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BESIEGED WRITERS RECEIVE AWARDS; 28 WRITERS FROM 13 COUNTRIES. A diverse group of 28 writers from 13 countries are receiving Hellman/Hammett grants in recognition of their courage in the face of political persecution, Human Rights Watch said on 29 July. Thirteen of the 28 grant recipients have asked Human Rights Watch not to release their names for fear of further reprisals, including journalists from Ukraine and Belarus. Included among those who gave permission to release news of their receipt of a Hellman/Hammett grant are Mark Grigorian (Armenia), a journalist who, after being seriously wounded in October 2002 by an unknown assailant, now lives in London and works on Armenia and the Caucasus at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Ismail Khoi (Iran), poet and essayist, was a university lecturer suspended after the 1979 Iranian revolution. After his colleague Saeed Soltanpoor was executed, Khoi spent two years in hiding and fled to England. Since then, he has chronicled life in exile and defended freedom of speech. The Iranian government has banned his books and prohibits media mention of his name (see more at: CC


JOURNALIST ATTACKED. Two unidentified men on 24 July attacked Oleh Yeltsov, a journalist reporting on corruption in government and business for the "Ukrayina kryminalna" (Criminal Ukraine) website (, Ukrainian media reported. The pair ambushed Yeltsov with a stun gun and a metal pipe as he was leaving his apartment in Kyiv. Yeltsov was hospitalized, according to "Ukrayina kryminalna." Police have opened an investigation into the incident. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on 28 July, at the time of his attack, Yeltsov was on his way to a court hearing about an article he had published. Yeltsov had recently written a controversial article on the academic dean of the Law Department of Kyiv University, alleging that the dean had accepted a bribe of $8,000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 25 July; International Federation of Journalists, 28 July)

GERMAN MEDIA TRAINING FOR SLAVIC JOURNALISTS. The Free University of Berlin is encouraging young journalists from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine to apply for a three-month program "Journalisten International," beginning in April 2004. The program starts with six weeks of training at the Free University of Berlin followed by a six-week internship with a Berlin media outlet. The application deadline is 15 October and application forms are at, or e-mail: CC

U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION LEADER RECALLS ROMANY HOLOCAUST TRAGEDY. Representative Christopher Smith (Republican, New Jersey), who is co-chairman of the U.S. Congressional Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued a statement on 31 July to mark the annual commemoration of the "Porrajmos" ("the Devouring" in Romany), according to a communique from the representative's office. Smith called on governments to ensure that the fundamental rights of Roma are respected. During the night of 2-3 August 1944, the Romany camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liquidated, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 Romany men, women, and children in gas chambers in a single night. "Each year, Roma from around the globe -- from Lety, Sibiu and Nagykanizsa, to New York, London and Berlin -- remember their experience during the Holocaust," Smith said. "I join them as they mourn their dead and seek to protect the living." Smith said he welcomes the progress made in recent years in improving respect for the basic human rights of Roma, but he emphasized that "throughout the OSCE region, Roma face bigotry and discrimination of pandemic proportion." He said that in the 12 months since last year's remembrance of "Porrajmos," Roma "have been brutally attacked in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and murdered in Bulgaria" while "Ukraine has yet to undertake any credible investigation into the arson murder of a family of five Roma in October 2001." MS

UKRAINIAN, POLISH FIRMS SIGN ACCORD TO BUILD PIPELINE... Ukraine and Poland signed a memorandum in Donetsk on 31 July on creating a Ukrainian-Polish joint venture to implement the Brody-Plock oil-pipeline project, Interfax reported. The accord was signed by the chairmen of Ukrtransnafta and Polish pipeline operator Pern. Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller attended the signing ceremony. Yanukovych said Poland can become a doorway to Europe for Ukraine. He urged both sides to do all they can to ensure that the Polish-Ukrainian border never becomes another Berlin Wall. Miller said he shared this view, and stressed that Poland is ready to play such a role for Ukraine. AM