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RFE/RL Review December 17, 2004

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The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of December 11-17, 2004

UN THANKS RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN The United Nations' Special Representative in Afghanistan, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, has thanked Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) for its "sustained coverage" of the recent kidnapping of three UN employees. A letter received by RFA's Kabul bureau December 15 said, "We appreciate your round tables, interviews and the airing of UNAMA press releases on the subject. Your coverage of the issue proves your professionalism and your sense of responsibility towards a sensitive humanitarian and security problem."
UN workers Annetta Flanigan, Shqipe Hebibi, and Angelito Nayan were abducted in Kabul on October 28 and held hostage for 27 days. The three were released unharmed on November 23. RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan was the first to report the release of the three hostages to the Afghan people the morning of November 23, immediately after receiving telephone calls from the UN representative's office and the Afghan Interior Ministry.
RFA followed the hostage crisis closely with daily reports, and analyses from many different angles, including interviews with officials, security experts, UN workers, security and other NGO workers around the country, as well as round-table and call- in discussions that gave local Afghan citizens a chance to publicly condemn the abductions. Female listeners first offered to stand in as replacement hostages for the three UN employees during one of RFA's call-in programs.
Radio Free Afghanistan, the Dari- and Pashto-language service of RFE/RL, broadcasts 12 hours of programming a day, with programs produced in Prague and Kabul.

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <>.

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN PROGRAM PROMPTS GOVERNMENT CHANGE A senior Afghan government official was compelled to resign after making emotional comments on the December 11 airing of Radio Free Afghanistan's live call-in show program "New Era New Generation." Moderated from Prague with guests in RFE/RL's Kabul Bureau, the two-hour show is one of Radio Free Afghanistan's most popular programs.
The theme of the December 11 show was non-governmental organizations, and the main guest was Afghan Minister of Planning Mohammad Ramazan Bachardost. Bachardost was joined in the studio by the Afghan government's Anti-Corruption Office director, Dr. Azizullah Ludin; Legal Office Director Abdul Karim Khoram; Afghan expert with the United Nations in Kabul Hayatullah Wahdat and, by telephone from the U.S., political analyst Farooq Bashar.
During the program, Bachardost repeated criticism that almost none of the 1,935 NGOs working in Afghanistan had complied with his Ministry's instructions to register and went on to dismiss all NGOs in Afghanistan as corrupt, announcing his intention to ban them. Several of the participants criticized the Planning Minister's statements and the discussion became heated, leading Bachardost to state emphatically that he will ban all NGOs until they submit to registration. He said the corruption of the NGOs in Afghanistan forms a strong circle including the government, United Nations and international community. Bachardost said this circle must be broken, or he will resign: "There is no need for me to continue as Planning Minister if I am not able to implement my decisions," he said agitatedly.
An RFA broadcaster later was told by President Karzai's office that Bachardost had not cleared his statement with the Afghan president, and two days later Bachardost did in fact resign. Bachardost glumly told Radio Free Afghanistan that, up to the day of the broadcast, he'd had Karzai's support.

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <>.

RADIO FARDA INTERVIEWS NOBLE PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE IN TEHRAN Radio Farda broadcast an exclusive interview on December 16 with 2003 Noble Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi in which Ebadi praised American culture. Ebadi was interviewed by Radio Farda in Tehran, after winning an appeal in U.S. court that will allow her work to be published in the United States.
Writers and researchers residing in Iran, Cuba and Sudan were banned from being published in the U.S., before the U.S. PEN Center and Shirin Ebadi took the matter to court and won this week. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has now lifted the publication ban on individuals (but not on government publications from these countries).
In Radio Farda interview, Ebadi thanked all those in the U.S. courts who "voted for the victory of freedom of speech." She also paid tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt for her work achieving ratification of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Internet audio and a text transcript of the Ebadi interview can be found on Radio Farda's website, at .

** The News Director of Radio Farda, Mardiros Soghom, may be reached by email at <>.

ROMANIA-MOLDOVA SERVICE COVERS DISPUTED ROMANIAN ELECTION RFE/RL Romania/Moldova Service had several exclusive interviews about the results of the runoff presidential elections in Romania, which took place on December 12.
Heather Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the service on December 16 that the US welcomes the "clear anti-corruption plan and economic reform proposals of newly elected president Traian Basescu." This was the first official comment from the U.S. State Department about the election (the interview may be heard on the service's website, at
Among the Western political analysts who commented about the result of the elections and about the debates swirling around the formation of a new government, the Romania/Moldova Service had exclusive interviews with Andrei Brezianu, the former Director of VOA's Romanian Service, who analyzed the first statement concerning the future foreign policy of the new elected president; with Bradford University professor Tom Gallagher, the author of a new book about Romania, who spoke about Romania-EU relations and the way the previous administration negotiated the "aquis communitaire;" with London-based journalist Traian Ungureanu and with RFE/RL Romanian service veteran Neculai Constantin Munteanu, who was interviewed in Munich. Other interviews were broadcast with local Romanian political analysts and constitutional experts about the new situation and its impact on domestic policy.
The presidential election results were also covered in our programs dedicated to Moldova, where the service concentrated on coverage of President-elect Basescu's foreign policy statements, Romania's relations with neighboring states and on reaction from Romanians living in Moldova to the election. The service also obtained reaction to the vote from several political leaders in Chisinau.
The Romania/Moldova Service's coverage of Romania's presidential election (in Romanian) can be found on the service's website, at .

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE ON ELECTIONEERING CONTROVERSY... RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service (Radio Azattyk) is covering extensively the shifts, maneuvers and controversies stirring the political environment in the Kyrgyz Republic as it gears up for parliamentary elections next February.
On December 14, the service aired an exclusive interview with former foreign minister Rosa Otunbayeva, who served in the early 1990s as her country's first ambassador to the U.S. Otunbayeva spoke about a new opposition bloc she has formed called "Atajurt" (Fatherland), asserting that all progressive forces must unite to win back the parliament from Kyrgyzstan's current corrupt rulers. In response to a growing controversy about the rights of former ambassadors to run for political office, Otunbayeva came down firmly in favor, noting that a former Kyrgyz ambassador to Kazakhstan was recently elected to parliament. (
Three former Kyrgyz ambassadors -- Medetkan Sherimkulov (Turkey), Usen Sydykov (CIS) and Mambetjunus Abylov (Malaysia) -- criticized the Kyrgyz Central Election Commission during an interview broadcast by Radio Azattyk on December 14, calling it politically biased, prone to election fraud and unconstitutional. The government opposes their candidacies for parliament. (

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

...FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN KYRGYZSTAN A spirited roundtable discussion of media freedom was broadcast by the Kyrgyz Service during its "Face to Face" program December 15. Participants in the roundtable, which focused on the role of the press in the conduct of free and fair elections, were Esenbai Kaldarov, the editor-in-chief of the state-funded "Erkin-Too" newspaper and Edil Baisalov, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper "Demokrat" and also head of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. Baisalov criticized what he saw as the pro-Moscow stance of Kyrgyz government newspapers. The guests also discussed President Askar Akayev's recent charges that the opposition is using dirty tricks to win power, and countercharges that the state authorities were a source of fraud in previous elections.
The "Face to Face" debate on media freedom can be found (in Kyrgyz) on the service's website, at .

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

UKRAINIAN SERVICE LAUNCHES 'NEW UKRAINE' SHOW... RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service has launched a new show called "Nova Ukraina" (New Ukraine). The first "Nova Ukraina" broadcast on December 16 addressed the impact of the "Orange Revolution" on the media in Ukraine and featured an interview with Serhii Huz, the leader of Ukraine's independent media trade union.
"Nova Ukraina" is a 15-minute news magazine, scheduled to air twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It will provide perspective on events in Ukraine and show new ideas, developments, and problems the country faces as it embarks on the road to change.

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

...SPOTLIGHTS CAMPAIGNS AND CANDIDATES The campaign managers of the two leading candidates in Ukraine's presidential election have appeared consecutively on RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, to outline the position of the two candidates, Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko.
Yushchenko campaign manager Oleksander Zinchenko was a guest on Evening Liberty earlier this month, declaring before it was officially confirmed that Yushchenko had been poisoned. Taras Chornovil, the new chief of Yanukovych's election campaign, also appeared on Evening Liberty, on a show broadcast live from Kyiv on December 15. Chornovil asserted that Yanukovych is now moving away from incumbent President Leonid Kuchma and is running on a platform of opposition to both Yushchenko and Kuchma.
Follow RFE/RL Ukrainian Service coverage of the Ukrainian presidential elections (in Ukrainian) at the service's website: .

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

RUSSIAN SERVICE FILLS GAPS IN RUSSIAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF YUKOS... RFE/RL's Russian Service was the first to bring in-depth reporting on December 15 of news that the beleaguered oil giant Yukos had filed for bankruptcy in a U.S. court in Houston, Texas. Russian media largely ignored the U.S. angle, which muddied the legal waters of the Russian government's planned auction of Yukos assets. Among other reporting, the Russian Service interviewed American expert Marshall Goldman and a Russian legal expert to unravel for listeners the knottiest issues of the case (
Extensive coverage of the Yukos case continued December 17, with a mix of interviews with international experts broadcast throughout the day. During that evening's "Business and Money" program, a comprehensive segment on the Yukos case was aired ( Audio cuts of the interviews from the Russian Service were also made available to other RFE/RL language broadcasts.

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

...MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHECHEN WAR The 10th Anniversary of the beginning of the first Chechen war was observed by RFE/RL's Russian Service with a unique call-in program broadcast live on December 11.
The program brought together on RFE/RL's airwaves Chechen minister Akhmed Zakayev and the head of the Russian Soldiers Mothers Committees Union Valentina Melnikova. The two had planned to meet in person in Brussels, but Melnikova was denied a Belgian visa. She said on the 2-hour program that she hopes the meeting with Zakayev will stimulate a discussion of genuine measures the Chechen side could take to achieve peace and ways in which her organization might help. "We cannot allow the war to go on," Melnikova said. Zakayev, representing Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, said the fact that he is meeting Melnikova and has been tasked with starting a dialogue "is the evidence that the Chechen side is ready to discuss peace."
Russian Service coverage of the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the first Chechen War can be found on the service's website, at .

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

RFE/RL FOCUSES ON CHILD TRAFFICKING IN THE BALKANS RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service broadcast a compelling story on child trafficking in the Balkans -- a crime that is spreading throughout the region.
The recent case of a Roma mother from southern Serbia selling her five children for 1,250 euros shocked the Serbian public. SSALS correspondent Dusica Pesic went to see the family and interviewed the mother, Milijana Kostic. She said she is too poor to bring the children up herself and had sent them to their cousins.
The interview was broadcast on December 15, and was followed by a live roundtable discussion of experts on human trafficking, moderated from Prague and Belgrade. In RFE/RL's Belgrade studio were guests Aleksandra Jovanovic of the anti-trafficking NGO "Astra", the president of the Roma Association in Serbia, Osman Balic, and four police officers with a special anti-trafficking police unit. From Prague, SSALS broadcaster Dragan Stavljanin spoke with Gordana Igric, program coordinator at the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which recently issued a comprehensive survey on human trafficking in the Balkans. SSALS's correspondent from the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica contributed a report on a local sex trafficking scandal that has embarrassed Montenegro because of the involvement of high officials.
The Serbian police on the show said the Balkans are a major trafficking route for women and children bound for western Europe and explained how an international crime ring works. They said about 200,000 women and children are smuggled each year through the Balkans, en route to Western Europe. All participants agreed that the strikingly poor Roma minority in Serbia makes the Roma a target for powerful organized gangs operating in the region. Gordana Igric said the Mafia in the Balkans has closer ties and a better regional network than those of neighboring countries, noting the close relationship between Serbian and Albanian gangs even as their political leaderships are at odds with state institutions that remain weak and are often corrupt.
The interview with Milijana Kostic, the mother who sold her children, can be found on the service's website, at .

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

RFE/RL HOSTS ONLINE CHAT WITH SERBIAN HUNGARIAN LEADER RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service has notched another success in its weekly "On-Line with..." interviews with leading politicians in the region.
The program's guest on December 15 was Jozsef Kasza, leader of the 400,000-strong Hungarian minority, the largest in Serbia. The interview was done in partnership with "Magyar Szo", the leading Hungarian language daily in Serbia, which provided premises for the interview in the newsroom of its offices in the town of Novi Sad, where Kasza lives. The questions and answers posted over a period of 3 hours will be published in full in next week's weekend supplement of the paper (circulation of 30,000). Previous SSALS "On-Line" guests have included the presidents of Croatia and Serbia, the prime ministers of Montenegro and Bosnia and leading figures from the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska.
The SSALS' On-Line" interview with Jozsef Kasza is 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 <>.

BELARUS SERVICE INFORMS LISTENERS OF EU, U.S. RESTRICTIONS RFE/RL's Belarus Service announced on December 13 that the European Union has banned two more Belarusian officials from EU territory, under sanctions imposed for staging flawed elections. They are Lidia Yarmoshyna, head of the Central Electoral Commission, and Yury Padabed, chief of the OMON security force that broke up rallies following the October 17 general election and referendum on extending the potential mandate of current President Alexander Lukashenka.
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service broadcast the reactions of Yarmoshyna and Padabed, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, as well as those of opposition leaders and Belarusian citizens. The Service earlier reported on U.S. State Department plans to restrict travel to the United States by Belarusian government officials implicated in election abuses.
Reporting on the travel restrictions can be found on the Belarusian Service's website, at .

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

TAJIK SERVICE PROVIDES EXCLUSIVE NEWS ON POLITICAL ARREST... RFE/RL's Tajik Service has been following the arrest December 10 of the leader of the Tajik Democratic Party, Makhmadruzi Iskandarov, who was living in Moscow. Russian police took Iskandarov into custody at the request of Tajik authorities; Iskandarov is expected to be extradited to Tajikistan to face charges of terrorism, corruption, banditry and establishing an illegal armed group. The Democratic Party of Tajikistan claims their leader was detained for political reasons to stop him from being a candidate in parliamentary elections next February.
Within hours of his arrest, the Tajik Service was broadcasting interviews with Charogi Ruz editor-in-chief Dodojon Attoulloev, who had spoken to Iskandarov at the detention center in Moscow, and Tajik general prosecutor Bobojon Bobokhonov in Dushanbe (by phone). It brought daily reports and analyses of the case all this week, including comments by Tajik politicians, legal experts and opposition militants on the consequences of his arrest for security in Tajikistan.
Iskandarov was a former opposition commander and has many followers. The Tajik Service was the only media in Tajikistan to provide comprehensive coverage of Iskandarov's arrest.
A report on the arrest of Makhmadruzi Iskandarov (in Tajik) may be found on the service's website, at .

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

...MALNUTRITION OF TAJIK CHILDREN RFE/RL's Tajik Service aired an exclusive interview December 15 with Farrukh Mamadshoev, representative of the UN World Food Program, about a report showing that 90 percent of Tajik children under the age of 15 suffer from iodine deficiency and/or malnutrition. The interview, broadcast on the December 15 "In Depth" program, gave guidelines for proper nutrition and was widely quoted in Tajik media.
Local media have limited access to international news agencies and the Internet and continued to rely on RFE/RL for news and analysis of the WFP findings all week.
RFE/RL Tajik Service reporting on children's' nutrition and the UN World Food Program Report can be found on the service's website, .

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, 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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