The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of June 26 - July 2, 2004
RADIO FREE IRAQ COVERS
THE RESTORATION OF IRAQI SOVEREIGNTY
The transfer of Iraqi sovereignty on June 28, two days ahead from the widely expected date of June 30 dominated RFI coverage. On that day, RFI stringers in Baghdad and staff in Prague provided their listeners comprehensive coverage of the historic events, securing reaction to the transfer from officials and Iraqi citizens throughout Iraq.
RFI Baghdad correspondent Jumana Oubaidi interviewed Iraqi vice-president Ibrahim al Jafari, who expressed his hope "that this day will not only be a mechanical transfer of power through a United Nations Security Council resolution" but that "it will be the beginning of a mechanism that will create Iraqi power and sovereignty. This will require that all Iraqis should take the first step on the road to sovereignty and a new democracy, and this will require the help of all parties"
RFI correspondents also convinced well-known Iraqi songwriter Ahmed Salman to compose a special song for the day -- with a special note of appreciation to Radio Free Iraq. The song, "Iraq for Iraqis" (translated lyrics below), is now heard regularly on Radio Free Iraq:
Iraq for Iraqis
No difference between religions
Happiness and pleasure in my green country
We must unite
We were all these years waiting to have our rights
We must congratulate each other for this happiness
** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergei Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER DESCRIBES PLIGHT OF IRAQI POLICE
IN EXCLUSIVE RFE/RL INTERVIEW
RFE/RL News and Current Affairs (NCA) correspondent Valentinas Mite continues to report from Baghdad, on the situation in Iraq after the handover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government.
In an exclusive interview for RFE/RL, Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Adnan Hadi al-Assadi painted a gloomy picture of the Iraqi police. He said that the police forces are outgunned by the insurgents, infiltrated by militants. Some individual officers are corrupt, others have participated in robberies.
Assadi pointed out that the Iraqi police have neither the manpower nor the equipment to protect Iraq from cross-border terrorism: "The borders need 70,000 policemen to guard them
effectively and what we have is under 25,000. Before, [under Saddam Hussein], they had the whole army controlling and surrounding Iraq, and now we have only small numbers."
Assadi told RFE/RL that the police are implementing reforms and will fire a substantial number of unqualified policemen. Assadi noted that "At a specified time, we will be cutting large numbers of policemen -- nearly 30,000. The coalition forces -- especially the United States -- have contributed 30 million dollars in compensation."
Assadi hopes the coalition will honor its pledge to provide post-transfer Iraqi police with modern weapons and the technology they need in order to do their jobs efficiently. Until the Iraqi police force gains strength, he says, "U.S. tanks need to back us. [At] present, U.S. tanks are the only symbol of power behind us."
** The Director of RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs Service, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
RFE/RL INTERVIEWS UN HIGH REPRESENTATIVE PADDY ASHDOWN
AFTER ASHDOWN FIRES 60 BOSNIAN SERB OFFICIALS
RFE/RL South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) Bosnian correspondent Milad Obradovic interviewed UN High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown immediately after Ashdown's June 30 press conference, at which Ashdown publicly announced his decision to sack 60 Bosnian Serb officials over the failure to arrest top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic and his associates. Karadzic is under indictment by the UN tribunal at The Hague on charges of genocide for his role during the Bosnian war, including the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.
In the exclusive interview for RFE/RL, Ashdown said that "A small group of corrupted politicians is holding this entire country to ransom. The Republika Srpska officials are not being punished for not arresting Karadzic and Mladic -- they are being removed because they have not arrested a single war criminal in the nine years since the end of the war." Responding to accusations that his decision is aimed at abolishing the Serb-run Republika Srpska, Ashdown asserted: "Let me be clear -- this is not a strike against Republika Srpska or the Serbian people, as the removed politicians assert. It is a strike against a small group of people who are stealing, are corrupted and who do their best to protect Karadzic and Mladic."
Asked about Karadzic's whereabouts, Ashdown said "I do not know where is he hiding, but I suppose it could be in the area between Durmitor, Zelengora and Maglic mountain on the Bosnian-Montenegrin border, which is regarded as the only jungle in Europe. Hunting individual men on this difficult terrain is not an easy military operation, given the fact that [Karadzic] is unfortunately considered a hero by local people. But I am sure he will be arrested."
As the UN's chief administrator in Bosnia, Ashdown has sweeping powers to remove officials seen as obstructing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement.
** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service, Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
RFE/RL NORTH CAUCASUS SERVICE REPORTS CONVICTION
OF RUSSIAN AGENTS FOR MURDER OF CHECHEN IN QATAR
On June 30, RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service broadcast special programming on the conviction in a Qatari criminal court of two Russian intelligence agents, Anatoly Bilashkov and Vassily Pokchov, for February 2004 murder of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former president of Chechnya living in exile in Doha. The court sentenced the two Russians to life in prison for the crime. Yandarbiyev's widow, Malika, told the North Caucasus Service that "the most important thing for me is that the crime has been exposed".
The North Caucasus Service also interviewed the lawyer for the two agents, Dmitry Afanasiev, who told RFE/RL that "the two Russian citizens [were] illegally seized at a Russian diplomatic residence in Doha ... for alleged involvement in the murder of Yandarbiyev. No credible evidence of the Russians' complicity to the crime was produced at trial. The Russian side has stated before and repeats now that these Russian citizens are not guilty."
Another participant in the program -- Chechen rebel envoy in exile, Akhmed Zakayev -- asserted to RE/RL that "the Qatari court had proved that the Russian state, in its fight against alleged Chechen terrorists, uses terrorist methods... It is ironic that a court in London acquitted me last year of the charges of terrorism which the Russian government leveled against me, while the Doha court today found the Russian leadership guilty of giving the illegal order to kill Yandarbiyev."
** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
RFE/RL KYRGYZ SERVICE AIRS
SPECIAL PROGRAM ON RELIGION
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service aired a roundtable on religious politics in Kyrgyzstan on June 25. The program, titled "Debate in One Thousand Seconds," looked at the various religious confessions active in the Kyrgyz Republic. Roundtable participants included Kyrgyz Commission on Religious Affairs Chairman Dr. Omurzak Mamayusupov, Kyrgyz Muslim Community leader (Mufti) Murataaly-Hajji Juman-Uulu, and a new convert to Christianity, independent journalist Janybek Janyzak.
Mamayusupov told RFE/RL that it is inappropriate to talk about a "clash of civilizations" in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, as it is clear that all people are seeking an understanding, that the various cultures are reaching out to each other and trying to establish a dialogue. Mufti Juman-Uulu said that some Muslims seek conflict between people in the name of Islam, but that his is wrong. Islam is about peace, said the Mufti. Janybek Janyzak said that he is a former atheist who is now a follower of Christianity, which came to the Kyrgyz nation before Islam. Janyzak said that his wife is a Muslim and that their children have yet to decide on their religious preference. However, Janyzak reported, we live happily within one family.
According to statistics compiled by the Kyrgyz Commission on Religious Affairs, the Kyrgyz Republic has 1,600 mosques, one Islamic university, 7 Islamic institutions, 41 madrassahs, 250 Protestant groups, 44 Orthodox churches, 4 Catholic groups, and one Jewish organization. In accordance with the Kyrgyz Constitution, no political parties may be organized on the basis of religious affiliation.
** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
RFE/RL GEORGIAN SERVICE EXPANDS BROADCASTS:
LIVE, INTERACTIVE, NATIONWIDE
June was an important month for RFE/RL's Georgian Service, not so much because of the news itself -- although much happened -- as for the June 14 launch of the Service's new morning program, "Dghes Dilit" (This Morning). "Dghes Dilit" may be heard from 9:00-10:00AM Monday-Friday, on five affiliate stations broadcasting in the cities of Tbilisi, Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi, Lagodekhi, Poti and Zugdidi.
"We decided to go ahead with the program because we felt the need for a new, more lively, more interactive style of programming that would reach beyond our traditional audience. It is formed primarily from the middle-aged, most highly educated strata of the population. We don't want to lose them -- they're the real movers and shakers of Georgian society -- but we want to expand our audience to include the new, post-Soviet generations and the much-neglected provinces" -- says Georgian Service director Robert Parsons.
One of the key new features of "Dghes Dilit" is that it is made in cooperation with the five regional affiliate stations (about to expand to six). The journalists at these affiliates contribute news and feature items from the regions for the broadcasts on a daily basis. Their participation is creating something entirely new in Georgian broadcasting -- a nationwide radio station that broadcasts not just from the center to the regions, but also from the regions to the center. Results so far have been very encouraging and the Service has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the journalism of our regional colleagues. If a problem exists, it can be found in the poor quality of their equipment (or absolute lack of).
The installation of a V-SAT communications link from the Service's Tbilisi Bureau to RFE/RL's broadcast operations center in Prague makes it possible to moderate "Dghes Dilit" live from the studio in Tbilisi -- which, in turn, has made it possible to interact with the audience in a way that was impossible before. The morning program has immediately become livelier, more immediate, and more responsive to the mood on the ground in Georgia. The more experience the Service gathers with the new format and technology, the more we will be able to exploit it and the more we will experiment with program innovations such as phone-in programs.
** The Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, Robert Parsons, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
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Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. "RFE/RL Review" is a weekly compilation of the best programming produced by the 19 services of the RFE/RL broadcast network. RFE/RL broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of programming a week in 28 languages to 20 countries in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central and Southwestern Asia.
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