RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies, Vol. 1, No. 16: excerpts


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Subject: RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies, Vol. 1, No. 16: excerpts

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RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies, Vol. 1, No. 16: excerpts


RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
______________________________________________________
RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies
Vol. 1, No. 16, 31 August 2000
 
"Freedom of information is ... the touchstone of all the freedoms."
(UN Freedom of Information Conference, 1948)


.....................

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
 
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)

.....................

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)
 

CROATIA
 
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)

.....................
 
ESTONIA
 
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)
 
.....................

HUNGARY
 
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)
 
KYRGYZSTAN
 
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)

.....................

LATVIA
 
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)
 
.....................

POLAND
 
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)

.....................
 
ROMANIA
 
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)

.....................
 
RUSSIA

.....................

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)

.....................

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)

.....................

SLOVAKIA

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
ROMANI. 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)

.....................


UKRAINE

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)

.....................

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