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RFE/RL Review November 19, 2004

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The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of November 13-19, 2004

UKRAINIAN SERVICE READY FOR DECISIVE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service is ready for the decisive run-off presidential election November 21, with dozens of correspondents located throughout the country -- especially in Donetsk, where thousands of pro-government supporters threaten to march west on Election Day to monitor voting in areas supporting the opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko.
In the run-up to what promised to be a contentious second round, RFE/RL covered press conferences November 18 in Kyiv by President Leonid Kuchma and Yushchenko. Kuchma vowed that Sunday's vote will be honest, while also warning that "certain political forces" are trying to seize power. Yushchenko appealed to his supporters to keep a close watch on local polling stations to minimize chances for fraud, saying: "My friends, you should be in no doubt today that your views will only be taken into account if you defend them yourself.... Don't be in a hurry to leave the polling station. Be at the polling station the entire day, particularly after 8 p.m. when the voting stops and the counting starts."
The election teams of both candidates plan to field their own unofficial parallel counting crews after Sunday's vote. The team of government candidate Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych says it has set up a center for tallying the results from voting stations as they become available. Yushchenko's team plans to field 35,000 volunteers to report vote counts early Monday to his staff in Kyiv.
The presidential election is widely seen as a voter choice between two directions and two ideologies: a vote for Yushchenko would be pro- Western, pro-democracy and anti-corruption. A vote for Yanukovych would be pro-Russian, pro-oligarchy and pro-corruption.
Other post-Soviet states are watching closely what happens in Ukraine -- an interest mirrored at RFE/RL. Correspondents from RFE/RL's Russian, Belarusian, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik and Tatar-Bashkir services plan also to be in Ukraine, to report back live in their respective broadcast languages.
The Ukrainian Service's "Elections 2004" website (in Ukrainian) is located at: RFE/RL English-language coverage of the Ukrainian election is available at:

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

TALIBAN DENIES UN ABDUCTIONS IN RFE/RL INTERVIEW Radio Free Afghanistan interviewed a representative of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan to find out more about the kidnapping of three United Nations workers three weeks ago.
Our correspondent in Kabul spoke November 17 with Taliban spokesman Abdul Latifullah Hakimi, who criticized the abduction and said the group responsible for the kidnappings -- Jaysh al-Muslimin (Army of Muslims) -- has no connection with the Taliban. Hakimi did not condemn the kidnappings outright -- he said "Any action that is effective against the enemy is good and should be used." But Hakimi said the Taliban believes guerrilla warfare is a better way to fight the enemy than kidnappings: "Holding people hostage is not an effective way to fight the enemy. ...kidnapping women does not conform to Islamic Shari�a Law."
Hakimi said the Taliban is not against the Army of Muslims, as "These groups are doing their holy jihad and we continue ours." But he unequivocally denied a Taliban connection, saying "Those who call themselves a splinter fraction of Taliban -- this assertion is completely wrong and we deny that completely." Hakimi stressed that the Taliban movement is united, undivided with one leadership and no splinter groups: "No one has split from Taliban and there is no question about the leadership of Taliban... there is no need for a separate leadership."
The interview was conducted by phone from Kabul to an undisclosed location. It aired November 17, 2004. The interview is available (in Pashto) on the service's website at 4339-A902-D4241546C572_860378.RAM.

The Acting Director of RFE/RL's radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached at <>

KAZAKH SERVICE ON ANTI-TERRORIST CAMPAIGN IN KAZAKHSTAN RFE/RL's Kazakh Service is following a widening Kazakh government campaign to root out terrorist organizations and extradite foreign suspects.
Kazakh Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev said, in an RFE/RL interview November 16, that "Anti-terrorism operations are just starting in our country and we already have very concrete results." He was referring to an announcement earlier this month that more than a dozen al-Qaeda suspects had been taken into custody. Altynbayev said more research is needed, that the government wants to know all the details of terrorist activities in Kazakhstan.
Vladimir Bozhko, Deputy Chairman of the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB, successor to the Soviet-era KGB), said in a speech at the Kazakh Defense Ministry in Astana on November 16 that there are 3,215 religious organizations and communities officially registered in Kazakhstan. Bozhko called on the Kazakh government and parliament to adopt legislation that would make it easier for the KNB to monitor the activities of these groups.
The interview with Altynbayev is featured in an article (in Kazakh) found on the service's website, at 423E-8A05-EDF8BBE31012.asp.

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

RFE/RL, RADIO FREE ASIA COLLABORATE ON CHINA/CENTRAL ASIA COVERAGE RFE/RL's Central Asian services worked with their colleagues at Washington-based Radio Free Asia to produce a series of reports on China's growing influence in Central Asia.
RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs unit (NCA) issued the four-part package in English November 18 for broadcast to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, as well as other interested language services at RFE/RL and RFA. Part One looks at the decade since the lifting of the Bamboo Curtain in 1991 and how China in this period became a major player in the region; Part Two explores China's oil interests and its project to build a pipeline from Kazakhstan; Part Three examines the threat to Kazakh water supplies posed by China's increasing use of trans-boundary rivers; Part Four looks at Central Asian cooperation with China in the fight against terrorism and China's exploitation of the issue to impose restrictions on Uighur nationalists. More stories in the series will follow.
The RFE/RL OnLine team has built a special webpage to feature the package in English at the following address:

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

TAJIK SERVICE LOOKS AT TOLERANCE LEVELS IN TAJIK SOCIETY On the eve of International Tolerance Day, November 16, RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondents interviewed representatives of national minorities in Tajikistan, asking them how tolerant society is in the country. Uzbek and Korean interviewees mostly said they are satisfied, but Russian speakers complained of xenophobia during the 1992-97 civil war, admitting though to some improvement since.
Experts contacted by the service said a likely factor in anti- Russian prejudice in Tajik society is perceptions of widespread Russian mistreatment of Tajik migrant workers in Russia.
In the series, aired November 17, the Tajik service also examined the level of tolerance between government supporters and the mostly- Islamic opposition -- former enemies, who signed the peace agreement in 1997 that ended civil war in Tajikistan. Those interviewed on both sides said they have learned mutual respect and recognize that tolerance is the cornerstone of a new political culture in post-war Tajik society. They said attention is now needed to improve tolerance in other areas, including respect for gender rights and economic and political rights.
The series is available in Tajik on the service's website at:

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, may be reached by email at <>.

FERGHANA VALLEY FROM INSIDE TAJIKISTAN RFE/RL's Tajik Service, in it's recently launched Hamnafas (Global Link) program, focused on the situation in the Ferghana Valley -- the vast, largely lawless border land in which Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan intersect.
In this week's Hamnafas (produced in Prague), the Tajik Service interviewed visiting senior journalist Ilhom Djamolion, head of the independent Ferghana Valley Vararoud News Agency and co-editor of "The Neighbors," a newspaper published in the languages of the three Ferghana Valley countries. He said authorities in all the Ferghana countries are glossing over serious problems in the Valley, in order to avoid increasing international tension and cross-border conflicts.
The densely populated Ferghana Valley with high unemployment, widespread poverty and deep ethnic rifts makes it a hotbed of extremism. Ahmed Rashid, author of "Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia," has said that almost all Islamic political movements of Central Asia are born in Ferghana Valley. In the Prague studio interview, Djamolion confirmed that the militant Hizb-ut Tahrir and several new Islamic groups, such as Bai'at, are active throughout the Ferghana Valley, crossing national borders freely. He pointed out that no secular political group is active in the area. In addition, regional Ferghana elites of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are alienated from their central governments in all three countries.
Djamolion said Ferghana lives its own separate life, riddled with problems of water distribution, border restrictions, territorial disputes, ecological disasters and so on. According to Djamolion, the international community shows more interest in these issues than the Central Asian governments that share the Ferghana Valley.
The Tajik service will continue to follow trends in this important region. The Tajik Service's report (in Tajik) can be found on the service's website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, may be reached by email at <>.

RUSSIA SAYS NYET TO LATIN SCRIPT FOR TATARSTAN RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service highlighted the decision by Russia's Constitutional Court November 16, rejecting a politically-charged bid by Tatarstan to use the Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic. The request came from Tatarstan's Supreme Court, which challenged a 2002 Russian law mandating the use of Cyrillic for all official languages of the Russian Federation.
RFE/RL covered broad reaction to the court decision. The chairman of the Tatar parliamentary Science, Culture and Education Committee, Razil Valiyev told RFE/RL in a phone interview that an appeal against the decision will be filed and that the only way to get a just ruling is to go to international organizations, particularly the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. But in another RFE/RL interview, Tatarstan's parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin said the court decision will not be disputed by any part of Tatarstan's government.
The Tatar-Bashkir Service's report on the Russian Constitutional Court's decision can be read (in Tatar) at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Ferit Agi, may be reached by email at <>.

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Copyright � 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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