MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 112, Part I, 15 June 2004

ACADEMY OF SCIENCES DRAFTS NEW PLAN FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION...
The Council for the Study of Production Resources (SOPS) of the
Russian Academy of Sciences has drafted a scheme according to which
the Russian Federation would be divided into 28 administrative units
instead of the current 89 subjects, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 23,
reported. The plan would effectively eliminate ethnic republics and
territories by incorporating them into enlarged provinces. Tatarstan
and Ulyanovsk Oblast, for example, would be merged into a
Volgo-Kamskaya Governorate, and Bashkortastan and Orenburg Oblast
into a South Urals Governorate. Daghestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia,
Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, and Stavropol Krai would compose a
North Caucasus Governorate. The proposal would also merge Kaliningrad
Oblast with St. Petersburg, which together with the Leningrad, Pskov,
and Novgorod oblasts would form a Northwest Governorate, among other
changes. VY

....POSSIBLY SIGNALING NEW PHASE OF ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM. The SOPS
plan stands a good chance of approval by the Kremlin, as happened
with a 1998 SOPS proposal, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 23, opined. That
SOPS scheme proposed launching administrative reform with the
creation of seven large federal districts; and the plan got as far as
the office of then presidential-administration deputy head Vladimir
Putin, "Argumenty i fakty" pointed out. Putin adopted a similar plan
shortly after becoming president in 2000. The new plan would help the
Kremlin resolve the issue of control over regional administrations by
reducing the number of governors, the weekly added. The authors of
the new proposal have said their plan is "economically expedient" and
have argued that the Russian Federation has the most complicated
territorial organizational structure in the world. VY

AZERBAIJAN'S GEORGIAN MINORITY PROTESTS DISCRIMINATION. Several dozen
young Georgians from three predominantly Georgian-populated districts
in northwestern Azerbaijan gathered on 14 June outside the state
chancellery where Saakashvili and Aliyev were meeting, Georgian media
reported. They protested the lack of Georgian-language education in
Azerbaijan and official restrictions on giving children Georgian
names. Caucasus Press quoted Aliyev as saying the Azerbaijani
government "will do everything possible" to help the Georgian
minority. Georgian Education Minister Kakha Lomaya is scheduled to
travel to the region later this month bringing a consignment of
Georgian textbooks for 12 local schools, Caucasus Press reported on 4
June. LF


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 116, Part I, 21 June 2004

EXPERT ON RACISM, XENOPHOBIA KILLED. Nikolai Girenko, a leading
researcher of the Academy of Science's Peter the Great Museum of
Anthropology and Ethnography and one of Russia's foremost experts on
xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism, was shot dead in his St.
Petersburg apartment on 19 June, Russian media reported. For the past
several years, Girenko has chaired the Petersburg Academics Union's
Minority Rights Committee and has appeared as an expert witness in
numerous trials involving alleged skinheads and neo-Nazis, strana.ru
reported on 21 June. Activists believe that his testimony "played a
decisive role" in securing many convictions, according to a statement
by the Moscow Human Rights Bureau that was posted on strana.ru. The
statement asked Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to take control
of the investigation of the case. RC


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 116, Part II, 21 June 2004

CROSS-BORDER HUNGARIAN AUTONOMY COUNCIL ESTABLISHED IN TRANSYLVANIA.
Reformed Bishop Laszlo Tokes was elected on 16 June as the first
chairman-in-office of the newly formed Council for the Autonomy of
Carpathian Region Magyars, Mediafax reported on 18 June. The council
was set up in the Transylvanian town of Oradea and includes three
ethnic Hungarian organizations from Romania, and one each from
Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The new body
intends to promote the autonomy of ethnic Hungarians living in the
Carpathian region. Its chairmanship is to rotate every six months.
The council intends to establish official representations at
international organizations such as the UN, the OSCE, the European
Commission, the European Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe. In a statement, the council said the
"autochthonous Magyar communities, which wish to preserve their
national identity and to continue living on native lands...,
reiterate their objective of achieving personal territorial autonomy
and a special status in those public administration bodies [that
function] in places where the Magyar community is majoritarian." MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 118, Part I, 23 June 2004

GOVERNOR PAYS TRIBUTE TO SLAIN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE. St. Petersburg
Governor Valentina Matvienko told a session of the city government on
22 June that she is personally overseeing the investigation into the
19 June slaying of racism and xenophobia expert Nikolai Girenko (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2004), ITAR-TASS reported. Mativenko paid
tribute to Girenko, saying that "we were all shocked by this cynical
crime" and asking government members to observe a minute of silence.
RosBalt reported on 23 June that Yabloko issued a statement
describing the Girenko killing as a sign that law enforcement
authorities have failed to combat "manifestations of Nazism"
systematically and effectively. The statement said that racist
incidents, including racially motivated murders, "are reaching a new
level" in Russia, including in St. Petersburg. RC