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Bulletin 2:21 (2008)

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    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 2, No. 21(26), 2008 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I NEWS: 10 -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14, 2008
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      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 2, No. 21(26), 2008
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 10 - 30 JUNE 2008

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      I NEWS: 10 - 30 JUNE 2008

      Stabbed In Ethnic Brawl.
      The Moscow Times, June 10, 2008

      A brawl between ethnic Russians and natives of the Caucasus in
      northeastern Moscow left three people hospitalized with head injuries
      and stab wounds, RIA-Novosti reported Monday.
      Fifteen to 20 people armed with knives and metal pipes clashed at
      around 11:30 p.m. Sunday on Anadyrsky Proyezd, near the Babushkinskaya
      metro station, the report said, citing the police.
      A police official told RIA-Novosti that it was unclear whether race
      played a role in the fight.
      It was the third report of brawls between ethnic Russians and natives
      of the Caucasus in Moscow in less than a week.
      A spokeswoman for the city police's northeastern district branch
      confirmed that the incident took place but said the fight broke out
      after passers-by yelled at a drunk man for urinating on a kiosk.
      "The man was rebuked, but he didn't listen," she said. "This was the
      Only five people were involved in the scuffle, and no one was
      hospitalized, she said. She declined to give further details, citing
      the ongoing investigation.
      Some 30 to 40 people of non-Slavic appearance attacked two young
      people of Slavic appearance on Manezh Square around 9 p.m. Thursday,
      the Novy Region news agency reported.
      Twenty young people were involved in the fight between Russians and
      natives of the Caucasus in southeast Moscow on June 3, Interfax reported.


      Chief rabbi in Russia cites major problems
      JTA, June 12, 2008

      A chief rabbi of Russia said that nationalism and compulsory Christian
      education are major problems in the country.
      Berel Lazar, one of two chief rabbis in Russia, in an interview with
      the German newspaper Deutsche Welle said he believes that nationalist
      groups -- skinheads, anti-immigration groups, far-right ideologues --
      were not as numerous as some estimate, but that such groups would grow
      in force if no one fights against them.
      "The consequences can be devastating," said Lazar, the head of the
      Chabad-led Federation of Jewish Communities. "With these forces we
      first get aggressive slogans, then actions, then murder."
      He said the authorities understand the nature of these groups but
      tend to marginalize them.
      Lazar also protested the release of a textbook by the pro- Kremlin
      youth group Nashi that educates students about the country's roots in
      Russian Orthodox Christian culture.
      "This is a serious problem," he said. "There shouldn't be a
      preference for one religion by the government."
      Forcing students in Russian schools to study Orthodoxy would make
      Jews and other religions feel like second-class citizens, he said, and
      that would create widespread antipathy and injustice.


      Racist Attack in Lipetsk
      FSU Monitor, June 16, 2008

      A group of youths attacked two dark-skinned foreigners and a Russian
      woman in Lipetsk, Russia while screaming racist insults, according to
      a June 16, 2008 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The
      youths, one of whom had a swastika tattoo on his shoulder, then forced
      their victims (a citizen of Algeria and a citizen of Cameroon) to
      withdraw money from an ATM, but they managed to flag down a police
      patrol, and the officers detained their assailants. So far the young
      extremists only face robbery charges, but hate crimes charges may
      later be tacked on.


      Investigation of the Neo-Nazi Video with a Murder
      SOVA Center, June 16, 2008

      In mid-July 2008, the Investigative Committee of the General
      Prosecutor's Office of Russia admitted that the double murder on the
      video distributed in August 2007 really took place.
      When the video came out, the investigators of the Ministry of
      Interior stated the video was a fake, so no real investigation was
      started. On August 15, 2007, Victor Milkov, who posted on the Internet
      the video which he received by e-mail from Germany, was arrested and
      later sentenced to 1 year of compulsory labor for violation of the
      article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement of hatred).
      In January 2008, Artur Umadanov from Dagestan recognized his brother
      Shamil Umadanov on the video. He also recognized the t-shirt and the
      jacket on the murdered man. Shamil Umadanov had gone to Moscow to work
      in summer 2007 and stopped calling his relatives in the middle of
      August. Relatives reported the fact of recognition to the police, but
      their complaint was not registered until they sent a letter to
      President Putin.
      According to sources of the Russian magazine The New Times, four
      young men, members of the violent neo-nazi National Socialist Society,
      have been recently detained as suspects. Reportedly, this fact has not
      been admitted by the authorities, because one of the suspects is a son
      of a high official at one of the law enforcement bodies.


      Youths Attack Central Asian Migrants in Moscow
      FSU Monitor, June 16, 2008

      A group of youths stormed a dormitory in Moscow and attacked several
      migrant caretakers, sending five of them to the hospital, according to
      a June 16, 2008 report by the Sova Analytical-Information Center. The
      extent of the injuries to the victims, three men and two women, all
      from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, is not known, but one remains in
      serious condition as a result of the June 14 attack. Police detained
      three suspects and charged them with "hooliganism."


      Russian 'political clown' wants to fire up side at Euro 2008
      RIA Novosti, June 17, 2008

      MOSCOW, June 17 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian ultranationalist politician
      notorious for, among other things, brawls with fellow MPs has asked
      the country's soccer chief for a chance to fire up the national team
      ahead of their vital Euro 2008 tie on Wednesday.
      Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the current vice-speaker of Russia's lower
      house of parliament, caused international alarm when his Liberal
      Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came first in Russia's 1993
      parliamentary elections on the back of a confrontational and fiercely
      nationalist campaign. Although his party's share of the votes has gone
      down since then, it is still the third largest in the State Duma.
      Zhirinovsky has, in his time, threatened to seize Alaska from the
      United States, to launch a nuclear strike on Japan, and to destroy the
      Baltic states. Many political and social experts have suggested that
      Zhirinovsky represents and gives vent to the darker side of the
      Russian character, providing at times a vital outlet for frustrations
      and prejudices. General Alexander Lebed, the man credited with ending
      the first Chechen War, once famously described Zhirinovsky as "God's
      holy monkey."
      "The team needs a special psychological boost, a powerful emotional
      charge that will ensure their desire for victory," the LDPR press
      office quoted Zhirinovsky as saying on Tuesday.
      "That is why I am asking the minister for sport and the president of
      the Russian Football Union, Vitaly Mutko, to give me the opportunity
      to meet with our team and have a talk with the guys before they take
      the field in Innsbruck," Zhirinovsky went on.
      Russia, after losing their first game at Euro 2008 4-1 to Spain, beat
      Greece 1-0 on Saturday. Nothing less than victory over Sweden on June
      18 will see them into the play-off stages of the competition for the
      first time since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
      The Russian Football Union has yet to comment on Zhirinovsky's offer
      to give a pep talk.

      Russians more tolerant, but still disapproving of mass immigration -poll
      Interfax, June 17, 2008

      MOSCOW. June 17 (Interfax) - Sociologists note improved
      international relations in Russia despite mass immigration still
      being mainly disapproved of in the country.
      The poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Study Center
      (VTsIOM) on May 31 - June 1 in 46 Russian regions shows that
      the percentage of respondents pointing to increased
      tensions in
      international relations has nearly halved compared to 2005, from 41%
      to 24%.
      The growing tensions are most felt in the Northwestern
      federal district (49%), and less in the Urals - (14%),
      sociologists told Interfax on Tuesday.
      More than a quarter (27%) of respondents now believe that
      these relations have become more tolerant, whereas in 2005 this
      opinion was voiced by 17% respondents.
      Nevertheless, sociologists acknowledge that the mass immigration
      is widely seen as a negative factor in Russia.
      Two thirds (68%) of respondents said a great number of people
      coming from other countries is a negative thing. This opinion
      is particularly widespread in Moscow and St. Petersburg (75%). Over
      the two
      years the number of Russians who believe this to be a positive
      thing reduced from 21% to 15%, while the number of those who could
      not answer has increased (from 10% to 17%).

      Gay Moscovites send new complaint against Luzhkov's ban to Strasbourg
      Interfax, June 17, 2008

      Moscow, June 17, Interfax - Organizers of the Moscow gay pride parade
      have sent a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in
      Starsbourg, asking to compel the Russian authorities to pay
      compensation of 30,000 euro for denying them the right to stage an
      event in June 2007.
      "The complaint that we sent to the European Court on Monday is only
      the first one resulting from a series of banned pickets by sexual
      minorities in Moscow other than gay pride parades. Currently, other
      similar complaints are being prepared and are almost ready," Moscow
      gay pride parade organizer Nikolay Alexeyev told the Interfax-Religion.
      The submitted complaint refers to a picket, which sexual minorities
      expected to stage outside the building of the European Commission's
      Moscow office in June 2007. Picketers planned to demand that Moscow
      Mayor Yury Luzhkov be banned from traveling to the European Union
      Moscow authorities have "effectively banned any public event for gays
      and lesbians in the capital city, which is inconsistent both with the
      Russian laws and the European Convention on Human Rights," Alexeyev said.
      The Strasbourg court already has two complaints against the Moscow
      authorities' decisions to ban gay pride parades in May 2006 and in May
      2007, he said.


      Police arrest skinheads suspected of 20 murders
      Russia Today, June 18, 2008

      Police have arrested a group of Moscow skinheads suspected of killing
      at least 20 people from ethnic minorities.
      People from Central Asia and the Caucasus were the victims in a
      series of nationalist attacks being investigated.
      If convicted, the group of six, aged 17-20, could be sentenced to
      life, a police source said.
      The source added that they are from Moscow or the Moscow region and
      regard themselves as skinheads.
      The young people were reportedly communicating at nationalist sites
      on the internet, where they arranged details of their attacks on
      Metal bars, baseball bats and knives were used as murder weapons on
      the victims the group are accused of killing.
      Police also seized ultranationalist literature promoting race hate
      from the suspects' apartments.
      The police have reportedly managed to trace the group after they
      solved a murder of an Uzbek couple committed on May 7.
      Russia's Interfax news agency says more than 200 racially-motivated
      attacks have been committed in Russia in 2008.


      Police Investigating Racist Attack in Rostov
      FSU Monitor, June 18, 2008

      Police in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia are investigating a racist attack
      that took place there last month, according to a June 18, 2008 report
      by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. On May 16, a group of
      youths attacked a boy near Prospekt Selmash while screaming "beat the
      non-Russians!" and other racist abuse. The boy suffered a fractured
      collarbone. Police have identified but so far apparently not detained
      four suspected neo-Nazis and plan to charge them with a hate crime.


      Antisemitic Attack in Volzhsky, Russia
      FSU Monitor, June 18, 2008

      Two young men attacked a Jew in a Volzhsky, Russia (Volgograd region)
      cafe, according to a June 18, 2008 report by the web site Jewish.ru.
      Oleg Polonksy, age 40, went to the cafe to eat dinner, but when he
      placed his keys on the table, the two men sitting nearby noticed that
      he had a Star of David key chain. They approached him and asked, "are
      you a Jew?" to which he answered in the affirmative and was savagely
      beaten. Mr. Polonsky is currently in the hospital recovering from his
      injuries. The head of the local Jewish community has appealed to the
      city's mayor to oversee the investigation of the crime. Police so far
      have not detained any suspects.


      Russian Law Enforcement Officials Confirm Neo-Nazi Execution Video
      FSU Monitor, June 18, 2008

      The Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office has
      confirmed the authenticity of a grisly neo-Nazi execution video posted
      on the Internet last year, according to a June 16, 2008 article in the
      independent weekly "Novoe Vremya." An investigator, Vladimir Markin,
      also confirmed an earlier story that one of the victims--a resident of
      Dagestan--has been identified. According to the article, the execution
      was carried out by a group calling itself the National-Socialist
      Society of Obninsk, a city in the Kaluga region. The two migrants were
      reportedly abducted from Kaluga and taken to a forested region, where
      they were shot and beheaded on camera. Their bodies have still not
      been found.
      "Novoe Vremya" added unconfirmed information from police sources
      indicating that four suspects are already in custody, but one of them
      is allegedly the son of a high-ranking police official who is
      reportedly hindering the investigation.


      Blimp Hunts Immigrants
      The Moscow Times/Reuters, June 20, 2008

      Police in the Perm region are using an airship to hunt for illegal
      workers from other former Soviet republics, the state channel Vesti-24
      Video footage showed an unmanned airship, equipped with a video
      camera able to identify a face from a distance of 5 kilometers,
      hovering over private cottages near the city of Perm.
      "Now there's no escape from this all-seeing eye," the news announcer
      The video showed a group of migrants, identified by a policeman as
      from Tajikistan, building a private house.
      "Literally just an hour after this cat-and-mouse game, police and
      migration officers detained some 70 illegal migrants. Some of them are
      sure to be expelled from Russia," the announcer said.


      Moscow Police Arrest Neo-Nazi Gang Members.
      FSU Monitor, June 20, 2008

      Moscow police have arrested nine neo-Nazis in connection with a series
      of racist attacks, according to a June 20, 2008 report by the national
      daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. The suspects are charged with nine attacks
      on migrants between August and October 2007, one of which led to the
      death of the victim. The neo-Nazis allegedly filmed the attacks and
      posted the clips on the Internet. It is unclear what charges the
      suspects face.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 8, Number 25, June
      20, 2008

      Moscow police detained six neo-Nazis in connection with the murder of
      15 individuals belonging to ethnic minorities in Moscow and an
      additional five in the Moscow Region, according to a June 17 report by
      RIA Novosti news agency The suspects face hate crimes murder charges
      which could lead to life sentences if convicted. According to law
      enforcement sources, the young extremists were planning a series of
      terrorist attacks, using explosives in open-air market places where
      migrant traders congregate. Last month, another group of far-right
      nationalists were sentenced to life in prison for such an attack on
      the Cherkizov market, which took the lives of 14 people.
      Police got on the trail of the six suspects while investigating the
      murder of an Uzbek couple last month in Moscow. According to their
      findings, the suspects killed their victims with knives and baseball
      bats, and they communicated with other neo-Nazis over the Internet.
      Police are searching for other suspects in connection with the case.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 8, Number 25, June
      20, 2008

      Negative attitudes toward immigrants keep growing in intensity, the
      All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) found in its
      survey in late May. The number of the Russians who do not mind
      immigrants at all has gone down from 21% two years ago to 15% these
      days. Moreover, the level of negative attitude remains permanently
      high: 68-69%. The situation was found "particularly problematic" in
      Moscow and St. Petersburg where the average sympathy/antipathy ratio
      is gauged at 16% to 75%.
      VTsIOM is now state-owned. Its director, Vladimir Fyodorov, defended
      the authorities for taking measures to lessen ethnic tensions. He
      cited the trials and convictions of those guilty of ethnic clashes in
      Kondopoga, the restrictions on the number of foreigners allowed to
      work at marketplaces (a blatantly racist and largely unenforced law
      passed in the wake of the Kondopoga riot), and the liquidation of the
      openly chauvinist Motherland party.
      In presenting the polls on June 17, "Vedomosti" quoted Yuri Vdovin, a
      human rights activist from St. Petersburg. Vdovin ascribes the growth
      of the negative attitude toward immigrants to a state policy centered
      on "pseudo-patriotic doctrines." He said, "Here in St. Petersburg, all
      ethnic hatred crimes are treated as banal hooliganism."


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 8, Number 25, June
      20, 2008

      Asked by the polling firm Bashkirova & Partners in mid-May what makes
      them most proud about Russia, the great majority of respondents listed
      Russia's history (83.8%), culture (77.4%), and scientific achievements
      (75%). A hefty 60.7% pointed to the Russian armed forces but only
      55.6% to their country's influence in world affairs.
      The same question elicited two other findings indicating skepticism of
      the Kremlin's boasts. Only 40.5% of respondents expressed pride in
      their country's economic achievements and just 37% felt the same way
      about the state of democracy in Russia.


      Attempts To Build Places Of Worship Trigger Russians' Protests
      Itar-Tass, June 20, 2008

      MOSCOW, June 20 (Itar-Tass) -- In Russia, a country where according to
      different sources, 50 to 90 percent of the population regard
      themselves as believers, and where some men of science point to what
      they describe as the risk of society's clericalization, attempts at
      building new churches and other sites of worship may trigger strong
      protests once in a while - either out of ideological considerations
      ('Down with the Krishnaites and other sects!') or for very trivial,
      down-to-earth reasons. For instance, if a Christian church or a mosque
      is about to emerge in what is now a public garden or a children's
      Most such conflicts are resolved in favor of the Russian Orthodox
      Church, which, as a rule has the backing of local authorities.
      At the beginning of June a group of activists representing Moscow and
      the Moscow Region lodged a protest with the Moscow authorities against
      the construction of a Krishna Consciousness Center in the village of
      Vereskino, in Moscow's north. In accordance with the Moscow
      government's resolution of April 2, 2007 the Moscow Society for
      Krishna Consciousness obtained permission to develop and gather a set
      of urban construction and pre-project documents for building a
      religious cult facility on an area of two hectares. The Krishnaite
      center is to consist of a temple accommodating 800, a planetarium,
      several museums, an exhibition hall, a library, a health-building
      facility, and a restaurant and cafeteria.
      "This heathen temple is very alien to us, Orthodox Christians. In
      India it might be appropriate, but we do not need it at all," the
      spokesman for the group of activists, Andrei Yeremin, is quoted by the
      daily Gazeta as saying. He warned that if the Krishnaite Center is
      built after all, protests will continue, but only legal means will be
      "We have the support of not only Orthodox Christians, but also of the
      Muslim community members. They agreed to sign the message, too,"
      Yeremin added.
      In Sergiyev Posad, a city some 100 kilometers northeast of Moscow,
      the Union of Orthodox Christians has come out against plans for
      building a mosque.
      In several other Russian cities local people have staged protests
      against plans for building Orthodox churches, but for very
      down-to-earth, not religious reasons.
      On the site chosen for a church to be built in St. Petersburg in
      honor of Blessed St. Xenia people from the nearby apartment buildings
      turned out for rally last week to present their arguments against.
      Firstly, they said, Blessed Xenia lived at a different place,
      secondly, the local tiny garden and children's playground may be
      ruined, and thirdly, the construction site may harm the basements of
      their not very new and not very sturdy buildings. They also refer to a
      law banning any construction work in public gardens.
      In September last year the Orthodox community in the town of Troitsk,
      near Moscow, declared the intention to build a church in the woods
      nearby. Many local people showed little enthusiasm, though, because
      too many trees would have to be axed. The mayor and the town's
      legislature decided to call a referendum. The prosecutor's office
      protested the decision as inciting religious discord. The poll was
      In April, a crowd in Rostov-on-Don demonstrated in the park next to
      the Don Technical University, on the site chosen for building an
      Orthodox church.
      "If the priest manages to find at least one person, who is for
      cutting the trees, destroying the park and building a church, may he
      show that person to us," said one of the protesters.
      Three years ago a decision was made to build a church in the
      Solnechny district of Irkutsk. By itself the decision would draw no
      objections. If only the place for the construction site were chosen
      elsewhere, and not in the local dweller's favorite birch-tree grove.
      "We had had no idea where the church would emerge," say local people.
      "But one day we saw a machine drilling an exploration well near our
      birch-trees. This is the sole place in the whole neighborhood where we
      can take our kids for a walk. There are no cars and the scenery is so
      incredibly beautiful."
      In Arkhangelsk, the regional administration's office has been
      picketed on sporadic occasions since April. The activists argue that
      budget money is about to be spent on building places of worship and
      Russia is sliding towards 'New Middle Ages'.
      Of late, there was much talk, not without an involvement of the local
      authorities, about what might speed up the construction of a local
      cathedral. Some suspect budget money might be used for the purpose.
      Under the Russian Constitution and other laws any buildings of
      worship can be put up only with privately and voluntarily donated funds.
      Most such conflicts, says the daily Noviye Izvestia, are resolved in
      favor of the Russian Orthodox Church, which as some suspect, may be
      using its proximity to the authorities.
      "Russian city dwellers are not against the emergence of new churches
      as such. But they are certain that the roads to churches must not lie
      through places that have long been their habitual environment.
      Destruction of a grove or public garden is a tragedy no smaller than
      destruction of a church," the daily says.
      There are no official statistics as to how many believers there are
      in Russia. As for sociological surveys, estimates vary.
      The Public Opinion fund in April polled 1,500 men and women of age in
      46 regions of Russia to find out their attitude to religion.
      Fifty nine percent said they were Orthodox Christians, 2 percent
      belong to other Christian confessions, 6 percent said they were
      Muslims, 2 percent profess other faiths, 5 percent were unable to name
      their religion, and 26 percent are atheists.
      Of those who consider themselves as Orthodox Christians a mere ten
      percent go to church at least once a month.

      Murders of foreigners in Russia rising - 69 in 2008 so far
      Monsters and Critics, June 21, 2008

      Moscow - The number of foreigners murdered in xenophobic attacks in
      Russia since the beginning of the year has risen to 69 this year
      already, higher than in all of 2007, human rights activists reported
      'Since January, there have been 152 racist attacks, in which 69
      people were killed and at least 170 were injured,' the director of the
      Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, Alexander Brod, was quoted by the
      Interfax news agency as saying.
      People from the central Asian republics such as Kyrgyzstan,
      Uzbekistan and Tajikistan tend to be the main victims of the attacks
      by skinheads.
      Human rights organizations as well as the leadership of the former
      Soviet republics have long complained that the Russian government has
      done too little to solve the problem.
      Centres of racist violence have been Moscow and St Petersburg as well
      as the regions of Swerdlovsk and Ulyanovsk on the Volga.
      People from the Caucasus region have also be targeted, said Brod.
      According to estimates, the members of rightwing extremist
      organizations in Russia number at as many as 70,000.
      In a climate of growing xenophobia in Russia, four rightwing
      extremist organizations in Moscow banded together at the beginning of
      June to form a Russian nationalist movement that plans to contest
      elections in the future.
      According to human rights organization the Sova Centre, 68 people
      died in Russia from rightwing violence in 2007, with the number
      increasing yearly at around 20 per cent.


      Russians Name Peter The Great, Pushkin, Stalin The Greatest Persons
      Itar-Tass, June 21, 2008

      MOSCOW, June 21 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian tsar Peter the Great, poet
      Alexander Pushkin, and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin top the list of
      most popular historical figures in Russia, according to the opinions
      expressed by tens of thousands of Russians who participated in the
      qualification stage of the "Name of Russia" project launched by the
      Rossia television channel in the middle of May 2008.
      The channel's Deputy Director General Alexander Lyubimov said the
      project would allow Russian people to choose their greatest fellow
      citizen in the history of Russia.
      The participants were invited to choose the person who symbolises the
      nation out of a list of 500 persons from Ryurik to Boris Yeltsin. The
      list had been compiled by the Institute of Russian History of the
      Russian Academy of Sciences and finally was reduced to 50 names.
      Of the remaining names, 12 will be selected in the second stage by
      September 1. The final stage will be held in the form of a political
      "These will be debates among 12 parties named after each of the
      candidates," Lyubimov said, adding that each of the candidates would
      be presented by a living celebrity.
      The organisers refrained from making forecasts. But Lyubimov says the
      voting has so far presented no surprises and its results largely
      coincide with the results of public opinion polls conducted in a
      special way.
      According to the head of the Public Opinion Fund, Alexander Oslon,
      Peter the Great was also named among the most outstanding
      personalities in Russia. Poet Mikhail Lermontov turned out to be best
      recognised among the men of litters but was eventually outweighed by
      The low rating of scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky surprised the
      organisers. Well known among adults, he happened to be completely
      unknown to the younger generation.
      Lyubimov also regretted that "musicians and painters were
      undeestimated". The top 50 included only Pyotr Tchaikovsky, singer
      Fyodor Chaliapin, and painter Andrei Rublev.
      "Many important names have evaded public attention, but for some
      reason we tend to 'chew' on the same names over and over again," Oslon
      In his opinion, the project may help bring attention of the nation to
      the forgotten names and stir interest in history.
      Lyubimov said the project may be continued if proved popular.

      Protestant Church Near St. Petersburg, Russia Destroyed by Arson
      FSU Monitor, June 23, 2008

      A Protestant church in Shlisselburg, Russia (Leningrad region) was
      destroyed in an arson attack on May 15, according to a June 19, 2008
      report by the Slavic Law Center. The non-denominational Autonomous
      Protestant Community has waged in a long-standing battle with local
      authorities allegedly intent on stealing their land for the
      development of a shopping center. The 100+ person congregation almost
      lost their church in a 2003 arson attack, which coincided with
      pressure from local authorities to give up their land. However, after
      the church won a court case, the pressure lessened, only to be
      ratcheted up again this year. Police are investigating the fire.


      Moscow Prosecutors Close Investigation into Reported Attack on Muslim
      FSU Monitor, June 23, 2008

      The investigation into a reported attack on a religiously observant
      Muslim woman in Moscow has ended, according to a June 11, 2008 report
      by the web site Islam.ru. Yulduz Khaknazarova, a citizen of Uzbekistan
      and a student at the Moscow Islamic University whose case became a
      cause celebre for Russian Muslim activists, was attacked on May 11 at
      the Partizanskaya metro station while wearing a hijab. She claimed
      that three young people came up to her, made racist insults, and then
      hit her in the face with a metal object, breaking her nose. Her
      attackers then kicked and punched her multiple times in the stomach
      and face. She was taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital
      with serious injuries.
      Ms. Khaknazarova alleged that police at first tried to persuade her to
      pretend that she had been injured from a fall on the rails. A month
      later, police have officially determined that no attack took place.
      Russian Muslim activists continue their efforts to have the case


      Racist Bomb Scare in Ukhta
      FSU Monitor, June 24, 2008

      Someone attached a fake explosive device to a racist scarecrow during
      a Tatar cultural festival in Ukhta, Russia (Komi Republic), according
      to a June 23, 2008 report by the Regnum news agency. The fake bomb was
      discovered on June 21 attached to a scarecrow with the word "churka"
      (a racist pejorative) painted on it. Police are questioning a suspect.


      Orthodox Believers Clash at Church
      The Moscow Times, 25 June 2008

      The followers of a Russian Orthodox bishop critical of the church's
      policies clashed Tuesday with members of the Orthodox Christian branch
      of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi at the Christ the
      Savior Cathedral.
      There was a second altercation later outside the nearby Kropotkinskaya
      metro station between Nashi members and the followers of Bishop Diomid
      of Chukotka, who has accused the church of being too ecumenicist and
      aiding the government.
      Diomid's followers had been protesting outside the cathedral since the
      morning when, at around 1 p.m., Nashi members approached and the
      altercation occurred, Interfax reported. During the melee,
      protesters hit Nashi members with icons while screaming "yids," said
      members of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, whose members were also
      Police eventually moved in, and three of Diomid's followers were detained.


      Teens Convicted of Burning Man to Death
      The Moscow Times, 25 June 2008

      A Vladimir court has convicted four teenagers of burning a man to
      death in the eternal flame of their town's World War II memorial.
      The Vladimir Regional Court on Monday gave prison sentences of 16 to
      18 years to three 19-year-old defendants, while a 15-year-old
      defendant was sentenced to a juvenile detention center for nine
      years, court spokesman Vladimir Ganenko said.
      The victim, Alexei Denisov, 25, came upon the teenagers while walking
      home on the night of Jan. 1 in the industrial town of Kolchugino,
      about 130 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
      He reprimanded them for smoking and drinking around the flame, the
      magazine Ogonyok wrote. The youths beat Denisov unconscious and threw
      him face-first into the flame, Ganenko said.
      They were caught after a guard in the nearby city court called police,
      who found the defendants dragging Denisov's body toward a dumpster,
      Ogonyok said.
      "This was a brutal, cruel, conscious group murder, and, of course, it
      deserves a severe punishment," Denisov's mother, Olga Denisova, told
      NTV television. Her son was her only child.
      The teenagers -- Alexander Andreyev, Mikhail Danilov, Nikolai Kuragin,
      all 19, and Alexei Goryachev, 15 -- laughed during the reading of the
      verdict and taunted Denisov's relatives from the defendants' cage in
      the courtroom, the Rossia television station reported.


      Russia 'abuses Ingush minority'
      BBC News, June 25, 2008

      Russian security forces have carried out widespread human rights
      abuses in the southern province of Ingushetia, a campaign group has
      Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has documented dozens of arbitrary
      detentions, disappearances, acts of torture and extra-judicial
      Russia has been fighting Muslim rebels in the area for several years.
      The Kremlin has not yet commented on the HRW report, but local
      officials have dismissed it as biased.
      'Brutal' policies
      The predominantly Muslim province borders Chechnya and has suffered
      from overflowing unrest.
      There is a low-level insurgency, with regular small-scale ambushes
      against police and soldiers.
      The report claims that heavy-handed attempts to curb the insurgency
      have resulted in persecution of peaceful Muslims and government critics.
      Opposition groups are marginalised, independent media stifled and
      rallies are violently dispersed, it said.
      The US-based group said in a statement that Russia's "brutal
      counter-insurgency policies" were antagonising local residents.
      "Far from ending the insurgency, 'dirty war' tactics are likely to
      further destabilise the situation in Ingushetia and beyond in the
      North Caucasus," the report said.
      But Ingush officials disputed the report's claims.
      Tamara Khautiyeva, deputy speaker of the Ingush parliament, told
      Russia's Interfax news agency that rights activists had exaggerated
      the problem.
      "If there are certain cases of violations of human rights by law
      enforcement agencies, they are being investigated and assessed in
      order to prevent them in the future," she said.
      Ingushetia's human rights ombudsman Karimsultan Kukurkhayev said crime
      levels in the region were falling.
      "There has not been a single abduction or case of torture this year,"
      he said.


      Voronezh Prosecutors Warn School Principals to Share Information on
      Neo-Nazi Students
      FSU Monitor, June 25, 2008

      Prosecutors in the Levoberezhny district of Voronezh, Russia issued
      official warnings to school principals for violating anti-extremism
      legislation by not informing police that some of their students were
      neo-Nazis, according to a June 25, 2008 report by the Sova
      Information-Analytical Center. Twenty school principals were cited
      after four students from the district committed hate crimes murders in
      recent months. Voronezh officials may have been inspired by their
      colleagues in St. Petersburg, another city known for high levels of
      neo-Nazi violence, who issued similar warnings to principals last
      month. In reporting the story, Sova pointed out the oddity of
      prosecutors warning 20 principals in connection with the crimes of
      only four students.


      Krasnoyarsk Cemetery Vandals Sentenced
      FSU Monitor, June 25, 2008

      Four teenagers were convicted of vandalizing a Jewish cemetery,
      according to a June 25, 2008 article posted on the web site of the
      national daily "Komsomolskaya Pravda." The defendants faced the rarely
      applied charge of "damaging tombstones motivated by ethnic
      hatred"--most cemetery vandals are charged simply with "hooliganism."
      They were found guilty of vandalizing the cemetery on the night of
      October 7, 2007. One was confined to a psychiatric institution, the
      others got sentences of between two and two and a half years and were
      fined as well. The vandals damaged 61 gravestones the night of their
      rampage. Nevertheless, the sentence was unusually harsh in comparison
      to previous rulings in similar cases, where the vast majority of
      defendants got off with warnings or suspended sentences for


      Neo-Nazi Murdered Homeless Person in Udmurtiya Village
      FSU Monitor, June 26, 2008

      Police in the village of Uva, Russia (Republic of Udmurtiya) detained
      a neo-Nazi in connection with the murder of a homeless person,
      according to a June 24, 2008 report by the Sova Information-Analytical
      Center. The killing took place on May 28. The body of the 45 year old
      victim was found at a stadium; he had been beaten to death. Police
      detained a 20 year old suspect. Neo-Nazis regularly kill homeless
      people, even those that are ethnic Russians, in what they term
      "cleansing operations."


      Russian Prosecutors Charge Jehovah's Witnesses With Incitement of
      Religious Hatred
      FSU Monitor, June 26, 2008

      Prosecutors in Asbest, Russia (Sverdlovsk region) have charged local
      Jehovah's Witnesses with inciting religious hatred and have asked a
      court to brand their publications extremist materials, according to a
      June 24, 2008 report by the Interfax news agency. Investigators
      determined that the publications present a negative image of the
      dominant Russian Orthodox Church. Legal cases against Jehovah's
      Witnesses have become more frequent in Russia after a Moscow court
      outlawed them on spurious charges, but by openly abusing
      anti-incitement and anti-extremism laws, the Asbest prosecutor's
      office is taking a relatively rare path.


      Tula Law Enforcement Officials Reveal Previously Unreported Hate Crime
      FSU Monitor, June 27, 2008

      A public meeting of law enforcement officials in Tula, Russia yielded
      information on a previously unreported hate crime, according to a June
      26, 2008 report on the web site Jewish.ru. At the June 25 meeting, the
      region's chief prosecutor Oleg Chernysh said: "We have witnessed cruel
      crimes by youth radical groups in various regions of Russia,
      unfortunately there was such an incident in the Tula region: four
      youths stabbed a citizen of Uzbekistan." Mr. Chernysh did not say when
      this crime took place or what charges the culprits face. In the
      standard and unfortunate practice of Russian law enforcement agencies,
      the officials present at the meeting also reported on violations of
      immigration laws by around 200 of the 40,000 estimated foreign
      citizens living in the region, as if to "balance" the embarrassing
      information they revealed about racist attacks on migrants.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 8, Number 26, June
      27, 2008

      On June 24 at about 1 p.m., followers of Russian Orthodox Bishop
      Diomid of Chukotka critical of the church's policies, clashed with
      members of the Orthodox Christian branch of the pro-Kremlin youth
      group Nashi at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, "The Moscow Times"
      reported. Later, a second altercation took place outside a nearby
      metro station between Nashi members and the followers of the bishop
      who has accused the church of being too ecumenicist and helping the
      During the melee, protesters hit Nashi members with icons while
      screaming "yids," according to members of the Union of Orthodox
      Citizens whose members were also present. Police eventually moved in,
      and three of Bishop Diomid's followers were detained.


      Putin Expresses Gratitude To Church For Uniting Russian World
      Itar-Tass, June 28, 2008

      MOSCOW, June 28 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
      expressed gratitude for the Russian Orthodox Church's great
      contribution to the uniting of the Russian world and promised
      comprehensive state support for the Church.
      "I want to thank with all my heart all who contribute to the blessed
      cause of uniting of the Russian world," Putin said when speaking in
      the Kremlin at the meeting marking the 1020th anniversary of the
      Baptism of
      The premier thanked Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
      The state will continue to support initiatives of the Church to
      strengthen civil and religious accord and its social, cultural,
      educational and charity mission, Putin assured.
      The Orthodox faith from the very beginning was tolerant to other
      religions, and this position of the Russian Orthodox Church
      contributed to the foundation of the multinational and multi-religion
      state, he noted.
      The premier said he was satisfied with the development of the
      state-church dialogue. "We will continue to work this way with the
      Russian Orthodox Church in the future," he said.
      The adoption of the Orthodox faith was the most important and
      deciding landmark in Russia's fate. In the choice were sources of the
      statehood, great culture, national character and traditions, Putin
      The Orthodox faith inseparably linked the fates of peoples of Russia,
      Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. "We have common values and the
      common spiritual way that began near the Dnieper baptistery. We must
      maintain the invaluable wealth," Putin said.
      The 20 years that passed since the celebration of the 1000th
      anniversary of the Baptism of Rus became turning for the Russian
      Orthodox Church and all the Russian nation and society. It was time of
      revival of church life and true spiritual and moral orientations, the
      premier said.
      Putin particularly noted the importance of the restoration of the
      Russian Church unity, saying it was realization of the dream of
      several generations of compatriots about mutual forgiveness and
      overcoming of the tragic split of the fratricidal civil war.
      Putin reminded that the Archbishop Assembly was held in Moscow during
      the days. Participants in the assembly address current problems
      concerning all the Russian society. It is another sign that the
      Russian Orthodox Church is concerned over the needs and problems of
      people and serves as a reliable support for them. "I believe it will
      be so forever," the premier said.

      Ryazan Officials, Orthodox Diocese, and Academics Demonize Minority
      FSU Monitor, June 30, 2008

      A June 18 conference at Ryazan State University prompted two articles
      in the local press demonizing minority Christians in what appears to
      be a coordinated campaign. A June 25, 2008 article in the local youth
      paper "Molodyozhnaya Sreda" reported that local security officials,
      professors at the university's department of theology, and the head of
      the local Russian Orthodox diocese's missionary department
      participated in a conference entitled "The Destructive Activity of
      Religious Organizations on the Territory of Ryazan Oblast" during
      which Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Pentecostals were
      labeled dangerous "sects." The article began with the author wistfully
      stating that: "If in earlier times heretics were mercilessly
      destroyed, nowadays in conformity with the 'Declaration of Human
      Rights' everyone has the right to choose his own religion." She
      defines sects as a religious group that is not the ruling faith of a
      country, and adds that, "people who become followers of sectarian
      teachings lose their identity" through brainwashing, isolation, and
      starvation of their adepts (including children) into submission. She
      accuses Baptists of refusing blood transfusions, confusing them with
      Jehovah's Witnesses, then compares "sects" to skinheads and other
      destructive elements of society. The article ends with the address and
      phone number of the local Russian Orthodox diocese, where readers can
      report the activity of "sects."
      That same day, the local supplement to the most widely read newspaper
      in Russia--"Komsomolskaya Pravda"--ran an article that contained
      extensive quotes from the head of the local Orthodox Church diocese's
      missionary department, Father Areseny. The article began with a dire
      warning--even religious groups that at first glance appear harmless,
      "can enslave the personality of even a stable person." Father Arseny
      accused "sects" of operating in secret and fooling youths with what
      appear at first to be harmless activities like anti-narcotics therapy.
      He named a few Pentecostal, Baptist, Mormon, Hare Krishna and
      Jehovah's Witnesses congregations in Ryazan, some as small as five
      people, as threats to the public, and gave specific information about
      their locations (neo-Nazi and some pro-government youths groups have
      attacked minority Christians and their churches in recent years). He
      then expressed alarm at the fact that Baptists have worked at a local
      orphanage for 12 years, and stated that: "The children that grow up
      there already don't see themselves as part of Russia. They are ready
      to go the States."
      The article ends with the following warning: "It's worth noting that
      sects present a serious threat, influence people's psyches, suppress
      their personalities, and take away their money. Falling into a sect
      means losing yourself, your loved ones, your relatives, and your


      Six Neo-Nazis Convicted in Yekaterinburg Court for Murder
      FSU Monitor, June 30, 2008

      A court in Yekaterinburg, Russia (Sverdlovsk region) sentenced six
      youths to prison for killing a man they thought was an ethnic
      minority, according to a June 30, 2008 report posted on the web site
      Gazeta.ru. For some reason, the court threw out charges of extremism
      against members of the neo-Nazi gang "Zig 88" (international neo-Nazi
      code for "Heil Hitler"), despite video clips the group posted on the
      Internet screaming neo-Nazi slogans and calling for recruits to aid
      them in "cleansing" their district of non-Russians. In addition, the
      prosecution argued that the extremists periodically gathered in their
      apartment block's courtyard to recruit new members and organize racist
      attacks. They were detained after their January 13, 2007 murder of an
      ethnic Russian man whom they thought was from the Caucasus. The victim
      died after multiple stab wounds and blows to his head and spine. All
      six defendants were found guilty of murder and sentenced to between
      six and ten years in prison.


      June 2008. Monthly summary
      SOVA News Releases, July 1, 2008

      In June 2008, no less than 7 attacks of racist and neo-nationalist
      character were recorded, as the result of which no less than 13 people
      suffered. Like in May, let us underline that most likely we are not
      dealing with a real reduction in the activity of the skinheads but
      with lack of information. In June, incidents were recorded in Moscow,
      St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Lipetsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, and Yaroslavl.
      In the first six months of 2008, 255 people suffered from similar
      attacks, and 58 of them perished. Incidents were registered in 27
      regions of Russia. Within the same period of the year 2007, 351 people
      suffered, and 49 of them lost their lives. We see thus that after the
      splash of violence at the beginning of the year, the number of reports
      about the victims sharply declined.
      Moscow (35 killed and 96 injured) and St. Petersburg (12 killed and 19
      injured) remain the most important centers of violence.
      A new phenomenon, which became noticeable in June, consists of the
      actions of Caucasian young people who either consciously incite fights
      with the adherents of ultra-right ideas, or willingly accept the
      provocative calls of the latter. In June there occurred at least one
      such fight, in Mitino, the North-West of Moscow. Still, the
      communications about some incidents look more like conscious attempts
      to present ordinary conflicts as justified by nationalism. In
      principle, such groups of Caucasian young people were recorded already
      in 2007 (it suffices to mention the fight in the Slavianskaya Square
      which occurred on June 22 that year). Provocative communications
      concerning the preparation of such fights could have been encountered
      in the spring of this year on the Internet. However, in the majority
      of the cases, it is difficult to discern among similar statements
      which is a provocation, a fabrication, or a conscious distortion of
      the facts. Nevertheless, the old fears of experts, that the inadequate
      prosecution of xenophobia and racist violence would lead to the
      radicalization and nationalistically motivated aggression of a part of
      the potential or real victims of Nazi-skinheads, were proven to be
      true. Now we can affirm that these groups do exist, and that they
      associate according to their region of origin and/or phenotype
      (Caucasus Region – Caucasian appearance) – that is, according to the
      same principles on which they are identified by the Nazi-skinheads. At
      the same time, they copy the behavior of the neo-Nazis (provoking
      conflict, filming it with the mobile phone video camera, placing the
      recordings on the Internet).
      In June, a guilty verdict against seven people was given on the charge
      of a group murder motivated by nationalist hatred: on June 30, 2008,
      in Yekaterinburg, the convicted members of the «Sieg-88» group were
      given long prison sentences (from 6 to 10 years).
      In all, since the beginning of 2008, no less than 12 sentences against
      39 people in 12 regions of the country were issued on counts of
      violent crimes qualified as crimes of hatred.
      In matters concerning the propaganda of hatred, no less than two
      guilty sentences were given (one in the Astrakhan region and the other
      in Blagoveshchensk), against four people.
      In June 2008, the federal list of extremist materials was replenished.
      At the end of the month, it already included 151 titles of materials
      considered to be extremist in nature. In the number of materials
      included in the last adjustment of the list, let us note the presence
      of the videotape of the neo-Nazi murder of the natives of Tadzhikistan
      and Dagestan, which appeared on the Internet in August 2007. This
      month, law-enforcement agencies acknowledged the case as murder and
      identified the killer.



      ST.PETERSBURG REFUSES TO ACCEPT: VTsIOM and Levada-Center gauged
      ethnic tension in society
      By: Yelena Ragozina
      Vedomosti, June 17, 2008

      Sociologists of the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center
      (VTsIOM) approached 1,600 respondents in 46 Russian regions between
      May 31 and June 1 asking questions about ethnic relations.
      Twenty-seven percent respondents said there is noticeably less tension
      in ethnic relations these days (this group was 10% smaller in July
      2005 and January 2006). The North-West Federal Region became the only
      fly in the ointment because 40% respondents there commented on the
      growth of ethnic tension in the country.
      On the other hand, negative attitude towards immigrants keeps
      growing in intensity. The number of the Russians who do not mind
      immigrants at all went down from 21% two years ago to 15% these days.
      The level of negative attitude remains permanently high - 68-69%. The
      situation is particularly problematic in Moscow and St.Petersburg
      where the average sympathy/antipathy ratio is gauged at 16% to 75%.
      According to VTsIOM General Director Vladimir Fyodorov, the
      powers-that-be took some measures to lessen ethnic tension in society:
      those guilty of ethnic clashes in Kondopoga were tried and convicted,
      restrictions on the number of foreigners at marketplaces were
      introduced, and the chauvinist Motherland party was liquidated.
      Levada-Center sociologists in the meantime say that 8% respondents
      called immigration one of the worst problems in January 2008 (against
      11% a year ago). To quote Levada-Center Assistant Director Aleksei
      Grazhdankin, "... search for internal and external public enemies has
      become fashionable. Initially formed by the powers-that-be, this trend
      has a considerable following among the population that does not see
      any improvement in everyday life." Yuri Vdovin, a human rights
      activist from St.Petersburg, ascribes the growth of the negative
      attitude towards immigrants to the state policy centered around
      pseudo-patriotic doctrines. "Here in St.Petersburg, all ethnic hatred
      crimes are treated as banal hooliganism," Vdovin said.

      New Twists in the Russian-Ukrainian Dispute
      by Roman Kupchinsky
      Eurasia Daily Monitor, 17 June 2008

      The continuing Ukrainian-Russian war of words took on a new twist on
      June 13, when the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of acting
      jointly with unnamed foreign companies to develop oil and gas fields
      illegally off the Crimean coast of the Black Sea shelf, claiming that
      the legal status of the territory had not yet been determined
      (Interfax, June 13).
      "The Russian side," according to a commentary distributed by the
      Russian Foreign Ministry on June 13, "is drawing attention to the fact
      that the said areas are the subject of negotiations between Russia and
      Ukraine on the delimitation of the continental shelf and the exclusive
      economic zone in the Black Sea waters. In this connection, we believe
      that the above-mentioned activity is of an unlawful character and
      should be ceased" (Interfax, June 13).
      The Russian side specified that this activity was taking place in an
      area named the Structure of Subbotyne and the Rising of Pallas. A
      source in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry told Interfax that the
      Russian claims were "absurd." "The Subbotyne maritime oil field is
      located on the territory of the Ukrainian part of the Black Sea shelf,
      and the prospecting area of Pallas, which is really located both in
      Russian and Ukrainian territories, is not being developed by anybody,"
      the source told Interfax.
      The off-shore drilling conflict appeared to be connected to the
      dispute between the U.S. energy company Vanco and the Ukrainian
      government, which lifted Vanco's license to drill for oil and gas in
      the Black Sea shelf in the vicinity of the territory being disputed by
      The government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko claimed that Vanco
      had broken the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) by assigning the
      drilling license it held to an off-shore subsidiary company registered
      in the British Virgin Islands called Vanco Prykerchynsky.
      Tymoshenko stated that the agreements that were concluded with Vanco
      in 2007 were not transparent, and she accused President Viktor
      Yushchenko of lobbying for Vanco's interests. Yushchenko flatly denied
      the accusation and called on Tymoshenko to review her decision on
      Vanco. Meanwhile, Vanco has threatened to sue the Ukrainian government
      (EDM, May 21).
      On June 14 the president of Russia added his voice to the Crimean
      debate. Dmitry Medvedev did so in a message to the residents of
      Sevastopol during the commemorations of the 225th anniversary of the
      founding of the city, which is the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
      Falling back on nostalgic, nationalistic images, Medvedev said,
      "Sevastopol, a hero city, a city of workers, has witnessed truly
      landmark events. It is the cradle of the Russian Black Sea Fleet with
      which it has always shared both the bitterness of losses and the
      greatness of victories" (Interfax June 14).
      Medvedev was careful in not calling for Sevastopol to be returned to
      the Russian Federation, thereby distancing himself from the
      provocative statements made by Yuriy Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, who
      a few weeks earlier called for the return of the city to Russia.
      A harder line was taken by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov
      who told a meeting in Sevastopol, "The fleet itself is hard to imagine
      without its main naval base….Russia is increasingly being reminded [by
      Ukraine] of 2017, the year the fleet is to be withdrawn from Ukraine
      under a Russian-Ukrainian agreement." Ivanov, playing the ethnic
      Russian card designed to win the allegiance of Crimean Russians,
      stressed that "92 percent of the population of Sevastopol are our
      fellow countrymen and countrywomen" (Interfax June 14).
      During his speech, Ivanov was interrupted by a heckler who yelled out
      "It's our city!" Ivanov replied, "Yes, it is our city," adding "From
      the moment it [Sevastopol] was formed, its fate was irrevocably linked
      to the Russian empire and to the Soviet Union" (Ukrayinska Pravda,
      June 14).
      Russian functionaries visiting Sevastopol appeared not to have known
      about Viktor Yushchenko's meeting with Dmitry Medvedev earlier in St.
      Petersburg during the economic forum where the Ukrainian president
      told his colleague, "The treaty on the presence of the Black Sea Fleet
      in Sevastopol, which implies that it [the fleet] will remain there
      until 2017, is a treaty that the Ukrainian side will fulfill to the
      last letter" (Interfax AVN, June 9).
      The less confrontational tack taken by Medvedev in his note to the
      Sevastopol gathering, which visibly contrasted with Ivanov's hard
      line, could indicate that there are differences in opinion between
      Medvedev and Putin on the Crimean question. Ivanov is widely believed
      to be Putin's man and appears to share his boss's views on the Crimea.
      In April Putin reportedly told U.S. President George Bush during the
      NATO summit in Bucharest that most of Ukraine's territory had been
      "given away" by Russia and threatened to encourage the secession of
      Crimea if Ukraine persisted in joining NATO (Moscow Times, April 8).
      It will be important to see if these differences continue and who will
      be in charge of Russian policy toward Ukraine, Putin or Medvedev.

      NATO examines Ukraine's readiness to join
      Strong opposition seen from Russia
      by Judy Dempsey
      International Herald Tribune, 17 June 2008

      BERLIN -- NATO's secretary general, accompanied by top envoys from all
      26 countries in the alliance, is trying to get a sense of whether
      Ukraine, the largest former Soviet republic so far to seek membership
      in the organization, is making progress with preparations to join and
      in resolving its disputes with Russia.
      The secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and NATO ambassadors are
      holding talks in Kiev this week with the Ukrainian Defense Ministry
      and with top members of Ukraine's three main political factions to try
      to evaluate the extent of change in the Ukrainian military. They are
      also trying to measure the gravity of a fresh warning from Russia,
      which says that it will never allow Ukraine to join the Atlantic alliance.
      To understand attitudes across Ukraine toward NATO, the alliance is
      sending the delegation to the pro-European city of Lviv, in west
      Ukraine, and to the more pro-Russian cities of Dnipropetrovsk and
      Kharkiv in the east.
      Alliance members promised at a meeting in Bucharest in April to hold
      talks with Ukraine and the former Soviet republic of Georgia on a
      Membership Action Plan, the preparatory stage for full membership.
      But Europeans, particularly in France and Germany, are highly
      skeptical about the suitability of Ukrainian membership. Meanwhile,
      Ukrainians are deeply split over whether membership is desirable and
      there are widespread misperceptions about what membership would even
      ''Our biggest challenge in Ukraine is explaining to the public what
      NATO is about,'' said James Appathurai, spokesman for the alliance.
      ''Many think that if Ukraine did join NATO, then NATO would deploy
      nuclear weapons on their territory.''
      Ukraine has been slow to introduce the major defense changes required
      by the Atlantic alliance, according to NATO officials. The
      requirements include providing funding for the restructuring and
      reduction of the armed forces, overhauling military intelligence and
      bringing more civilian control and transparency to the military.
      The idea that Ukraine could one day join NATO has provoked a strong
      negative reaction from Russia. The Kremlin, seeking to influence a
      meeting in December of NATO foreign ministers, recently intensified
      its campaign to block Ukraine from integrating the alliance.
      Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian president, made it clear during talks two
      weeks ago with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany that he strongly
      objected to Ukraine and Georgia joining the alliance. Instead, he
      called for a new European security architecture that would include
      Russia but that would weaken the Atlantic organization.
      According to polls conducted recently by the independent Democratic
      Initiatives Foundation in Kiev, 59 percent of Ukrainians would vote
      against joining NATO, up from 53 percent last December, while 22
      percent would vote in favor, down from 32 percent.
      Last month, the pro-Russian Communist Party of Ukraine announced that
      it had collected one million signatures from residents in the Crimea
      demanding that the Russian Black Sea Fleet be stationed there permanently.
      Under an agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the fleet - a potent
      symbol of Russian presence in Crimea and the biggest employer there -
      is to withdraw by May 2017.
      If the petition gains momentum, it could create a conflict between
      Russia and Ukraine and convince some NATO countries that even offering
      a Membership Action Plan to Ukraine would be risky. The Communist
      Party alleges, for example, that the Black Sea Fleet would be replaced
      by a NATO fleet, which NATO denies.
      Russia is using its energy reserves as a political instrument, just as
      it did in 2006, one year after the electoral victory of the
      pro-Western president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko. At that time,
      Gazprom cut off supplies to Ukraine, allegedly over a price dispute.
      Medvedev told Yushchenko this month that gas prices would double in 2009.
      Russia is also questioning the status of the Crimean Peninsula, where
      more than 60 percent of the population is ethnic Russian. Through the
      Moscow-Crimea Foundation that is funded in part by Yuri Luzhkov, the
      mayor of Moscow, a strong anti-NATO movement has emerged there.
      The Russian bid to prevent Ukraine from being offered a Membership
      Action Plan has also benefited from disputes inside the Ukrainian
      government and Parliament.
      Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the coalition
      government, have been involved in bitter power struggles since
      Tymoshenko became prime minister last year.
      This has helped the pro-Russian group led by former Prime Minister
      Viktor Yanukovich to mobilize public opinion over the disadvantages in
      joining NATO. The group contends that membership would seriously
      damage relations with Russia.
      Over 60 percent of Ukrainians want to maintain friendly relations with
      Russia, according to public opinion polls.

      NATO Expansion—Don't Expect the Russians to Agree
      by John Marone
      Eurasianhome.org, 18 June 2008

      If Kremlin leaders of the 1980s had had a crystal ball and looked 20
      years into the future of their vast land empire, their inheritance
      from the czars, they might have renewed the Stalinist purges of the
      1930s or determined to start world war three, letting the cards fall
      where they would – anything to prevent the loss of territory that
      occurred after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
      The Russia of today, of course, has gained from opening itself up to
      Western technology and investment. But now, awash in cash from oil and
      gas exports, Moscow is remembering its glory days, its place in the
      worl<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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