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RFE/RL Review December 10, 2004

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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" ( and news alert "No Separatism, Ukrainians Tell RFE/RL" (], the 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 B39D-9ED25D5C558A.html.

...Havel's Message 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 91A2-4E88C2FCB1D5.html.

...Yushchenko's Message 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." ( 8E3B-4927FBA7577E.html)

...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 <>.

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 Village: 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 director.

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 considerations.

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 peace.

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 the people.

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 <>.

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 Kyrgyz authorities.
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 establishment.
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 8C5A-4965-9452-87195F8BCB42.ASP

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

RFE/RL TAJIK SERVICE LOOKS AT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND REFORM 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 ADAC-658699CE8E48.html

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

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. ( 9f1bb-76c0-4abb-a77f-34ebeee51f30.html)
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." ( b-34c6-4d3b-966b-129676600578.html)
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." ( e-e107-49fd-af7e-091efa95014d.html)
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. ( c-e7dd-4f83-9c1d-f682dbacd1ea.html)

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Bohdan Andrusyshyn, may be reached by email at <>.

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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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