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(Un)Civil Societies Report: September 28, 2000

28 September 2000, Volume 1, Number 20
PRESS FREEDOM FOUND WANTING. "The development of press freedom in much of the former Soviet bloc has been largely disappointing due to Soviet-style political, legal and economic obstacles that continue to hinder growth," the president of the World Association of Newspapers, Roger Parkinson, said on 25 September. Citing the dominance of state-controlled media (98 percent of Russian regional newspapers are in the hands of local or provincial governments), he said libel is a criminal offense in most countries; access to broadcasting and the Internet is strictly controlled in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus (the daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabaev owns three TV and two radio stations). Parkinson saw only a few bright spots, namely, the media of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech and Slovak republics. For the full text see the WAN website at (World Newspaper Association Press Release, 25 September)

JOURNALISM STUDENTS TO MEET IN CROATIA. Over 120 journalism students from around the world will meet to discuss "Yellow in Journalism: Tabloids, Sensationalism, Infotainment," from 4-7 October, in Zagreb. The International Student Voice conference will deal with talk shows, paparazzi, glamour, and scandal reporting. The program includes group sessions, discussions, and workshops on photomontage, editing, headlines, and layout. For the fourth year, students and the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Zagreb have organized the conference. With the support of several foundations, corporations, and organizations, "Student Voice" has become the only regular student news media program in Central and Eastern Europe. E-mail: or

C@MP INTRODUCES FALL TRAINING SCHEDULE. The Center for Advanced Media-Prague (C@MP) has announced its fall schedule, which includes a wide range of workshops and seminars to help traditional media develop online strategies and e-commerce solutions and to aid radio and television in developing digital broadcasting. C@MP workshops are for journalists and editors from traditional media; management from print and electronic media; radio, and media center professionals; and academics. One workshop will deal with the fundamentals of net radio, web TV and streaming media in general. Another session will explain how to use Java in web development. A seminar on e-commerce for media outlets will provide an overview on creating a revenue-generating website. Other workshops will discuss digital technologies for journalists, virtual radio broadcasting, the Internet, and evaluation of new media solutions. For more information contact Pavla Zankova, e-mail: or

ASN 2001 CONVENTION: CALL FOR PAPERS. "Nation-Making, Past and Present: Community, Economy, Security" is the theme of the 2001 annual world convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN). Papers can focus on cases, theoretical questions, or cross-regional comparison. The convention will be held from 5-7 April 2001 at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, New York, and co-sponsored by the Watson Institute, Brown University, Rhode Island. All panel participants must pre-register by 15 March 2001; the deadline for proposals is 7 December. For more information see Program Chair, Dominique Arel ( (MINELRES, 20 September)

INTERNATIONAL METROPOLIS CONFERENCE. The Fifth International Metropolis Conference on immigration and integration will be held in Vancouver, 13-17 November 2000. For more information see: or (Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy Newsletter, September 2000)

INTERNET PROVIDER STRIPPED OF LICENSE. The Armenian Transport and Communications Ministry has cancelled the license of Armkompyuter, a major communications provider, Snark reported on 18 September. The ministry said the company violated the law by not concluding the necessary agreement with the national communications operator ArmenTel. But Armkompyuter's director, Vagram Mkhitaryan, accused ArmenTel of sabotage and ignorance in the case. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

U.S. PROVIDES SOFTWARE TO NEWSPAPERS. Under the terms of a USAID program run by the Eurasia Foundation, the 18 registered newspapers published in Yerevan received licensed computer software last week to help improve their capacity, Noyan Tapan reported on 18 September. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

TV TO CARRY RUSSIAN, ENGLISH NEWS PROGRAMS. Armenian national television will begin to carry five- minute news programs in Russian and English as of 22 September, Snark reported on 18 September. The news service director said the move reflects Armenian Television's desire to help members of the Armenian diaspora who do not know Armenian. The bulletins will be on the air every day at midnight. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September)

NEW ACCREDITATION RULES. "Aravot" is concerned that new rules for journalists' accreditation in the Armenian parliament may be used to put pressure on critical news organizations. Correspondents for newspapers with a circulation of fewer than 2,500 copies a day and freelancers working for domestic and foreign news organizations will now be barred from covering parliament sessions. More important, the parliament's public relations department will be allowed to deprive journalists of accreditation for reporting "false and slanderous information on the activities of the National Assembly." "We will try to be objective," says the head of the department, Sevak Manukian. He also noted that "You [journalists] may prove in the court that your reports are not false and slanderous." ("RFE/RL Armenia Report," 7 September)

NEW CHARGE BROUGHT AGAINST ARRESTED EDITOR. A fourth charge has been brought against opposition "Yeni Musavat" editor Rauf Arifoglu, Turan reported on 20 September quoting Arifoglu's lawyer Elton Guliev. Arifoglu is now also accused of calling for a coup d'etat. Last month he was charged with illegal weapons possession, participation in a hijack attempt, and involvement in a terrorist act in connection with the abortive 18 August Nakhichevan plane hijack ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 2000).

OSCE CRITICISM OF ELECTION REGISTRATION REJECTED. Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission on 23 September dismissed a statement by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights expressing "extreme concern" that seven political parties have been barred from contesting the 5 November parliamentary poll under the proportional system, AP reported. In each case, the commission claimed that the party had submitted fewer than the required minimum 50,000 valid signatures in its support. Commission member Gusein Pashaev said that the OSCE statement was based on "non-objective, unconfirmed information distributed by opposition parties." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

OPPOSITION PARTY APPEALS BAN ON ELECTION PARTICIPATION. The Liberal Democratic Party has raised with Azerbaijan's Court of Appeal the Central Electoral Commission's refusal to register the party to contend those mandates in the 5 November parliamentary poll that are to be allocated under the proportional system, Turan reported on 25 September. Also on 25 September, the Court of Appeal postponed consideration of a similar appeal by the opposition Musavat Party, which has likewise been barred from contesting the party list seats. In Washington on 25 September, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman criticized the commission's decision to bar the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan from contesting the party list seats, Turan reported. "The participation of all major opposition parties is essential in offering the voters of Azerbaijan a true choice and ensuring that the elections can be termed free and fair," Turan quoted her as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline, 26 September)

OPPOSITIONIST ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF 'STATE TERRORISM.' Social Democratic Party leader Mikalay Statkevich on 22 September said the raid on his party's headquarters the previous day was carried out by special services. "I'm confident that this is an act of state terrorism connected with the participation of the party's members in the elections," Belarusian Television quoted Statkevich as saying. Acting Interior Minister Mikhail Udovikau suggested the following day that the party itself may have staged attack on its headquarters in order to gain publicity. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

OPPOSITIONIST SAYS PEOPLE 'LEFT NO REAL CHOICE' IN ELECTIONS. Vasil Shlyndzikau, deputy chairman of the opposition United Civic Party, told Belapan on 18 September that district electoral commissions registered only 17 out of the 58 democratic candidates seeking registration in the 15 October legislative elections. "In essence, the authorities have left no real choice for the people," Shlyndzikau commented. He refused to name the candidates who, in his opinion, represent the democratic camp and are seeking legislative mandates. Shlyndzikau said the opposition should support those 17 candidates and campaign for an election boycott in the constituencies where no democratic candidate is running. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

JOURNALIST FINED FOR URGING ELECTION BOYCOTT. A Minsk district court on 19 September fined Viktar Ivashkevich, chief editor of the opposition newspaper "Rabochy," and Dzmitry Kastsyukevich, the newspaper's lawyer, for urging a boycott of the 15 October legislative elections in a special issue of their newspaper, Belapan reported. The court also ruled that more than 100,000 copies of the seized issue be confiscated. The court said the newspaper violated an article of the Administrative Offenses Code that prohibits calling for an election boycott. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September)

OPPOSITION TO STAGE 'FREEDOM MARCH-3.' The Minsk City authorities have allowed the Belarusian opposition to hold a "Freedom March-3" in the capital on 1 October, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 25 September. The opposition parties are planning to gather 100,000 people for a march and rally demanding free and democratic elections in Belarus and protesting the 15 October legislative ballot, which they call an "election farce." The Freedom March-1 in October 1999 and the Freedom March-2 in March 2000 resulted in clashes with police as well as the arrest of opposition activists and journalists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

BORDER POLICE DENY MORE FOREIGNERS ENTRY. U.S. journalist Lee Sustar was denied entry into the Czech Republic on 24 September, CTK reported the next day. Border police at Prague airport said Sustar had been involved in clashes in Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting there, but "Mlada fronta Dnes" quotes the journalist as saying all charges against him were dropped in the U.S. CTK also reported that four New Zealand nationals were repeatedly denied entry at two border crossing points. The agency quoted the foreigners' police as saying their entry "could have endangered public order" during the IMF/World Bank annual meeting. The Interior Ministry said that between 10 and 24 September, a total of 287 persons were denied entry, of whom 119 were German citizens, 22 Italian, and 16 British. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

VILNIUS TAX AUTHORITIES GO AFTER PUBLIC TV. The Vilnius Tax Inspectorate said on 25 September that starting 29 September it will begin to seize the property of Lithuanian Radio and Television over tax arrears. Of LRT's total debt of about 13 million litas ($3.25 million), some 3.8 million litas are in tax arrears, BNS reported. This will be the first time its property is seized, as earlier only LRT bank accounts were frozen over the mounting debts. LRT director Vaidotas Zukas said that despite the debts, there will be no disruption in coverage of the Olympics and the 8 October parliamentary elections. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

NGO COALITION MAY NOT OBSERVE ELECTIONS. Tolekan Ismaiolva, the director of the Coalition of non-Governmental Organizations of Kyrgyzstan, has announced that the coalition may refuse to participate as an observer in the upcoming presidential vote, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 18 September. Ismailova said there is no reason to send independent observers when there is no independent judiciary, no independent election commission, and no effective political parties. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

SECURITY OFFICERS SEARCH NEWSPAPER'S OFFICE. Some 30 officers of the Kyrgyzstan Security Ministry searched the offices of the Bishkek independent newspaper "Delo Nomer" on 19 September, reportedly looking for documents relating to the involvement of the country's security services in infiltrating the country's opposition political parties, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September)

LIBEL SUIT BROUGHT AGAINST NGO. Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy Alymbai Sultanov has brought a libel suit against the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations of Kyrgyzstan and is demanding 5 million soms (about $100,000) in damages, the coalition's chairwoman, Tolekan Ismailova, told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 20 September. The coalition had criticized the Kyrgyz authorities' announcement that Sultanov won the run-off election in March in the Kara-Buura constituency where Feliks Kulov gained a majority in the first round of voting. The coalition also noted widespread procedural violations during that ballot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September)

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST IS BEATEN. The RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service reported that the head of the Kara-Suu human rights center in Osh, Ravshan Gaparov, was beaten by police on 18 September. Local human rights activists planned to hold a meeting on terrorism in Kara-Suu on 18 September, and international organizations had also been invited. But police closed the meeting hall and did not allow them to gather. Several activists were taken to a local police department. When Gaparov tried to defend them, policeman Koshoev took him inside and beat him. Later, Koshoev made a written statement that Gaparov was injured when he fell down by himself. (RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service, 20 September)

OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER MAY BE FORCED TO PUBLISH ABROAD. The opposition weekly "Delo Nomer" published a statement in its 20 September edition warning that its staff may be forced to leave Kyrgyzstan and publish the newspaper abroad unless official harassment ends, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Deputy Editor Svetlana Krasilnikova was summoned to the National Security Ministry for interrogation the same day. On 19 September, employees of that ministry had searched the newspaper's premises for documents detailing the ministry's attempts to infiltrate opposition parties (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2000). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September)

ERRC PRESS RELEASE: POLICE ABUSE IN MACEDONIA. On 19 September 2000, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organization which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal defense, sent a letter of concern to the Macedonian interior minister to express concern at recent incidents of police abuse of Roma in Skopje, as well as in a refugee camp in Shuto Orizari, and numerous other instances of police brutality against Roma in the country. (MINELRES, 22 September)

COURT DECISION ON MEDIA THREATENS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW. President Petru Lucinschi on 22 September said the parliament must amend a 20 September ruling by a Moldovan court that the licenses of eight Russian-language radio and television stations be withdrawn. The court accepted the argument of a Moldovan organization called the Club of Graduates of Romanian and West European Universities that the stations violate a legal requirement to broadcast at least 65 percent of all programming in the "state language." The government said it is examining a draft law to change that regulation. The court's ruling was also criticized by the OSCE mission chief in Moldova, William Hill, while Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin called on Premier Mikhail Kasyanov to cancel a visit planned for this week by Moldovan Prime Minister Dumitru Bragis or at least raise the issue during that visit. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

TELEVISION OFFICIAL RESIGNS OVER ALLEGED ELECTION CAMPAIGN BIAS. Andrzej Kwiatkowski, chairman of Polish Television's Committee for Presidential Election Affairs, has resigned, Polish Radio reported on 18 September. Kwiatkowski said his decision was triggered by five right-wing presidential election teams' suggestion that he may be biased toward favoring incumbent President Aleksander Kwasniewski in the election campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2000). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

RFE/RL JOURNALIST SLAIN IN MOSCOW. Iskandar Khatloni, a Moscow-based correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Tajik Service, died in a Moscow hospital on 21 September from head wounds after being attacked in Russian capital. The case is now under investigation. RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine expressed his shock and sadness at Khatloni's death. "Mr. Khatloni was a valued colleague and a distinguished journalist on whose reporting many people relied. He will be missed. I very much hope that everything will be done to bring those responsible to justice." Khatloni, who had worked at RFE/RL since 1996, earlier served for 10 years as a BBC correspondent. Well known in Moscow and the human rights community internationally, Khatloni at the time of his death was working on stories about human rights abuses in Chechnya. Born in October 1954 in Tajikistan, Khatloni was a widely published publicist and poet, with numerous articles and four volumes of poetry to his credit. He is survived by his wife Kimmat, and a daughter. (RFE/RL Press Release, 22 September)

PAVLOVSKY OUTLINES KREMLIN'S INFORMATION SECURITY PLANS. Gleb Pavlovsky, presidential advisor and director of the Moscow Center for Efficient Policy, told on 20 September that the Information Security Doctrine signed by President Putin earlier this month will allow the government to regain effective access to the population and lead to the "legalization of the shadow information market." He said that "for 10 years the state had been deprived" of direct channels of communications with the people and thus had been forced to make deals with information "brokers" like Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky. Such deals, Pavlovsky continued, have led to the formation of "enclaves" on Russia's territory which "pose serious threats to the country's national interests." To overcome this decade-long problem, he added, the state will begin "to consolidate its information resources and decide what it will keep in its own hands and what it will allow the market to control." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 25 September)

PREMIER GIVES MEDIA MINISTER VERBAL REPRIMAND... Two days after meeting with Media Minister Mikhail Lesin on 23 September, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov issued a statement through the government information department that Lesin had acted improperly when he signed the protocol to the sale agreement between Media-MOST and Gazprom Media. According to Kasyanov, the protocol may not be legally binding, but it was nevertheless "inadmissible" for a cabinet minister to sign it. Lesin has said he signed the appendix as a private individual; however, Kasyanov argued that a minister cannot act as a private citizen in some cases. According to the government information department, Kasyanov "will make a decision on the subject later." In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 September, Vladimir Rimskii of the Indem Foundation said he does not think that Lesin can be dismissed since "his political position is pretty strong." He also predicted that Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to keep his distance from the controversy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

...AS GAZPROM ANTICIPATES NEW MANAGEMENT AT MEDIA-MOST. On 25 September, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told reporters that he thinks Lesin should resign since he acted as a "racketeer." Gorbachev, who is head of NTV's Public Council, will meet with Putin on 26 September. NTV is controlled by Media-MOST. In interview with Interfax, Gazprom Media head Alfred Kokh said he believes that as a result of his company's lawsuit against Media-MOST, external management could be introduced at Media-MOST as early as November. Gazprom is seeking the payment of more than $200 million in debt. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

KOKH PLANS TO SELL MOST-MEDIA TO FOREIGN INVESTORS. Alfred Kokh, the head of Gazprom-Media group, told RFE/RL on 20 September that his company plans to sell the assets of Media-MOST to international investors. He named Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch and Germany's Bertelsmann group as among possible buyers. He argued that Media-MOST is insolvent and owes not only $211 million to Gazprom but another $233 million to the government. Such indebtedness, he said, is to be found throughout the entire Russian media market. And the only way to overcome it, he insisted, is for foreign investors to become involved. ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 25 September)

GUSINSKY SUMMONED TO MOSCOW... Moscow's chief bailiff Svetlana Kukushkina announced on 22 September that her office has completed its seizure of stocks of Media-MOST companies such as NTV, Ekho Moskvy, Zolotoi Ekran, and Kinomost, ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, the Prosecutor-General's Office announced that it is summoning Vladimir Gusinsky to testify as a witness. One of Gusinsky's lawyers said they have not yet received such a summons, but two employees at Media-MOST's legal department have been called in for interrogation. A Moscow court is scheduled to open hearings on 18 October in Gazprom-Media's lawsuit against Media-MOST for overdue debt payments. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

...AND GUSINSKY NEWSPAPER CLAIMS KREMLIN HAS SPECIAL MEDIA UNIT. "Segodnya," which is owned by Media-MOST, reported on 22 September that the Kremlin has formed a special unit to keep tabs on the independent media and compile compromising materials on its executives. The team is reportedly managed by Simon Kordonsky, deputy head of the presidential administration's analytical department and is overseen by Vladimir Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration. Surkov dismissed the report as "rubbish not worth commenting on." He added that "I am not in charge of this department, and the newspaper's assertions on this score are also a lie." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL LAUNCHES PROBE INTO MEDIA-MOST. The Prosecutor-General's Office announced on 19 September that it has a launched an investigation into an alleged breach of contract by Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST company. The office said the move was in response to a request by Gazprom, which has accused Media-MOST of refusing to abide by an agreement whereby the media holding was to be turned over to the gas monopoly, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Gazprom's version of events, as reported by "The Moscow Times" on 19 September, the gas monopoly already owned a 14 percent stake in Media-MOST when it lent Media-MOST $473 million, taking a 40 percent stake as collateral. Gazprom claims that Media-MOST could not pay its debt to Gazprom and that the two companies agreed in July that Gazprom would forgive the $437 million debt and pay an additional $300 million for the remaining stake in the company. On 18 September, Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev had told Russian Public Television that if Media-MOST refused to implement the agreement, "the situation will be settled by other, non- peaceful means." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

GUSINSKY CLAIMS HE WAS BLACKMAILED INTO SELLING MEDIA EMPIRE. In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 18 September, Media-MOST head Gusinsky claimed that he was pressured into agreeing to sell his company to Gazprom for $300 million in July. Gusinsky accused Media Minister Mikhail Lesin of pressuring him to sell his assets in order "to escape the threatened punishment by Russian authorities." Shortly after Gusinsky signed the sales agreement, criminal charges against him were dropped. Copies of the documents that Gusinsky signed are available at Meanwhile, on 18 September, Gusinsky held meetings in Washington, D.C. and New York with U.S. legislators and potential investors in his company. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

POTENTIAL ORT TRUSTEES LEARN TERMS OF SERVICE. A group of almost 30 journalists and intellectuals selected by Boris Berezovsky to act as trustees to manage his stake in Russian Public Television gathered on 18 September to discuss the establishment of a private company to manage the shares, Russian agencies reported. Trustees participating in the company, which will be called TeleTrust, will have to contribute collectively some 35,000 minimum salaries or about $100,000 to form the company's charter capital. The potential trustees agreed to gather again on 2 October, when a final decision will be made on which of them will join TeleTrust. According to "The Moscow Times" on 19 September, Igor Shabdurasulov, who chaired the meeting, said Berezovsky would continue to fund the channel but did not want to finance TeleTrust because that might create the impression that ownership of the stake had not really changed. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

BEREZOVSKY JOINS GUSINSKY IN U.S. Berezovsky was in Washington, D.C. on 18 September, where he said he plans to meet with U.S. government officials, businessmen, representatives of media companies, and academics, according to AP. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

MEDIA-MOST EDITORS ASK TO MEET WITH PUTIN... Following recent charges by Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky that he was forced to sell his company under the threat of criminal prosecution, editors from Media-MOST's publications and radio and television programs have asked for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the battle for control over their company. NTV Director Yevgenii Kiselov told reporters that Media-MOST editors had previously arranged a meeting between Gusinsky and Putin in August but that meeting had been delayed because of the "Kursk" submarine tragedy. Afterwards, Putin said there would be no meeting because "it seemed to him that Gusinsky had instructed [his journalists] to cover the accident in a particular way." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September)

MEDIA-MOST AFFAIR PUTS MEDIA MINISTER IN HOT SEAT... In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 20 September, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin explained his role in the dispute between Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky and the leadership of Gazprom, telling the daily that he was involved in the negotiations with Gazprom only at Gusinsky's insistence. He also revealed that his superiors did not know at the time that he was planning to sign the protocol to the sales agreement between the two companies; in that protocol, Gusinsky is promised that criminal charges against him will be dropped. At a press conference the same day, Lesin charged Gusinskii with trying to involve Russian President Vladimir Putin in the dispute between the two companies. Lesin also declared that he has no intention of resigning over the scandal since he acted in the matter with the best intention of trying to settle relations between the two parties. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September)

...AS MEDIA-MOST OFFICIAL RATCHETS UP VERBAL WAR. In an interview on NTV on 20 September, Igor Malashenko, first deputy head of Media-MOST, accused Lesin of blackmailing Gusinskii. Malashenko said that when Gusinskii was in prison last June, Lesin came to him on his own initiative and suggested that Media-MOST give up NTV in exchange for Gusinskii's freedom. Lesin also reportedly criticized NTV's coverage of the Chechnya conflict and its coverage of the intelligence services. Lesin has categorically denied that he or the Kremlin put any pressure on Gusinskii. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September)

EKHO MOSKVI RADIO DROPPED IN TULA. The FM station which rebroadcast Media-MOST's popular Ekho Moskvi to most of Tula oblast was suddenly deprived of its license a month ago, the RFE/RL Russian Service reported on 25 September. Without the usual public competition for frequencies, the FM license was transferred to Reklama Ekskyuziv, which is connected to the Tula Oblast administration. This station dropped Ekho Moskvi and started carrying Serebryani Dozhd.

MOSCOW DENIES CENSORSHIP OF CHECHEN COVERAGE. Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky said that "there will be no preliminary review of materials taped or filmed by Russian or foreign journalists in Chechnya," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September. His comments came after Russian Defense Ministry officials apparently prevented NTV from broadcasting live from Khankala. Colonel-General Valerii Manilov, the first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, has ordered an investigation but said he did not rule out that the incident reflects "mistakes and incorrect actions on both sides." Yastrzhembsky added that the military has "well-grounded" reasons for the way it dealt with the NTV reporter involved. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

BABITSKY TO GO ON TRIAL. Andrei Babitsky, the RFE/RL correspondent whom Russian officials detained in Chechnya earlier this year, will go on trial in the Daghestani capital of Makhachkala on 2 October on charges of violating Russian passport regulations. After keeping Babitsky in detention for 40 days, Russian officials released him in Daghestan after planting false documents on him. It is these documents that form the basis of the charge against him, and this is the ostensible reason why Babitsky's trial is taking place in that North Caucasus republic. Following his detention, Babitsky was released on his own recognizance but was restricted to Moscow until August. He is still prohibited from travelling abroad. That restriction meant that he was not able to travel to Bucharest to receive the 2000 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Prize for Journalism and Democracy or to appear before U.S. Congressional committees as he has been invited to do. Details about Babitsky's travails can be found at RFE/RL's website at ,a href=""> The page will also feature daily RFE/RL updates during the course of the trial. (RFE/RL Press Release, 20 September)

NEW WEEKLY SEEKS TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE TOWARD HOMOSEXUALS. A new weekly on the problems of sexual minorities has begun publication in Nizhni Novgorod, Interfax reported on 18 September. According to a source in the new publication's editorial office, "Piramida" is Russia's first publication for homosexuals. Contributing to the publication are psychologists, doctors, the Nizhnii Novgorod center for fighting the spread of AIDS, and local human rights organizations. By early next year, the weekly's circulation may reach 15,000 for all regions of the Volga federal district. (RFE/RL Russian Federation Report, 20 September)

MEDIA UNDER ATTACK. Every month, "Versiya" publishes data compiled by the Glasnost Defense Fund on conflicts between the press and authorities. August proved to be an active month:

Number of instances of direct censorship: 3

Number of refusals to provide information: 15

Journalists attacked: 5 (two in Moscow, one in Novgorod, one in Yekaterinburg and one in Pskov)

Number of refusals to publish newspapers: 6

Number of issues seized: 1; and Number of instances that programs were taken of the air: 6. Source: Glasnost Defense Fund as cited in "Versiya," No. 35, 12-18 September 2000. ("RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 20 September)

PUTIN, CONTROVERSIAL RABBI OPEN JEWISH CENTER... Russian President Vladimir Putin joined Rabbi Berl Lazar, head of the Federation of Russian Communities, on 18 September to open a Jewish Community Center in Moscow. Last June, Lazar's federation declared him the chief rabbi of Russia, a post already held by Adolf Shaevich. According to Reuters, Shaevich was invited to attend the ceremony but chose not to because, he said, many other rabbis who deserved invitations had not received them. At the opening ceremony, Putin said the "upsurge experienced by the Russian Jewish community is an integral part of the general revival of folk traditions and spiritual values in Russia." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

...AS PUTIN CALLS FOR RUSSIA'S SPIRITUAL REVIVAL. Putin also noted that Russia's "spiritual revival is unthinkable without understanding that Russian culture is a combination of traditions of all the people who have lived in Russia for centuries." Putin singled out Lazar's organization for special praise noting that although "it was set up only a year ago, it has asserted itself as a constructive and influential organization." He also said that Russia's leading structures feel his organization's influence. On 10 September, Media-MOST head Gusinsky met U.S. President Bill Clinton at a dinner of the World Jewish Congress in New York, "The New York Times" reported on 18 September. Lazar's rival, Shaevich, has been linked with Gusinsky. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

LAWS STRENGTHENING MOSCOW'S PROPISKA SYSTEM OVERTURNED. A Moscow city court declared on 25 September that two decrees issued by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov are invalid, "The Moscow Times" reported. The two decrees, which followed the wave of apartment bombings last year, gave police the right to expel non-residents who had failed to register with the authorities and required those who had already registered to re-register within three days. The lawsuit challenging the decrees was filed by the Movement for Human Rights and the federal Prosecutor-General Office; however, the latter withdrew its challenge abruptly three days before the court decision. According to the daily, some observers said the prosecutors' retreat was a political decision connected to improved relations between Luzhkov and President Putin. The Moscow City government has the right to appeal the decision to a higher court. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

THE HUMAN RIGHTS STUDENTS UNION. The Human Rights Students Union (HRSU) is a Russian non-governmental youth organization interested in international NGO contacts. Most members are law students and young lawyers. For more information contact Pavel Turkevich, head of HRSU, at or (Center for Civil Society International, 21 September)

PERM NGO SEEKS PARTNERS. The Public Women's Movement of the Perm region is looking for e-mails and addresses of Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian women's organizations to develop partnerships. Contact Olga Pavlova: (Center for Civil Society International, 21 September)

ORTHODOX CHURCH AGAIN DENIES PATRIARCH WAS A KGB AGENT. Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, told Interfax on 20 September that there was no truth to reports in the Western press that Patriarch Aleksi II had worked for the KGB. Chaplin said that such information was being disseminated by those interested in "weakening Russian Orthodoxy." He was responding to a report in the "London Times" the day before that the Russian Orthodox Church has evaded taxes on its extensive involvement in the international trade of oil, diamonds, cigarettes, and alcohol. Despite Chaplin's assertions, KGB documents published in 1992-93 showed that KGB officials routinely referred to Aleksii as "agent Drozdov." ("RFE/RL Security Watch," 25 September)

ORTHODOX SOCIAL DOCTRINE ADOPTED IN SECRET. The social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Keston Institute notes, "was drafted [in August] in conditions of Soviet-style secrecy by a small group closely controlled by the powerful Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk. The bishops received copies of the draft only in mid-August. They then had less than one day to consider and approve a text more than 100 pages long." In contrast, in the early 20th century, "the Russian Church conducted lively, open debates on liturgical reform and the revival of the office of Patriarch." (Letter from the Director, Keston Institute, 22 September)

COURT DELAYS MAY RESULT IN CHURCH CLOSURES. Two Pentecostal churches in Kostroma await court decisions as to whether they are to be liquidated or reregistered. Secretly taped videos were permitted as evidence in court and the accusation of the churches using hypnosis was referred to a panel of experts by court order on 14 September. If these panels are slow to reach a decision, delays may mean de facto liquidation of these Pentecostal churches as the court decisions could be reached after the expiration of the government-mandated re-registration deadline of 31 December 2000. (Keston News Service, 25 September)

POLICE IDENTIFY YOUTHS WHO ATTACKED JEWISH SCHOOL IN RYAZAN. Sources in Ryazan Oblast's Interior Department told Interfax on 25 September that four of the estimated 15 youths who attacked a local Jewish Sunday school last week have been identified. The same sources added that even though the youths pose "some social danger, there is no need to take them into custody." Wielding chains and insulting teachers and pupils, the attackers had broken windows and furniture and destroyed an art exhibit. There were no injuries. "The Moscow Times" reported on the 23 September, citing a statement released by the Union of Council for Soviet Jews, that three days after the attack, the director of the school where the Jewish classes were taking place was beaten and threatened by neo-Nazi youths who demanded to know why she "deals with Jews." The school director subsequently announced that her school's premises would no longer be available to the Jewish community. ("RFE/RL Newsline, 26 September)

ULTRANATIONALIST GROUP EXPELS ITS LEADER. At a closed plenary session on 22 September, members of Russian National Unity (RNE) voted to expel their leader, Aleksandr Barkashov, from the organization, Interfax reported. According to RNE's deputy chairman, Oleg Kassin, 16 heads of the largest divisions of RNE took part in the session. They blamed Barkashov for triggering a crisis within the organization; 26 regional groupings have left RNE. According to "Kommersant- Daily" on 23 September, the 16 leaders believe that their party has lost influence and "ceased to be truly active." ("RFE/RL Newsline, 25 September)

OPPOSITION SAYS KOSTUNICA CLEAR WINNER. Serbian opposition spokesmen say that Vojislav Kostunica won 55 percent of the presidential vote in the recent Serbian and Yugoslav elections, thereby making a second round unnecessary, CNN reported from Belgrade on 26 September. The opposition reports that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic won only 34 percent. Regime spokesmen claim, however, that Milosevic has 45 percent to Kostunica's 40 percent. Preliminary official results are due to be released at 8 p.m. local time on 27 September and final results are to be announced 24 hours later. CNN's correspondent reported that he has seen the votes being counted. He stressed, however, that at least some official preliminary results should have been announced by now. Late in the morning of 26 September, the Federal Election Commission said in a statement that it will announce the presidential and legislative election results according to schedule, Reuters reported. It is not clear whether this pledge also applies to the local election tallies. ("RFE/RL Newsline, 26 September)

EU WARNS MILOSEVIC NOT TO STEAL YUGOSLAV VOTE. The EU said in a statement in Brussels on 25 September that Kostunica appears to be the winner. It added that "it is clear that any attempt by Milosevic to declare himself the victor would be fraudulent," Reuters reported. In London, Foreign Minister Robin Cook congratulated Kostunica and "the people of Serbia," the BBC reported. Cook noted that Milosevic did not carry even a single precinct in his native Pozarevac, adding that the magnitude of Milosevic's defeat nationwide is "too great for him to hide." The British minister stressed that Milosevic should leave office peacefully. In Vienna, OSCE Chairwoman and Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement that "claims of victory by pro-Milosevic forces are not credible. These elections were far from democratic, but despite reports of widespread fraud and intimidation, the will of the people for change has been overwhelming," Reuters reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

SERBIAN, YUGOSLAV VOTE MARRED BY IRREGULARITIES. International media reported on 25 September that it is difficult to obtain a complete picture of the previous day's election because the authorities limited the number of election monitors and journalists admitted to Serbia to observe the voting, especially outside Belgrade. Observers agree that there was a large turnout. The two main problems were a lack of privacy and a lack of supervision of the voting and the tallying. In some state-owned enterprises, workers marked and cast their votes under the eyes of their bosses. At some polling places, voters handed their ballots to election workers, who placed them in the ballot boxes only later. Reports from Kosova suggested that many precincts received ballots that were already marked or voting lists containing names of fictitious or dead people. Some precincts reported turnouts of nearly 100 percent. Some reports from regions outside Belgrade suggested that some individuals voted up to 10 times, VOA reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

DID SERBIAN OPPOSITION PREVENT MASS VOTE-RIGGING IN KOSOVA? Opposition spokesman Dragisa Djokovic told AP in Mitrovica on 24 September that "the elections were not conducted in an atmosphere of tolerance" or in keeping with standard rules and procedures. He stressed, however, that opposition monitors nonetheless "prevented" the massive vote fraud that many opposition supporters had feared. He mentioned specifically that monitors prevented the authorities from entering thousands of votes for the regime in the name of ethnic Albanians, who boycotted the poll. In Prishtina, Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN civilian administration in the province, said that only 45,000 out of 100,000 Serbian potential voters cast their ballots. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September)

JAILED JOURNALIST'S HEALTH FAILING. Miroslav Filipovic, the Serbian journalist imprisoned for human rights reporting in Yugoslavia, has been removed from hospital and returned to military prison in Nis. The move, in advance of elections in Yugoslavia next week, comes only days after Amnesty International warned of the risks of heart attack if Filipovic is not given urgent medical treatment. "I am extremely concerned by this development, and Yugoslav authorities must guarantee access to proper medical treatment," said Martin Bell, the independent British parliament deputy and former BBC war correspondent who heads the Friends of Filipovic Committee, an international consortium of human rights and free speech groups. "Filipovic is a political prisoner, and everyone who cares about the freedom of the press should support the appeal for his release." Justifying his return to prison, Yugoslav authorities claim Filipovic's condition has improved. See or, for further information on the Filipovic Legal Defence and Family Support Fund, contact Mirna Jancic, at

ATTACKS ON PRESS ARE 'DESPERATE.' The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on 25 September attacked the expulsions and threats to journalists in Belgrade over the weekend as a sign of "increasing desperation by a regime afraid to face the consequences of democracy." A group of 20 foreign reporters was, on 22 September, instructed to leave Serbia within 24 hours. While waiting for accreditations the reporters were told that their visas had been cancelled and that they had to leave. No other explanation was offered. The group comprises journalists from Finland, Norway, Portugal, Britain, and Germany, as well as one Ukrainian. "The regime of Slobodan Milosevic is indulging in a desperate fight for survival in which they want to blame the messengers for the bitter truth they cannot face -- that the people want them to go," said Aidan White, IFJ general-secretary. Contact at: or

U.S. DEMOCRATIZATION PROGRAM. "The Washington Post" reported on 19 September that the U.S. is promoting the democratization of Serbia in a $77 million program. Most of the money goes to NGO's and other low-key civil society programs" and not to support any specific candidate or party. The effort is long-term and modeled on similar programs that Washington has funded elsewhere to promote transitions from dictatorship to democracy. ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 September)

RACIST SUSPECTS TAKEN IN CUSTODY. Two of the alleged four perpetrators of a racially motivated attack on a Romany family in Zilina on 20 August have been taken into custody, a spokeswoman for the police told journalists on 25 September. The two men, aged 19 and 23, face charges of causing racially-motivated bodily harm and, if convicted, could receive up to 10 years in prison. The two have been identified by members of the family they attacked, one of whom died as a result of injuries sustained. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September)

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OPENED. Slovakia's first non-state Catholic University was opened in Ruzomberok, central Slovakia, on 20 September, CTK reported. Most of the costs of running the university will be covered by the Catholic Church, but the institution will receive some funding from the state as well. Slovak bishops appealed to the faithful to support the new university financially. Also on 20 September, International Romany Union chairman Emil Scuka presented a project for launching a Romany university in Kosice. He said the plans have been discussed with international organizations and government officials from Western Europe, who, he said, showed interest in offering financial assistance to launch the university. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September)

SLOVENIAN ELECTION WEBSITES. "Dnevnik" of 15 September reported on the plans of many broadcasters to add special election coverage. It also lists the following websites:,, and ("RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 September)

BAPTIST PASTOR INTERROGATED. Vasily Korobov, the country's senior Baptist pastor, was arrested on 4 September, detained overnight and questioned for another 18 hours by the Turkmenistan secret police, the Keston Institute reported on 22 September. For the second time in recent weeks, all of Pastor Korobov's religious literature -- including Bibles, hymn books, cassettes, and even personal notebooks -- were confiscated. It should be noted that the Baptist congregation headed by Pastor Korobov was legally registered -- even during Soviet times. For more information, visit

LISTENERS' LETTER CLAIMS AUTHORITIES DESTROY HOMES, CEMETERY. Turkmen authorities are systematically destroying homes, a letter from RFE/RL listeners claims, under the pretext of modernization. People are removed from their homes and officials refuse to provide them with alternative housing. The writers say that in the village of Karadamak, residents gathered together to defend their homes and forced the authorities to retreat. The residents now fear that their dissent action was videotaped and that they will be called up to the KNB, the state security service. Also, according to the letter, authorities are demolishing a cemetery in central Ashgabat where many victims of the 1948 earthquake are buried. The authorities allegedly force women to follow the bulldozers and gather the bones, immediately firing those who refused to work. ("RFE/RL Turkmen Report," 14 September)

UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST DISAPPEARS. Hryhoriy Gongadze, the 31-year old editor of the Internet newsletter "Pravda Ukrayiny" (www.pravda., has disappeared, Ukrainian media reported on 18 September. On the night of 16 September, Gongadze failed to arrive at his home in Kyiv, where his wife and two children were waiting for him. "Pravda Ukrayiny" is known for publishing materials critical of the Ukrainian government. "Gongadze is known [for] his tough opposition to the current regime of President Leonid Kuchma and his exposing publications on corruption among the high-ranking authorities," AP quoted Lawmaker Hryhoriy Omelchenko, known for his anti-corruption activities, as saying. The parliament on 19 September demanded that the police seek to explain Gongadze's disappearance. Presidential spokesman Oleksander Martynenko said the president has expressed concern over his disappearance and ordered law enforcement bodies to pay special attention to the case. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September)

U.S. CONGRESS NOTES CENTRAL ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. A congressional subcommittee has expressed deep concern on human rights issues in Central Asia, including the trend among Central Asian leaders to seek to remain in power indefinitely. Central Asian leaders in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are urged to comply with OSCE commitments, specifically on the holding of free and fair elections as well as to establish conditions for independent and opposition media to function without constraint, limitation, or fear of harassment. ("RFE/RL Turkmen Report," 13 September)

CASPIAN SEMINAR FOR ENVIRONMENTAL NGOS. NGOs from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan, met in Almaty, Kazakhstan on September 10-12 to take part in the seminar, "Developing Principles for Interaction between NGOs and Transnational Corporations (TNCs) such as BP Amoco, Kumtor, OKIOK, Shell, Tengizchevroil, and Texaco in the Caspian Region." The seminar was jointly organized by ISAR (Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia) and Green Salvation, an environmental NGO based in Almaty. For more information, contact Kate Watters at or at: (in English) and in Russian www.isarmos/casp (Civil Society International, 21 September)

NEW ARTICLE 19 WEBSITE. Article 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression, has a new website: The site includes 259 of ARTICLE 19's publications; links to 122 other websites, including NGOs, IGOs, and publications; and 99 briefs on all freedom of expression cases in international courts since 1993. Get more information from:

LINK SITE ON NATIONALISM AND NATIONALISTS. The largest such link collection on line, NATION PLANET, has been extensively revised. It is available at (MINELRES, 19 September)

RACE, ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION JOURNAL. Race, Ethnicity, and Education is a refereed interdisciplinary journal edited by David Gillborn, University of London, with research on race, racism, and ethnicity in education policy, theory, and practice. The journal welcomes manuscripts on interconnections between race, ethnicity, and multiple forms of oppression including class, gender, sexuality, and disability. For further information, (Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy Newsletter, September 2000)

EUROLANG NET. Linguistic diversity is the subject of the "Eurolang" website with news on linguistic diversity and on regional and minority languages in Europe. Visit it at:

NEW JOURNAL ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. The Legal Scholarship Network has launched a new Journal of Abstracts on Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Law and Policy, edited by Professor Gabriel J. Chin of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. To submit abstracts of working papers or to subscribe visit: or contact the editor at: (Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy Newsletter, September 2000)

WEBSITE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS. Digital-Women was created for "women in business, business women, and all women around the globe looking for a place to gather resources, free business tips, free sales tips, free marketing tips, home business ideas, and a place to network with other business women and women-owned businesses. We try to provide everything you need to be a successful woman entrepreneur." The address is: (CivilSoc mailing list, 24 September)


The Russian Supreme Court ruled on 25 September that order No. 2239 "On the principles of implementation of technical means for ensuring operative activities in telephone, mobile, and wireless networks," issued by the Communications Ministry on 25 July, is unlawful. The order would have allowed the Federal Security Service (FSB) to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, pager messages, and personal communication across the Internet without having to obtain a court decision or warrant beforehand.

The Russian Supreme Court ruled that eavesdropping on personal communication could be allowed only under a court decision or a warrant issued by a prosecutor. A clause of the order obliging telecom operators to install necessary eavesdropping equipment at their own expense was also found unlawful. The equipment should be installed at the federal budget�s expense, the court ruled.

A journalist from St. Petersburg, Pavel Netupsky, filed the suit that resulted in the verdict. Netupsky argued that in accordance with the Russian Constitution and federal legislation, eavesdropping on telephone conversations, paging messages, and personal communication via Internet could be allowed only under a court ruling.

In August, the Russian Ministry of Justice registered order No. 2339. The document was never published, despite the fact that it interferes with human rights. The document [would have permitted] the FSB, formerly the KGB, to eavesdrop on telephone and cellular phone conversations and to access private e-mail and pager-transmitted messages without notifying operator-companies and without obtaining permission from the judicial authorities.

In August, contacted the Communications Ministry for comment. A source in the ministry informed us that authorities had been working on the measure for nearly five years and that the order is the first step in a plan to introduce new legislation on law enforcement structures and their operative activity. Order No. 2339 is a supplement to the "Federal Law On Operative Activity."

The law stipulates that law enforcement authorities are allowed to eavesdrop, not only on criminal suspects, but also in emergency cases on anybody, without obtaining a warrant. An emergency case is defined as a situation where reliable evidence exists that there might be a threat to the military, economic, or ecological safety of the Russian Federation.

According to the new order, investigators must notify the court within 24 hours of beginning the surveillance; the court then has 24 hours to adopt a decision. In other words, in line with the Law on Operative Activity, so-called operative workers (operativniky) are allowed to eavesdrop on any citizen for two days without any warrant or court decision.

What's more, the new order obliges operator-companies to take measures to prevent anyone from exposing the techniques used by the authorities' workers. Any information concerning SORM (specialized Internet and telecommunications eavesdropping equipment) maintenance must be classified as confidential and only a limited number of specialists may work with the equipment.

In line with order no. 2339, all communication service providers are obliged to purchase and install the so-called SORM eavesdropping equipment at their own expense. Any additional expenses will inevitably have to be met by the customer and will constitute an infringement of consumer rights.

The law enforcers' unauthorized intrusion into the private lives of Russian citizens has become a hotly debated issue in Russia of late. However, neither operator companies nor their clients have yet openly opposed the introduction of SORM. Operators are wary of losing their license, and, as for the clients, perhaps many of them still remember an interesting precedent established in the summer of 1998.

In other words, the court's decision means that before eavesdropping on Russian citizens, law enforcers will have to obtain a legal warrant authorizing them to do so. The state law enforcement agencies will have to install any necessary equipment at the federal budget's expense, not at the expense of telecom operators.

(Reprinted from, 25 September 2000)