World Report

MOSCOW (JTA) — Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas has ordered police and security forces to investigate the desecration of a Jewish monument in the Baltic nation's capital of Vilnius.

Last Friday, vandals scrawled swastikas and spray-painted graffiti on a monument marking the site of Vilnius' oldest Jewish cemetery.

The cemetery was founded in the early 16th century and was destroyed by the Soviet authorities in 1950.

The desecrated monument bears an inscription indicating that the 18th-century spiritual leader of Lithuanian Jewry, Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo Zalman, also known as the Vilna Gaon, was buried in the cemetery.

After the desecration, leaders of several Lithuanian ultra-nationalist groups believed to be connected to the act received official warnings from the Lithuanian Security Service. But leaders of Lithuania's Jewish cowmmunity doubt that those responsible for the vandalism will ever be found.

Russians revising bill on religious freedom

MOSCOW (JTA) — Russian President Boris Yeltsin has set up a commission to rework a controversial bill on freedom of religion.

But with the commission predominantly comprised of those who supported an earlier version of the bill, doubts have emerged over whether the legislation will under go serious changes.

The proposed legislation allotted to four established faiths — Russian Orthodox, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism — the status of "traditional" Russian religions.

All other religions would have been required to prove that they officially existed in Russia for at least 15 years, even though under the Communist regime religious freedom was harshly restricted and many religions had to operate clandestinely.

Religions, or denominations of religions, including the Lubavitch movement and Reform Judaism, that could not meet the 15-year requirement could face limitations on their ability to obtain a legal identity, own property or publish literature.

Supporters of the original bill said it protected the country from the spread of dangerous sects. Critics said it would impose serious restrictions on freedom of religion in Russia.