Plus, Russian dissidents seek asylum in Ukraine and Polish Catholics don’t want heavy metal in their energy drinks.by Ky Krauthamer, Josh Boissevain, Ioana Caloianu and Ernad Halilovic 14 August 2012
Rights groups reacted angrily to the closure of several Roma camps in France, accusing President Francois Hollande of backtracking on a pledge to discontinue harsh measures against Romanian and Bulgarian Roma practiced by his predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy.
EUobserver reported that 240 Roma evicted from camps in Lyon boarded flights to Romania 9 August after accepting a government offer of 300 euros for each adult and 100 euros per child. Over the weekend Roma were also evicted from camps in Lille.
French authorities sent more than 8,000 EU citizens back to Romania and Bulgaria in 2010 in what were officially described as “voluntary transfers.” Romani activists condemned the transfers as expulsions aimed at ridding the country of poor Roma. EU officials threatened France with legal action at the time.
The latest camp closures left 60 children homeless, Veronika Szente Goldston of Human Rights Watch said in a statement quoted by EUobserver. “Hollande’s promises to end discrimination against Roma couldn’t ring more hollow in the wake of [last] week’s events,” she said.
Ninety percent of the 15,000 Roma in France are from Romania, EurActiv writes, citing news media estimates, with most of the rest coming from Bulgaria.
Milcin accused Adziev of following government instructions to frame him, and said the conservative government of Nikola Gruevski is acting just like the communists who spied on him and banned his plays, Balkan Insight reports.
One member of the Lustration Commission protested the publication of the names and files of suspected collaborators before judicial proceedings are complete, Serbian Novosti reports. Milcin is to take his case to an administrative court.
Lithuanian authorities have prolonged the protected status of former Moscow city official Yuri Khardikov until March 2013, Kommersant.ru reports, citing RIA Novosti.
Investigators say Khardikov sold the land knowing it was subject to a court order, but Khardikov maintains the order postdated the sale, the Baltic Times reports. Investigators say Baturina, the wife of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, lost 1 billion rubles ($31 million) in the transaction.
RIA Novosti quotes Khardikov’s lawyer. Lyudmila Sidorova. as saying that “Lithuanian authorities believe that his fundamental rights and freedoms might be violated if he returns to Russia.”
Russian opposition leaders are hoping a nationwide, online poll will help the country’s disparate political groups coalesce into a movement big enough to take on President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party, according to Reuters.
On 7 October, Internet users will be asked to pick the 45 most popular opposition figures to form a coordinating council to plan and organize mass rallies.
Anti-Putin forces held a steady stream of well-attended and well-covered anti-Kremlin protests following both parliamentary elections in December and the presidential balloting in March, but the opposition has been unable so far to establish clear leaders or develop a unified voice.
“This opposition has been demoralized because it has not been taking part in competitive processes for a long time,” said anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, according to Reuters.
While many government critics look to the Internet for political salvation, others are now just looking for a way out. Alexei Devyatkin, an activist with the Other Russia movement, is applying for political asylum in Ukraine with his wife, journalist Jenny Kurpen, RIA Novosti reports, citing the human rights group Agora.
The two were among 400 people detained in the wake of a violent 6 May anti-Putin rally in Moscow and they fled Russia after their release. The couple says they fear criminal prosecution even though they were picked up by police 20 minutes from where the violence broke out.
An energy drink branded “Demon” and promoted by a controversial rock musician is outraging conservative Catholics in Poland, The Telegraph writes. Cans of the New Zealand-produced drink, adorned with a pentagram, recently entered the Polish market, and the marketing campaign there features Adam Darski, better known as Nergal, the lead singer of death metal band Behemoth.
The choice of endorser sparked the ire of religious Poles due to Nergal’s anti-Catholic statements – he once called the Catholic Church the “the most murderous cult on the planet” – and behavior, including ripping up a Bible onstage. In 2011 Nergal was acquitted of offending religious feelings over that incident, which a judge ruled was a form of artistic expression.
Darski says he doesn’t drink Demon agreed to become the product's face in Poland because proceeds from sales of the drink will benefit the DMKS foundation, a leukemia charity that helped him survive cancer by finding a bone marrow donor. His statements didn’t appease Franciszek Kucharczak, editor of the religious magazine Gosc Niedzielny, who warned that Darski’s ads for Demon might lure young people into “destructive ideals,” The Telegraph writes.