- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 27, 2004

RUSSIA

Ombudsman sees abuses by Kadyrov

MOSCOW — Forces answerable to Chechnya’s pro-Moscow president are committing new types of human-rights abuses in the troubled region, Russia’s rights ombudsman said at his first news conference last week.

Vladimir Lukin, a prominent liberal appointed in February, said he wants a deputy to ensure systematic monitoring of Chechnya, where separatists have fought Russian rule for a decade.

He said he believes that intrusive security sweeps by Russian forces are becoming less frequent. “But there is worry that there are new types of rights abuses on both sides — and on a third side, by which I mean units under Chechen President [Akhmad] Kadyrov,” Mr. Lukin added.

SWITZERLAND

Catholic bishops back Vatican rules

PARIS — Switzerland’s Roman Catholic bishops, under pressure from congregations urging an end to priestly celibacy and the ordination of women, have refused to break ranks with the Vatican on church law.

But in a letter issued Thursday, the Swiss bishops’ conference said it is willing to lobby within the Church for already-married men to be ordained as priests. Bishop Amadee Grab, head of the conference, also warned a lay group that the example of the Anglican Church showed that ordaining women leads to internal rifts.

“We cannot accept your demand to abolish celibacy,” Bishop Grab wrote in response to an appeal from the Lucerne synod. In Switzerland, a synod is a lay council representing the church as a legal body.

Weekly notes

An Italian nursery school that refused to hire a Muslim woman, saying her kerchief could scare the children, has sparked a nationwide debate over immigration and head scarves. Directors of the nursery school in the north Italian village of Samone denied a Moroccan woman an internship last week because they said she wanted to wear her head scarf in the classroom, one of the directors told local media in comments that quickly divided Italians. There are roughly 1 million Muslims among Italy’s 57 million people. Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu backed the trainee teacher, Fatima Mouajche, 40, urging the school to reconsider. … Portugal will ask NATO for radar surveillance planes and logistical aid to help bolster security during the European soccer finals that begin June 12, Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso announced. He said the radar planes could detect any “unexpected or suspicious flights” during the three-week tournament. Olympics planners in Athens have also sought NATO assistance to help combat the threat of terrorist attacks in the upcoming Summer Games. NATO provided air cover during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

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