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RFE/RL Review January 14, 2005

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The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of January 8-14, 2005

NOBEL LAUREATE TELLS RADIO FARDA OF COURT SUMMONS Noble Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi told Radio Farda she has no idea why she was summoned to appear before the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. In an exclusive interview (in Persian) by phone from Tehran on January 14, Ebadi told Radio Farda that "two days ago, a summons was delivered to my law office in which it was stated that I have to go to the Revolutionary Court to give explanations, without mentioning if I'm accused or not and what the charges are against me. In the letter, it was stated that if I don't present myself within [three days], they will order my arrest." Ebadi said the summons is illegal: "This summons from the court -- it does not specify whether I stand accused and, if I am, what my charges are -- stands against our criminal law."
Iran's Revolutionary Court deals with national security offenses and is known for jailing many political dissidents. Ebadi's law center has been involved in several high-profile human rights cases recently, and her activities are thought to have angered some conservatives and hard-liners. Mohammad Seyfzadeh, one of Ebadi's colleagues at the Center of Human Rights Defenders in Tehran, told Radio Farda in a separate interview that the court action against Ebadi is causing concern inside Iran: "Lawyers and human rights activists who have contacted me are very upset. Mrs. Ebadi is working within the framework of legal and human rights issues. So [summoning her to court] means the destruction of freedom of expression, it means disregard for people's expertise. She talks within her expertise."
More about the summons received by Shirin Ebadi can be found on the Radio Farda website,, as well as in an English language report located at

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

RADIO FARDA EXCLUSIVE WITH SHIMON PERES In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda from Tel Aviv, Israel's new Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said he is encouraged by changes in the Palestinian leadership, but warned of the continuing negative impact of Iran and Syria on prospects for peace in the region. Peres accused Syria of exporting terrorism and called Iran "the greatest danger in the Middle East," because of its nuclear program and record of deception.
Returning to problems closer to home, Peres told Radio Farda's correspondent that at some point Israel will have to start talking to Palestinians: "I think we have to enter into discussions with the Palestinians. Finally, the [disengagement] cannot be implemented without

the Palestinians. And we have to start talking with them sooner or later."
Peres is an influential, veteran politician, active in political life since Israel was established in 1948. A former foreign minister, defense minister and prime minister at different stages in his career, he helped negotiate the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians in the early 1990s and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
The interview was broadcast on Radio Farda on January 12 and posted on its website,, as well as featured in an English-language article located at

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

RADIO FREE IRAQ INTENSIFIES ELECTION COVERAGE The election coverage of RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq is in full swing, with ten to twelve reports a day filed by the service's network of correspondents located in Baghdad, throughout Iraq, and in neighboring countries in the region and in Europe and the United States. The stream of original, on the scene reports brings to listeners information about the candidates, their platforms and the election process, as well as listeners' views about the election. Coverage is expected to intensify as the election date of January 30 draws near. RFI so far has interviewed more than 50 leading candidates, as well as Sunni and Shi'a Muslim clerics, Kurds and representatives of other religious and political groupings in Iraq. There are 250 candidate party lists that have declared their intention to participate in the vote.
Recent exclusive RFI interviews include a January 9 conversation with Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, an aide to militant Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, who spoke about al-Sadr's opposition to participating in the election and insistence on a deadline for the departure of the occupying forces ( In another interview, RFI spoke with a candidate for the United Iraqi Coalition, Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulu, who said Ayatollah al-Sistani's office has been taking steps to persuade Sunnis to join the elections and participate in them.
On a typical day, January 15, RFI broadcasting included an interview with an Iraqi foreign ministry official about the prospects of holding the elections as scheduled; with the International Organization for Migration about voting registration of Iraqis overseas that begins on January 17; with the editor of a Kurdish newspaper about ethnic subgroupings in the Kurdish city of Kirkuk and a political analyst on changes in Kurdish positions on the elections; a series of security reports on the situation around the country; interviews with construction workers in Baghdad complaining about the lack of jobs and a report from a conference of tribal leaders in Baghdad on their role in the elections.

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergey Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>.

...INTERVIEWS ATTACKED CANDIDATE Radio Free Iraq's correspondent in Baghdad got a firsthand account of the January 11 attack on the house of Mithal al-Alousi, head of the Iraqi Democratic Umma Party and a major candidate in the approaching national elections. In the interview, broadcast that evening, Al-Alousi confirmed that no one was injured in the mortar shelling and gunfire attack "by strange piece of luck," although there was extensive damage to his house. Al- Alousi said the strike came at midnight and was clearly aimed at killing everyone: "the purpose of the terrorists was to kill all people in my house. It was a terrorist, criminal act, aimed at slaughtering people and obstructing the political and humanitarian work in Iraq." He said: "Iraqis today are targeted in schools, in markets, everywhere. The terrorists want to give a clear signal: �There will be no life in Iraq unless it is in our hands.� We, on our part, also want to give a clear signal: there will be no life for terror but there will be life for freedom, democracy, and Iraqi people." Al-Alousi said the terrorists and saboteurs will not succeed in derailing the January 30 election, affirming that Iraqis are "determined to hold the elections on schedule as set by policy, law and the constitution."

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergey Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL SITS DOWN WITH MADAME YUSHCHENKO Madame Kateryna Yushchenko, American-born wife of Ukraine's president- elect, sat down with RFE/RL's Central News correspondent Askold Krushelnycky to talk about her life before and after she married Viktor Yushchenko. They met January 13, in a Kyiv restaurant where staff had prepared free meals for some of the thousands of participants of last month's "Orange Revolution."
Kateryna Yushchenko was born in Chicago in 1961 to Ukrainian American parents. She said in the interview that she was a typical diaspora child: "I had to blend two lives -- American schools and American education and many American friends. And at the same time, at home, we spoke Ukrainian, we held to many Ukrainian traditions. I attended a Ukrainian Saturday school with Ukrainian language. I would go to Ukrainian churches. I attended Ukrainian dance classes." Later, she went to Georgetown University in Washington and also earned a Masters degree in business administration from the University of Chicago. During former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's second term, Kateryna Yushchenko worked on Eastern European ethnic affairs in the White House and in the human rights office of the State Department.
She met her future husband in 1993, when she was accompanying a group of Ukrainian bankers in America to learn about Western financial systems. Viktor Yushchenko, at the time the head of the Ukrainian national bank, led that delegation: "Viktor says he always remembers that first conversation because he called me prickly as a porcupine. I did not know much about him at the time and I assumed that if he was a banker in the Soviet system that he must not be very free market- oriented, and so I decided I was going to teach him what free markets are all about. And after I realized he knew much more than I expected, and that he was indeed very free-market oriented and open-minded about western economies, very interested in learning about western economies." They married in 1998 and now have three children, two girls and a boy, born in the spring of 2004.
Political opponents have accused her of being an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, and influencing her husband. Yushchenko dismisses the allegations as ridiculous and says her husband hates to talk about politics at home: "I've understood that my role as the keeper of the family and the keeper of peace at home and a warm family environment is very important to him being a strong political leader, because he is the type of person who needs that home atmosphere, that peace at home, to keep strong at work."
Kateryna said that when the November 21 election round proved fraudulent, her husband never doubted Ukrainians would refuse to accept the result. She quoted her husband as saying: "'I am absolutely sure. I know that people have had enough and they're going to demand change... The people are ready." She is hoping her sister and mother, who live in the United States, will attend her husband's inauguration in the second half of January.
Askold Krushelnycky's report on his interview with Kateryna Yushchenko can be found at

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

RFE/RL LOOKS AT CENSORSHIP IN ROMANIA... Independent journalists and the top management of Romanian State Radio are involved in a public debate about censorship and government attempts to use the media to influence voters in last year's presidential election. RFE/RL broadcast a report on the debate and was then approached by both sides, wanting to state their positions through RFE/RL. President of Romanian Public Radio Dragos Seulean, as well as one of the independent journalists interviewed by RFE/RL, said the U.SA.-funded radio station is the only media in Romania to report in a balanced and comprehensive way about the debate.

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

...ROMANIA'S RELATIONS WITH THE EU RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service on January 13 interviewed Terry Davis, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, on the eve of his three-day trip to Chisinau. Davis told RFE/RL that he has meetings with party leaders, NGO representatives as well as government officials and that he plans also to visit Transdnistria. Audio of the interview with Terry Davis can be found on the Romania-Moldova Service's website at

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

RFE/RL SCOOP ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH TALKS Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian gave RFE/RL's Armenian Service an exclusive interview, broadcast on January 11, on OSCE- sponsored talks in Prague on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Service was the first media in Armenia to carry Oskanian's assessment of the talks to Armenian listeners. He admitted that the two sides failed to agree on basic principles for a negotiated peace, saying "I wish I could say that there is a full agreement on the principles. But we are still not there. There is a general framework of issues [to be discussed] but, as this [last] meeting showed, they need to be further consolidated." But he spoke of the mood of the talks as positive and continuing to try and achieve concrete results leading to a peace settlement. Oskanian said that: "on the whole, I consider the overall mood and atmosphere [of the talks] as positive. It is still too early to disclose any details. But once we achieve concrete results on specific issues, we will release them gradually." An English article based on the Oskanian interview is located on the service's website at, while the Armenian version of the story is at
The Karabakh conflict dates back to 1988, when the predominantly Armenian enclave asked to be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijani control to that of the Armenian SSR. The move triggered a six-year war that claimed thousands of lives and drove an estimated 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their homes. Both sides signed a cease-fire agreement in 1994, but remain technically at war. The meeting last week was the fifth held between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov and Oskanian in the Czech capital, in the framework of what is known as the "Prague Process."
RFE/RL's correspondent made a separate video interview (available at with Oskanian that was posted on the Armenian service's website one hour after the talks ended. "Baku Today," an Azerbaijani Internet news site posted the interview with Oskanian, giving attribution to RFE/RL (

** The Director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Hrair Tamrazian, may be reached by email at <>.

TAJIK TELLS RFE/RL OF MISTREATMENT AT GUANTANAMO A Tajik prisoner released from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay has come forward with an account of what he claims was abuse and mistreatment there.
Abdulrahmon Rajabov, a Tajik of Uzbek origin, spoke to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, giving the first detailed account of his experience since he was released nine months ago. Rajabov was arrested in Afghanistan in late 2001 and held at Guantanamo for more than two years. In the interview, he said his arrest was an accident and denied having ties to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He said that in prison, he was subjected to psychological pressure, denied medical care for a liver ailment and often kept in solitary confinement.
The interview, broadcast January 12, was the first extensive report on Rajabov in the Tajik language. An English-language article about the interview can be read on the RFE/RL website, at

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

UZBEK SERVICE REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS RFE/RL's Uzbek Service was the first media January 13 to tell Uzbeks about criticism of the Uzbek government's human rights record in the annual report of the Human Rights Watch, a private monitoring group based in New York. The report said, among other things, that torture is used routinely against dissidents in Uzbek prisons.
Earlier this month, a political prisoner, Samandar Umarov, died while in custody. The Uzbek Service has been following the case and January 14 reported the Uzbek government's decision to begin an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Umarov's death. In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, Senior Project Manager for Central Asia at the Washington-based Freedom House Margarita Assenova welcomed the move, saying "this, in our opinion, is a positive development, which means that the (Uzbek) government apparently would like to solve this case in a manner that is acceptable, according to international standards."
More on the investigation on the death of Samandar Umarov can be found (in Uzbek) on the service's website, at and (in English) at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Adolat Najimova, may be reached by email at <>.

TATAR-BASHKIR SERVICE FOLLOWING BLAGOVESHCHENSK EVENTS The top story for RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service is the continuing investigation into events in the city of Blagoveshchensk, where more than 1,000 residents were jailed and many severely beaten during a five-day police raid in December. The raid is believed to have been staged in retaliation for an earlier incident in which a small group of interior security forces were harassed or attacked.
The service interviewed some of the victims and Russian human rights advocates who have arrived in the city to find out what happened. Lev Ponomarev, head of the Russia-Wide human rights group and Lyudmila Alekseeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group said they are starting an independent investigation of the Blagoveshchensk events.
RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir and Russian Services are working closely together and programming extensively on the story. Bashkir journalist and human rights activist Marat Kheirullin in a separate interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service said that Interior Ministry forces committed mass torture and rape during the December raid in Blagoveshchensk.
More news on the investigation into the events in Blagoveshchensk can be found at the Tatar-Bashkir website and the Russian Service website

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

RFE/RL ON BOTH SIDES OF KYRGYZSTAN ELECTION PROTESTS RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service has been covering daily protests throughout the week against election rules that ban former ambassadors from being candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary elections on the grounds that they lived abroad at some point during the period 2000-2005.
Four opposition leaders, including popular former foreign minister Rosa Otunbayeva, have tried to register for the election, and been rejected. They and their supporters hope the daily marches for a fair election will help bring change to Kyrgyzstan.
Less than 200 people are taking part in the rallies, but this is a significant number of Kyrgyzstan -- clearly inspired by events in Ukraine and supported by many silently. All the opposition leaders are participating in the protest, demanding fair process in the parliamentary elections set for February 27.
Articles describing the protests (in Kyrgyz) can be found on the service's website at;;;
The authorities have been organizing counter-marches, and RFE/RL correspondents have been on the scene covering both sides. During a day of rallies and counter-rallies on Bishkek's Old Square, January 10, RFE/RL broadcast an interview with the chief of the Bishkek police force, who made the following statement to RFE/RL: "You see, these two groups are holding their rallies on two sides (of the same square) peacefully. Each side is expressing its opinion, each side has its own slogans. We, the law enforcement bodies, are happy to watch them. We will provide peace and stability in all aspects."
But a member of the Kyrgyzstan People's Movement opposition bloc and former minister of education told RFE/RL at the opposition rally that "you are witnessing the situation getting grave, because the White House (Kyrgyz government) has been organizing closed door sessions in all the seven regions (of the country), giving orders (to local authorities) saying they should elect these people (on the list of approved candidates) and not those (not on the list)." (;
Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz parliament considered drafting an amendment that would permit the former ambassadors to run for parliament. RFE/RL was the first to broadcast this news and continue to inform the public of the parliamentary proceedings, including a final rejection of the draft amendment on January 14.

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

TAJIK SERVICE GEARS UP FOR ELECTIONS RFE/RL's Tajik Service is talking to candidates and officials in preparation for next month's parliamentary election on February 27. In an exclusive interview January 13, the head of the Tajik Central Election Commission, Mirzoali Boltuyev told RFE/RL's correspondent that so far more than 190 candidates have been registered in 41 districts without problem: "Registration is totally free and the candidates are taking part."
Please visit the service's Tajik-language website at or the English-language page to follow preparations for the February 27 election.

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

SOUTH SLAVIC AND ALBANIAN LANGUAGES SERVICE DISCUSS BALKAN WAR SECRETS RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service invited four leading historians from the Balkans -- university professors from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro, as well as a Western expert - to discuss the remaining secrets about the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars of the 1990s. They did so during a fascinating program, broadcast in two parts January 8 and January 15 on the service's Saturday show "Regional Topic of the Week."
The participants agreed that a tantalizing historical unknown is a secret agreement between Serbian and Croatian presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman in the early1990s to divide up Bosnia- Herzegovina. "I guess that all their talks, either phone conversation or their meetings will be available to the public in 30 years", said University of Belgrade Professor Rados Ljusic, but added that Serb and Croatian leaders of the future may not want to risk opening such embarrassing secrets to the public. Yale University Professor Ivo Banac said "it will be very important to see to what extent the governments of other countries were informed about the Milosevic-Tudjman agreement, and how they reacted, whether they supported the idea, or maybe they were against it".
Moving on to their individual research projects into the history of the region, another participant, Sabrina Ramet of the Institut for Statsvitenskap, Norway, spoke about an international project on the history of Yugoslavia involving more then 250 historians and other scientists who have been working on it for years under the leadership of Purdue University history Professor Charles Ingrao. Ramet, who authored the first chapter of this study, told RFE/RL that there are so many controversies and disagreements over Yugoslavia, the idea of the project was to bring people together to exchange views, share perspectives and jointly produce a set of papers that would reflect balance if not exactly a consensus.
A transcript of the January 8 show 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 in the News

RFE/RL QUOTED IN "GUARDIAN" RFE/RL was quoted by the "Guardian" newspaper of Manchester, Great Britain on January 14 in a story about Iranian legislators considering a bill to ban advertising of imported products, "Iranian Hardliners Aim to Ban West's Advertising Icons." The daily referred to a report, by RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari, about the ban and related proposal to impose a national uniform (
The head of Iran's parliamentary cultural commission said parliament is considering the bill to establish an Iranian national dress to counter western cultural influences. He said the clothing would redefine Iranian identity while respecting religious and cultural identities and that people would not be forced to wear the clothes, but the designs would be appealing.
Radio Farda interviewed Saeed Paivandi, a Paris-based Iran expert, who said the proposal was astonishing. The "Guardian" quoted him as telling Radio Farda that the proposal "is similar to steps taken in the first decade following the Iranian revolution."

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

...AND ON IRANIAN TV The Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 2 quoted a Radio Farda report on January 12, on an oil development project in Iran that reportedly involves a subsidiary if the American Halliburton company. The Radio Farda report cited experts' views that the presence of Halliburton in Iran is with the knowledge of the U.S. government. Iranian TV interpreted this as "a positive message to the Iranian government from Washington," adding that "no one in Washington is prepared to officially confirm this." The TV station described Radio Farda as being "formally affiliated with the CIA" -- a fabrication Iranian authorities have perpetuated since RFE/RL's first Persian- language broadcast to Iran began in October 1998.

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

RFE/RL RUSSIAN SERVICE CORRESPONDENT BEATEN A correspondent for RFE/RL's Russian Service, Elena Rogacheva, was attacked by three men and beaten in the city of Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of the Mari-El Republic, on January 7. Her attackers hit Elena on the head and face and knocked her about, but did not rob her. She was returning from an anniversary celebration at the offices of an opposition newspaper. The men threatened to kill her if she went to the police. Elena believes the reason for the attack was her work for Radio Liberty. She was released from hospital and is at home with a bruised and swollen face, shaken but otherwise unhurt. The Russian Service reported the incident on air the same night, with Elena managing to tell the story herself. Interfax, UPI, AP picked up the story and filed on it extensively over the weekend. RFE/RL has informed the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York of this latest incident of harrassment of RFE/RL correspondents in Russia.

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

HELSINKI WATCH NOTES RFE/RL TV LOSS IN ARMENIA The Helsinki Watch 2004 report on human rights violations includes an account of the cancellation of RFE/RL's TV program in Armenia three days after it began broadcasting in October 2004. The report says local NGOs are continuing a campaign for the return of the RFE/RL show to the TV channel, described as "a highly popular and independent channel."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Hrair Tamrazian, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL TAJIK CORRESPONDENTS WIN IREX COMPETITION Two Tajik Service correspondents, Mirzojalol Shohjamalov and Faiz Mirhasanov, have won an IREX competition in Badakhshan and will receive grants. Shohjamalov won a grant to take part in an international journalism course in Serbia, while Mirhasanov won a grant to begin producing a news bulletin that will focus on transparency in elections. Both have been reporting on life in the remote mountainous region of Badakhshan for the RFERL Tajik Service, for the past 7 and 3 years respectively.
Contact between the outside world and Badakhshan is difficult because of weak communication facilities, a shortage of telephone lines and bad roads linking the region to mainland Tajikistan. Travel becomes especially difficult during cold winter months. The misty, high mountain climate makes it difficult even to fly to Badakhshan, except during the midsummer months. Given the challenging conditions, Tajik Service Director Massoumeh Torfeh reports that Shohjamalov and Mirhasanov have done excellent reporting for RFE/RL.

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

SSALS PROGRAMMING TO GO DOWN IN HISTORY A group of Canadian historians has asked RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service for full access to SSALS' database on the dissolution of Yugoslavia. A group, led by Professor Lenard Cohen, of the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, has started a research project on the subject, and is particularly interested in SSALS' TV & radio series "Witnesses of the Breakup of Yugoslavia". The series (with audio, video and full transcripts) was released on a CD last year, and 30,000 copies were distributed throughout the region. Professor Cohen is the author of two critically acclaimed studies on the dissolution on Yugoslavia: Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic (Westview Press, 1993) and Broken Bonds: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia (Westview Press, 2000).

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

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