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RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies Vol. 3, No. 35, 28 August 2002

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    RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC ________________________________________________________ RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies Vol. 3, No. 35, 28
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2002
      RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies
      Vol. 3, No. 35, 28 August 2002

      "We must...create a life worthy of ourselves and of the goals we only
      dimly perceive." (Andrei Sakharov, 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture)

      TRIP TO U.S.?

      IN FOCUS


      Human rights activists, government officials, and reporters
      speculated this week in Bishkek that Feliks Kulov, imprisoned former
      vice president of Kyrgyzstan and leader of the opposition Ar-Namys
      (Dignity) Party, would be released from his jail cell in a gesture of
      goodwill on the eve of a trip next month to the United States by
      President Askar Akaev to attend the opening of the UN General
      Assembly and meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on 23 September,
      reported "Litsa," an independent Kyrgyz newspaper, on 27 August.
      Kulov's case has long been perceived as a bellwether of
      the real intentions of increasingly authoritarian President Akaev to
      tolerate political rivals and a more democratic political system.
      Kulov was arrested in September 2000 soon after announcing plans for
      running in the presidential election, and convicted on 22 January
      2001 by the Bishkek Military Court of abuse of his official position
      while serving as national security minister in 1997-98. The sudden
      arrest, while Kulov was getting a check-up at a clinic, seemed
      related to an anticipated victory in his electoral district. He was
      sentenced to seven years in prison, although previously acquitted in
      August 2000 on the same charges. His lawyers appealed, but in July
      2001, he faced new charges related to alleged financial dealings
      while he was governor of the Chu Oblast from 1993-97 and mayor of the
      Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in 1998-99. On 8 May, the Pervomai Raion Court
      of Bishkek sentenced Kulov and his co-defendant Aleksandr Gasanov to
      10 and six years in prison respectively, with confiscation of
      property and a fine of about $415,000. Lawyers and human rights
      groups say the charges were either fabricated for political
      motivations, or would not warrant imprisonment. The U.S. and the
      European Union agree that Kulov is a political prisoner and have
      called for his release.
      The need for a visible sign of human rights progress is acute
      now, not only for Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. signed an agreement to
      establish military bases in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, as part of Operation
      Enduring Freedom after the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
      Currently 2,000 American and coalition troops are stationed there.
      But American officials have continued to express concern both
      publicly and privately about Akaev's increasingly harsh
      repression of political rivals, particularly after five unarmed
      demonstrators were shot and killed in Aksy Raion in Djalalabad Oblast
      in March after mass unrest over the jailing of another political
      opposition leader, Azimbek Beknazarov. Local human rights groups'
      expectations about the power of American human rights intervention
      have escalated with its military presence.
      Historically, with pressure to display rapid improvement
      under the laser glare of a summit, the dramatic symbol preferred by
      both the U.S. and its Soviet and post-Soviet summit partners has
      often been political-prisoner releases. Hence, the speculation about
      Kulov's release now, although earlier this year the government
      was bent on putting him behind bars for a long time and intimidating
      his followers and other would-be challengers to the president.
      Why else is Kulov's release needed now? With growing
      unrest about the mishandling of the Aksy tragedy and the lack of
      democracy, in the last month a "dump Akaev" movement has picked up
      steam, drawing in 22 of the major NGO and political leaders, Kabar
      news agency reported on 15 August (see "RFE/RL Central Asia Report,"
      22 August 2002). The Movement for the Resignation of President Askar
      Akaev and Reforms for the People, as the group calls itself, have
      convened two "people's conferences" calling on Akaev to step
      down, and leaders believe they have significant public backing for
      their challenge with a rolling tide of grassroots pickets around the
      country. The group says it will use "peaceful and constitutional"
      means to pressure Akaev to turn over his duties to the prime minister
      temporarily, to form a coalition government until elections can be
      held. The government quickly denounced the movement as
      Policy analysts at the prestigious International Crisis Group
      (ICG), recommended to the opposition in an analytical report on the
      challenge to Akaev released last week to "develop political parties
      as engines of change rather than the present concentration on
      individuals, human rights organizations, and committees." In the same
      key as Western advisers, now the jailed Kulov is also counseling a
      more cautious path to avoid destabilization, involving the formation
      of political parties (presumably under a more fair associations law
      and better media freedom than is currently in place), a parliamentary
      process, and eventually presidential elections in 2005 -- not through
      a mass movement to dump Akaev now.
      But the "individuals, human rights organizations, and
      committees" cannot be stopped. Well-known human rights activists
      Ramazan Dyryldaev of the Kyrgyz Human Rights Committee and Topchubek
      Turgunaliev, former political prisoner and leader of the Erkindik
      Party, as well as journalist Zamira Sydykova, Beknazarov, and others
      announced on 14 August that they will chair various committees within
      the resignation movement to organize public discussions and to make
      decisions by vote regarding mass actions this coming fall.
      Typically, mass social movements in the Soviet and
      post-Soviet era take the form of human rights campaigns or committees
      rather than political parties during such a phase when neither law
      nor practice existed for legitimized political parties nor unimpeded
      coverage of their activities in the mass media. In this, they are no
      different than the dissident committees that preceded Solidarity in
      Poland which ultimately, only after legalization, a roundtable
      process with the communist government, and long struggle evolved into
      a political party and ultimately a presidency. Trying to work
      backwards from a weak parliamentary process before legalization and
      legitimacy are achieved will hardly work in a country like Kyrgyzstan
      with less sturdy civic and democratic traditions than Poland.
      Worried about "radicalism," ICG also urged opposition groups
      to "unite around a public commitment to ensuring free and fair
      elections as the only route to a peaceful transfer of power and
      cooperate with the government and parliament to develop laws that
      will allow this to happen." With Kyrgyzstan's track record of
      failure to enforce and respect association laws or legalize NGO
      election monitoring, and frustrating years of workshops and NGO
      coalitions to revise association law with the help of Western
      experts, the opposition understandably lacks trust in the goodwill to
      make these real changes. ICG describes the opposition as
      "radicalized"; Akaev calls them "extremists"; they might call
      themselves "logical." Some sort of gesture seems in order to avoid a
      worsening crisis of confidence; hence, Kulov's release.
      While Akaev backed away from a law amnestying the
      perpetrators of the Aksy shootings, returning it to parliament, he
      has not moved to prosecute them or enable an impartial investigation
      of the tragedy and responsibility for it, including his own. Mindful
      of the original motivation for mass protests, in an interview with
      the independent newspaper "Moya stolitsa" summarized by akipress.org
      on 19 August, Kulov argued that calls for a campaign to impeach Akaev
      were unrealistic. Kulov said that rather than demand Akaev's
      resignation, the opposition People's Congress of Kyrgyzstan of
      which he is president will demand that those officials responsible
      for the deaths of the five demonstrators be brought to trial (see
      "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). Yet opposition and human rights
      leaders believe that the orders for the shootings go all the way to
      the top and that recognition even by the nomenklatura of that reality
      will lead to a faster resignation of Akaev and acceleration of the
      political process toward earlier elections.
      It remains to be seen if a radicalized social movement would
      now be willing to accept prosecution of lower-level perpetrators of
      human rights crimes as a substitute for the resignation of the chief
      executive they believe to be responsible for them. Most likely
      prosecutions will not go through quickly in any event (nor would that
      necessarily be advisable in a state with a weak judiciary that cannot
      assure a fair trial). The release of Kulov, who is championing this
      "justice" cause rather than the "democracy" cause of the resignation
      of Akaev, would at least mean that the issue would not be forgotten
      and that some kind of restorative justice might commence.
      Thirty years ago, in the events known as "Bloody Sunday,"
      British soldiers shot dead 13 Northern Irish Catholic demonstrators,
      a tragedy that sparked decades of terrorism and civil strife. Only
      after many years, did the United Kingdom under the Blair government
      come to grips with government accountability and convene a Bloody
      Sunday Tribunal with outside Commonwealth judges to assess the truth
      of the tragedy, proceedings which have faced daunting procedural and
      political obstacles even in this established democracy. If
      Kyrgyzstan, a post-Soviet transition nation facing economic
      deprivation and terrorist threats already, does not grapple
      immediately with its own "Bloody Sunday" in Aksy through prosecution
      of those responsible for the tragedy, it, too, could face a long
      period of troubles.
      "Litsa" reporters managed to dig up a photo of President
      Bush, then governor of the state of Texas, together with Kulov, at
      that time governor of Chu Oblast, dating back some years, when Kulov
      toured Bush's ranch during a visit to the U.S. They featured it
      with an article in their paper this week titled "Feliks Kulov Will Be
      Freed." "Litsa" also speculated that Kulov's case may have been
      raised in a meeting last month on Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan
      between Akaev and Boris Yeltsin, described by the paper as "the first
      Russian president, who never deigned to jail his political opponents"
      and who was a known master of the graceful exit.
      Kulov's release could kill two birds with one stone, by
      appearing to mollify U.S. human rights concerns but also projecting a
      more moderate figure onto the Kyrgyz political scene at a time of
      turmoil who will not dump Akaev but dampen public anger by devising a
      temporary workaround for the problem created by Akaev's autocracy
      with an Aksy "truth commission." There are other advantages to his
      persona: in previous statements issued from jail, he has stressed the
      need for Kyrgyzstan to maintain good relations with the United States
      and with Russia and that both are required in the region for a
      balance of power. Ultimately, Kulov's release from political
      imprisonment and implementation of his call for meaningful
      prosecution are vital to Kyrgyzstan's stabilization and the
      credibility of U.S. human rights intervention, but should be seen in
      the context of an unpredictable tide of public fury and an uncertain
      willingness of a government to address wrongs truthfully. CAF


      announced on 25 August that voters approved 39 constitutional changes
      by an overwhelming margin. But opposition groups say the government
      rigged the referendum. The director of Azerbaijan's vote-counting
      system, Igbal Babaev, said nearly 90 percent of the country's 4.4
      million voters participated in the referendum., and with 83 percent
      of the ballots counted, 96 percent were in favor of the
      constitutional amendments. President Heidar Aliev said the country
      needed to change the way parliament and the president are elected to
      bring the constitution into Western standards. Opposition groups
      boycotted the vote and said the changes would hurt democracy,
      including one they say is designed to make it easier for Aliev to set
      up his son Ilham as president. The groups along with independent
      media also battled before the 24 August plebiscite to gain permission
      to monitor and report on it independently. The Supreme Court ruled on
      19 August that the 8 July decision by the Central Elections
      Commission requiring media outlets to submit by 15 July lists of
      journalists who wished to cover the 24 August referendum on
      constitutional amendments referred only to those journalists who
      wished to monitor the voting, Turan reported. The court said there
      were to be no restrictions on journalists wishing to cover the
      referendum. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 26 August)

      demonstration took place in Baku on 20 August to protest the 24
      August constitutional referendum, Turan, Reuters, and Russian news
      agencies reported. Reuters and ITAR-TASS estimated the number of
      participants at 3,000, Interfax 5,000, and Turan more than 10,000.
      Participants called for a boycott of the referendum and for the
      resignation of President Aliev, whom they accused of
      anticonstitutional actions. Later, after the referendum at a press
      conference in Baku on 26 August, the chairmen of four major
      opposition parties that coordinated voting observation in the
      referendum again rejected as falsified the authorities' claims of
      overwhelming support for those changes, Turan and Reuters reported.
      They claimed that voter participation was no higher than 15 percent,
      rather than over 88 percent as the Central Election Commission
      claimed, and charged that the authorities resorted to threats,
      violence, and bribery to create the impression of backing for the
      planned changes. Members of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party
      responded to those allegations with shouts of "liars," according to
      Reuters. The opposition condemned the referendum as "illegal," and
      said they will contest it in court, including the European Court for
      Human Rights. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 27 August)

      ...AS U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN. Speaking in Washington on 26 August,
      U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that reports
      from the U.S. Embassy in Baku suggest "widespread irregularities,
      such as voter-list fraud, multiple voting, and ballot-box stuffing"
      during the course of the 24 August vote, Reuters reported. Boucher
      said those reports raise concern that "this referendum did very
      little to advance democratization or to lay the groundwork for a
      presidential election in the fall of 2003 that can meet international
      standards." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August)

      22 August interview with Turan, Ambassador Gerard Stoudmann, who is
      the director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and
      Human Rights (ODIHR), said his organization was not consulted over
      the wording of the constitutional amendments. He expressed regret
      that the Council of Europe's Venice Commission was not consulted
      either. The OSCE did not send monitors to observe the vote because it
      was invited to do so too late, on 25 July, said Stoudmann, who also
      called for registration of local monitors after reports they were
      being blocked. Stoudmann also expressed doubt that all voters will be
      able to comprehend the complexities of the proposed changes, which
      are subdivided into eight blocks of questions. Meanwhile, in a
      statement released on 21 August, the Central Election Commission
      (CEC) denied opposition parties' allegations that it refused to
      register thousands of opposition supporters to monitor voting in the
      referendum, Turan reported. The statement said opposition parties
      could collect from the CEC registration certificates for all the
      observers they proposed; it had previously ruled that would-be
      monitors must collect that documentation in person. Turan suggested
      that the CEC may have softened its position under pressure from the
      international diplomatic community. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 23

      20 August at a roundtable discussion organized by the OSCE's Baku
      office, presidential administration official Shahin Aliev argued that
      unspecified international organizations violated Azerbaijani law by
      financing the opposition's campaign for a referendum boycott,
      according to zerkalo.az on 21 August. A second presidential
      administration official, Ali Hasanov, similarly condemned alleged
      attempts by those organizations to prove that the referendum outcome
      will be falsified. He warned that a criminal investigation could be
      opened into such lobbying. Hasanov reiterated the claim that of 4.8
      million registered voters 3.5 million have participated in the
      discussion of, and expressed their support for, the proposed
      constitutional amendments. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August).

      During talks on 18 August, Interior Minister Ramil Usubov told
      residents of the village of Nardaran on the outskirts of Baku that
      their fellow villagers detained following clashes with police in
      early June will be released only after the villagers formally approve
      the authorities' candidate for the new local government head in
      the district of Sabunchi, Turan reported on 19 August. The identity
      of that candidate is not known. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21

      refugee women in Baku presented an appeal to the president's
      administration protesting refusal of bureaucrats to register the
      births of their children born in camps in Azerbaijan, the Chechen
      Human Rights Center in Baku reported 27 August. Officials at the
      civil registration bureaus in Nasim and Binagad refused to issue
      birth certificates, said the women, despite an unambiguous guarantee
      under Article 52 of the Azerbaijani Constitution of citizenship
      status for anyone born on the territory of Azerbaijan. The
      bureaucrats said the documents would have to be obtained from the
      Russian Embassy, the Chechen women told reporters, which they
      believed would be impossible. "Russia has lost the right to call
      itself our homeland, and we refuse even under fear of death to give
      our children up to that country...we do not want our children to be
      Russians and the name is offensive to us," Turan quoted the women as
      saying in a statement on 27 August. Thousands of civilians have made
      their way from war-torn Chechnya in recent years to nearby
      Azerbaijan, where they have had an uneasy welcome, due to Russian
      pressure on the Aliev government. The UN High Commissioner for
      Refugees has registered about 4,500 persons, but has given few of
      them refugee status, although it has worked to prevent their
      deportation. CAF


      ACTIVISTS JAILED FOR ANTIMERGER PROTEST. Activists in the movement
      known as Zubr (Bison) staged a picket on 20 August near the statute
      of Belarusian patriot Marat Kazey to protest Russia's proposals
      for a closer merger with Belarus, reported charter97.org and
      Russia's NTV and other stations. The youths ripped portraits of
      Russian President Vladimir Putin to signify their displeasure at his
      recent widely publicized calls to Belarusian President Alyaksandr
      Lukashenka to accelerate the Belarus-Russian Union "under the Russian
      Constitution" (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 20
      August 2002). While police did not react at the time, after Russian
      television aired footage of the demonstration, Belarusian police
      hunted down the Zubr members and jailed them. Yauhen Afnahel was
      taken from his home on 23 August and arraigned in court, where a
      witness for the prosecution said police drew up the arrest warrant
      based on video cassettes taken from Russian television station
      bureaus in Minsk. Afnahel demanded an attorney and managed to get a
      postponement of the court hearing until 27 August, but his petitions
      were declined by Judge Tatyana Pavlyuchuk, who sentenced him to 10
      days in jail. Afnahel announced a hunger strike and declared in
      court: "I spoke out for the independence of Belarus. That was my duty
      as a citizen of this country," reported charter97.org on 27 August.
      On 19 August, Pavlyuchuk sentenced three other Zubr activists to five
      to 10 days in jail for protesting in front of the Russian Embassy in
      Minsk. CAF

      Belarusian television cited a poll conducted by the Institute of
      Social and Political Research, which operates under the presidential
      administration. According to the poll, 35 percent of Belarusians
      support integration with Russia in the form of an "international
      union of independent states," 25 percent are in favor of a "union of
      two states with limited independence," 23 percent back a
      "single-state" integration model, and just 3.5 percent want Belarus
      to become part of the Russian Federation. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22

      NEW SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY EMERGES. A congress of 163 delegates from
      the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (led by Alyaksey Karol), the
      Women's Party Hope (led by Valyantsina Palevikova), and the
      Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly (led by Stanislau Shushkevich)
      set up the United Social Democratic Party (ASDP) in Minsk on 24
      August, Belapan reported. Karol's and Palevikova's groups
      reportedly ceased to exist following this unifying congress. However,
      the array of social-democratic forces in Belarus has not became less
      complex than before. Apart from the ASDP, there is still
      Shushkevich's party (Shushkevich did not attend the congress),
      the Social Democratic Party (National Assembly) headed by Mikalay
      Statkevich, and the Women's Party Hope led by Valyantsina
      Matusevich. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)


      interior minister of Sarajevo canton, said on 22 August that soccer
      violence after a Bosnia-Yugoslavia match left one Montenegrin man
      badly injured and seven Bosnians in need of medical attention,
      RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported.
      Nineteen police were injured, two of them badly. Some critical voices
      in the media have argued that it is still too early to consider
      restoring sporting links between Yugoslavia and Bosnia. Others said
      that time has come to end the politicization of soccer that is widely
      associated with Serbian nationalists such as the late Zeljko
      Raznatovic Arkan. Police said the trouble began when fans from
      Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska chanted "Karadzic, Karadzic" and
      were attacked by stone-throwing Bosnian fans. Only 10,000 spectators
      showed up at Sarajevo's Kosevo Olympic stadium for a match that
      had been expected to draw 30,000 people. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and
      23 August)


      Vladimir Vidovic said on 22 August that police arrested Josko Joras
      the previous day for ignoring several summons dating back to 1999 and
      will hold him for 30 days, AP reported. Joras is a town council
      member in the Slovenian port of Piran but lives just inside the
      Croatian border, which he refuses to recognize. He has long been
      known for stunts designed to attract the attention of the media, such
      as playing Slovenian nationalist songs at a loud volume and flying
      the Slovenian flag from the roof of his house, for which the Croatian
      authorities recently charged him with disturbing the peace. Following
      Joras's arrest, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel wrote
      the Croatian government that "severe measures such as stripping a
      Slovenian citizen of his freedom at this moment in no way contribute
      to the alleviation of tensions" between the two countries over their
      common border in the Bay of Piran. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)


      Vaclav Havel said on 21 August that Czechs partly brought on
      themselves the devastation caused by the worst floods in history,
      laying the blame on the country's communist-era rulers, Reuters
      reported. In a commentary for the "Financial Times," Havel wrote: "We
      must consider the damage we may have caused through the excessive use
      and exploitation of our waterways, especially in the communist era,
      when gigantic fields were sown and rivers were diverted into concrete
      channels to irrigate them. That era has passed in Europe, but its
      legacy is still with us today." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

      emergency session of the Senate on 25 August, Prime Minister Vladimir
      Spidla said the Czechs "passed the test" of the recent floods,
      demonstrating that the Czech Republic is a welfare social state
      prepared to support its citizens while at the same time respecting
      democratic principles, CTK reported. Spidla said the floods are
      probably the worst natural disaster in the country's history. Ten
      of the country's 14 regions were affected, he said. The Senate on
      the same day approved a government request for an extension till the
      end of October in the deadline for submitting the 2003 draft budget.
      The one-month delay will allow the cabinet to assess flood damage.
      The upper house also approved an amendment to the law on the Housing
      Fund, following up on a 23 August vote in the lower house and
      allowing lending for new homes to people whose houses were destroyed
      by the flood. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      gathered outside the Czech Radio building in Prague on 21 August to
      pay homage to the victims among civilians who were fired on when
      Warsaw Pact troops occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968, CTK reported. The
      ceremony was attended by Chamber of Deputies speaker Lubomir Zaoralek
      and Senate Chairman Petr Pithart. A wreath was laid at a memorial
      plaque on behalf of ailing President Havel. Pithart said that in
      August 1968, just as when floods recently ravaged the country, people
      were prepared to selflessly rush and help where they thought they
      were needed. Zaoralek said the ideals of the 1968 reform process are
      still relevant today. "Democratization and modernization,...national
      self-awareness and the creation of conditions for a dignified life,
      are ideals that should be defended today as well," he said. The names
      of 15 people who were killed in the vicinity of the Czech Radio
      building during the invasion are inscribed on a memorial plaque on
      the building. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)


      National Movement head and former Justice Minister Mikhail
      Saakashvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 23 August that the Russian
      bombing raid on the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia was a response to
      President Eduard Shevardnadze's pathological helplessness and
      inability to protect the country's interests, Caucasus Press
      reported. Saakashvili said that between 80 million-90 million laris
      ($36 million-41 million) have been spent annually to maintain
      Shevardnadze' presidential guard, while funding for the Border
      Guards is one-tenth that amount. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      of the village of Akhali Samgori have staged a demonstration to focus
      attention on their opposition to routing the planned
      Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipelines through that
      village, Caucasus Press reported on 19 August. The villagers warned
      they will prevent construction unless the village is provided with a
      mains water supply and decent roads. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)


      'MAGYAR HIRLAP' SCORES WEEKEND SCOOP. "Magyar Hirlap" on 24
      August published the names of 11 ministers and state secretaries who
      are alleged to have ties to the communist-era secret services. The
      daily published the names without the consent of the parliamentary
      commission leading the investigation in the matter. The list included
      five officials who worked in the cabinet headed by Viktor Orban
      between 1998 -2002, four members of the 1990-94 Jozsef Antall
      government, one minister from the Gyula Horn cabinet from 1996-98,
      and Peter Medgyessy, finance minister from 1996-98 and current prime
      minister. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      Csurka, chairman of the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party,
      on 24 August called for a countrywide referendum to determine if
      Hungarians "truly want to join the EU," the MTI news agency reported.
      Csurka argued that the country's population is not well informed
      on accession and that politicians only speak about its advantages. He
      said Hungary's admission to the European Union would constitute
      an end to the Hungarian nation. He added that members of the former
      and current governments act as "servants to EU countries." In other
      news, the Budapest Prosecutor-General's Office recently pressed
      charges against Sandor Gede and Tibor Gede for publishing arrow-cross
      literature. (The Arrow Cross Party was an anti-Semitic fascist party
      led by Ferenc Szalasi that ruled Hungary from October 1944 to January
      1945.) The Gede brothers were accused of fomenting hatred against a
      community and misusing personal data after they published
      anti-Semitic works in reprint editions, "Nepszabadsag" reported.
      ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      HUNGARY. Speaking to a crowd of several thousand people who gathered
      in Budapest's Heroes' Square on 20 August, Istvan Csurka
      denounced the government, the media, and the ongoing investigations
      into the communist-era secret-service activities of cabinet members
      who served after 1990, "Magyar Nemzet" reported on 21 August. Csurka
      said that for the second time a "sozionist" (a combination of
      "socialist" and "Zionist"), traitorous government is in power, and
      called on Hungarians to remove the "non-Hungarian ruling elite from
      the scene and topple the government." As for the media, he said
      "never have so many dirty, morally jaded, lying people inundated the
      media as now." Csurka also lashed out at Prime Minister Medgyessy,
      and claimed that those who were "nail-tearing traitors" are now
      heroes. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

      UNEMPLOYED INVITED TO JOIN ARMY. The Labor Ministry is inviting
      30,000 unemployed men aged 18-25 with a high school diploma to join
      the army, "Napi Gazdasag" reported on 23 August. The government
      intends to abolish the compulsory draft by 2006; but, in order to
      transform the army into a professional body, 4,000-6,000 soldiers
      must be recruited by 2006 and 4,000 soldiers annually thereafter in
      order to attain the planned level of 40,000-45,000 professional
      soldiers. The Labor Ministry will spend 10 million forints ($40,000)
      on the campaign. The army has 1,500 vacancies at the moment and is
      offering a 80,000-100,000 forints ($320-400) monthly wage to new
      recruits, the daily reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)


      JAILED OPPOSITIONIST APPEALS SENTENCE. Lawyers for former Pavlodar
      Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, who was sentenced on 2 August
      to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of his official
      position, appealed that sentence to the Pavlodar Oblast court,
      forumkz.org reported on 20 August. Meanwhile, the local
      prosecutor's office has brought charges of obstructing the course
      of justice and slander against a human rights activist and two close
      associates of Zhaqiyanov. In an interview with the official newspaper
      "Kazakhstanskaya pravda," Bekbulat Demesinov, the prosecutor at
      Zhaqiyanov's trial, listed further criticisms of the latter's
      performance as Pavlodar Oblast governor. He claimed that the
      oblast's economy deteriorated steadily, its net share of total
      industrial production declined, unemployment increased, and
      Zhaqiyanov sold off several local enterprises at suspiciously low
      prices during his tenure, according to panorama.kz. ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 20 August)


      Adamkus met with 10 representatives of the small farmers of the
      Suvalkija region (southwestern region) after they arrived in the
      capital after having walked from their county seat, Marijampole, for
      four days, ELTA reported on 23 August. The farmers were calling
      attention to rural problems that plague small landholders such as low
      purchase prices for milk, the failure of dairies to pay farmers
      promptly, and the lack of equitable subsidies. Currently, only
      farmers with five or more dairy cows are paid subsidies by the state.
      The petitioners also met the same day with Agriculture Minister
      Jeronimas Kraujelis, who told them that the state cannot afford to
      earmark more than the current 11 million litas ($2.9 million) in
      support the smallholders receive. The minister, however, did promise
      the farmers that they will be paid a minimum of 0.35 litas (about
      $0.01) per liter of milk for at least the next two months. ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 26 August)


      of the emigre organization known as the World Macedonian Congress
      (SMK), announced on 22 August that he has begun legal proceedings
      against Justice Minister Hixhet Mehmeti, "Nova Makedonija" reported.
      The move comes in response to Mehmeti's decision to drop the
      names of 3,500 Macedonians from Albania from the voters lists (see
      "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 August 2002). The SMK is suing Mehmeti
      for denying Macedonian citizens the right to vote. Petrov added that
      his organization has also filed a complaint with the State Election
      Commission. Mehmeti argues that all voters must have a permanent
      residence in Macedonia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)


      DEPUTY. Popular Party Christian Democratic Deputy Chairman Vlad
      Cubreacov on 22 August officially asked Chisinau interim municipal
      prosecutor Victor Ababii to question a Party of Moldovan Communists
      (PCM) deputy "as a witness" in the case of Cubreacov's own
      kidnapping earlier this year, Flux reported. In his letter, Cubreacov
      cited an article published in the weekly "Accente" by Romanian
      Senator Ilie Ilascu. Ilascu wrote that PCM parliamentary deputy
      Andrei Neguta told him in Strasbourg one day after Cubreacov's
      abduction that he knew where Cubreacov was being held hostage.
      According to Ilascu, Neguta also told him that the government "will
      do everything it can" to bring about Cubreacov's release.
      Cubreacov said other Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
      deputies overheard Neguta make this statement and that the
      prosecution must consequently question him in the ongoing
      investigation into the abduction. In the letter, Cubreacov reiterates
      his demand of former municipal prosecutor Petru Bobu that several
      prominent PCM leaders also be questioned, including President
      Vladimir Voronin and parliamentary speaker Evgenia Ostapchuk.
      ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)


      POPE WRAPS UP TRIP WITH PRO-EU MESSAGE. "I'm sorry to leave,"
      John Paul II told a crowd bidding him farewell at the Krakow airport
      on 19 August. "May the spirit of mercy, fraternal solidarity, harmony
      and cooperation, as well as authentic concern for the good of our
      Motherland reign [among you]," PAP quoted the pope as saying. "I hope
      that by cherishing these values, Polish society -- which has belonged
      to Europe for centuries -- will find its due place in the structures
      of the European Union, and that it will not only maintain its
      identity but also enrich this continent and the entire world with its
      tradition." Earlier the same day, the pontiff prayed at the Kalwaria
      Zebrzydowska sanctuary, asking "Our Lady of Calvary" for physical and
      spiritual strength to continue his mission "to the end". ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 20 August)


      STEELWORKERS RENEW PROTESTS. Workers from the CSR and Otelul Rosu
      steelworks in Resita, both of which are foreign-owned, renewed
      protests on 26 August and blocked a major road near Caransebes,
      Romanian radio reported. Some 1,000 workers chanting "We are hungry,"
      and "Down with the government" were involved in the strike, AP
      reported on 23 August. The steelworkers had halted their protests on
      23 August, but the government failed to address the issue of the two
      troubled privatized plants. Both plants -- one owned by the
      U.S.-based Noble Ventures and the other by the Italian Gavazzi Steel
      -- have halted production because of debts to suppliers, and wages
      have not been paid for several months. ("RFE/RL Newsline" 26 August)


      Kasyanov signed a directive altering the rule regulating the
      registration of citizens at their place of residence, RIA-Novosti
      reported on 20 August. According to the new instructions, citizens
      changing their residences must notify the police within three days
      and be registered. However, unlike in the past when such registration
      was valid for only six months, the new system offers a flexible and
      negotiable term. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

      DALAI LAMA SUPPORTERS DETAINED IN MOSCOW. Police detained about 50
      Buddhist protestors in Moscow on 22 August, dpa reported. The
      demonstrators were protesting the Foreign Ministry's recent
      decision not to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, who had planned to
      visit Buryatia, Tuva, and Kalmykia next month. The ministry explained
      its refusal by citing opposition on the part of the Chinese
      government. According to Interfax, the 50 demonstrators were taken to
      a police station for document checks. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)

      Court has ruled that provisions of the oblast law on local
      self-government that allowed mayors the choice of not enacting
      certain local laws contradicts federal legislation, "Izvestiya"
      reported on 22 August. Under the old law, mayors often squelched laws
      of which they did not approve by simply not signing them, since the
      law did not specify a deadline for them to do so if they declared
      that they intend to contest the law in court. The daily reported that
      Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, for example, has used the
      tactic to delay some local legislation as long as seven years,
      although he never filed any actual complaints. "As a result, it is
      useless for deputies to pass legislation that has not been previously
      agreed upon with the executive branch," said Sergei Belyaev,
      president of the Sutyazhnik society, who filed the suit. According to
      the paper, the oblast duma will amend the law in its upcoming
      session, requiring mayors to sign legislation within a certain time
      frame and allowing them to contest laws in court only after they have
      come into force. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

      first court hearing on a lawsuit filed in Kaliningrad Oblast's
      Moscow District Court by representatives of the Russian environmental
      group EcoDefense, to block LUKoil-Kaliningradmorneft's plans to
      begin production at the D-6 offshore oil field, 8.7 kilometers south
      of the Lithuania-Russia border and 22 kilometers off the Curonian
      Spit, was delayed until 17 September, BNS and ELTA reported on 22
      August. EcoDefense lawyer Elena Gorbacheva said in a 21 August press
      release that "We have number of claims against
      'LUKoil-Kaliningradmorneft,' from procedural to principal.
      First of all, a lot of information was hidden from the public, and
      public-hearing procedure rules were violated." EcoDefense also said
      in its release that "One of primary dangers of this project is that,
      in case of an accident, the only means of removing oil from the sand
      beach is to remove a layer of sand.... The Curonian Spit is a very
      narrow peninsula between sea and lagoon, and it could very easily
      wash away if large amounts of sand were removed." Russia pledged
      during the just-concluded meeting of the Baltic Marine Environment
      Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission, HELCOM) in Riga to
      provide more information on the environmental safety of the LUKoil
      project. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August)

      who heads the OSCE mission to Chechnya, on 23 August rejected as
      untrue a report circulated by the joint Russian forces in Chechnya
      claiming that his mission will soon receive some $100,000 to allocate
      to the families of Chechen men who died while fighting against the
      Russians, Interfax reported. He said the mission has never received
      such a large sum and that the Russian representative to the OSCE in
      Vienna is free to check the existing records of the mission's
      financial transactions. Inki added that the mission provides aid to
      schools and hospitals in Chechnya. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)


      FORMER PREMIER VOWS TO DEFY POLLS AND WIN. Movement for a Democratic
      Slovakia (HZDS) Chairman Vladimir Meciar said on 19 August that
      despite polls showing a drop in support for the HZDS, he expects the
      party to win 30 percent of the vote in the 20-21 September elections,
      Reuters reported. Meciar said there is "more than [a] 50 percent
      chance" that the HZDS will be a member of the next ruling coalition,
      the agency added. He said that no coalition formed without the HZDS
      has a chance of surviving. Meciar again denied that he is an obstacle
      to Slovakia's integration in NATO and the EU, asking: "Why are
      they focusing on me as a person? Am I integrating into the West or is
      it the Slovak Republic?" ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August)

      Dzurinda told TASR on 21 August that democracy and liberty "cannot be
      built in isolation, but only in cooperation with other countries that
      cherish the same values." Dzurinda spoke on the occasion of the 34th
      anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by troops of the Warsaw
      Pact. He said the aim of the invaders was "to suppress the promising
      democratization process" that had started in the country. He said
      that at that time there was little chance to defend the pro-democracy
      policy in the middle of a "communist sea," but that now the
      priorities of Slovak foreign policy are to gain membership in the two
      groups that can grant both economic and military security -- the EU
      and NATO. Dzurinda added that the purpose of marking the anniversary
      of the invasion is to avoid "making the same mistakes" in the future.
      ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August)


      BORDER GUARDS HIT BY TYPHOID OUTBREAK. More than 20 border guards on
      the Vanch sector of the Tajik-Afghan frontier have been hospitalized
      with typhoid, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August, quoting Tajik Border
      Guards commander Lieutenant General Abdurakhmon Azimov. He admitted
      that his force cannot afford to vaccinate its personnel at a cost of
      $30 a shot. On 14 August, Tajik Health Minister A. Akhmedov denied
      that Tajikistan is suffering an epidemic, according to "Bizness i
      politika," as cited by Asia Plus-Blitz. He gave the number of
      registered cases during the first seven months of this year as 1,582,
      which, he said, is 11 percent fewer than during the same period for
      2001. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)


      Without Kuchma movement is planning to hold a mass protest rally on
      Independence Square in Kyiv on 16 September, the second anniversary
      of the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, UNIAN reported
      on 20 August. "[Ukraine needs] a revolution to purify and revive
      society, to change the system of social, economic, and political
      relations," the movement said in a statement. Ukraine Without
      Kuchma's main demands include ousting President Leonid Kuchma,
      making Ukraine a parliamentary republic, and punishing those guilty
      for the disappearance and/or death of well-known Ukrainian
      journalists and political activists. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

      Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko told UNIAN that Kuchma's
      announcement of political reform is a populist step intended to
      weaken the opposition's political demands ahead of protests
      planned for next month. Oleksandr Turchynov from the Yuliya
      Tymoshenko Bloc said Kuchma's reformist proposals are "insincere"
      and made "out of fear" of the upcoming opposition protests. Turchynov
      added that Kuchma's address lacked the main message -- an
      announcement of his resignation. Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko
      said Kuchma's proposal to form a coalition government coincides
      with Our Ukraine's postulates, but added that "we read the notion
      of coalition in a different way" than the president. "I think Ukraine
      does not need a government formed by political forces that will be
      artificially herded into a parliamentary coalition," Yushchenko
      added. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)


      activists picketed the Justice Ministry in Tashkent on 20 August to
      protest official corruption and human rights abuses by the police and
      judiciary, AP reported. They demanded a meeting with President Islam
      Karimov to discuss those shortcomings and how to eliminate them.
      Justice Ministry officials informed the protesters that they are not
      in a position to take action on their demands. Police did not
      intervene to break up the protest as they have routinely done in the
      past. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August)

      Taylor, who is the U.S. official responsible for coordinating
      assistance to Europe and Eurasia, presented Uzbekistan on 22 August
      with hospital equipment and medical supplies worth some $51 million,
      Reuters reported. The aid is destined for use in the Ferghana Valley,
      where overpopulation and high unemployment are seen as creating
      favorable conditions for an upsurge of militant Islam. ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 23 August)

      IS HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IMPROVING? In early August, the normally
      secretive National Security Service of Uzbekistan opened its doors to
      journalists for the first time in its history. Two members of the
      Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), condemned by the United States
      as a terrorist organization, who had been arrested during the
      antiterrorism campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were allowed to
      make public confessions and meet with foreign correspondents. Some
      100 family members linked to the IMU were permitted to return home
      from Pakistan under a presidential amnesty, and law-enforcement
      officials are organizing for foreign journalists a special tour of
      the notorious Jaslik prison in remote Karakalpakstan, housing mainly
      religious prisoners. These steps are being assessed by some observers
      as a sign the secular government is softening its policy toward
      radical Islamic groups, while others such as Vasila Inoyatova,
      chairwoman of Ezgulik (Virtue), a human rights group active on mainly
      religious prisoners' cases, are more doubtful about the motives
      because they have seen the government stage such charades with
      prisoners in the past in order to obtain their public recantations.
      ("Uzbekistan: Government Seeks To Improve Human Rights Image, But
      Some Question Motives," rferl.org, 26 August)


      League of Kosova (LDK), which is led by President Ibrahim Rugova,
      called for respect for the rule of law in regard to the recent arrest
      by the UN civilian administration of Kosova (UNMIK) of some former
      guerrilla leaders, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages
      Service reported from Prishtina on 21 August. Kosova's other two
      large ethnic Albanian parties have criticized UNMIK for arresting the
      men. In related news, Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta said in
      Tirana that UNMIK used excessive force in dealing with some street
      protests against the arrests. UNMIK has said that its police were
      under attack by stone throwers at the time. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22

      Minister Vladan Batic asked the UNMIK on 23 August to arrest and
      extradite to Serbia three prominent Kosovar leaders, Reuters and AP
      reported. Belgrade wants to try them for acts of terrorism and
      genocide allegedly carried out during former President Slobodan
      Milosevic's 1998-99 crackdown in Kosova. The three are Hashim
      Thaci of the Democratic Party of Kosova, Ramush Haradinaj of the
      Alliance for the Future of Kosova, and General Agim Ceku, who heads
      the civilian Kosova Protection Force. The three are among the most
      influential ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosova. Batic said in a letter
      in Belgrade that "their arrest and extradition to Serbia's
      judicial bodies should be carried out by UNMIK and KFOR." He added
      that Thaci has already been sentenced by a Prishtina court to 10
      years in prison for "terrorism." Batic did not add that the "trial"
      in absentia took place during Milosevic's rule, when the judicial
      system carried out his orders. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      ...WHICH UNMIK REJECTS. In Prishtina on 23 August, UNMIK spokeswoman
      Susan Manuel said that only UNMIK has a mandate to prosecute and try
      war criminals in Kosova, AP and Reuters reported. She added that the
      UN has received no letter from Batic and that the extraditions are
      not likely to take place. Observers note that Batic's call for
      the three extraditions comes during the run-up to the 29 September
      Serbian presidential elections, with parliamentary elections expected
      later in the year. His letter also comes shortly after several
      prominent Westerners called for involving Belgrade in the affairs of
      Kosova. Batic has long taken a hard line on Kosova. ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 26 August)

      Djukanovic wrote in "The Washington Post" of 20 August that "a
      destabilizing, antireform coalition supported by certain
      bureaucracies of the European Union is threatening to set back the
      progress of democracy in Montenegro. Since the signing in March of
      the Belgrade agreement on a new Serb-Montenegrin union, a combination
      of forces within Yugoslavia has tried to hijack the negotiation
      process and force Montenegro into a tighter Serbian orbit."
      Djukanovic added that "this antidemocratic axis has managed to gain
      the ear of some political circles in Brussels and in some Western
      European countries. These policymakers naively believe that pushing
      out the current pro-Western government in Montenegro will ensure
      stability by preventing Montenegro from gaining self-determination
      and national independence." The president argued that "for several
      months the EU bureaucracy in Brussels has in effect tried to rewrite
      the agreement. Its ostensible goal is to establish uniformity within
      the Serb-Montenegrin union, but in practice this has meant pushing
      for Montenegro's economic subordination to Belgrade." ("RFE/RL
      Newsline," 20 August)


      hundred people in Riga and Vilnius attended memorial services for the
      victims of Soviet and Nazi aggression during World War II launched by
      the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 23 August 1939, BNS reported
      on 24 August. The Vilnius service was organized by the same political
      and religious dissidents who held a service on that occasion 15 years
      ago, setting off the country's democratic and independence
      movement. The participants of this year's service adopted a
      declaration "on the colonial war and genocide perpetrated by Russia
      in Chechnya," calling on the United Nations, the Holy See, the
      Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, as well as
      many heads of state to stop Russia's war in Chechnya. In Riga,
      the participants solemnly marched from the Latvian Occupation Museum
      to the Freedom Monument, LETA reported on 24 August. Five
      representatives of the "Helsinki 86" were the first to place flowers
      at the monument, and numerous politicians attended, including Defense
      Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August)

      (Compiled by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick)
      Copyright (c) 2002. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

      "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies" is prepared by Catherine Fitzpatrick on
      the basis of reports by RFE/RL broadcast services and other sources.
      It is distributed every Wednesday.

      Direct comments to Catherine Fitzpatrick at cafitz@....
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