The PDF version is available at http://www.rferl.org/reviews/
The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of December 4 - 11, 2004
RFE/RL FOCUSES ON BRIDGE-BUILDING IN UKRAINE...
After the success of the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service's first
"Dialogue" show [see December 3 issue of "RFE/RL Review"
(http://www.rferl.org/reviews/2004/20041203.pdf) and news alert
"No Separatism, Ukrainians Tell RFE/RL"
Ukrainian Service quickly followed with a second "Dialogue" on
December 5, addressing a similar theme, "Pro i Contra: A Dialogue
Between East and West Ukraine in the Context of the Current
Political Situation." Again, representatives from the city of
Donetsk in the eastern coal-mining Donbass region debated with
participants from Lviv and Kharkiv during the show, moderated
live from RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau. All participants agreed that,
despite differences in political preferences and positions, the
separatist issue is manipulative and baseless with no real
support among Ukrainians East or West.
Audio and a text transcript of the December 5 dialogue can
be found on the Ukrainian Service's website, at
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel contacted RFE/RL from a
Prague hospital to record an exclusive interview with the
Ukrainian Service about a personal message he was sending to
Viktor Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people. Broadcast December 4,
the Havel letter said: "I am sending warm regards to you. I
admire your endeavor for better conditions in your country. I
support it and I am ready to help in any way I can. I think the
whole matter has been progressing well."
A transcript of the interview can be found on the Ukrainian
Service's website, at
For the first time in the history of Ukraine, a political leader
sent Hanukah greetings to Ukrainian Jews. The message, broadcast
by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on December 6, the first day of
Hanukkah, said: "My sincere greetings to you with the great
Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the holiday of heroism and victory
over suppressors, holiday of purification and sanctity, of light
and fire. Hanukkah reminds us not only of the possibility of
miracles in our life, but also that we should be deserving of
God's miracle. On the first Hanukkah eve you will light the first
candle, then the second, then all eight. You will intensify and
multiply the light, and the world should
be brighter. Peace be with you!" Yushchenko signed the message as
he signs all official documents "Viktor Yushchenko, for you (the
people), for our country, for God."
...Supreme Court's Decision
Analyzing the momentous legislative decisions reached in Ukraine
this week, the Ukrainian Service aired several exclusive
interviews with well-known judicial experts, including Judge
Volodymyr Vasilenko, member of the International Tribunal in The
Hague trying the Milosevic case, a Ukrainian; and Federal Judge
Bohdan Futey of Washington, an American of Ukrainian descent.
...Saying It with Song
RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service broadcast a program on December 11
that is sure to appeal to all musical patriots in Ukraine, across
the political and geographical spectrum. Pop singer Ruslana
Lyzhychko is visiting Prague and came to the studio of the
Ukrainian Service at RFE/RL's Prague Broadcast Operations Center.
She recorded songs for the Ukrainian Service's "Seven Days of
Democracy" week in review program, a 30-minute program broadcast
on Saturdays and Sundays. Ruslana, the winner of the 2004
Eurovision Song Contest, is an active supporter of presidential
candidate Viktor Yushchenko.
The audio of Ruslana's appearance on "Seven Days of
Democracy" can be found on the service's website, at
Select the 11 December show.
** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Alexander
Narodetsky, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN GIVES MICROPHONE TO AFGHANS
On December 7, the day of President Hamid Karzai's inauguration,
Radio Free Afghanistan pre-empted regular programming and turned
its microphones over to the citizens of Afghanistan.
Immediately following its live coverage of the inauguration
ceremony, RFE/RL's Afghan Service announced that listeners could
call the service to offer the newly-inaugurated president their
comments, expectations, and congratulations. Almost immediately,
the phones in RFE/RL's Kabul bureau were jammed with calls. Close
to 300 people from all over the country used the opportunity to
be heard and speak to their president through RFE/RL. The Afghan
Service broadcast the calls live for six hours that day. It
continued to provide this unique forum for another two hours the
next day, with new telephone calls from Afghan listeners. Here is
a sampling of the calls, translated into English.
Aminullah Sahel from Wardak Province, Chek District, Adam Khail
Best wishes of my family, including my elder mother who voted for
Karzai herself. Her request for Mr. Karzai is that he should find
jobs for Afghan youth here, so that they won't be forced to go to
other countries for income. Under the other leaders, all my sons
went to the Gulf for work. This is bothering me.
Noria (woman) from Kabul:
We have not voted for Karzai because of his linguistic, ethnic,
or religious affiliation. We voted for him, because he has
promised to end warlordism, establish democracy and carry out
disarmament. He removed his first deputy and Ismail Khan. Now we
expect that, instead of compromise and other considerations, he
will keep his promises. Instead of fundamentalists, appoint
democrats. Unfortunately, at the inauguration ceremony, we saw
warlords instead of democratic representatives. This way, Karzai
will add salt to our wounds. We expect him to heal our wounds.
Mohammad Younus from Ghazni Province, Andar district:
Karzai himself is a mujahid, he should make a cabinet with
faithful and good people. Those who are not smugglers. And I also
want him to pay attention to our place, which was badly damaged
during the Jihad.
Yousefi, from Logar Province:
I want Karzai to bring some reforms to our province and in our
district, Khoshi, to remove the commander and the district
Mohamad Gul from Paktia:
I want Karzai to release those people who are innocent and have
been imprisoned by Americans as Taliban in different prisons in
Bagram, Kandahar etc.
Second, the trucks that have not paid taxes for 25 years are
now being harassed by traffic [police] to pay taxes. Many
refugees have returned to Afghanistan and are working with these
trucks. They can not afford to pay the taxes right now. We want
Karzai to waive the taxes that have not been paid up to now. And,
please give attention and rights to all provinces equally.
Ahmad Shah from Kabul:
I want Karzai to only appoint people on the basis of their
qualification, not ethnic consideration, and not only in the
cabinet, but also in all offices. In our province, illiterate
people are appointed to high position as a result of these
Mahout, a 5th grade pupil at Mirwais High School in Kunduz:
We children want the cabinet to be made up of qualified people.
If the warlords and so-called Mujahid again occupy positions in
the cabinet, the future of us kids will be dark again. We also
ask the UN and international community to not stop their
assistance, until a solid and healthy government is made. We need
Aminullah, Kandahar Province, 5th district:
We ask Karzai that his new cabinet be made up of qualified
people. We have heard from the news agencies and some people that
70 percent of the old cabinet members will stay in the new
cabinet. If this is so, Afghans will be very discouraged and sad,
because the present cabinet is made up of warlords, commanders,
mafia members, smugglers, and those involved in the heroin
business. This is our only request.
Mir Azam, Wardak Province
I am a soldier with the Ministry of Interior. I am standing in
the cold weather and serving my country and people. Karzai should
also serve the Afghan people and fulfill his promises he gave to
An Anonymous Caller from Khost
I say my greetings to you, Azadi Radio! I appreciate and praise
your colorful programs with various Afghan accents. We hear you
in beautiful Dari and Pashto languages. If you let me, I would
like to say few words to Mr. Karzai. I'd like to tell a short
story, about a passerby who was traveling in a village and saw
that there was a prayer session. The Mullah (Imam) conducted the
prayer and afterwards he went outside the mosque and lit a
cigarette. The man asked the people what kind of Imam do you
people have? He smokes cigarette? The people responded we have no
other choice; we are forced to do so. If we put this man in the
back row of the prayer session he would be stealing people's
shoes. .Now, during his Interim period he was forced to have some
undesirable people in his government, but this time he is elected
by the Afghan people; I ask Mr. Karzai that he should not have
those people in his future government.
Clearly, listeners in Afghanistan enjoy such opportunities to
speak directly to their government via Radio Free Afghanistan. A
recent survey conducted in 5 of Afghanistan's provinces (Kabul,
Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar and Kandahar) shows that, nationwide,
more than 60 percent of adults 15 and older listen to Radio Free
Afghanistan broadcasts in Dari and Pashto on a weekly basis -- a
rate that rises to 70 percent in the capital city of Kabul
** The Acting Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander
Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
RFE/RL FIRST WITH NEWS OF KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service was the first to break the news of the
re-appearance of leading human rights activist Tursunbek Akun the
night of December 1, and has remained the main news source on
this story for other media as well as listeners in Kyrgyzstan.
On December 8, RFE/RL's Bishkek Bureau Chief moderated a
lively exchange in the Kyrgyz Service's "Face to Face" roundtable
series with the head of the Trauma Department at Bishkek's
Hospital 4, Janysh Sulaimanov, and the leader of the opposition
Freedom (Erkindik) Party, Topchubek Turgunaliev. Turgunaliev
disagreed with the doctor's insistence that Akun is in good
health after his mysterious two-week absence, calling this a
politically motivated diagnosis that was made under pressure from
Akun is ill at home and reported to be in deteriorating
condition, one week after being pronounced healthy by Kyrgyz
doctors. RFE/RL reported on December 8 that a Freedom House
representative is assessing the situation, after Kyrgyz human
rights groups asked for help in getting Akun out of the country
for treatment at a competent and trustworthy medical
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service has aired a number of interviews and
features about the Akun case and has been in the lead on the
story since it broke in mid-November. Akun vanished on November
16, on the eve of a planned demonstration against President Askar
Akayev. On December 1 he was dropped off at hospital, claiming
that he had been abducted by Kyrgyz state security, and asked the
attending doctor to call RFE/RL. Within minutes of receiving the
phone call, the Kyrgyz Service was on the air broadcasting their
interview with the doctor. One hour later, the service broadcast
a live interview with Akun from the hospital and separate
interviews at the hospital with the Bishkek chief of police and
General Mamytov of Kyrgyz State Security. Both denied any
involvement in Akun's disappearance. The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry
says that Akun is conspiring against the government.
To listen to the December 8 discussion (in Kyrgyz), please
visit the service's website at
** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek
Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
RFE/RL TAJIK SERVICE LOOKS AT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND
RFE/RL's Tajik Service dedicated its weekly "Global Link" program
on December 7 to a discussion of various religions and reform in
Tajikistan. The 30-minute program, produced in Prague, included a
report on the recent international Interfaith Conference in
Prague and featured interviews with a participant -- Iranian
Muslim scholar Mehdi Khalaji and, in Dushanbe, with deputy head
of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri. The
religious theme of the program was particularly interesting for
listeners, in view of a recent ruling by Tajik authorities
barring women from prayer in mosques and making pilgrimages
compulsory for youth under the age of 18.
Muhiddin Kabiri spoke about secularism in religion,
supporting a view expressed at the Prague conference about the
need for separation of church and state. The program continued
with a special report from RFE/RL's Dushanbe correspondent about
relations among various religious communities in Tajikistan that
included interviews with the Rabbi of Dushanbe and the heads of
the Islamic Center and Orthodox Church.
A sampling by RFE/RL's correspondent of tolerance levels on
the street produced a mixed reaction, with some people saying all
religions have the same purpose of spreading love and peace and
others arguing that Islam is the only faith that counts. Kabiri
and Khalaji disagreed in the end on the nature of religious
reform, with Kabiri maintaining that reform is inspired from
within Islam independently of external social, political and
economic trends. Khalaji argued that religious reform is
stimulated from the outside by progress in the secular spheres of
economy, technology, science and politics.
The program ended with a report on "Bridges" a new U.S. TV
station trying to strengthen understanding among Muslims and non-
Muslims in the United States.
Audio and text (in Tajik) reviewing the Tajik Service report
is available on the service's website, at
** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, may
be reached by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
CRITICS OF BELARUSIAN DICTATORSHIP ON RFE/RL AIRWAVES
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service aired an exclusive interview on
December 8 with Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington,
of "Clash of Civilizations" fame. Huntington spoke to RFE/RL's
correspondent in Warsaw, where he was attending a conference.
According to Huntington, "Belarus is a unique example of the last
real dictatorship on the European continent," and said that he
doubted Lukashenka's regime can survive for much longer. But
Huntington declined to speculate under what circumstances its
demise would occur.
The U.S. State Department has also expressed its concern
about repression in Belarus, in an embassy statement that was
made in early December; in exclusive interviews with RFE/RL by
the Deputy Chief of Mission in Minsk; and in a speech by
Secretary of State Colin Powell.
DCM Constance Philpot visited RFE/RL's Minsk bureau twice
last seek, on December 8 and 9. On the eve of International Human
Rights Day (December 10), Philpot urged Belarus' authorities to
abide by their commitments to respect the international
Declaration of Human Rights. Commenting on events in Ukraine,
Philpot noted that "governments are listening to the people in
the streets," and said she hoped one day Belarusians will be able
to determine their own political fate as well. Philpot emphasized
that the United States "supports the aspirations of the
Belarusian people to have an opportunity to determine their
political future in a free and fair manner."
The Belarusian Service broadcast a statement issued by the
US Embassy in Minsk on December 2, expressing concern about "the
increasing attacks against independent civil society in Belarus."
The statement asserted that Belarusian authorities have stepped
up pressure on civil society since October's parliamentary
elections: "While the Belarusian government couches its
repressive acts in a legal framework, it is clear these actions
are being directed against Belarus' few remaining independent
voices for political reasons." In its statement, the embassy
listed a number of newspapers that have been recently closed or
fined, and cities where people have been penalized for "simply
passing out information."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell slammed Belarus as "an
egregious example of a participating state failing to live up to
its OSCE commitment on human rights, democracy and the rule of
law," in an address to the OSCE Ministerial Council session in
Sofia on December 7. RFE/RL's broadcast to Belarus quoted Powell
as saying he "categorically disagreed" with speculation that the
OSCE interferes in the internal affairs of states, applies double
standards, or has for political reasons concentrated its efforts
on the former republics of the USSR. The broadcast noted that
this charge was leveled in Sofia by, among others, Belarus
Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynaw.
** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Bohdan
Andrusyshyn, may be reached by email at <email@example.com>.
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