RUSSIAN HACKERS EQUATE SAAKASHVILI AND HITLER, Russian hackers, apparently at the behest of the FSB’s Administration K, launched denial of service attacks against Georgian government and non-government sites as the conflict in South Ossetia boiled over, apparently in order to prevent outsiders from gaining easy access to the Georgian version of events. Many of the sites have been damaged beyond quite repair, but the most outrageous hacking operation posted alternating pictures of Georgian President Mihkiel Saakashvili and Adolf Hitler on three key government sites (www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-57209?ref=feeds/latest).
RUSSIA’S MUSLIMS SEEK 5,000 EXTRA HAJ SLOTS. Russia’s Union of Muftis of Russia (SMR) has asked the Saudis to raise Russia’s quota for the haj by 5,000, thus leaving in place the special dispensation Vladimir Putin was able to secure from Riyadh last year. But opposition from other countries to what the Saudis presented last year as a one-time exception makes it unlikely that they will agree to boost Russia’s figure above 20,500. That will create new problems for Moscow and the central Muslim authorities who will have to allocate the available slots among Russia’s regions (www.interfax-religion.ru/islam/?act=news&div=25845).
MEDVEDEV’S SELECTION OF SHVYDKOY INFURIATES RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS. President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to name former culture minister Mikhail Shvydkoy to the new post of special presidential representative for international cultural cooperation has infuriated Russian nationalists and some in the Russian Orthodox Church who view Shvydkoy as an enemy of Russian culture and an unqualified and in their view unjustified supporter of minority rights (www.rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=177801).
CIRCASSIANS CELEBRATE SUCCESSFUL REPATRIATIONS. On August 1, Circassians celebrated the return of more than 1500 members of the diaspora to its national homeland, including 169 Circassians from Kosovo in the Balkans. Unlike the case of ethnic Russians, more Circassians would like to return than Moscow is prepared to take back, at least so far (www.elot.ru/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=799&Itemid=1). For details on the Kosovo Circassians and the community they are reestablishing in the north Caucasus, see
‘VICTIMS OF SOCHI OLYMPICS’ ORGANIZE PROTEST DEMONSTRATION. Six years in advance of the Olympic Games scheduled for Sochi in 2014, more than 100 people, calling themselves “the victims of the 2014 Olympiad,” organized a demonstration in Sochi to call attention to what they described as the Russian government’s lack of respect for the history of the peoples of that region and the environment (www.caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=15800).
MOSCOW HOSTS CONFERENCE ON HOW ISLAM WILL DEFEAT TERRORISM. The Russian government hosted a two-day international conference attended by officials, religious leaders and academic specialists who argued that Islam has within itself the forces necessary to defeat terrorism, forces that they suggested those engaged in the war on terror had not yet figured out an adequate way to link up with (www.islamrf.ru/news/russia/rusnews/3471/).
DURHAM UNIVERSITY PRODUCES MAP ON ARCTIC CLAIMS, CONFLICTS. Cartographers at the International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU) of the University of Durham (U.K.) have drawn up what they describe as “the first ever ‘Arctic Map’ to show the disputed territories” that the countries adjoining the region appear set to claim. The map is available online at www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic/.
KAZAN TATAR BECOMES 118TH GOOGLE INTERFACE LANGUAGE. Google has modified its interface to allow speakers of Kazan Tatar to use their language to search the web via that portal, an action that allows them to go directly to information of interest to them rather than as has been the case up to now forced to do so via Russian or one of the Turkic languages (www.islamnews.ru/news-13612.html).
LITHUANIA’S MUSLIMS HOPE TO ERECT MOSQUE IN VILNIUS. Romas Jakubauskas, the newly elected leader of Lithuania’s Muslims, has announced that his organization is close to an agreement with Vilnius over space for the construction of a mosque, thus giving hope to a community that has lacked such a facility since the Soviets destroyed the historical mosque there (www.islamnews.ru/news-13646.html).
ONLY ONE RUSSIAN IN EIGHT THINKS RUSSIAN MEDIA ARE FREE. Only 12 percent of all Russians believe the media in their country are free, although 34 percent more say that the country’s media are “for the most part” free, according to a poll conducted by the Levada Center (www.levada.ru/press/2008080702.html). At the same time, 45 percent of the sample – nearly half – believe that the media are largely or completely under the control of the government.