on 25 August. His wife, Kaca, said that there has been no sign of him since and that no member of the police has visited the family home, "Vesti" reported on 28 August. Lawyer Nikola Barovic said that neighbors recall recently seeing an unfamiliar white van parked in front of Stambolic's home, "Danas" reported. Barovic added that the silence of the state-run media about Stambolic suggests that there is a political aspect to his disappearance, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The 64-year-old Stambolic was once Milosevic's political mentor but was ousted by his former protege during Milosevic's rise to power. Stambolic then remained aloof from politics for many years but has recently spoken out against Milosevic and his policies. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August)

STILL NO WORD ON MISSING SERBIAN EX-LEADER. Kaca Stambolic, the wife of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, told "Vesti" of 29 August in Belgrade that she still has no word regarding the whereabouts or safety of her husband, who "disappeared" recently. She added that she remains optimistic, noting that her husband is no longer a political figure. Opposition political leaders, for their part, are increasingly treating Stambolic's disappearance as a political crime. Opposition leader Dusan Batakovic described the incident as "yet another cheap ploy in the runup to the elections." The Democratic Opposition of Serbia said in a statement that the case is a "political abduction." The opposition demanded that the official media end their silence and report on the incident, Reuters reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August)

STATE BODIES SHOULD NOT BE IMMUNE FROM PUBLIC JUDGEMENT. "The Association of Independent Electronic Media regards as unacceptable the promotion by pro-regime media of certain subjects and certain institutions as taboo and immune to any public criticism. The state news agency Tanjug, in a statement reported today by the dailies 'Politika' and 'Borba,' accused the director of the Humanitarian Law Center, Natasa Kandic, of attacking the Yugoslav Army 'solely because it is a symbol of state integrity and the coexistence of all nations in our fatherland and alleging mass crimes against civilians during the civil wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.' It is, unfortunately, now beyond a doubt that crimes against civilians occurred in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is also obvious that the scale of these crimes, particularly in Kosovo, was much smaller than NATO propaganda attempted to impose as the truth during last year's bombing. The position of ANEM, however, is that no state institution should be protected in advance from public judgement and critical assessment of its activity. On the contrary, everything relating to the work of state bodies must be accessible to the public because this very fact would influence these bodies to use their authority and carry out their obligations in a proper and legal way." (ANEM Press Release, 23 August)

INCREASING MEDIA REPRESSION PROTESTED. In a letter to Goran Matic, the federal minister of information and telecommunications, the journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested the jamming of radio programs broadcast by the opposition station Radio Jasenica and the private station Radio Globus. "As the 24 September elections near, Yugoslav federal authorities are exercising a policy of increasing repression against independent media," said the RSF secretary-general. (Reporters Without Borders Press Release, 24 August)

HELSINKI COMMISSION DECRIES MURDER OF ROMANY WOMAN. Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith, (R-NJ) on 25 August denounced the racially motivated attack on 20 August that led to the death of a Romany woman in Zilina, Slovakia. On 25 August, the Slovak parliament held a minute of silence in homage to the slain woman. (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe Press Release, 25 August)

ROM IN SLOVAKIA DIES AFTER BEATING. A Romany woman has died from injuries sustained when three men entered her home and beat both her and her daughters with baseball bats, TASR reported on 22 August. Anastazia Balazova, 50, died of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by blows to the head. She and her family were attacked two days earlier while they were asleep in their home in the northern town of Zilina. Two children also sustained injuries. Police are investigating the case as a racially-motivated attack because the men reportedly made racial comments during the incident. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

WILL MURDER LEAD TO NEW FLIGHT OF ROMA FROM SLOVAKIA? Edmund Mueller, a Romany activist from Kosice, warned on 23 August that the death the previous day of a Romany woman who was beaten in her home could result in more Roma fleeing Slovakia for the West, CTK reported. Mueller, commenting on Radio Twist, said Roma are carefully watching investigation into the incident. Hundreds of Roma from Slovakia have sought asylum in Western countries this year, causing some countries to impose visa requirements on Slovaks. Slovakia's deputy premier for human rights and ethnic minorities, Pal Csaky, said the crime was "deplorable" and that it is imperative that the assailants be found and prosecuted. Milan Koleda, the chief investigator in Zilina, where the crime occurred, said that police thus far have no evidence that the crime was racially motivated. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

JOURNALISM CENTER PARTICIPATES IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TRAINING FOR ROMANY. Classes on media communication and access to information legislation were the new features of a training program on public administration for ethnic Romany in Slovakia. The program was sponsored by a partnership from the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Slovakia, the Open Society Institute from Hungary, and the Open Society Fund from Slovakia. Classes were held in the capital Bratislava from 30 July to 12 August and scheduled in the city of Kosice from 13 August to 26 August. The program also included a roundtable on the coverage of Romany issues in the mainstream Slovak media. Leading print and broadcast journalists and members of Slovak parliament participated in the discussion. (International Journalists' Network, August 21-25)

ORTHODOX CHURCH DISPUTE FLARES. The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) said in Kyiv on 22 August that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) is not an Orthodox Church according to canonical law, Interfax reported. The statement follows last week's refusal by the Russian Orthodox Church to grant its Ukrainian branch autonomous status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 2000). The Kyiv Patriarchate bishops also condemned the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian branch for the "unwillingness to jointly overcome the split in Ukraine and unite Ukrainian Orthodoxy into a single local Ukrainian Orthodox Church." Meanwhile, Premier Viktor Yushchenko commented the same day that the government will not interfere in Orthodox Church affairs. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

CONSECRATION OF KYIV CATHEDRAL SPARKS CONTROVERSY. Some 100 people on 23 August picketed the Ukrayina Palace, where state officials were attending a celebration on the eve of Independence Day, to protest the consecration the next day of the newly rebuilt Assumption Cathedral in Kyiv. Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) was to consecrate the cathedral. Interfax reported that taking part in the picket were representatives of the two wings of Popular Rukh and nationalist parties, as well as supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The protesters demanded that the cathedral be consecrated jointly by the heads of Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said the state "should have a say" since the cathedral was rebuilt with state funds. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August)

PRESIDENT URGES RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE. "We will oppose any speculation about the Church [or any attempts to] foment enmity and intolerance on religious and other grounds," Kuchma pledged at the consecration ceremony. The president admitted that there are people in Ukraine who "whip up tensions even around such shrines." He said he does not doubt the good intentions of those who want Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches to unite but added that he disapproves of some proposals on how to achieve that end. According to Kuchma, Church matters should be settled by the Church alone, because the state's interference in those affairs "has already cost Ukraine dearly." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

LATE RUKH LEADER RECEIVES 'HERO OF UKRAINE' TITLE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree posthumously granting the title of "Hero of Ukraine" to Vyacheslav Chornovil, a famous Soviet dissident and leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine, Interfax reported on 22 August. Chornovil, who died in a car accident last year, was also given the Order of the State for "the significant personal contribution to the national revival of Ukraine, consistent promotion of the ideas of independence, [as well as] vigorous social and political activity." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

TORTURE ALLEGED BY 65 DEFENDANTS. Standing trial in June on charges of "producing and distributing materials that threaten the social order and security" and "anti-constitutional activities," 15 members of the Muslim religious party Hizb ut-Tahrir, and 50 young men "testified that they were exposed to torture by Uzbek Ministry of Internal Affairs chief interrogator Hasanov and his coworkers." The men claimed that they had been tortured with electric shock, brutal beatings and nailings, and rapes. Interrogators allegedly forced them to sign confessions on blank paper and compelled them to give evidence against each other. (Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Press Release, 23 August)

OFFICIAL DATA ON PRISON POPULATION. Uzbekistan's official government newspaper "Pravda Vostoka" published in its 24 August issue an Interior Ministry report that puts the total number of people in the country's 47 prisons at 63,900, Reuters and AP reported. Thirty-six percent of those were said to have been jailed for theft, and 24 percent for unspecified "serious crimes." The report said that there are no political prisoners in Uzbekistan's jails. But other unconfirmed reports say that persons sentenced on political charges or for their religious beliefs are generally incarcerated in a vast prison camp (not a jail) southwest of the Aral Sea. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August)

IPI LAUNCHES SOUTHEAST EUROPE MEDIA ORGANIZATION. The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors and news executives, is launching the South East European Media Organization (SEEMO) to provide assistance to the media in the region and to increase the flow of information. The SEEMO founding conference will be held in Vienna on 16 November. For further information contact Barbara Trionfi, SEEMO-IPI coordinator, e-mail: or Internet site: (International Press Institute Press Release, 23 August)

CENTRAL ASIAN CIVIL SOCIETY RESEARCH. Field-Based Research on Civil Society in Central Asia INTRAC (the International NGO Training and Research Center) will be conducting a three-year research project into civil society in Central Asia with a grant from the British government's Department for International Development to continue current INTRAC efforts to monitor and analyze the growth of civil society in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Individual researchers, NGOs, and academic organizations may apply. Likely candidates are Central Asian nationals who are fully-trained researchers in social sciences with some policy experience or people with an extensive NGO background and a strong analytical component to their work experience. Contact Simon Heap at: Applications must be received no later than 18 September. Website: (Civil Society International, 19 August)

KOKKALIS WORKSHOP SEEKS PROPOSALS. The Third Annual Kokkalis Graduate Student Workshop on Southeastern and East-Central Europe is soliciting proposals for papers to be delivered at workshop sessions on 9-10 February 2001 at Harvard University. Themes are civil society and human rights; media and democracy; crime and corruption; economic reform; state administration and development; and old and new security concerns in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. Event organizers are the Kokkalis Program, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Minda de Gunzburg Center, and Harvard University. The deadline is 31 October. E-mail: or (International Journalists' Network, August 21-25)

NGO MATCHES ON THE WEB. A new Internet contact-finding service for partnerships between organizations in East-Central Europe, the "Newly Independent States" and the United Kingdom at Developed by Charity Know How (CKH), a grant-making body that supports the non-profit sector in the region, Contact Finder will offer a step-by-step guide to seeking partners, provide tools to assess specific needs, and offer links to the sites of non-profit and funding organizations throughout East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well as to UK-based funders. CKH brings together the U.K.'s Department for International Development, Charities Aid Foundation, and others. Contact e-mail: Note that individual NGOs cannot be added to the list, but further organizational counterpart lists can be added. (CivilSoc mailing list, 22 August)

ELECTRONIC RESOURCE CENTRE HUMAN RIGHTS NEWSLETTER. The ERC-L is a bimonthly e-mail newsletter on new resources for human rights education and training on the website of Human Rights Education Associates (HREA). The Electronic Resource Centre has a Human Rights Education Library, a calendar that lists courses and training worldwide, a Human Rights Education links section, databases of Human Rights Education Funders, Material Developers, Organizations, and Trainers. Contact e-mail: Documents and webpages can be accessed via e-mail at For assistance contact: The ERC-l ( is maintained by Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) and supported by the Dutch Foreign Ministry ( and the Open Society Institute ( (The Electronic Resource Centre for Human Rights Education, 23 August)


By Paul Goble

The death of former Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey removes from the political stage a distinguished representative of those popular revolutionaries who captured the imagination of the world at the end of the Soviet period.

Elchibey, who died of cancer at the age of 62 in an Ankara hospital, had a remarkable political career, one few would have predicted as recently as two decades ago. Jailed by Soviet officials in the 1970s for his political activities, he helped to found the Azerbaijani Peoples Front and lived to see his country become independent and to serve as its first elected president.

During his brief time in office, Elchibey succeeded in getting Russian troops to leave Azerbaijan, establishing a national army, and introducing a Latin-based rather than Cyrillic-based alphabet. And he reoriented his country toward Turkey and the West and away from dictatorship toward democracy.

But Azerbaijani military failures in the war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and his own loss of control of the situation contributed to instability in Baku, ultimately sparking a military revolt against him. To spare his fellow Azerbaijanis further bloodshed, Elchibey decided to hand over power to Heidar Aliev, who had been Azerbaijan's Communist Party chief in Soviet times.

After leaving office, Elchibey spent four years in a kind of much-criticized internal exile in his native village in Nakhichevan, a non-contiguous portion of Azerbaijan, before returning to Baku in 1997 and resuming a more active political role as head of the Azerbaijani Peoples Front during the last years of his life.

In many respects, Elchibey did not achieve his own political goals or match the expectations of his followers. But the outpouring of respect on the occasion of his death from both the current Azerbaijani government--which gave him a state funeral--and thousands of followers, showed how much of an impact Elchibey had had on his people and his country.

One of the mourners spoke for many when he said that, "Elchibey was the only politician who had a conscience bigger than his ambition." And yet another said that "he was the one politician that I really believed in, really trusted. He had the type of integrity that few other politicians have today."

Beyond these biographic specifics, Elchibey was very much part of the group which played a dramatic role in the 1980s and early 1990s but now appears to be departing from the scene. These were the dissident outsiders who attacked the edifice of the Soviet state in the name of democracy and freedom but who often found themselves unable to manage the results of the revolution they had begun.

Like Elchibey, these charismatic leaders in many of the other former Soviet republics and Baltic states inspired enormous affection and respect both in their countries and abroad. They were democrats unsullied by the Soviet past, but at the same time, they often lacked the kind of political skills necessary to manage the successful revolutions which they themselves had promoted.

And they often have failed to deliver what they had so clearly promised. Sometimes, this was the result of personal failings and sometimes because of the absence of the necessary support domestically and from abroad.

But regardless of the cause, many of them have yielded their positions to members of Soviet-era elites with the political skills, if not always the democratic convictions, apparently required to manage post-Soviet regimes.

Consequently, the mourning over Elchibey represents more than sadness over the loss of one remarkable individual. It also reflects a growing awareness by many in both the former Soviet republics and the West that those who made the revolution in 1991 are passing from the scene and that they are being succeeded not by their own democratic progeny but by members and offspring of the ancient regime.