Human rights campaigner and former Yeltsin ally Sergei Kovalev yesterday issued an open letter accusing Yeltsin of having secured his reelection by "grossly deceiving" the people of Russia in promising to end the war, only to "restart the savage war the day after the election result was officially announced… I personally knew from the beginning that your promises were lies," Kovalev wrote, warning the president that the presidential deception was discrediting Russia’s fragile democratic processes. The pro-democracy daily Izvestiya, recently back in the Kremlin’s camp, refused to print Kovalev’s letter.
At a joint news conference yesterday, leaders of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Glasnost Foundation, and the Memorial Center made public a petition to Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov to initiate proceedings against Internal Affairs Minister Anatoly Kulikov and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov for unsubstantiated and inflammatory statements blaming Chechens as a people for recent bomb explosions on two Moscow buses and urging expulsion members of undesirable ethnic minorities from Moscow. The statements incited ethnic strife and violated the constitution, the human rights groups charged. Kulikov additionally had suggested in a media interview that families of suspected Chechen or other "terrorists" should be punished along with the perpetrators as a deterrent. Kulikov claimed that "some Western countries" use this method — in fact a practice used against "enemies of the people" during Stalin’s rule. (Western agencies, Interfax, NTV, Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 17)
Food Fight Averted.