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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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Keep Racism Out of the New Russia

One of the more shameful offshoots of the opening up of Russian society is the coming out of racism. This has manifest itself in many ways this year, most recently in the death by defenestration of Jean-Claude Nsengiumva, the 24-year-old student from Rwanda who fell or was pushed during an altercation with men from the Caucasus who called him and another African student ""niggers"". Nsengiumva's death follows the killing of Gideon Chimusoro of Zimbabwe, who was shot by a policeman this summer. That incident sparked riots at Patrice Lumumba University. Now the African students are protesting again, contending that nobody cares about the violence they are facing. Like the ethnic hatreds seething around Russia's periphery, racism in all its forms - anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-Semitic, anti-whatever - is deeply ingrained in this country's psyche. It lived on, underground, through the Communist years, the years of ""people's friendship"" and ""internationalist brotherhood"".

Spokesman Fired Over Gaidar Remarks

Russia's government fired a press spokesman Monday for stating that the cabinet planned to resign en masse if the Congress of People's Deputies refused to accept Yegor Gaidar as prime minister. ""We have made no official statement about the resignation of the entire government if Yegor Gaidar should not be confirmed"", Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said. Chubais, who heads Russia's privatization program, added that the official who made the statement to Itar-Tass on Sunday had been fired. He did not name the spokesman. Chubais said that the official had erred by taking individual statements from various ministers and turning them into a general, official statement. President Boris Yeltsin is expected to propose Gaidar as a candidate for the post of prime minister Tuesday. Although Gaidar has been acting prime minister since June, only the Congress can confirm his title.

Russia Agrees to New Debt Deal

Russia is ready to agree to a deal oon rescheduling former Soviet Union's $80 billion debt on terms that would see Russia repay up to $4 billion in 1993, Interfax news agency quoted foreign trade minister Pyotr Aven as saying. Russia has said in the past it could only pay $2 billion to $3 billion next year. The Paris Club of official creditors wants Russia to pay $5 billion. A rescheduling deal is a possibility now that Russia has reached agreement with other former Soviet states on sharing out the debt.

Deputies Address Status of Sevastopol

In a move that is sure to stir anger in Ukraine, Russia's highest legislature on Monday ordered the smaller working parliament to reconsider the status of the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Conservatives in the Congress of People's Deputies succeeded in passing the resolution, as they sought to claim a special status for the home port of the Black Sea Fleet rather than allow it to remain the sole property of Ukraine. President Boris Yeltsin has formally accepted Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea, but many Russian nationalists are loathe to acknowledge it. Crimea has a majority Russian population but was ceded formally to Ukraine, within the Soviet Union, in 1954. Ukrainian independence last December made the break real.
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