MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 135, Part II, 19 July 2004

ROMANIAN, MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTRIES CASTIGATE TIRASPOL OVER ANNOUNCED
SCHOOL CLOSURES. The Romanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 16
July criticizing a recent decision by Tiraspol authorities to shut down
Transdniestrian schools that teach in the Moldovan (Romanian) language
using the Latin script, saying the move represents "a brutal
encroachment on human rights" and an "illegal and inhumane act,"
Mediafax reported. The situation, said the ministry, necessitates speedy
negotiations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) of an accord to guarantee the status of schools teaching
Romanian in the Latin script. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry called on
the three international mediators in the Transdniester dispute (Russia,
Ukraine, and the OSCE) to exercise their influence in Tiraspol to force
the separatists to "respect basic human rights and freedoms and previous
accords on the functioning of Moldovan schools" in the region, Flux
reported. Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova called the first
such closure "an act of savagery," according to Infotag (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 July 2004). MS



RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 136, Part II, 20 July 2004

MOLDOVAN LYCEUM TEACHERS, STUDENTS BARRICADE THEMSELVES TO PREVENT
SCHOOL CLOSURE... Dozens of teachers, students, and parents at the
Bendery-Tighina Lyceum, which teaches in Moldovan (Romanian) using the
Latin script, locked themselves in on 15 July in an attempt to prevent
the closure of the school, Infotag reported. Speaking at a news
conference in Chisinau on 19 July, lyceum Director Maria Roibu said that
three truckloads of Transdniestrian militiamen and representatives of
the municipal authorities are there to enforce the evacuation of the
building, which has had its water and electricity disconnected. Roibu
called the action of the separatist authorities "an act of genocide and
ethnic cleansing." She also said that in addition to a Tiraspol school
closed last week, schools in the villages of Corjevo and Rogi have also
received closure orders. The Transdniestrian authorities last week
ordered all such schools in the territory under their administration
shut down (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 19 July 2004). MS

....AS COUNCIL OF EUROPE SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER TIRASPOL
SCHOOL CLOSURE... Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer
on 19 July said he was "concerned" over the recent closure of the school
in Tiraspol and called the measure "in complete contradiction with basic
European standards of human and minority  rights," Infotag reported.
Also on 19 July, the EU countries that have diplomatic representations
in Chisinau (France, Germany, Hungary, and the United Kingdom) as well
as the U.S. Embassy issued a joint statement expressing concern over
Tiraspol's decision, Flux reported. MS

....WHILE TRANSDNIESTER AUTHORITIES DEFIANT. Elena Bomeshko, who holds
the education portfolio in the Tiraspol government, said on 19 July that
four of the six Moldovan schools operating in Transdniester and teaching
with Latin script have already been closed down and the others will
follow, Infotag reported. She said the schools in Corjevo and Rogi were
offered the option to register with the Tiraspol authorities and use the
curriculum approved by them. Bomeshko said the closure of the schools
has "nothing to do with the language issue" and that they are being shut
down because their curriculum does not follow the instructions issued by
Tiraspol. She added that all schools in the region must adhere to
Russian teaching standards. MS



RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 136, Part I, 20 July 2004

ORTHODOX CHURCH SLAMS 'COMPROMISED' HUMAN RIGHTS COMMUNITY. The Russian
Orthodox Church has called for the Russian human rights community to
find new leaders, Interfax reported on 19 July. "I regret to say the
so-called human rights movement in Russia has compromised itself,"
Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill, who heads the church's
external-affairs office, told a Radonezh radio station. "The most widely
known so-called human rights organizations are notorious for
professionally fighting against the Russian Orthodox Church," Kirill
said. "They dislike Russia, [try to] find human rights violations
anywhere inside Russia, but not against ethnic Russians in the Baltic
countries, in the North Caucasus, or elsewhere." He said that new
leaders for the movement must "be able to confront bureaucrats, be
incorruptible, and never think of trying to obtain foreign grants."
Activist Yevgenii Ikhlov of the For Human Rights NGO told Interfax on 19
July that "if foreign aid dries out, the human rights movement in Russia
will lose 90 percent of its vigor and disappear." RC


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 137, Part I, 21 July 2004

MESKHETIANS BEGIN TO EMIGRATE TO THE UNITED STATES. The first 11 of
the more than 5,000 Meskhetians living in southern Russia who have
accepted an offer to emigrate to the United States left Russia on 21
July, Interfax reported. Another 49 are expected to leave on 26 July.
Of the 12,000 Meshketians living in Krasnodar Krai, 4,943 have been
granted Russian citizenship and another 744 have citizenship
applications being processed. Almost all of the remainder have
expressed their intention to emigrate to the United States, while a
small number would like to return to Georgia's Meskheti region, from
which they were deported during the regime of Soviet dictator Josef
Stalin. RC


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 137, Part II, 21 July 2004

ROMANIA SENDS SUSPECTED NEO-NAZI TO COURT FOR SECOND TIME. Andrei
Molnar, who holds dual French and Romanian citizenship, has been
charged with disseminating nationalist-chauvinist propaganda and
infringing on legislation prohibiting the dissemination of fascist
and xenophobic symbols, Mediafax reported on 20 July. Molnar, whose
name suggests Hungarian ethnicity, was sentenced by a Sibiu tribunal
in December to six months in prison on similar charges. Three ethnic
Romanians are also being charged for similar offenses. The indictment
says Molnar succeeded in "transforming them into instruments for
achieving his criminal plans." Prosecutors allege that Molnar
purchased, in Romania or abroad, materials that incite to racial and
national hatred and spread the ideas of the Romanian Legionary
movement or the Nazi party in Germany. He also edited a publication
called "W.O.T.A.N," five issues of which were published, which
allegedly argued the need to safeguard the white race and denied the
Holocaust. The prosecution also claims Molnar and his accomplices set
up a paramilitary organization called Gebeleizis, which they
described as "the only force capable of opposing Judeo-Christianity
in Romania." MS

RUSSIA URGES TIRASPOL TO TAKE 'CONSTRUCTIVE' POSITION ON SCHOOL
CLOSURES... The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 20
July urging the separatist authorities in Tiraspol to take a
"balanced and constructive approach" toward Moldovan schools in the
region and "refrain from any administrative action...until the future
status and curriculums of the schools are agreed by negotiations,"
Infotag reported. Tiraspol recently ordered that all schools teaching
Moldovan (Romanian) in the Latin script be closed (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16, 19 and 20 July 2004). The statement said the dispute
is "obviously" a result of the lingering Transdniester conflict.
"Russia, which participates in the process of conflict settlement as
a mediator, is seriously concerned over this situation and persuaded
that it is necessary to resume as soon as possible negotiations at
expert level," it said. The statement added that the resumption of
negotiations would facilitate "finding a compromise that would secure
conditions for the normal functioning of all schools in the region,
including those teaching in Moldovan with Latin script." MS

....WHILE OSCE MISSION HEAD DEMANDS THAT TIRASPOL REVERSE DECISION.
William Hill, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe's (OSCE) mission to Moldova, on 20 July called on the
separatist authorities in Tiraspol to reverse their decision on
closing down Moldovan schools teaching in the Latin script, Infotag
reported. Hill said the decision is "unjustifiable" and "a breach of
good faith in the ongoing negotiations" that might have
"destabilizing consequences, should such actions continue." According
to Infotag, a new round of negotiations on the Transdniester conflict
was scheduled for 21 July in Tiraspol and the situation of the
schools is on the meeting's agenda. MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 138, Part I, 22 July 2004

GOVERNMENT PROPOSES STATE CONTROLS OVER FUNDING OF NGOS. The
government has submitted draft legislation to the State Duma that
would regulate the process by which Russian and foreign donors may
finance the activities of nongovernmental organizations, "The Moscow
Times" reported on 22 July. Under the bill, foreign donors would be
required to register each grant made with a special government
commission. Russian donors would have to secure inclusion on a
special government list of certified donors or else their grants
would be subject to a 24 percent tax. Duma deputies told the daily
that the Budget and Tax Committee will consider the legislation on 23
July and that it will be presented to the Duma next month. During his
annual address to the Federal Assembly in May, President Putin
accused NGOs of working for the interests of their funders, saying
that as a result "acute problems existing in the country and faced by
its citizens go unnoticed." "Foundations affiliated with major
Russian corporations that have fallen out of favor with the Kremlin
will have no chance of getting on the list," Yurii Dzhibladze, head
of the Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, told
the newspaper. RC


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 138, Part II, 22 July 2004

ROMANIA'S SZEKLERS WANT RECOGNITION AS MINORITY. Stefan Molnar,
chairman of the recently-formed Union of Szeklers in Romania (USC),
told journalists on 21 July that his organization wants the
authorities to recognize the Szeklers as an ethnic minority separate
from the Hungarian minority, Mediafax and the daily "Romania libera"
reported. Molnar said the demand is based on a long historic
tradition according to which the Szeklers in Transylvania are an
ethnic group in their own right. The USC was set up after Romanian
authorities refused to register the Hungarian Liberal Union to
compete in the June local elections. Observers point out that the
communist regime made several attempts to separate the Szeklers from
the Hungarians in official censuses, but those attempts always
failed. They say it is ironic that the growing rift in the ranks of
the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) should lead to
a separation that Romanian nationalists have sought but always failed
to bring about. MS