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Volgograd Bomber Was Dagestani Woman, Outcry Over Jailing of Macedonian Journalist

Plus, Tito’s widow will rest alongside her husband, and Holland takes Russia to the international sea tribunal over the Greenpeace affair.

by Ioana Caloianu, Ky Krauthamer, and Alexander Silady 22 October 2013

1. More details emerge of Volgograd suicide bombing


Russian investigators say the Dagestani woman they suspect of carrying out a suicide bombing on a Volgograd bus was carrying a ticket to Moscow, RIA Novosti reports.


Six people were killed and around 30 injured in the 21 October bombing.


Investigators said the woman, identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova, left a long-distance bus bound from the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, to Moscow and boarded a local bus where she detonated the bomb.


Four of the injured were brought to the Russian capital by an Emergencies Ministry plane for intensive care, according to a government spokesman.


Volgograd_bombingEmergency workers survey the scene of the Volgograd bus bombing. Photo from a video by RT/YouTube


Asiyalova moved to Moscow seven years ago and married an ethnic Russian, Dmitry Sokolov, after divorcing her first husband, her mother told Izvestia, according to The Moscow Times.


"That's when she started wearing the hijab, started praying, and I don’t like those hijabs, so I kept telling her to take it off," Ravzat Asiyalova said.


Officials believe Sokolov worked as an explosives expert for a rebel group in Dagestan and may have built the bomb used by his wife. His whereabouts are not known.


In the aftermath of April 2010 explosions in the Moscow metro carried out by female suicide bombers, thousands of widows or female relatives of Islamic militants came under public scrutiny as potential criminals, or “black widows.”


2. Macedonian journalist jailed for revealing name of witness


Macedonia's decision to imprison a journalist for interfering with a murder case this week has come under fire by international media organizations, AFP reports.


The reporter, Tomislav Kezarovski, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for a 2008 article about a 2005 murder in the village of Orese. The three defendants, two brothers accused of carrying out the murder and a third accused of planning it, said they were not guilty and claimed they were framed by a detective with a grudge against them.


Kezarovski's article revealed the identity of a protected witness, who admitted earlier this year to having testified against the defendants under duress. The defendants were found not guilty, and the government alleges that Kezarovski's report influenced the jury.


Dunja MijatovicDunja Mijatovic
“This excessive conviction is a worrying development and sends a clear message of censorship to other journalists in the country,” the OSCE's representative on media freedom, Dunja Mijatovic, said in a statement quoted by AFP.


“Criminal prosecution of reporters for their journalistic activities violates ... the country's OSCE commitments to develop and protect free media,” Mijatovic added.


“The decision and its brutal implementation are utterly unacceptable and appalling,” said the general secretary of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutierrez, according to Balkan Insight.


“The court passed an extremely harsh sentence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By prosecuting Kezarovski five years after these articles were published, the judicial authorities act with a zeal that was both incomprehensible and disturbing.”


Some deputies of opposition parties said the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party had political motivations in jailing Kezarovski, trying to cow its critics in the press into silence.


A VMRO-DPMNE legislator, however, dismissed the notion, saying that the judiciary is totally independent from the government.


3. Jovanka Broz to be buried in Tito’s mausoleum


Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and his wife, Jovanka, divided in life, are to be reunited in death.


Jovanka Broz died 20 October in a Belgrade hospital after a long illness, aged 88. She spent the last decades of her life in seclusion and her final years were “spent in poverty and isolation in a villa in Belgrade’s Dedinje suburb,” Balkan Insight writes. Once a glamorous figure who mingled with film stars and world leaders at her husband’s side, Broz fell victim to vicious infighting among the country’s political elite in the 1970s as Tito grew physically and politically weaker, Balkan Insight writes.


The Yugoslav leader ordered an investigation into his wife’s activities in 1974 and, although she was cleared of wrongdoing, he moved out of their home in 1975. Some accounts say Jovanka did not see her husband in the last three years of his life, although others contradict that. After Tito’s death in 1980 she was forced to leave their official residence and stripped of her jewels and her passport, only recovering it in 2009, B92 reports.


Jovanka Broz, nee Budisavljevic, was born in 1924 in an ethnically mixed part of Croatia. She fought with the partisans against the Nazis during World War II and then served as a nurse before joining Tito’s staff as a secretary. She and the then-prime minister secretly married in 1951 or 1952.


Broz’s funeral will be held 26 October and she will be laid to rest in the mausoleum, known as the “House of Flowers,” where Tito is buried in Belgrade, AFP reports.


Prime Minister Ivica Dacic earlier said her wish to be buried near her husband would be honored, according to B92.


Tito and wifeBefore their split, Tito and his wife often watched movies in their private screening room. Still from the documentary “Cinema Komunisto,” © Dribbling Pictures


4. Holland takes Russia to sea court over seizure of Greenpeace ship


The Dutch government is appealing to an international tribunal to secure the release of 30 environmentalists held in Russian jails on piracy charges.


Russian authorities detained all 30 people on board the Dutch-registered Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September after two Greenpeace activists attempted to climb the offshore Prirazlomnaya oil rig to protest drilling in the environmentally sensitive Arctic.


On 21 October the Dutch government asked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order Russia to release them, France 24 reports. The multinational crew, activists, and two journalists are all charged with piracy.


A court in Murmansk turned down several bail requests last week in the face of domestic and international calls for leniency. President Vladimir Putin earlier said the protesters had not committed piracy, a charge that could bring sentences of 15 years.


The Dutch government said it expected the tribunal to hold a hearing on the case in the next two or three weeks.


Greenpeace insists the ship was outside Russian territorial waters when it was seized.


Also yesterday, the head of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council said the Prosecutor General’s office had not responded to the council’s request to reconsider the charges against the activists. Mikhail Fedotov earlier called piracy charges groundless because it was clear they had not intended to seize the oil platform or other property, RT reports.


British journalists have launched an online petition calling for the release of Kieron Bryan, a freelance journalist who was filming a video aboard the Greenpeace ship, RT writes.


5. Cat used as drug mule at Moldovan prison


A video shot by the Moldovan prison authority last week shows officers capturing a drug smuggler red-handed. The so-far unnamed suspect, who appears somewhat nervous, is a cat that was nabbed 18 October at a prison on the outskirts of Chisinau. Prison workers were suspicious of the animal’s purple collar, Radio Free Europe reports. The video shows officers removing the cat’s collar and cutting open two plastic bags tied to it filled with a green, dried substance with “the distinct odor of marijuana.”




The cat regularly visited the prison using a hole in the fence, the Associated Press reports, citing the prison authority as saying the cat was probably a courier used by someone in the village of Pruncul to supply inmates with drugs.


Cats have been used to smuggle contraband into Russian prisons, according to a June Moscow Times story on a scheme to smuggle mobile phones and chargers taped to a cat’s back into a Komi Republic prison. A heroin-smuggling cat was nabbed last year at a prison in the Rostov region, and another was reportedly killed by a dog at a prison in Tatarstan in 2010.
Ioana Caloianu is a TOL editorial assistant. Ky Krauthamer is a senior editor at TOL. Alexander Silady is a TOL editorial intern.
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