Accessibility links

Breaking News

RFE/RL Review September 24, 2004

The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of September 18-24, 2004

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has called for an international peacekeeping force to replace Russian peacekeepers in the Transdniester region in an exclusive interview given to RFE/RL September 23, 2004.
In a wide-ranging conversation with News & Current Affairs Correspondent Eugen Tomiuc, Voronin said: "the necessity has arisen that we review the components of these pacifying structures who, from 1992 have been on a mission to Transdniester. They have turned into forces that support only one side, and we have to find a way to change this situation and replace these forces with international peacekeepers." Prague-based Tomiuc is on a two-week reporting assignment in Moldova and met with Voronin in Kisinev.
The Moldovan president accused Russian peacekeepers of repeatedly siding with Transdniester ethnic Russian separatists in their long-running dispute with Moldova. Voronin also said the Moldovan government's relations were cooling with Russia, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Transdniestr broke away from Moldova in 1990 and the two sides fought a short war in 1992. But the region has no international recognition and efforts to resolve the dispute so far have failed. Russian troops, which stopped the fighting in 1992, remain in Transdniester in spite of a pledge from Moscow five years ago that they will withdraw.

** The Director of RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs Service, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL coverage this week cast light on legalistic maneouvering in Bishkek paving the way for Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to remain in office beyond his current term.
Askayev has ruled Kyrgyzstan since 1990, first as head of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, then in 1991 as the elected president of the independent Republic of Kyrgyzstan. He was re-elected in 1995 and again in 2000, and is seeking another 5-year term in office.
Opposition parliamentarians argued that another term is not permitted under the Kyrgyz constitution and brought the matter before the Constitutional Court. But it decided on September 21 not to take the case, because as the Court said it is not within the competence of parliamentary deputies to raise the issue.
Opposition deputy Duishon Chotonov told RFE/RL in a September 22 interview that "the justice system in Kyrgyzstan has been totally ruined and it is obvious now that people who support a change of power in accordance with the law, and want Kyrgyzstan to take its rightful place in tomorrow's civilized world must remain concerned."
The Constitutional Court ruled in 1998 that because a new constitution was adopted in 1993, Akayev's 1991 election did not count as a term in office.
A transcript of the RFE/RL's report is available on the Kyrgyz Service website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <>.

Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections September 19 received broad coverage on RFE/RL including official results, opposition claims and international criticism.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE sent more than 300 observers to monitor the election and said the vote fell short of democratic standards. , RFE/RL's Kazakh service aired the OSCE statement, while local media gave only positive evaluations of the election made by CIS observers and monitors from Israel, Turkey and Thailand.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Vice President Ihor Ostash, at a September 20 news conference in Astana said: "The September 19 parliamentary [elections] in Kazakhstan fell short of OSCE and Council of Europe standards for democratic elections. A lack of transparency, when taking important decisions regarding the conduct of elections, was evident. Moreover, these decisions were not communicated in a timely and effective manner."
Kazakhstan's opposition political party Ak Zhol (Bright Path), the only opposition party to win any of the 77 seats available in the elections, on September 23 called the official results "crude falsifications." The official tally of elections to the lower house of parliament showed a clear majority for Kazakh President Nazarbayev's party. RFE/RL Kazakh Service election reports are posted on the Service's website at:

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merkhat Sharipzhanov, may be reached by email at <>.

Croatian president Stjepan Mesic was the first guest on a new interactive program launched by RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) on September 20.
The new website rubric, called "Online With�", will feature leading politicians, celebrities and public figures answering questions sent by website visitors.
RFE/RL Coordinator of Balkan Analysis Patrick Moore moderated the "Online" program with President Mesic, selecting from more than 100 questions received over three half-hour sessions Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A transcript of the program is available on the South Slavic service's website, at
Mesic rejected the idea that possible independence for Kosovo will lead to fragmentation of Croatia or other states in the region. He said Croatian authorities will "accept any legal and legitimate decision" on Kosovo's final status.
In a wide-ranging conversation about influences and leading politicians in the region, Mesic said historians must decide who was responsible for the tensions in the 1990s between Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnia-Herzegovina's President Alija Izetbegovic since neither Tudjman nor Izetbegovic is alive to answer for himself.
Mesic's own relationship with Tudjman varied from close to stormy, and Mesic was one of several prominent moderate Croats who did not hide his disapproval of the 1993-94 Croatian-Muslim conflict in Bosnia . Many observers held Tudjman responsible for that conflict, since he seemed bent on partitioning Bosnia with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and establishing a greater Croatia .
Asked whether he, as the last president of the second or communist-era Yugoslavia, feels some responsibility for the demise of that state, Mesic replied: "It was clear on my arrival to chair the federal presidency in Belgrade [in the spring of 1991] that not a single federal institution was functioning. It was necessary to find a new political solution, because the model that was then in use did not have enough integrative elements. But Milosevic did not want an agreement, he didn't want a political solution. He wanted to set up a greater Serbia on the ruins of Yugoslavia . Genocide and war crimes were integral parts of that plan, and for that reason he is answering today before the Hague tribunal."
In fact, Milosevic never gave Mesic the opportunity to lead the country to a compromise solution because the Serbian leader and his three allies on the eight-member presidency -- Montenegro, Vojvodina and Kosovo -- prevented the Croat from taking over the rotating chair. Mesic was supported by the representatives of Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia, all of which were to declare their independence in the following months when it became clear that Milosevic was interested in controlling the federation and would destroy it if he could not dominate it.
Turning to the past and future of a Yugoslav state, Mesic said that "considering that three Yugoslavias have already collapsed, I'm sure that there will not be a new one. The one thing I believe is that is that all states that emerged after Yugoslavia collapsed will join the European Union, some sooner and some later, depending on their respective levels of development."
He added that his advice to other Balkan countries is to accept European standards and look toward the future rather than the past.
Following the "Online" program, SSALS also aired a radio interview with President Mesic on September 22. A transcript and audio of that interview are also available on the SSALS website, at

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

News and Current Affairs correspondents Bob McMahon and Nikola Krastev are covering the 59th annual session of the UN General Assembly for RFE/RL, focusing on the presence of presidents from countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region as well as addresses by major world leaders.
Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili, in his address to the General Assembly described breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as "black holes" of lawlessness but emphasized that his government will try to find non-violent solutions to the conflict. Saakashvili said he plans to grant the two regions "fullest and broadest forms of autonomy" that would include preservation of language and culture, guarantees of self-governance, fiscal control and meaningful representation at the national level. He expressed concern about Russian ties to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as the continuing presence of Russian military bases in Georgia, but said he is convinced the two countries can work together. In his speech, Saakashvili also proposed creating a joint anti-terrorism center and expanding joint border patrols with Russia.
Separately, the Georgian president said his country would commit troops to protect UN personnel in Iraq, making Georgia the first country to commit to the special UN force. In an RFE/RL interview, Georgia's foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili confirmed the decision, saying the special contingent dedicated to UN protection would have between 300- and 500 persons.
RFE/RL Corespondent Robert McMahon's story "Georgia: President Vows Peaceful Resolution of Separatist Conflicts" can be read on the RFE/RL website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs Service, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <>.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the famous Russian poet now living in the United States, was moved by the Beslan tragedy to compose a poem that he read on RFE/RL's airwaves on September 12. He read the poem during a Chechen-language program aired by the North Caucasus Service. An audio recording of the program, featuring Yevtushenko's reading in Russian (translated into English--below) is available on-demand at RFE/RL's website: (starting at 13:35 of the program).

** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <>.


I am a drop-out of all the world's schools.
I am an exile from everywhere for somebody's sins.
But I came to you, Beslan,
to learn from the ruins of your school.

Beslan, I know I am a bad father.
What, if I, myself, would see with my own eyes
the death of all my five sons,
only to survive into old age for my punishment?

Beslan, I understood that here I am not in an alien town,
when I groped a pulsating heart,
clumsily scratched by a pocket knife
on the charred, still hot, school desk.

In Russia, I was called a dynamite poet.
Now, compared to dynamite, I am but a mosquito.
None of us could be justified
if something like here is possible.

Everything was jumbled up in Beslan:
horror, disorder, confusion,
fears, compassion, courage to save,
yet the incapability to save with no victims.

Looking at us, our past trembles.
Our child-future, becoming a naked target,
attempts to escape from our present
that shoots right between its shoulder-blades.

But mourning crescent moon embraced a mourning cross.
Between charred school desks and clouds of smoke,
Mohammed and Christ wander like brothers
picking up the children by little pieces.

Our multi-named God, embrace all of us!
Help us survive, hot buried ingloriously
together with omni-religious children,
not saved by us...

When cattle-cars by Stalin's order were going to Kazakhstan,
stuffed with heaps of Chechens, lying on each other,
a future terror was born there
in the amniotic fluid protecting babies.

There, like in their first cradle, becoming angry,
babies, squeezing themselves, trying to hide,
but the fragile heads felt through maternal wombs
the stocks of soldiers' rifles on their "soft spots".

These babies were not praying to Moscow
that threw them to the salty steppes,
so flat as if a white devil
erased from the earth all the Chechen mountains.

And the dagger-like moon
in the holes of their clay huts
secretly reminded them of Islam
among the deceptive Soviet slogans.

Then Yeltsin's plebeian arrogance
and the blitz-kriegian boasting of his generals
pushed Chechens to the first explosions -
and it became impossible to hide from war.

The black widow-kamikazes wear explosives on their breasts,
on their waists, on their necks in place of a necklace.
As more and more dead bodies are behind us,
the price of all living is cheaper and cheaper.

But vengeance doesn't help anything.
Multinamed God, save us from vengeance!
If there are still some living children here
let's not forget that only, sacred word "together".

Someone, who didn't save children - not a hero.
All of us are naked before a naked truth.
I am together with the charred children.
I am one of them. I, too, am from the school of Beslan.

...How the face of the sky changes,
when the darkness roared with tanks in Beslan,
and with a premonition of the end
in that school, in that basketball hoop
trembled explosives, hung by Stalin.

-- Yevgeny Yevtushenko
[as read by the author in Russian and
broadcast by RFE/RL North Caucasus Service,
September 12, 2004]

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.

Managing Editor: Sonia Winter <>

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.