Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for November 3rd, 2009

Former Spy Shot Dead Near Putin’s Moscow office

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

Gunmen shot dead a former KGB spy turned basketball tycoon in his car Monday a few hundred meters from the Moscow office of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, officials said.

Shabtai von Kalmanovic, who went on to organize a Michael Jackson concert in Moscow and help two clubs win Europe’s top basketball title, died at the scene. More than 20 shots were fired at Kalmanovic’s Mercedes from a silver Lada a few hundred meters from the White House, the seat of Russia’s government headquarters, state Russian television channel Vesti reported.

Kalmanovic spent five years in an Israeli prison for passing secret military technology to the KGB before being released in 1993.

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Azerbaijan: New Law On Religion Came Into Effect – Mosque Closed

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

The government says the law is designed to make following Islam and other faiths easier in a secular state.

The closure came soon after Azerbaijan’s parliament passed its Law on Religious Freedom in May this year, banning anyone who received their education abroad from leading religious worship.The government has also insisted that all religious groups must re-register.

In adopting the new law on religion, the Azerbaijani government says it has had to react to the growing threat of Wahhabism – a strict form of Sunni Islam.

Official statistics put at 90% the number of Muslims in Azerbaijan. The country’s population stands at 8.2 million and, although only a small percentage practises the religion, it is said to be growing.

The recently renovated Teze Pir mosque has a huge green dome with intricately painted arches.

The paradox – seen in the closure of mosques on the one hand, with the restoration of bigger mosques on the other – has led critics to suggest the authorities are designing a brand of Islam it can tolerate.

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Lyudmila Alekseyeva honored for “her long fight for democratic values and human rights”

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group is to be honored by Germany.

Alekseyeva will be honored for “her long fight for democratic values and human rights” as well as for her efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.

The Russian laureate has spent 15 years in immigration, and is the author of over a hundred papers on human rights. She also holds a number of other international awards, including the Olof Palme prize, France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor and the Andrei Sakharov prize for the Freedom of Thought.

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UN Panel Criticizes Russia on Human Rights

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

GENEVA — Russia fails to protect journalists, activists, prison inmates and others at odds with authorities from a wide range of abuses, including torture and murder, the UN Human Rights Committee said Friday.

The findings came in a report by an 18-member panel of independent experts who urged the Kremlin to implement a number of legal reforms. They include narrowing the broad definitions of terrorism and extremism under Russian law, decriminalizing defamation cases against journalists and granting appeal rights to people forced into psychiatric hospitals by the courts.

The report held Russia responsible for reported attacks on civilians by armed groups in South Ossetia in the aftermath of the August 2008 war with Georgia, saying Russia should have moved to stop them, and called for Moscow to investigate those abuses.

It also said journalists were subject to politically motivated trials and convictions, discouraging critical media reporting, and urged the government to take action against what the panel called an increasing number of hate crimes and racially motivated attacks.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said he had not seen the report and could not comment.

The harshest criticism, perhaps, was reserved for the justice system in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus. The panel cited reports of torture, forced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and extrajudicial killing in those regions committed by the military and security services, saying the perpetrators “appear to enjoy widespread impunity” from punishment for their actions.

The Human Rights Committee gave Moscow one year to report back on how it was investigating abuses in the North Caucasus and South Ossetia, and protecting journalists and activists throughout Russia. The panel has no enforcement power, but it issues regular reports to draw public attention to human rights violations around the world.

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Kazakhstan: The number of Internet users reached 30 percent of population

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

The number of Internet users in Kazakhstan reached 30 percent of population reports with the reference to Agency of information and communication (AIC).

According to Kuanyshbek Esekeyev, the Head of AIC, there are about three million active Internet users in Kazakhstan. Of them, 1.2 million are individual subscribers. Mr. Esekeyev noted that «users and subscribers are different things». He underlined that «subscribers» represent physical subscription.

«There are way more users since one subscriber usually means one household. This is why we have 30 percent of population as users and 1.2 million subscribers», the Head of Agency specified.

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President Medvedev : Corruption Is Ruled By An Ineffective Bureaucracy OR How Foreigners Register in Russia

Posted by Info on 03/11/2009

The registration hassle is just one facet of a bigger phenomenon felt by everyone in the country: Despite President Dmitry Medvedev’s latest pledges to fight for modernization, the country’s infamous bureaucracy continues to grow.

“This kind of modernization cannot take place in an economy overtaken by other processes, one that is infested with corruption and is ruled by an ineffective bureaucracy,” Medvedev told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 5.

The registration rule was introduced to make life easier for expatriates by moving the obligation from landlords to employers, said Alexei Filippenkov, head of the Visa Delight agency, which helps companies navigate Russian bureaucracy. But at the same time, he said, the de-registration requirement was changed from visa expiry to every departure.

Austrian businessman Alexander Schachner left the country this summer  without handing in his registration. When he tried to re-register upon returning in August, his consultancy firm was fined 400,000 rubles ($13,700).

“I was forced to fill out incredible amounts of paperwork. I sat with officers who seemed to have little understanding of what they were doing but said there was no way out for me. All for a tiny piece of missing paper. It was so bizarre,” he said in an interview last week.

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