Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Here and There

Some items from today's RFE/RL Newsline:
U.S. GRANTS ASYLUM TO 1999 APARTMENT-BUILDING EXPLOSION VICTIM. Alena Morozova, who survived a 1999 terrorist explosion in her Moscow apartment building, has been granted political asylum in the United States after claiming that her investigations into the possibility that the Federal Security Service (FSB) carried out the bombing had put her life in danger, Ekho Moskvy and other Russian media reported on 17 January. Morozova's lawyer, former FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment by a Moscow court in May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 2004), in what many believe was a trumped-up case intended to punish him for attempting to implicate the FSB in the 1999 bombings. "I know the material collected by Trepashkin, for which he is being persecuted by the Russian government, would leave even the most skeptical bureaucrat in the [U.S.] immigration service in no doubt that the Russian authorities will stop at nothing to hide the truth about the apartment-building explosion," Morozova told Ekho Moskvy. She said that she intends to ask U.S. President George W. Bush to raise Trepashkin's case with President Putin at their 24 February summit in Slovakia. RC

RABBI IS LATEST VICTIM OF ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN MOSCOW. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia on 17 January called on Moscow authorities to do more to combat anti-Semitism in the wake of the severe beating on 14 January of Rabbi Aleksandr Lakshin, RIA-Novosti reported. Lakshin was reportedly assaulted while walking with a friend and two children by a group of teenagers shouting anti-Semitic insults. Lakshin was beaten, kicked, stabbed, and struck with bottles before the assailants fled. He was later hospitalized. The news agency quoted federation spokesman Borukh Gorin as saying that there have been five assaults on Jews in the same neighborhood, where the Moscow Jewish Community Center is located, in the last month. RC

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS CLAIM TO THWART HOSTAGE-TAKING... Russian security forces backed by a tank and an armored personnel carrier waged a 15-hour gun battle on 14-15 January against five Chechen fighters hiding in a building on the outskirts of Makhachkala, Russian media reported on 16 January. One Russian serviceman was killed in the battle, which ended only when the tank flattened the building. Three members of the Russian special forces were killed in a similar incident the same day in the Caspian Sea town of Kaspiisk when security forces tried to apprehend suspected Chechen fighter Magomedzagir Akaev. That suspect was killed and several others arrested. Daghestan Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Magometkadiev and FSB official Nikolai Gryaznov told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" that the two groups of Chechens were in contact and were preparing a "major terrorist act" in Daghestan comparable to the September hostage-taking at a school in North Ossetia. LF

...CLAIM CHECHEN LEADER PLANNING FURTHER 'TERRORIST ACTS.' Interfax and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 and 18 January, respectively, quoted Russian military officials as claiming that Aslan Maskhadov, who is Chechen president and resistance commander, and radical field commander Shamil Basaev are planning large-scale terrorist acts in regions bordering Chechnya. The 15 January police operations in Makhachkala and Kaspiisk, and the wave of arrests in Ingushetia that began on 11 January, were intended to thwart those plans, the officials said. Maskhadov has repeatedly forbidden the fighters under his command from targeting civilians or from engaging in military operations outside Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003). LF

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