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Students Storm Embassy in Moscow

July 31, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Students from the Central African Republic have stormed their embassy in Moscow and taken a diplomat hostage to protest an 18-month delay in their study stipends, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Monday.

The students have no money to return to Africa and are scraping by on their own in Russia after their government reneged on a scholarship program, ITAR-Tass said, citing a student at the Bauman Technical University who was not identified.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow city police confirmed that there had been a disturbance at the embassy, but said the police had not been called in to enter the diplomatic territory. ``It’s their internal affair,″ the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

The students stormed the embassy on Thursday and have held the charge d’affaires since then, ITAR-Tass said.

There were no reports of violence inside the building. Phone calls to the embassy went unanswered Monday, and it wasn’t immediately clear how many students were involved in the incident.

Moscow universities pulled in thousands of African students in Soviet times, offering scholarships and stipends to serve the Cold War goal of spreading Communism in Africa.

Some of those scholarships have been taken over by African governments, but now both Russia and many African countries are slow in paying, or don’t pay at all, and students are routinely left without any support.

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