World Report

MOSCOW (JTA) — In a turnabout, leaders of Russia's major religions say a controversial freedom of religion bill recently vetoed by President Boris Yeltsin needs to be amended.

At a meeting last week with Yeltsin's deputy chief of staff, Maxim Boiko, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism agreed that the rejected bill needs to be changed so that it will not discriminate and violate the Russian Constitution.

The much-criticized preamble to the bill, which contained the list of the four "traditional" faiths that would be the only religions granted full rights, might be removed or at least reworded, according to Russia's chief rabbi, Adolph Shayevich.

The leaders of the Lubavitch and the Reform movements in Russia — both of which could have been affected by the legislation — welcomed Yeltsin's veto.

Zhirinovsky charged with cheating at cards

MOSCOW (JTA) — Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky was disqualified at a recent championship involving the popular Russian card game Fool.

After boasting before the Moscow tournament that "politics and cards require skilled bluffing," the controversial leader of the Liberal Democratic party found that the first game he played was annulled.

The reason: He was cheating. Zhirinovsky was subsequently allowed to play another game, which he lost.

The winners, including chess champion Anatoly Karpov in third place, received prizes bearing the slogan, "Russia Should Become Smarter."

Roman candidate likens Jews, Gypsies

ROME (JTA) — An outspoken right-wing candidate for deputy mayor of Rome has angered local Jews by apparently comparing them to Gypsies, whose formal name is Roma.

Teodoro Buontempo, who is running as part of the center-right Freedom Alliance, was quoted in a newspaper interview as saying, "If Rome can coexist with the Jewish community, it will learn how to do so also with the Gypsies."

Some Roman Jews were offended by the remark, as Gypsies in Rome generally live in campsites that often trigger angry protest by local residents. Jews have lived in Rome for more than 2,000 years.