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RFE/RL Review February 4, 2005

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The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of January 29 - February 4, 2005

Major stories for all RFE/RL language services this week were the parliamentary elections in Iraq, President George Bush's second-term inauguration and State of the Union addresses, Ukraine's new government and the unexpected death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania.

COVERING PRESIDENT BUSH'S INAUGURAL, STATE OF THE UNION SPEECHES RFE/RL language services programmed extensively on President George W. Bush's inaugural speech, in which he reaffirmed U.S. resolve to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world and fight global tyranny.
Many services assembled roundtable discussions with local and international policy experts to analyze Bush's statements, as well as broadcasting international and local reaction. In a typical program, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service interviewed Uzbek politicians of various parties and analysts on their interpretations of Bush's speech and its implications for U.S. policy towards Uzbekistan. An RFE/RL correspondent in Tashkent was told by one politician that U.S. foreign policy is a policy of "double standards" that uses the notion of democracy to disguise pursuit of its own interests; another expressed support for and solidarity with the idea of promoting democracy and ridding the world of tyrants.
The focus of RFE/RL broadcasting on Bush's State of the Union address was on the democratic process and accountability of a head of state, as well as an assessment and comparison with state of the union addresses from previous years and how earlier pledges to the people of the United States were kept. English-language stories developed by RFE/RL's central newsroom can be found on the RFE/RL website, at, and .

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

U.S. FOREIGN POLICY INTERVIEW TO RFE/RL GETS BIG PUBLICITY An exclusive interview of U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli by RFE/RL's Azeri Service has been widely noted in Azerbaijan and other countries in the region. The interview, broadcast February 2, was a wide-ranging discussion about perceptions of U.S. goals in post- election Iraq, and President George Bush's efforts to advance democracy in the region and elsewhere in the world. U.S. policies towards Iran, the southern Caucasus and Central Asia were also discussed. The interview was used by a number of RFE/RL broadcast services and posted on the Azeri Service's website, at . It was also picked up in Azerbaijan by Azeri news agencies, including the independent Turan news agency, and by major Azerbaijani newspapers.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Azeri Service, Abbas Djavadi, may be reached by email at <>.

GEORGIAN SERVICE MOURNS DEATH OF A PRIME MINISTER The sudden death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania filled the airwaves of RFE/RL's Georgian Service February 3 from the time the death was announced by Georgian Interior Minister Ivane (Vano) Merabishvili at an early morning press conference in Tbilisi. RFE/RL correspondents in Tbilisi filed the breaking news reports about the investigation and relatively speedy conclusion that it had been caused by carbon monoxide gas leaking from a defective heater. Gas heaters are used widely in many states of the former Soviet Union, prompting RFE/RL's central newsroom to quickly issue a general feature on symptoms of gas poisoning and known similar incidents.
RFE/RL's Georgian Service Director, Robert Parsons, who was personally acquainted with Zhvania for more than 15 years, gave interviews to several RFE/RL language services. He said, among other things, that "Zhvania brought solidity, political weight to the government--he was the realist, the voice of reason."
RFE/RL online journalist Liz Fuller produced an obituary that was posted on RFE/RL's website that same morning (, and newsroom journalists provided broadcast services with features about Zhvania's political life and contribution (; what his loss means to policies on separatist regions of Abkhazia and North and South Ossetia and how Zhvania's death will affect the delicate internal balancing of various factions within the Georgian government ( and other features.
Parsons made an exclusive Georgian Service interview, broadcast February 3, with Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis. Speaking by phone to Prague, Davis said of Zhvania: "He was very proud of his country and very proud to be Georgian. But he was the best sort of patriot because he could see that things could be better in Georgia and he was totally committed to the values of the Council of Europe-- democracy, human rights, the rule of law--and he wanted Georgia to make more progress towards these values. So, I think it is a tragedy for Georgia and for Europe that we have lost this man at such an early age."
Davis added, "I always saw him as someone who was a conciliator, a mediator, who could bring people together. This even before the 'Rose Revolution.' I saw him very much in that way. He was someone who could unite people on the basis of reason, on the basis of common values, on the basis of a common mission for the future of Georgia."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, Robert Parsons, may be reached by email at <>.

UKRAINE'S NEW GOVERNMENT RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service has had a correspondent posted nearly around the clock in the Rada, following parliamentary debates to confirm nominee Yulia Tymoshenko as Ukraine's Prime Minister. Tymoshenko was confirmed by unanimous vote in the February 4 parliamentary session.
RFE/RL followed the debate and analyzed a 63-page program of the new government that Tymoshenko presented to the Rada before her confirmation. The first task of the Prime Minister was, with President Yushchenko, to form Ukraine's new government. The names, announced shortly after Tymoshenko was confirmed produced few surprises--ten of 13 ministers are from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, joined by one former prime minister and two members of the Socialist Party. A report on the Tymoshenko-led government can be found on the Ukrainian Service's website, at

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

IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT INVITES SUNNI PARTICIPATION DURING RADIO FREE IRAQ INTERVIEW Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL (, expressed the hope that Sunni Iraqis will join the political process in the country and take part in the next big task of drafting a state constitution, following the January 30 election. Al-Ja'fari spoke with Radio Free Iraq correspondent Ahmad al-Zubaydi at a polling station in Baghdad Sunday, right after he cast his vote. Al-Jafari called January 30 a day of victory for all Iraqis, and said he wishes "brothers from the [Iraqi, Sunni-dominated] Islamic Party, and all segments of Iraqi society who are working for a bright future and who share our deep feelings for Iraq, participate in everything regarding Iraq, be it the constitution or other political affairs. Iraq is a home open to all Iraqis and we cannot exclude anyone."
Al-Jafari was one of more than half a dozen top government officials interviewed at the polls by one of Radio Free Iraq's Baghdad correspondents. Among those interviewed were Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir, Iraqi minister of industry and minerals Hakim al- Hasani, minister of public works and municipal affairs Nasrin Barwari, and other ministers.
Al-Yawir said the polling is "a victory for the will of the Iraqi people and a defeat for terrorism," and that "there is no one above the law, who would be excused from any of its measures. The law is governing over all at this time."
Iraq's Industry Minister Hakim Al-Hasani said he is happy "The era of dictatorship has ended and the era of democracy has started," and that he is "overflowing with joy."
In an exclusive RFI interview in Baghdad, Jan. 31, Iraq's Interior minister Falah al-Naqib, said that stringent security measures helped reduce attacks on election day and will remain in place "one or two days longer." Earlier Monday, at a press conference also broadcast by RFI, Al-Najib said security forces detained more than 200 suspected insurgents on Sunday, mostly near Tikrit in the Sunni region north of Baghdad.
RFI also spoke several times to Iraqi chief electoral officer Adel Allami in Baghdad, quizzing him on voter turnout. Allami said the final count of voters was lower than his early estimate of 72 percent but "it was still a very, very good turnout."
RFI covered the elections in a live three-hour program on election day and election assessments and aftermath in a special, live two-hour program the next day, January 31. RFI consistently was first among U.S.-funded broadcasters with news of the voting, election turnout, and statements by senior officials, as well as citizens, at the polling centers in spite of logistical and security problems. In Baghdad only half the service's correspondent network was able to get to work and cell phones were not allowed under special security measures.
English-language transcripts of many of these interviews can be found in a special archive on RFE/RL's "Iraq Votes 2005" website, at . The audio of all of these interviews can also be found on the Arabic- language Radio Free Iraq website, .

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

ROGOZIN HOLDS PRESIDENT PUTIN TO ACCOUNT IN RFE/RL INTERVIEW RFE/RL's Russian Service broadcast an exclusive interview with Motherland Party leader Dmitrii Rogozin January 28. He spoke by telephone from his office in the State Duma building where he is participating in a hunger strike against the government's benefits reform plan. Rogozin criticized deputies' rejection of a Motherland- sponsored proposal to give the floor to human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to discuss the benefits crisis. He said the reason for the hunger strike is that proceedings now at the Duma have become "a farce, in which ...deputies come and pass whatever decisions are deemed necessary without any discussion and with the most blatant violations of the Duma's regulations."
Motherland has always portrayed itself as a pro-presidential, nationalist-leaning party, but Rogozin called on President Vladimir Putin to take responsibility for the benefits crisis, saying "we demand that the president make his deeds match his words and, finally, become a governmental leader, instead of just appearing on television and saying what people want to hear." "We believe that [the president] bears total responsibility for everything that is happening in the country," Rogozin added.
Rogozin also criticized "officious" state media, "even the formerly independent NTV television," for waging a conspiracy of silence about the Motherland hunger strike. He said that false statements purportedly from the hunger strikers have been circulated in the Duma and posted on the Internet, and he accused Unified Russia of complicity in this campaign.
The complete interview (in Russian) can be read on the Russian Service website, at

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

FIRST SIGNS OF "ORANGE" IN KAZAKHSTAN RFE/RL's Kazakh Service broke the news to their Kazakh listeners of an "orange" demonstration in front of the building of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK) Party in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty, January 29. An estimated 1,000 people were protesting the closure of the opposition party, as ordered by an Almaty court and the city government. Many protesters wore orange scarves and orange hand ties, symbolically linking their demonstration to the goals of the recent "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine.
The Kazakh Service aired several exclusive interviews with the demonstrators, who demanded the immediate release of DCK leader Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov from jail. Speakers at the gathering criticized the policies of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and burned effigies of Kazakh judges and the municipal authorities. Seven DCK members and supporters were arrested at the demonstration and sentenced to short prison terms and fines. The service also interviewed Almaty City Police officials and people watching the event from the sidelines, to give a comprehensive and multifaceted account. Kazakh Service reporting on the Almaty demonstration (in Kazakh) can be found on the service's website, at and .
Zhakiyanov is serving the remainder of a seven-year term at the Shiderti settlement colony, located on the isolated Kazakh steppe in Pavlodar province. He was convicted in 2002 on charges of abuse of office and sentenced to a seven-year prison term, following a trial that international observers labeled as grossly flawed. Zhakiyanov was transferred in August 2004 from a general regime prison to the settlement colony at Shiderti. He has reported that authorities opened new criminal cases against him when he refused to disavow his political affiliation and halt his political activities in exchange for his freedom.
On January 25, the New York-based Human Rights Watch repeated concerns about Zhakiyanov's treatment in an official statement that the group sent to the Kazakh Ministry of Justice. The report ( cites RFE/RL's Kazakh Service as the main source of information about Zhakiyanov case.

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

...AND FAINT "ORANGE" IN UZBEKISTAN A correspondent for RFE/RL's Uzbek Service was on the scene when a small group of perhaps 20 people waving orange flags gathered on a street in Tashkent, demanding that compensation be paid to owners of some 40 houses recently demolished by Uzbek authorities on the border with Kazakhstan. Our correspondent said an official spoke to each of the protesters, exhorting them to carry Uzbek national flags, instead of orange. Uzbek authorities are showing increasing concern that Uzbeks may begin to think along the lines of their fellow protesters in Georgia or Ukraine, who succeeded in bringing down their governments and forcing pro-democracy change. President Karimov warned against any imitation of either the Rose or Orange revolutions in Uzbekistan and against western interference in a speech to parliament January 28.

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE PREPARES FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS... This month's parliamentary elections (February 27) are seen as a test of democracy for Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who has been criticized for trying to tighten control over the republic. The vote will also set the stage for the October 30 presidential election, in which Akayev is constitutionally barred from standing.
The Kyrgyz Service has been emphasizing election-oriented issues for the past month, since protests began in January calling for four former ambassadors, now opposition leaders, to be allowed to run for seats in parliament. Their bid failed, but new opposition initiatives are circulating with the official start of the election campaign February 2. Several opposition parties have begun collecting signatures on a petition demanding Akayev's resignation.
In a February 2 broadcast, the Kyrgyz Service interviewed politicians on various sides of the issue (transcript in Kyrgyz at Topchubek Turgunaliev of the Freedom Party called for Akayev's immediate resignation, while the leader of the pro-Government Foundation, Amanbai Satybayev, said Akayev should remain in office for another term; Murat Imanaliev, former foreign minister and leader of the Justice and Progress Party, said Akayev should leave office in accordance with the Constitution without public pressure.
In an exclusive interview broadcast February 2, Olekan Ismailova, head of the NGO "Civic Society against Corruption" said that "the (Kyrgyz) government and (President Askar) Akayev himself are violating the (electoral) laws by using administrative resources in the election campaign." She added that "President Askar Akayev, while he has been abroad, for instance, in Russia and Germany, he has been campaigning for his own children [daughter Bermet Akayeva and son Aidar Akayev are both running for parliament seats-eds.]. A lot of irregularities have been made by President Akayev himself."

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

...BROADCASTS REACTION TO U.S. OFFICIAL'S VISIT RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service in Bishkek did a series of interviews about U.S.-Kyrgyz relations, broadcast on January 31 on the occasion of the visit of U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Laura Kennedy. Kennedy met with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev that day, behind closed doors. The RFE/RL broadcast aired the views both pro-government and opposition groups. President Akayev's spokesman and press secretary Abdil Segizbayev told RFE/RL that the U.S. is supporting projects to advance democracy in Kyrgyzstan and mentioned U.S. assistance in providing thumb ink for voters later this month.
Kyrgyz Service reports linked to the visit of Laura Kennedy to Bishkek can be found on the service's website, at,, and .

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

RFE/RL PROGRAM STIRS ACTION ON HOMELESS ROMA IN KOSOVA A commentary broadcast by RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service January 29, about dreadful living conditions in a Roma camp near the Prishtina capital of Kosovo, has led to action by Serb authorities. The program emphasized the need to show ethnic tolerance and support of minorities, not only to satisfy international standards but to uphold moral and cultural standards, declaring that "no person's freedom can be built upon the misfortune of another as was proven in the 1990s in former Yugoslavia."
After hearing the program, the Kosovo PEN Center of writers and intellectuals, made public appeals to the Kosovo UN Mission Chief Harri Holkeri, Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to address the Roma camp problem and provide housing for its inhabitants, who were displaced by the Balkan wars and have lived in the camp for six years. The Kosovo administration responded and announced on February 1 that the camp is being closed, and the Roma families will get temporary apartments until their own houses, damaged during the war, are rebuilt.

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

RFE/RL INVESTIGATES WHEREABOUTS OF WAR CRIMES FUGITIVE RFE/RL South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service correspondent Tina Jelin visited a Franciscan monastery in Bosnia, to investigate rumors that a former general in the Croatian army was being hidden there by priests.
In the broadcast, aired January 31, she recounted her conversations with Bosnian authorities and representatives of the monastery. They all vehemently denied as vicious slander reports that the fugitive Croat general, Ante Gotovina, could be hiding there.
Gotovina was indicted in 2001 by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, for alleged atrocities against Croatian Serbs during a military campaign in August 1995. But RFE/RL's reporter found little sympathy for the Hague tribunal's work. In one RFE/RL interview, the head of the Croatian War Veterans Association said it is the duty of every Croatian soldier to protect and, if necessary, hide General Gotovina.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told RFE/RL that the Croatian government has been in indirect contact with Gotovina, who is believed to be either in Croatia or the Croat part of Bosnia. SSALS also aired the warning of the European Union that same week that EU accession talks with Croatia, scheduled for March 17, may be delayed because the government in Zagreb has failed to arrest even one fugitive war crime suspect.
The South Slavic service's report on the hunt for General Gotovina 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 <>.

TEREZIN MUSIC BROADCAST TO BALKANS RFE/RL's South Slav and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) devoted its night program "Culture in the Region," January 29 to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, broadcasting music based on the music and poems of the dead inmates of the Terezin Nazi concentration camp in the Czech Republic.
Part of the program included an interview with Austrian composer Sergei Dreznin, who has written a song based on one such poem. Called "Brief an Mein Kind" (Letter to My Child), it was composed by children's book writer Ilse Weber. Weber served as a nurse in Terezin, and describes this experience in her poem. She was later sent to Auschwitz with her husband and younger son. Weber and her child perished there, but her husband survived and published her poems.
In the RFE/RL interview, Dreznin spoke about Ilse Weber's works and what moved and inspired him to put her poem to music. Dreznin is also one of the authors of the musical "Romeo and Juliet," on the war and genocide in the Balkans. The musical is based on the true story of Admira and Bosko--Muslim and Serb lovers, killed during the siege of Sarajevo. A song from the musical was also broadcast during the SSALS program "Culture in the Region."
Audio and text from the January 29 edition of "Culture in the Region" can be found 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 <>.

RFE/RL in the News

RFE/RL LOOKS AT HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA RFE/RL's Russian Service aired a special half-hour program February 3, on "Human Rights in Russia--Authorities on the Offensive." Produced by Russian Service Washington correspondent Tatiana Vaksberg, the report included statements by Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva, made during a briefing at the Washington office of RFE/RL on February 2. A number of journalists covered the event, including a reporter from Associated Press who wrote the following account:
"A leading Russian human rights activist said Wednesday a rights crackdown in her country is victimizing 'all strata' of society - 'rich, poor, young and old.' Lyudmila Alekseeva, president of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, said she is not surprised by the repression because much of the Russian leadership have security service backgrounds, including President Vladimir Putin. As such, she said, their instinctive response to difficult situations is 'to tighten the screws.' Alekseeva, who also is founder and chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, spoke to a gathering sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. As an example of perceived excesses of Russian forces in the breakaway province of Chechnya, she said 'a wave of disappearances' there lately includes a victim who was gathering information for the European Court of Justice.
"Putin has a 'zombie attitude' toward the conflict in the breakaway Russian province of Chechnya, Alekseeva said. 'We cannot solve it alone,' she said, alluding to Russian rights groups. 'There must be western pressure.'
"Alluding to the failed Russian attempt to obtain victory for former Ukraine presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, Alekseeva said this was 'one more sign of Putin's unprofessionalism.'
"She rejected the notion that Russia is not capable of a democratic transformations such as the one last year in Georgia, a former Soviet republic. 'We are all alike. Whatever happened in Georgia is possible in Russia,' she said."

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

PRESIDENT KARZAI SENDS ANNIVERSARY GREETINGS TO RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN Afghan President Hamid Karzai sent a letter of congratulations to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan service on the occasion of its third anniversary, January 30. Karzai's letter said, among other things, that "the programs of RFA have helped a lot in the development of democracy in the country. These have also raised the awareness of people for the establishment of civil society. In short, we appreciate your programs in defense of civil liberties and human rights. You have given the people of Afghanistan the means to raise their voices; you have reflected their demands and expectations and have answered their questions. The programs you make in order to inform or entertain the people are excellent."
On the day of its anniversary, Radio Free Afghanistan presented Karzai with a CD recording of voices of listeners from all parts of the country, saying what they would wish for if they could speak directly with the President. The CD was compiled from excerpts of Radio Free Afghanistan's special six-hour call-in show on Karzai's inauguration day December 7, 2004 when Radio Free Afghanistan turned its microphones over to listeners to hear their comments, views and requests. More than 200 calls were received.
Radio Free Afghanistan's January 30 anniversary programming included an interview with RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine and a two hour call in show, polling listeners' views on RFE/RL programs. Listeners commented on Radio Free Afghanistan's timeliness and objectivity and especially appreciated the opportunity to be heard on Radio Free Afghanistan's twice weekly call-in shows. Many said that, thanks to Radio Free Afghanistan, Afghan people can for the first time speak directly to government ministers and officials and ask for answers. Many callers said that, even though there are new radio stations in the country, their heart remains with Radio Free Afghanistan and they will not turn the dial.

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

AFGHAN EMBASSY IN CANADA QUOTES RFE/RL The Embassy of Afghanistan in Canada, in its February 2 News Bulletin, included an article from RFE/RL about the international anti-opium program in Afghanistan. The story "Relief Groups Criticize Anti-Drug Program in Afghanistan" by Golnaz Esfandiari of RFE/RL's central newsroom was written for broadcast on February 1 and posted on RFE/RL's English language website ( The Afghan embassy reprinted the article in a news round-up on its own website,

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

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Copyright (c) 2005. 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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