News from Central and Eastern Europe, Friday 17th May 2013


Eurasia Review: Bosnia’s Dodik Urges Serbs To Unite. ‘The president of the country’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said that Bosnia was unworkable as a state and that Serbs should unite.

Dodik said on Wednesday in Belgrade that it was time for Serb political elites to get together.

“Serbs as a people have two states, Serbia and Republika Srpska,” he said.

He repeated his controversial opinion that he does not believe in the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina because he does not see a possibility for it to survive.’


Hope Not Hate: Bulgarian ‘Ataka’ party Follows neo-nazi global trends. ‘A Bulgarian far-right party has emerged victorious following the country’s parliamentary elections last Sunday, securing 7% of the popular vote.

The Ataka party, meaning “Attack” in Bulgarian currently holds a keyposition to dictate terms for the formation of Bulgaria’s next ruling coalition, after the winning GERB party did not gain enough seats in the Parliament to form a government on its own.

Ataka’s success is attributed largely to the vote of the poor and disenfranchised, who are frustrated with the country’s weak economy.

“Espousing a mix of populist and fiery nationalistic policies, Ataka has branded foreign companies operating in Bulgaria ‘robbers’, called for the re-nationalization of some sectors of the economy and has vilified Bulgaria’s sizeable Romany community,” reported’


RFE/RL: Georgian Orthodox Church Leader Calls For Gay-Rights Rally Ban. ‘The head of Georgia’s influential Orthodox Church has called on authorities to ban a gay-rights rally set to be held in the capital, Tbilisi.

In a statement, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II described homosexuality as an “anomaly and disease” and said the gay-pride rally scheduled for May 17 would be “an insult” to Georgian tradition.

Gay-rights defenders plan a rally to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

Ultraconservative Orthodox believers have said they will hold a counterdemonstration and have threatened to disrupt the gay rally.

The Tbilisi Mayor’s Office said that no permission is required from the authorities for holding a rally, which is a constitutional right.’

Hundreds Protest Gay-Rights Rally In Tbilisi. ‘Hundreds of antigay activists, including Orthodox priests, have gathered in Tbilisi to protest a planned rally by gay-rights campaigners to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.

Their demonstration began several hours before the scheduled gay rights event.

The protesters held up banners reading “Stop Homosexual Propaganda in Georgia.”

There is a heavy police presence in the Georgian capital.’


Ekathimerini: Anti-racism bill causes rift in government. An anti-racism bill aimed at reining in the ultra-right Golden Dawn party by imposing tougher penalties on the incitement of racist violence appeared to have caused a major rift within the government on Thursday.

Shortly after Justice Ministry sources indicated that the bill had been submitted in Parliament for debate, the government’s general secretary, Panayiotis Baltakos, refuted those reports, saying that the legislation would be examined by his office “to check for legal or other imperfections” before it is submitted to the House.

In an apparent bid to gloss over any suggestions of an internal rift in the government, the ministry issued another statement immediately after that by Baltakos, noting that the “outline” of the bill had been sent to the latter’s office “as procedure demands” and that a version would be uploaded onto the Internet for public discussion before being submitted to the State Audit Council and then Parliament.’

Greek Reporter: “Heil Hitler!” After Golden Dawn MP’s Ejection. ‘After Panayiotis Iliopoulos, a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, was ejected from the Greek Parliament for violating rules against verbal assaults on other members, cries of “Heil Hitler!” were heard three times on May 17 as he was being taken out by a guard.

The shouts were believed to have been uttered by the party’s Parliamentary spokesman Christos Pappas though Golden Dawn claimed the cries came from deputies of the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which the Golden Dawn MP was berating.

The incident came after Iliopoulos had ignored warnings from the Parliament’s presiding head, Ioannis Dragasakis, to stop insults, aimed primarily at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, but also at all other MP’s who weren’t from Golden Dawn.’

Boutaris Likes Gay Pride, Hates Golden Dawn. ‘The Mayor of Thessaloniki Yiannis Boutaris talked in an interview in the radio station Palmos 96.5 and said he supports the Gay Parade in Thessaloniki but not the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that has 18 seats in Parliament.

“I have repeatedly said that the Golden Dawn should not be in the Parliament. This party is a disgrace for the Greek society. The fact that this party is third is indicative of the abjection of the Greek society,” he said.

He added that, “Golden Dawn surpasses the dictatorial beliefs. It’s a criminal organization. Those who support the Golden Dawn are individuals with an extremely low educational level”.’


Hope Not Hate: Hungarian government failing to shield Jews from right-wing hate. ‘Under the new constitution, which came into effect in 2011, all religious groups had to be re-certified by the government. Religious institutions are a major conduit for dispersing social funds in Hungary. The reason given by the government for the re-certification is that it wanted to be sure that those who claim religious status really are faith organizations before they receive funds.

But, Gall says, “There was no transparency to the process.” The government failed to make its criteria clear. “The result was that many churches were summarily deprived of their status as religious institutions.”

No mosques or Sikh gurdwalas were re-certified. Even the Methodist church was denied religious status initially, although it was restored after a year long appeal process.

The Orban government argues that the religious institutions certified represent the faiths of 95 percent of Hungarians who go to church and denies they are discriminating against any religious minority.’


SETimes: Officials disappointed in Islamic community’s boycott. ‘Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said he is disappointed that members of the Islamic Religious Community chose to boycott a world religious conference in Skopje in protest of what they termed “marginalisation” of Muslims in Macedonia.

“To boycott the dialogue means to boycott one’s self, and undermine the sincerity of the proclaimed values. The dialogue is the best and the most civilised manner to overcome every misunderstanding and problems, so nothing should condition the dialogue,” Gruevski said.

More than 250 domestic and foreign religious leaders and theology professors participated in the recent the conference, which focused on religious tolerance, respecting diversity and the contribution of media to the inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.’


BBC News: Moscow police swoop on suspected illegal migrants. ‘Police in the Russian capital Moscow say they have arrested 236 people suspected of being illegal migrants from Central Asia.

They were detained in an industrial zone. A further 154 Central Asians were arrested in a separate raid, Russian media report.

Russia increasingly relies on cheap labour from Central Asia, where many families depend on migrant earners.

But the issue of migration has fuelled social tensions.’

Video – JN1: Top Russian spy warns of returning jihadist threat. ‘A top Moscow official has said that spillover from the Syrian Civil War won’t stop in the Middle East, and that once the conflict is over Russia will face an renewed terrorist threat as Islamist fighters return home.

Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s FSB, the follow-on organization to the Soviet-era KGB, said the Kremlin thinks about 200 Russian nationals are fighting in Syria, practically all on the sides of the rebels, and coming from Russia’s predominantly-Muslim Caucasus region.’

The Moscow Times: ‘Blasphemy Bill’ Signals Return to 18th-Century Morals, Activists Say. ‘Rights activists on Thursday ridiculed the notion that Russia is a secular state, saying draft legislation seeking tougher penalties for offending believers’ feelings shows the country is returning to 18th-century morals.

“Officials and religious leaders are leading us back to Peter the Great’s times,” Viktor Bondarenko, founder of rights group Russia for Everyone, said at a news conference held just a stone’s throw from Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

“We are witnessing, or have witnessed, a clerical coup,” he said. “The Russian Orthodox Church is flouting the Constitution at will, openly and cynically violating the principle that all ethnic and religious groups should be treated equally.”

Banned under the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church has flourished over the past two decades, assuming pride of place among the country’s many faiths.’

RAPSI: State Duma proposes restricted police access to banks. ‘Law enforcement agencies would have to obtain a court warrant for access to bank account information, according to amendment recommended for inclusion prior to the second reading of a bill on the prevention of illegal financial transactions. The amendments were proposed by the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets.

The amendments stipulate limiting access to individual and business accounts to court ordered warrants only.

The revised bill would also specify that a warrant is only to be issued upon the presentation of a reasonable possibility of a crime, either planned, committed, or being committed (when there is a lack of sufficient evidence to open a criminal case). The list of officials entitled to account access will be included in the additional regulations.’

Ria Novosti: Gay Pride Event Organizers Appeal Ban in Court. ‘The organizers of several planned gay pride events have appealed to a local court over Moscow City Hall’s refusal to authorize their events, activists said in a press release published on the website on Thursday.

According to the press release, the organizers of two planned parades and two rallies in support of the LGBT community have asked the Tverskoi District Court to consider their complaint before the events are due to be held, and are seeking for city officials to be ordered to authorize the parades and rallies.’

Police Officer Wounded in Ingushetia Suicide Bombing. ‘One police officer was wounded early Friday when a suspected militant blew himself up near law enforcers in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, regional law enforcement agencies reported.

“According to available information, a suicide bomber blew himself up near Interior Ministry officers at about 07:10 a.m. Moscow Time in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky District [bordering on Chechnya],” a law enforcement spokesman told RIA Novosti.

An investigation is underway.’

RFE/RL: St. Petersburg LGBT Activists To Test ‘Propaganda Law’ With Tolerance Event. ‘When Moscow authorities this week rejected an application to hold a gay-rights event later this month, it didn’t raise eyebrows considering the city’s long record of hostility to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) events.

More surprising was an announcement last week that authorities in St. Petersburg had accepted an application to hold a similar rally on May 17 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.’

Vestnik Kavkaza: Ingushetia says incident with Chechens in Sunzha district is over. ‘The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said the incident involving the clash between the security forces of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Sunzha district had finished. He expressed the hope that such a story would not happen again.

“There is no such thing as “Chechen security forces” and ” Ingush security forces.” There are federal structures. There had been an incident, a working group of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and our investigative committee are working on it. I do not interfere. I can only say that we have once again clearly asked that there are no more such uncoordinated actions, because it is dangerous,” Yevkurov was quoted by RIA News.
As reported earlier, there was an incident in the Sunzha district of Ingushetia at the end of April. A skirmish occurred between local police and a group of Chechen security forces. The Chechens explained their actions were due to the need to prosecute terrorists from the group of Doku Umarov.
The Sunzhenskiy district has been declared by the Chechen authorities to be controlled by Chechnya. The head of Chechnya signed a law on November 6 last year, but it was published in the official newspaper of the Republic only in January.’


SETimes: Miskovic indictments help anti-corruption efforts. ‘Criminal charges against one of Serbia’s most influential businessmen, Miroslav Miskovic, increases support for the government’s efforts to prosecute fraud and shows the rule of law is beginning to work, analysts said.

“Many were skeptical and thought Miskovic would not be indicted. But now something that many had found unthinkable up until just a few days ago has happened. However, we should wait for the trial to begin, to see how the indictment is written and whether it will survive in court,” Vladimir Radomirovic, editor of the Pistaljka (Whistleblower) anti-corruption website, told SETimes.’


Press TV: Turkish protesters blame govt. for blasts. ‘Hundreds of Turkish citizens have held demonstrations in the southern Turkish province Hatay and in the country’s largest city Istanbul to protest against Saturday’s twin car bombings, which killed 46 people and injured over a hundred others in the town of Reyhanli.

On Thursday, the protesters condemned the violence, noting that the outbreak of bloodshed was due to the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for armed militants in Syria.

In Istanbul, the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators who were marching towards the office of Erdogan.

A similar demonstration was held in Ankara on Saturday, in which dozens of people marched in the street and chanted slogans criticizing Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkey has accused Damascus of being behind the attack but Syria has dismissed the claim.’

Vestnik Kavkaza: Suspect of Turkish blasts caught. ‘Mehemet G. who was registered as the purchaser of minibuses that had exploded in Reihanli has been detained, Trend reports.

13 suspects were detained earlier.’

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