NEWS - Archive October 2010

Headlines 29 October, 2010

NEO-NAZI GETS LIFE SENTENCE FOR HATE KILLINGS (Russia)

29/10/2010- The Moscow City Court has sentenced a 22-year-old neo-Nazi to life in prison for killing 15 people. Vasily Krivets, who was also handed a fine of 13.5 million rubles ($450,000), has not confessed to the crimes. The court also sentenced Dmitry Ufimtsev, 23, who confessed to committing five murders, to 22 years in prison. After their meeting in 2007, Ufimtsev and Krivets collaborated in the murder of 15 people, most of whom were migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus. The two have also been linked to the Nationalist Socialist Society (NSO), an ultra-nationalist gang that first began as a political movement. Ufimtsev and Krivets said they identified their victims according to their physical appearance, specifically targeting “foreigners” and assaulting them with knives. One such victim, for example, was an elderly violinist who played for small change near a metro station in Moscow, the Gazeta daily reported. Krivets admitted to stabbing the man and leaving him to die for “being Jewish” – testimony he later denied. This is only the third time that a man has received a life sentence for hate killings in Russia. Two previous life sentences were handed to Nikolay Korolev in 2008, for a bombing that killed 14 people, and Aleksandr Degtyarev in 2010 for murdering four people. Ufimtsev and Krivets have refused requests to speak to the press. Their lawyers have ten days to appeal the verdict from the moment they receive a written copy of it. Hate crimes have seen a recent rise in Russia. The Ministry of Interior has stated that 548 such crimes were committed in 2009, up by more than 50 per cent from 2007. Ultra-nationalist gangs have also mushroomed, with more than 150 of them currently operating throughout Russia.

RT

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NEO-NAZI GROUPS, EXTREMIST CRIME INCREASING RAPIDLY IN RUSSIA, SENIOR MVD OFFICIAL SAYS

28/10/2010- Major General Sergey Girko, the head of the Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs, says that there are now more than 150 neo-Nazi groups in his country and that both their number and the number of extremist crimes is rising rapidly. Speaking to an international conference in Moscow on combating extremist and terrorist groups and crime today, Girko acknowledged that for that reason as well as many others, “the operational situation in the area of countering extremism on the territory of the Russian Federation remains complicated” Girko said that “every year” the number of crimes of an extremist nature in Russia has been growing. “If in 2007, there were 356 such crimes registered” – a 35 percent increase over the year before – “then in 2008, this figure increased to 460 (up 29 percent) and in 2009 to 548 (up 19 percent).”

The current year has been no exception to this pattern, the MVD general said. During the first six months of the year, there were 370 such crimes recorded, up by 39 percent over the same period in 2009. And that figure suggests that there will be a comparable increase for the entire year as well. Moreover, Girko continued, “the number of radical groups based on the ideology of national, racial and religious tolerance also continues to grow.” According to MVD figures, there are now “more than 150 radical neo-fascist groups” in Russia “whose members profess a cult of nationalism and racial superiority” and seek to implement it with violence. The MVD institute director said that “we very well understand that statistics are not an absolutely exact barometer” in this area. “As law enforcement practice shows, at the initial stage, extremist crimes are sometimes classified as having been committed for other reasons” all the more so because extremist groups are often combined with ordinary criminal ones.

“In Russia,” he continued, “particularly in recent years,” the powers that be have adopted “a complex of legislative and organizational measures in order to react in an adequate fashion to the existing threats from the side of organized criminal formations of an extremist and terrorist direction.” Among these steps, Girko said, has been “the creation of a government system of countering extremism in which a particular place undoubtedly belongs to law enforcement organs.” They in turn have created inside the MVD a special department, whose staff specializes in providing advice on how to respond to and then prevent extremist crime. His own institute, Girko said, conducts research and makes recommendations in this area in order to “raise the level” of the understanding of front-line officers in the struggle with this kind of crime and to generalize on the findings of investigators so that what one group learns all can benefit from.

The institute’s research, he continued, shows how complicated and multi-faceted is the task of those who seek to combat such crimes, and Girko suggested that what is “required” now is the involvement of “all institutions of government power” in this struggle, with each being responsible for one or another sector. While a great deal has been accomplished, Girko said, “work in this direction in many regions [of the Russian Federation] is not being carried out at all or is being carried out in an ineffective way.” In all too many places, such activities are limited to declarations of good intentions rather than continuing action. Girko concluded by saying that Russia’s fight against extremist crimes can only benefit from the experiences of others who have assembled in Moscow for this conference, and he said that the speeches and deliberations of the group would be published so that they could benefit everyone who is engaged in this struggle.
Window on Eurasia Blog

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SWEDISH FAR RIGHT NOT WELCOME AT NOBEL DINNER (Sweden)

Sweden Democrats' (SD) leader Jimmie Åkesson is the only parliamentary party leader not invited to the Nobel banquet in Stockholm City Hall in December, with the Nobel Foundation citing the values expressed in Alfred Nobel's will.

27/10/2010- "It comes across very clearly that no consideration should be made to nationality affiliation. SD's values stand in direct contravention of this," said Michael Sohlman, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation, to the Aftonbladet daily. The decision to exclude Åkesson from the guest list for the Nobel Banquet on December 10th was taken by a united Nobel Foundation board. "We are a private foundation and decide ourselves who we want to come to the banquet," Sohlman said, explaining that the Sweden Democrats' policy programme indicates a view of humanity not compatible with that expressed by Alfred Nobel. Jimmie Åkesson expressed surprise and disappointment at missing out on the festivities. "It is regrettable, in recent years all the party leaders have been invited," he told the newspaper.

Åkesson described the decision as "controversial" and considered it strange for the committee to cite Alfred Nobel's last will and testament. "I am surprised that they choose to take this stand and take this decision to single me out and not take a general position that they don't invite the party leaders," Åkesson told Sveriges Radio's P4 news programme on Wednesday. "This seems to be a political decision. Michael Sohlman is after all a Social Democrat politician," he said. The Nobel banquet is traditionally attended by the Swedish royal family, political leaders, Nobel prize winners and a host of other dignitaries. Further politicians on the list for this year's festivities include the foreign minister, finance minister, education minister and culture minister.

External link: Full text of Alfred Nobel's last will and testament
The Local - Sweden

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Malmö police received a further report on what could be another of the wave of shootings suspected to be directed against people of immigrant descent in the city, while residents came out in force to demonstrate against the violence.

26/10/2010- Police received a report from a man on Östra Farmvägen in the Kartrinelund area of the city who thought that he had been the target of a shooting. "He said that he had heard some form of bang or a crack and we went over to speak to the man and search for any clues," said Charley Nilsson at Skåne police. Just prior to that several people got in touch regrading a shooting by a local store on Ramels väg. "We we got there we found four empty cases and deemed that they came from a start pistol and not a live weapon," said Nilsson. He continued to point out that it remains serious if someone has let off a shot with a start pistol, not only because someone could get hurt, but also considering that it could contribute to the level of fear and concern regarding the wave of unsolved shootings. "Furthermore it uses up time which we could otherwise use for something else and perhaps more important work," Nilsson said.

On Monday evening police seized a car after the driver heard a bang and then the rear windscreen exploded. "We was about to drive out of a garage on Ramels väg when he heard the noise," Nilsson said. Police do not believe that anyone has shot directly at the car or the driver, however. "But we want to be certain and rule it out." Elsewhere on Monday evening, several hundred people gathered in a new demonstration against violence and social marginalization, in response to the shootings in the city. "Together we are bulletproof," read one of the banners. At a press conference earlier in the day it was concluded that 19 of the 50 or so shootings which have occurred since October last year have been consigned the file marked unexplained which are now the focus of investigations. "The profiling group have now gone through all the cases and come to the conclusion that there are good grounds to believe that it concerns the same perpetrator, but we can not get stuck on the idea," said detective inspector Börje Sjöholm at Skåne county police.

Police have confirmed that one person has died and eight people have been injured as a result of the attacks which have been compared to the "Laserman" spate of shootings which occurred in the early 1990s. Laserman was the nickname given to John Ausonius, who shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, in and around Stockholm from August 1991 to January 1992. Ausonius, who in many of the attacks used a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison. Just as with the Laserman case, the recent shootings in Malmö come at a time when an openly anti-immigration party has just entered the Swedish parliament. This year, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats won 20 seats in parliament in the September 19th election with an especially strong showing in the south of Sweden.
The Local - Sweden

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WOMEN IN ICELAND TAKE THE DAY OFF

26/10/2010- Women all around Iceland, in Reykjavík, Ísafjördur, Skagafjördur, Akureyri and Egilsstadir, left work at 2:25 pm yesterday and marched to their respective town centers to raise awareness of the gender gap in salaries and violence against women. In Reykjavík alone, it is estimated that 50,000 women gathered at Arnarhóll by the Government Offices and listened to speeches and music in spite of the stormy and rainy weather. The day’s project leader, Bryndís Bjarnason, said their determination was characteristic of their fiery hot fighting spirit, Morgunbladid reports. Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the first Women’s Day Off in 1975 when society was paralyzed because of the women’s strike.

Ending the workday at 2:25 pm yesterday has a symbolic meaning, because at that point women stop getting paid when the difference in salaries between men and women is taken into account. Rashida Manjoo, the United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, who is the guest of honor at a conference held on that subject, reminded attendees that equality by law is not sufficient, substantial equality must be achieved. Yet even though a salary gap of 65.65 percent remains, much has been achieved in the fight for women’s rights in Iceland in the past 35 years. Gudrún Jónsdóttir, the founder of Stígamót, education and counseling center for survivors of sexual abuse and violence, said in her speech that at the first Women’s Day Off the concept of “gender-based violence” had been practically unknown. Hildur Fridleifsdóttir, director of Landsbanki’s main branch on Austurstraeti in downtown Reykjavík, was among the demonstrators yesterday. She said many things had changed since she first started working as a banker. “I remember the boys were always paid more than the girls even though they had exactly the same background and the same duties. The boys were, for example, always given a little bit more money on summer jobs—then the old attitude that the man was the household’s prime earner prevailed,” Fridleifsdóttir said.

She believes workplaces operate best if there is an equal distribution among male and female employees. “We approach projects differently which is useful.” Today, Landsbanki’s employees earn the same regardless of their gender, at least among those working the same jobs, Fridleifsdóttir stated. However, the majority of clerks are women, a profession which is behind in wage development, she added. “I believe it’s good to raise awareness of the salary and wage issues of women in society in general. In some places they’ve dropped out of the race, in other places they haven’t,” Fridleifsdóttir concluded. Landsbanki’s male employees were happy to take on the duties of their female colleagues who wanted to attend yesterday’s demonstration. “Absolutely. These are just two hours once a year. It’s a positive thing and it’s good to remind people of the fight and to keep it on the agenda. Now there is a crisis which poses a risk of maintaining low salaries,” commented Yngvi Ódinn Gudmundsson, director of the Landsbanki branch in Hamraborg, Kópavogur.
The Iceland Review

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UKRAINE CALLING: AGAINST XENOPHOBIA AND RACISM

26/10/2010- A series of anti-racism events has been organized in Ukraine during the Football against Racism in Europe Action Week from 16 through 26 October 2010 - as the country prepares to co-host UEFA EURO 2012.

Some serious racist incidents occurred in Ukrainian football earlier this year. For example, FC Karpaty Lviv fans displayed a banner 'Turkish pigs get out of Europe!' during a Europa League game against Galatasaray Istanbul on 26 August. On 7 September, the extreme-right party Svoboda, together with racist fan groups, conducted a 1000-strong 'March for Ukrainian Football' before the international friendly Ukraine-Chile in Kiev, demanding a purge of foreign players from the Ukrainian clubs. A recent report by the Football against Prejudices group and the East Europe Monitoring Centre documents the wide-spread use of racist and far-right symbols on Ukrainian stadiums. Against this backdrop, anti-racist activities took place across the large country, from Donetsk in the east to Lviv in the west. FARE events were organized in Kiev, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Kharkiv, Mukachevo (Trans-Carpathian region), and other places, too. They included special banners unfurled at league games, grass-roots multi-ethnic football tournaments involving migrants and refugees, and high-profile round table discussions prepared by FARE partners: the Eastern European Development Institute, the African Centre, NEEKA Foundation, Arsenal Kiev fans, and other groups. Several activities were launched and supported directly by the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association which coordinates the FARE East European Development Project.

'Both Poland and Ukraine have their problems with xenophobia, but there are reasons for optimism, too. We need to monitor hate crime and hate speech closely and develop further cooperation with the brave Ukrainian anti-racists, ethnic minorities as well as policy-makers and opinion-leaders' - said Dr Rafal Pankowski, the coordinator of the FARE Eastern European Development Project and the Warsaw-based East Europe Monitoring Centre, who attended the meetings in Lviv and Kiev. 'Ukraine is a country full of diversity. It is important to reflect itin its preparations towards EURO 2012. There are many nationalities, ethnic groups, cuisine, folk styles in this vast country and more than 45 thousand foreign students studying here. EURO 2012 is an occasion to celebrate the diversity' - said Dr Mridula Ghosh, the chair of the FARE partner organization Eastern European Development Institute (EEDI), who co-organized recent round tables on football and tolerance in Donetsk and Lviv, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation office In Ukraine and the State Committee for Nationalities and Religions of Ukraine.

'There is a long way to go, but racism cannot go unchallenged' - adds Charles Asante-Yeboa, president of the FARE partner African Centre, who organized a series of anti-racism matches during the FARE Action Week in numerous cities across Ukraine.
NEVER AGAIN Association

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POLICE GEAR UP FOR FAR-RIGHT PROTEST IN SWINDON (uk)

24/10/2010- The chief of Wiltshire Police says the force is prepared to deal with a protest march planned by the far right English Defence League next month. Chief Constable Brian Moore says he had to respect the right of people to protest peacefully and hoped the event would not give rise to violence. The English Defence League, an anti-Muslim group formed in 2009, says on its website that it is planning a day of protests in Swindon, Preston and the West Midlands on November 20. It is feared the EDL might be planning to hold the march in Manchester Road, one of the most multi-cultural areas of town and very close to the site of a proposed new mosque. Chief Con Moore said: “Wiltshire Police are aware of the potential for a march and we are preparing to deal with that if it arises.

“We are keen to experience good co-operation from the organisers of the event and good co-operation from the local communities so we can properly balance people’s legitimate right to protest and to protest about protests. “We have got a plan and we will deal with whatever arises. “I would appeal to everyone to be calm and measured and respect everyone’s rights. “Events like this do make communities nervous and part of our job is to make sure they have nothing to worry about. “But in the end I hope they (the EDL) will go somewhere else.”

Earlier this month there were violent clashes between the EDL, Unite Against Fascism and the police in Leicester, leading to 10 people being charged with public order and other offences. The EDL’s planned protest march in the city had earlier been banned by Home Secretary Theresa May and the EDL was only permitted to hold static demonstrations. Leicestershire police mounted its biggest operation in 25 years to try to keep the peace between the two opposed groups. More than 2,000 officers from 13 forces were involved in policing 1,000 EDL supporters and 700 from UAF. A spokesman for Swindon Council said they were aware of the planned march and were in talks with Wiltshire Police.

South West Trades Union Council regional secretary Nigel Costley said the TUC was joining with community and campaign groups to call for a ban of the EDL if rumours of the protest march in the town proved to be true. He said: “The EDL is a toxic mix of right-wing racists and football hooligans. “They pick areas with Asian communities to stir violent reactions. Plans for a new mosque on Manchester Road in Swindon will be exploited by the EDL to push their anti-Islamic views.”
The Swindon Advertiser

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SURVEY FINDS DIFFERENT CHALLENGES FOR BISEXUALS

25/10/2010- Yes: it really is different for bisexuals. This is one of the findings from last week’s interim release of results from the Workplace Survey – possibly the largest of its kind – designed to investigate the work experiences of those who identify as bisexual, pansexual, many-gender-loving or fluid desire. That is: it is not just that bisexuality is a genuine, distinct sexual orientation – as opposed to a phase that individuals pass through – but being bisexual leads individuals to face a number of challenges and pressures that are very different from those experienced by those who identify as lesbian, gay or even straight. To begin with, the survey revealed that bisexuality is much more broadly defined than non-bi people know or understand, with almost one in five who identify as gay or straight also indicating clear bisexual behaviour or feelings. Some 53 per cent of those surveyed identified as female, 35 per cent as male and ten per cent as queer. Most bisexuals come out to themselves between the ages of seven and 19, which according to the authors is similar to the age at which most of those who identify as lesbian or gay come out. Two out of five bisexuals consider themselves to be polyamorous, which creates additional pressure. This is defined as having or wanting numerous intimate relationships with the consent of those involved.

Individuals were more likely to be out as bisexual where a company’s non-discrimination policy included both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression: in companies where there the non-discrimination policy covered just sexual orientation, respondents were no more likely to be out than if it was not in the policy. There are clear, specific, unique workplace concerns for bisexuals that are distinct from those for lesbian or gay employees. Half of respondents felt that their co-workers had misperceptions about bisexuality. In general, respondents reported a number of similar issues to those reported by lesbian and gays. However, they suffered an additional disadvantage of being seen as not belonging to either ‘side’ (gay or straight) – and therefore reported a degree of distrust from both those groups. Respondents reported that bisexuals who leave a partner of one sex and then become involved with someone of another sex are gossiped about much more than someone who is straight or gay. This effect then filters through into other aspects of work life, including the perception that bisexuals are often seen as unstable, unreliable, and therefore un-promotable .

A further issue identified was the need for polyamorous bisexuals to remain closeted, even where their bisexuality is accepted. The survey also found that transgender people are seen as most accepting of bisexuals. The results released to date are based on a preliminary data set of 800 respondents (out of nearly 1,200 obtained to date). Final results will be published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Bisexuality.
Pink News

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UK BARS MINISTER FROM ISLAMIC MEET

25/10/2010- British prime minister David Cameron barred the country's first ever and only Muslim cabinet minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, from attending a conference dominated by Islamic fundamentalists on Sunday. The move has sparked wrangling within the Conservative Party to which both belong and the country's coalition government over how the government should handle extremism. Cameron reportedly asked Warsi, who is of Pakistani origin, not to attend the G lobal Peace and Unity meet on the grounds that hardliners, "who have justified suicide missions and supported al-Qaida, homophobia and terrorism were participating in it.`` Warsi is said to be of the view that confronting extremists publicly was an effective way of dealing with militancy. The United Kingdom`s Sunday Times newspaper quoted a government source as saying, "She had hoped to attend, but there is a conflict of opinion on how extremists should be dealt with and the prime minister, supported by Theresa May (the home minister), were adamant that no Tories (Conservatives) should attend." Liberal Democrats, however, are of the belief that extremists should be publicly confronted. Their communities minister, Andrew Stunell, stressed in a speech at the event that the British government will not tolerate extremism, hatred, and intolerance in any form. Sadiq Khan, also of Pakistani descent, who was a minister of state in Gordon Brown`s government and new Labour leader Ed Miliband`s campaign director, also spoke at the gathering British television channel, Islam Channel, had organised the meet. A Muslim think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, had earlier this year accused the channel of promoting extremist groups.
The Times of India

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EU TO DEPLOY ARMED PATROLS AT GREEK-TURKISH BORDER

25/10/2010- The EU is to deploy border patrols in Greece in a bid to stop the increasingly high numbers of irregular migrants crossing over from Turkey, days after Athens was criticised by the United Nations over its "appalling" conditions for detainees. "The situation at the Greek land border with Turkey is increasingly worrying. The flows of people crossing the border irregularly have reached alarming proportions and Greece is manifestly not able to face this situation alone. I am very concerned about the humanitarian situation," home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement on Sunday (24 October).

Following a request from the Greek government, the EU will deploy its Rapid Border Intervention Teams (Rabit-s) for the first time since their creation in 2007. Drawn from the member states' "national reserve" put at the disposal of Frontex, the EU's border control agency, the Rabit-s are mandated to observe national and EU law and will be embedded with Greek border patrols. The Rabit-s have authorisation to access Greek databases and "when necessary, use force." They are authorised to carry their service weapons and national uniform, but will wear a blue armband with the EU and Frontex logo. During their deployment, Rabit-s are regarded as Greek border patrols if any offence is committed against or by them. Frontex naval patrols have in the past come under fire for assisting Italian border guards in pushing back migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea without offering the minimum humanitarian assistance required under international law. Ms Malmstrom said that she expected "proper assistance to be given to all person crossing the border and that the request for international protection will be considered, in full compliance with EU and international standards."

Earlier on Sunday, Greek home affairs minister Christos Papoutsis said that "a mass influx" of irregular migrants was registered every day at the Greek land border with Turkey "with the aim of accessing other EU countries." "The increasing pressure of illegal migration flows on Greek borders is a clearly European problem that demands a European solution," he said. Last week, the United Nations also called on the EU to do more to lighten the migrant burden on Greece, which it said has "catastrophic" conditions for detainees. In 2008, 50 percent of irregular migrants arrested in the EU were detained in Greek prisons, but in the first eight months of 2010 the figure rose to 90 percent, the UN said. The detention conditions, as described by UN's special investigator on torture and cruel treatment, are "inhuman and degrading ... appalling ... dysfunctional." After neighbouring Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Malta and Italy tightened up their border controls in past years, a bigger influx of migrants is now registered in Greece.

According to Frontex, more than three-quarters of the 40,977 people intercepted while trying to enter without proper documents into the EU in the first half of 2010 entered through Greece, mainly coming via Turkey. Politically at odds over the island of Cyprus and with Ankara pressing the EU for visa-free travel, Turkey and Greece nevertheless recently announced "systematic bilateral co-operation" in the area of migration. Speaking at a joint press conference in Athens on Friday, Greek premier George Papandreou said that a "xenophobic climate" is being cultivated in Europe and hoped that bilateral co-operation with Turkey would help alleviate the trend by reducing the wave of migration. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile noted the potential benefits for Greek tourism if the EU visa regime for Turkish citizens was relaxed.
The EUobserver

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