News from Central and Eastern Europe, Thursday 6th June 2013

BULGARIA

Reuters: Bulgaria says Hezbollah’s role in bus bombing unproven. ‘Bulgaria backed down on Wednesday from charges it made a few months ago that Hezbollah was behind a deadly bus bombing on its territory, complicating a British push for the EU to blacklist the militant Shi’ite Muslim group.

The country’s new Socialist-led government said it only had an “indication” that the Lebanese group might have carried the attack that killed five Israeli tourists and their driver in the Black Sea resort of Burgas last year.

This alone, Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin said, did not justify any European Union move to list it as a terrorist group.’

GREECE

Ekathimerini: UNHCR concerned about missing asylum seeker. ‘The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece expressed “serious concern” about reports that Turkish citizen Bulut Yayla, an asylum seeker, was abducted in Athens last week and taken back to Turkey.

“UNHCR is particularly concerned about the reports that the Turkish citizen had attempted to apply for asylum and was unable,” said the organization, which called for an investigation into the matter.

Human rights activists and the main leftist opposition SYRIZA party claim that witnesses saw Yayla being bundled into an unmarked police car in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarchia.

Yayla, 24, is a Kurd and reportedly a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which has claimed responsibility for bomb attacks.’

JP: Jewish groups condemn Greek party’s racism bill. ‘Jewish groups condemned Greece’s Golden Dawn party on Wednesday, after it submitted a draft bill in parliament “to combat racism against Greeks” by illegal immigrants.

Golden Dawn, which had been described as a neo-Nazi organization by the Anti- Defamation League, presented its bill after parliament failed to pass a measure that would have imposed prison terms and fines for racist attacks and outlaw the use of Nazi symbols and denying the Holocaust.’

RUSSIA

Ria Novosti: Russia Calls for Global Offensive Against Online Extremism. ‘Governments around the world must be more agressive in fighting the spread of extremist ideology over the Internet, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service said Wednesday.

“We should be more active and aggressive on the Internet … switching from the tactics of locating and blocking extremist websites to active propaganda work in cyberspace aimed at revealing to Internet users the destructive nature of terrorism, and exposing the true goals and intentions of the people who inspire and defend it,” Alexander Bortnikov told a meeting of senior security officials from countries that have partnered with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

The Federal Security Service chief said terrorists widely use the Internet to promote and disseminate extremist ideology, as well as lure new followers, especially young people, radicalize them, train them and entice them to carry out terrorist attacks.

“I believe one of our common tasks is the prevention of the use by terrorists of information and communication capabilities of the global Internet in their interests,” he told the participants of the meeting in Kazan, capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan.’

Russian Security Services Detain Terror Suspect. ‘Russia’s security services have detained a man suspected of planning a series of terrorist attacks in Moscow, concluding a special operation against a particular group, the National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK) said in a statement on Thursday.

The brief statement says “Federal Security Service special forces have detained the organizer of planned terrorist attacks in Moscow” and that a “special operation to neutralize” the group they say is responsible is now complete. The operation took place near Moscow, NAK said.

The initial statement released by NAK did not expressly link this to a recent operation outside Moscow on May 20, in which two suspected militants were killed and one detained.

The suspects in the May operation were reported to be Russian citizens with ties to the Islamic Party of Turkestan, who had been trained in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

However, a fuller statement released later on Thursday morning said that the two operations are directly linked and named the man detained as Yulai Davletbaev.’

RUVR: Russia calls on Georgia to scrap Occupied Territories law. ‘Moscow insists that Georgia revoke a law on occupied territories, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Wednesday.

Grigory Karasin said the law remains a serious problem as it affects the security of Russian tourists in Georgia.

The law establishes criminal liability for visiting the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The abolition of the law would “create a favorable environment for cultural exchanges, above all for tourist trips,” Karasin said after negotiations with Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s point man for relations with Russia.’

 The abolition of the law would “create a favorable environment for cultural exchanges, above all for tourist trips,” Karasin said after negotiations with Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s point man for relations with Russia.’

Vestnik Kavkaza: Three militants sentenced to imprisonment in Chechnya. ‘Three militants accused of planning a terrorist attack have been sentenced to several years of imprisonment in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Rizvan Aliyaskhanov has been sentenced to 9 and a half years in prison, Islam Musayev to 9 years in prison and Islam Aliyaskhanov to 7 and a half years in prison.

The militants were planning to blow up an armoured troop carrier.’

TURKEY

Audio – NPR: After Protests, Evaluating Turkey’s Role As A Democracy. ‘What started as a small sit-in on Friday in Istanbul grew into a massive demonstration against the Turkish government. That government dismissed the demonstrators as extremists. Steven Cook, of the Council on Foreign Relations, talks about Turkey’s changing role as a democracy in the region.’

The New York Times: Protest Group Gives Turkish Official a List of Demands. ‘With a measure of calm returning to a city that for days has been a caldron of antigovernment passions, representatives of a group that helped incite protests that have been roiling Turkey opened dialogue on Wednesday with the government.

Protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park take a break on Wednesday, as the occupation in Taksim Square enters its sixth day.
It gave a list of demands to the country’s deputy prime minister as the police expanded security operations and detained several dozen people accused of provoking illegal acts on social media networks.

The demands included the dismissal of the governors of Istanbul; the capital, Ankara; and the city of Hatay; as well as the heads of the security forces in those three cities. The list also included the release of detained protesters; an end to the use of tear gas by the police; and the cancellation of the project that started the protests: the construction of an Ottoman-era replica that would destroy a park in Taksim Square in Istanbul.’

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