Accessibility links

Breaking News

RFE/RL Review July 16, 2004

The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of July 10-16, 2004

RFE/RL South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) Brussels correspondent Gjeraqina Tuhina secured an exclusive interview with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on July 14, on the eve of his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The interview was recorded at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The interview was broadcast by the SSALS on July 14, and can be heard on the service's website at The SSALS also broadcast a video recording of the interview on its weekly "Liberty TV" program for Bosnia. A transcript of the interview, conducted in English, is available on RFE/RL's website at
In response to a question about replacing the NATO-led forces in Bosnia (SFOR) with European Union troops, Scheffer said that the European Union "is more than able and competent to do this mission as good and as well as SFOR has" for the past nine years. Scheffer also said that the Alliance is not pulling out completely from Bosnia, because even after the EU takes over NATO will maintain its' headquarters in Sarajevo. In addition, a NATO general will remain in Bosnia; the alliance will remain involved in defense reform and, in cooperation with the EU, will continue to assist local authorities in the search for indicted war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic.
In the interview, Scheffer said that he was very much in favor of Bosnia and Herzegovina joining NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) once all conditions for membership have been met, including full cooperation with the war crimes tribunal at The Hague. Were such cooperation forthcoming, Scheffer said, "I will be the first to tell the NATO ambassadors and the NATO nations the moment has come to seriously address the question of PfP." Scheffer noted, however, that there are "a few people, perhaps more than a few, in the Republika Srpska who don't understand that collaborating with Mr. [Radovan] Karadzic and covering for him means that Bosnia and Herzegovina is paying a high price for not, I hope not yet, having Partnership for Peace." Scheffer asserted that Karadzic "can hide but he won't be able to run forever."

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service, Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <>.

Nasim Safaq, Radio Free Afghanistan's Pashto-language correspondent in Herat, had to be evacuated to Kabul this week as a result of his reports from the scene of an armed robbery that degenerated into murder.
In the early morning hours of Monday, July 12, Herat police forced their way into a home that was the scene of an armed robbery. Once in the home, police found four armed men and the dead bodies of the people living in the residence. Both sides began shooting at each other, with police killing 3 of the 4 armed intruders. The fourth intruder hid in a well behind the residence, holding out there until 10:00 the next morning.
The man in the well demanded that Herat Governor Ismail Khan come to the scene and personally guarantee the man's safety before he would come out of the well. After Ismail Khan arrived, the man trapped in the well was recognized as a "very dangerous member of Amanulluh Khan's [another of Afghanistan's warlords] militia." It is not clear whether Ismail Khan was still at the scene, but at one point in the standoff bystanders broke through the cordon of police surrounding the home and dragged the man out of the well. They then proceeded to beat him with stones and sticks, hang him upside down by his feet while continuing to beat him, and finally tie his body to the back of a Jeep and drag it through Herat.
Radio Free Afganistan received, and broadcast, reports from the scene of the robbery/murder, in Pashto from Nasim Safaq, and in Dari from correspondent Basir Begzad.
The next day, July 13, Safaq and another correspondent for Voice of America received letters threatening dire consequences if they did not leave Herat. With the help of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) office in Kabul, Radio Free Afganistan was able on July 14 to get both correspondents out of Herat and to safety in Kabul.

** The Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Andres Ilves, may be reached by email at <>.

NCA correspondent Valentinas Mite, who is completing a lengthy tour of duty in Baghdad, reported was at the scene of the bombing that on July 14 killed 10 people just outside the Green Zone, the area that houses the U.S. and British Embassies, as well as the offices of the interim Iraqi government. His report on the bombing can be read on RFE/RL's website at
Mite also secured an exclusive interview with Mufeed al-Gazari, the Minister of Culture minister in Iraq's interim administration, who painted a bleak picture of the state of literacy and education after the years of Saddam's rule. In the July 12 interview, Al-Gazari expressed concern about the younger generation, which he says can be considered only semi-literate. Their lack of knowledge makes them amenable to the inducements of extremists. He said, "Those people who don't read, they are a [source] for all kinds of extremism, of anti-democratic movements. Because it's very easy for those terrorists to manipulate them, to attract them." The government plans to enlist the private sector in the fight illiteracy and ignorance. Mufeed al-Gazari said "Now one of our main aims in this field is to encourage the private sector to start again with establishing publishing houses. Slowly, slowly, slowly. They are afraid that the situation is not okay. They have no money, the security is not okay. Everything is not stable and so on. But we are trying to attract them and support them." Mite's report on his interview with al-Gazari may be read on the RFE/RL website, at

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergei Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst was a guest on the RFE/RL Ukraine Service's live hour-long "Pro i Contra" roundtable show, broadcast from the service's bureau in Kyiv on July 11 and moderated by Ukrainian Service journalist Serhij Kyseliow. The in-studio presence of reporters for the Ukrainian Services of Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and the BBC, in addition to questions for Ambassador Herbst from listeners, made for a lively and informative program. Audio and a Ukrainian-language transcript of the program can be found on the service's website, at
Ambassador Herbst responded to questions on such issues as the upcoming elections, US-Ukrainian relations, Iraq, Ukraine's relationship with Euro-Atlantic institutions, and the Odessa-Brody pipeline and other international projects. In reference to a question about freedom of speech in Ukraine, Ambassador Herbst emphasized that the US Embassy and other institutions seek to have RFE/RL Ukrainian Service programming return to the FM airwaves in Ukraine: "the U.S. is disturbed that the Ukrainian Service is off the FM air in Ukraine. We hope it will return. We are working on it."
RFE/RL Ukrainian Service programs were taken off the air in Kyiv and cities across Ukraine on February 17, 2004, as the "Radio Dovira" FM network carried out its threat to drop RFE/RL from its airwaves. Dovira management announced that the reason for ending the rebroadcasting of RFE/RL programs was not political, but rather due to a change of program format. RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine at the time called the Dovira move "a deeply disturbing political development and serious setback to freedom of expression in Ukraine."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Alexander Narodetsky, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service provided comprehensive coverage throughout the week to its listeners of the July 10 announcement, by authorities in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, that they would defy a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordering the release of two political dissidents and payment of damages. The foreign ministry of the unrecognized Trans-Dniester Republic released a statement expressing "its deep indignation" over the court's decision. According to the statement, "The terrorists cannot be freed before their term is up."
The Grand Chamber of the ECHR on July 8 found both Moldova and Russia in violation of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights in regard to the detention in Transnistria of Ilie Ilascu, Alexandru Lesco, Andrei Ivantoc and Tudor Petrov-Popa in 1992. The court ordered both Russia and Moldova pay a total of Euro750,000 (US$925,000) in damages to the four and to work for the release of Ivantoc and Petrov-Popa, who both remain in prison in Tiraspol.
The Romania-Moldova Service secured an interview with Ilascu, now a Romanian Senator and member of the Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, who was released in May 2001 after spending 9 years in jail in Transdniester. Ilascu blamed Moldovan authorities for doing nothing to secure the release of Ivantoc and Petrov-Popa, and said that the ECHR decision shows that Russia was an aggressor against Moldova in 1992.
Brigitte Dufour, Executive Director of the International Federation for Human Rights, told the Romania-Moldova Service that "the decision of the ECHR is a historical one and Moldova and Russia should put pressure on Transdniester leaders to release the 2 remaining prisoners -- Tudor Petrov-Popa and Andrei Ivantoc".
Moldova's president during the Transdniester conflict, Mircea Snegur, told the service on that he felt the ECHR decision was a fair one and should force the Transdniester leaders to release Ivantoc and Petrov-Popa.
The service also secured exclusive comment on the ECHR decision from the leader of the Communist faction in the Moldovan Parliament, Victor Stepaniuc, who said that "his decision should be respected, even if Moldova does not agree with it." Stepaniuc's statement is the first and only statement to date on the ECHR to be made by a Moldovan government or legislative official.
The RFE/RL Romania-Moldova Service's reports on the ECHR decision were widely reported in several Moldovan newspapers, such as "Flux" and "Democratia".

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>.

The assassination of Paul Khlebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of the business magazine Forbes, continues to be a widely discussed topic in Russia as well as in the U.S. Russian authorities and media continue to speculate about possible motives for Khlebnikov's murder, which occurred on July 9 in Moscow.
The RFE/RL Russian Service's coverage of this tragic event has been filled with exclusive interviews and audio from previous interviews with Khlebnikov. One of the archived clips was recorded during a 2002 interview with Khlebnikov: "It is very important, that people in Russia are now prosecuted according to the law... because they break the law... It is bad that some are prosecuted and others -- not, but still this is a signal, that the law is starting to work." The Service sought reaction to the murder from David Remnick, the editor-in chief of the "New Yorker" magazine and a former Moscow correspondent for "The New York Times," who talked about the reaction to Khlebnikov's murder in the U.S. and the position taken by the U.S. State Department concerning the murder. The Service also interviewed "The New York Times" correspondent Serge Shmemann, a friend of Khlebnikov's, and Igor Yakovenko, the leader of the Journalists Union of Russia.
American-born Paul Khlebnikov was shot by unknown assailants driving by the magazine's Moscow offices on Friday, June 9. Russian investigators believe the journalist was the victim of a contract killing tied to his work. Khlebnikov, a long-time Forbes correspondent in the U.S. who had been in charge of Russian Forbes since April 2004, was known for his hard hitting, investigative reporting on business affairs in post-Soviet Russia.

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, international communications service to Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central and Southwestern Asia funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

RFE/RL, Inc.

1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW � Washington, DC 20036
Phone +1.202.457.6900 � Fax +1.202.457.6992

Vinohradska 1 � 110 00 Prague 1 � Czech Republic
Phone +420.2.2112.1111 � Fax +420.2.2112.3002


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.

For more information about any of the stories mentioned in "RFE/RL Review," or to learn more about RFE/RL, please contact Martins Zvaners at <> or by calling +1-202-457-6948.