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RFE/RL Review June 10, 2005

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
June 4-10, 2005

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN FOLLOWS FATE OF ITALIAN HOSTAGE... RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan closely followed the fate of kidnapped aid worker Clementina Cantoni, who was released June 9 after 24 days of captivity.
Her abductors, labeled a criminal gang by Afghan authorities, had contacted RFE/RL's Kabul bureau several times in an effort to gain publicity for their goals. RFE/RL reported the calls to the Afghan government and did not use them in broadcasts (RFE/RL did, however, put out an English-language press release on the contacts that can be read at Later, a Radio Free Afghanistan reporter went to the village of one of the suspected kidnappers and interviewed his mother and other members of the family. Afterwards the bureau received a threatening call, warning RFE/RL to stop snooping around the village.
Radio Free Afghanistan's program on June 10 focused on the happy ending to the story. Cantoni, a 32-year-old worker for the CARE International aid agency, was released by her captors, and is in good condition according to officials. Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed her release and praised the Afghan Interior Ministry, tribal leaders and Muslim clerics for helping secure Cantoni's freedom.
Articles in English on the release of hostage Clementina Cantoni can be found on the Radio Free Afghanistan website, at

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

..."KANDAHAR" STAR'S LIFE AND MEMORIES Nelofer Pazira, star of the internationally acclaimed film "Kandahar," has just published her memoirs of life in Afghanistan before and after the Soviet occupation. The book, titled "A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan," was well received in Pazira's adopted home country of Canada and will be published in the United States in the fall.
Radio Free Afghanistan broadcast an exclusive interview June 8 with Pazira, about the book and her motivation for writing it. Her memoir, Pazira said, is an attempt to break through stereotypes to show the true face of Afghanistan. According to Pazira, "There are two images that always appear together in the press and elsewhere -- a woman who has no will or power and who is forced to live behind a burqa, or a man who is violent and loves to fight, like the pictures of bearded Taliban members. People think that the whole history of Afghanistan can be summarized in these two images. So I decided to break [this cliche] and try to explain that each country has its own shortcomings, and each country has good and bad times."
The RFE/RL interview with Nelofer Pazira is described in an article in English that can be found on the RFE/RL website, at

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

RFE/RL REVEALS SERBIAN STATE TV RELUCTANCE TO BROADCAST SREBRENICA MASSACRE TAPE RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) disclosed to its listeners a little-known aspect of the recent uproar over a film showing a "Scorpions" Serbian special police unit killing six Bosniak civilians in Srebrenica in 1995 -- the reluctance of Serbian state television to show the film to its audience.
In a program aired June 6 (, a Belgrade correspondent for the SSALS interviewed Natasa Kandic, the director of the nonprofit Fund for Humanitarian Law in Belgrade. Kandic told RFE/RL that she had offered the footage to Serbian state television, but that its director, Aleksandar Tijanic refused to broadcast it. When asked by RFE/RL, Tijanic said that the code of ethics of international journalists prohibits the broadcast of scenes of an execution. But Kandic said that Tijanic had given her very different reasons for his refusal. During the interview with RFE/RL, she said: "when I spoke with Mr. Aleksandar Tijanic over the phone he told me that... the problem is that there's just one side of the story.' I was shocked by his statement and responded that it's actually the only example where the two sides obviously exist," said Kandic.
Serbian filmmaker Goran Markovic, who was also interviewed by RFE/RL, contradicted Tijanic's statement, saying "there is no an ethical obstacle to broadcasting scenes of the massacre in Srebrenica" and that "on the contrary, failure to show to the public footage of the murders is a moral problem." Markovic added that the incomplete report on the massacre shown on Serbian state television is "connected to the policy of the incumbent Kostunica government, which only grudgingly cooperates with the Hague tribunal."
Serbian authorities acted within 24 hours of release of the footage and arrested seven members of the notorious "Scorpions" unit, but its position on the war crimes issue in general remains ambivalent. RFE/RL broadcasting to the Balkans covered this official ambiguity as part of a report on Jovan Mirilo, a human rights activist who is said to have provided the audio to the Hague tribunal ( Mirilo, who is now in hiding because of death threats, has asked Serbian police for protection -- and been refused.
A report in English on the shockwaves the Srebrenica video has sent through Serbian society can be found at

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

BELARUS SERVICE PUBLISHES NEW "LIBERTY LIBRARY" VOLUME... The latest volume in the RFE/RL Belarus Service's popular "Liberty Library" series -- Vostraja Brama, a collection of excerpts from the service's long-running eponymous cultural feature -- was released at a gala reception June 5 at the Writers Union headquarters in Minsk.
Correspondents of the Belarusian Service interviewed a number of the guests that attended the reception -- writers, artists, opposition activists and others, for a program that aired on its morning program June 6 (
The 500-page volume is the seventh in the "Liberty Library" series, which includes titles such as Poems on Liberty, The Road to Kurapaty, ARA in Belarus and Bykau on Liberty. All the books showcase programs originally aired by the Belarus Service and are distributed free of charge to schools, libraries and NGOs in Belarus.
Vostraja Brama was compiled and edited by Siarhiej Dubaviec, the creator and moderator of the "Vostraja Brama" program, which is now in its 8th year. Dubaviec also participated in a June 7 on-line news conference to mark the release of the book (a transcript of the news conference is available on the Belarus Service's website, at

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

...CELEBRATES WINNER OF "UNSUNG HERO" COMPETITION Among the Belarus Service's most popular promotions is an annual on-air competition, which each time focuses on a different theme. The latest competition, "Unsung Hero," asked listeners to send the service a short essay on a little-known individual who, through his or her actions, had made an impact on society and on the lives of others. Selections received from October 2004 through March 2005 were used in programming and evaluated by a panel of judges, including Belarusian writer Uladzimier Arlou, actress Zinaida Bandarenka and musician Liavon Volski. The judges awarded this competition's grand prize, a three-day trip to Prague to visit RFE/RL's Broadcast Operations Center, to Hanna Kandraciuk of Belastok (formerly in Belarus, now part of Poland) and her "Unsung Hero," Ales Belakoz of the tiny Belarusian village of Hudzevichy on the border with Poland.
An educator by profession and an avid collector of all things Belarusian, Belakoz used his own money to open a small "museum" in Hudzevichy in 1968. This one-room "labor of love" showcased the accomplishments of the region's sons and daughters -- its Belarusian poets and writers, artists and craftsmen, herbalists and healers. Each year, the museum obtained more and more books and artifacts. Today, it is a sixteen-room tourist attraction. Belakoz, now 77, still bicycles there daily from his nearby cottage.
Belakoz asked the Service if he could give up the grand prize trip to Prague, in favor using the funds to purchase a computer, which he said the museum sorely needs. Belarus Service acting director Bohdan Andrusyshyn and Minsk bureau chief Valentin Zhdanko traveled to Hudzevichy where, in return for a guided tour of the museum that was taped for broadcast, they presented Belakoz with a new computer. The program ( aired June 6.

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

RADIO FREE IRAQ PREPARES FOR SADDAM TRIAL... RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq service looked into the issues surrounding the announcement this week of progress in preparations for the expected trials on charges of human rights violations and crimes against humanity of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and other former officials, during its weekly "Human Rights in Iraq" program, broadcast on June 6 (
Iraqi Justice Minister Abd al-Husayn Shandal made clear, in an exclusive interview with RFI's Baghdad correspondent, that there is still much to be done before the cases will be ready to go to court. During the interview, Shandal said, "The investigations have not been completed with all persons representing the former regime," adding that "none of the judges of this tribunal has the freedom to move freely to the places where those [representing the former regime] are being kept or detained and record their testimonies as he or she would like to. There are... strong measures on the part of the multinational forces." According to Shandal, more than 70 people will eventually be tried for crimes committed during Hussein's time in power.
Shandal pointed out that "the law that has established the court does not specify the source of authority of this court, or, to whom it is related. We will try to make this tribunal a usual court linked to the High Judicial Council. Then, judges will be appointed," clarifying that "we have first to revise the law and then the structure of this tribunal." He dismissed the idea of setting a trial date, saying: "After revising the law and the structure [of the tribunal], we can specify deadlines. But now, neither I nor any other person can specify the suitable time for trying the exponents of the former regime in terms of a day or a month... Whoever says that this or that exponent of the [previous] regime will be tried after a month or three months, I can frankly and responsibly say that he or she delivers incorrect information."
To further clarify public confusion as to when Saddam will be brought to trial, RFI interviewed Judge Na'im al-Igaili, the former president of the special tribunal set up to try Saddam. Judge al-Igaili confirmed that, "an independent tribunal has been set up with judges and a president. They are the ones competent to make any announcement about the date, because they have the evidence before them and they know better". The judge noted that if the tribunal continues to collect evidence against Saddam, he might never be tried, because there are mountains of evidence that can be collected against him -- a time- consuming process that makes such an approach impracticable. The judge suggested making use of a clause in Iraqi law that permits Saddam to have three counts incorporated in a single case.
A report in English on preparations for the trials of Saddam Hussein and other former officials can be found on the RFE/RL website, at

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

...TALKS TO SADDAM'S JORDANIAN DEFENSE LAWYERS... During the same program, the Jordanian attorneys who have volunteered to defend Saddam Hussein told Radio Free Iraq that they have not seen the charges that have been made against Saddam, and know of them only through the media. The attorneys are known as the Supportive Body for Defending Saddam, a name reportedly given by Saddam himself. The president of this body considers the announcement, by Iraqi cabinet spokesman Laith Kubba, that Saddam would face 12 charges during his upcoming trial to be a "violation of international agreements and Geneva Conventions", arguing that the charges have been handed up without proper investigation and that a judge cannot express an opinion before hearing the evidence in a case.
Radio Free Iraq also interviewed one of Saddam's victims by phone -- a man called Abu Aws al-Khafaji (not his real name, because of security concerns) who was imprisoned and tortured under the Saddam regime. He expressed a widely held view, saying: "I would like to see him [Saddam] sitting and tried by the people. I do not want him to be killed or to be tortured. I want that we can ask him: 'Why did you launch the wars? Why were you slaughtering people? Why did you behave in that way?' I want the trial to be just, because he [Saddam] was not just for all his life, for a single moment, [when ruling] over Iraq... I wish there is, God willing, a transparent and just tribunal over him as it would be over any other person or any other dictator."

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

...COVERS FIRST SESSION OF KURDISH PARLIAMENT... Radio Free Iraq's correspondent was at the inaugurating session of the parliament of Iraq's Kurdish Autonomous Region June 4 and filed a report that provided listeners excerpts of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's speech, in which he set out his legislative priorities for the country (
Talabani told the assembled Kurdish parliamentarians, "We have the sacred task of drafting a permanent constitution for building the new Iraqi state on the basis of equal rights between all Iraqi citizens and groups making up Iraqi society, democratic rights and liberties, federalism and pluralism, ending once and for all sectarian and national oppression." He emphasized that "all groups of the Iraqi people need to be involved in drafting the constitution. There must be real representatives of Sunni Arabs, alongside the elected representatives of Shiite Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeo-Assyrians and others." Talabani continued, "We also have the task of rebuilding our armed forces on a nonpartisan, non-ethnic and non-sectarian basis for them to be the armed forces of the entire Iraqi people while staying out of politics. In short, we are going about building a new democratic, federal and independent Iraqi state so that we can, respectfully, bid farewell to the forces of the allies, to whom we are thankful for liberating us, when our forces have completed their restructuring."

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

...AND REPORTS ON "OPERATION LIGHTNING" SECURITY SWEEP Radio Free Iraq's Baghdad correspondent interviewed Staff Brigadier Jalil Khalaf, the commander of the Iraqi National Guard's 1st Brigade, 6th Division on June 5, to find out how "Operation Lightning," the joint security sweep of the country Iraqi forces launched with their coalition partners, was proceeding ( Khalaf asked for patience, saying: "when Operation Lightning was launched, people were skeptical. This is wrong. They should wait for the results in order to see its outcome. In fact, I think people are satisfied, because they can sense that there is an improvement in security. [The success of] this operation can only be judged much later when the results become known and are made public."

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE LOOKS AT PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE Leading Kyrgyz parliamentarian Zhirgalbek Surabaldiev was fatally shot in Bishkek on June 10, one month before the country is to hold presidential elections. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service interviewed members of parliament, who went into emergency session after the shooting, to get views on the reasons for the murder and continuing tensions in Kyrgyzstan (a report in English on the murder can be found at
MP Kubatbek Baibolov told RFE/RL, "There might be different reasons for the killing of Surabaldiev, starting from a dispute over property distribution and ending with politics. It has a negative impact on the image of the [Kyrgyz] parliament. It is getting dangerous. There were two attacks against deputies within the [last] month." Surabaldiev was killed in downtown Bishkek at 13:30 local time when unknown assailants opened fire on his car. He was elected to parliament in the fraudulent Feb. 27 elections this year that sparked protests ultimately toppling Akayev. Surabaldiev was an Akayev supporter and also a successful businessman, who was also widely suspected of having criminal ties.
The issue of his connection to criminal groups was raised recently in parliament. Bayaman Erkinbayev, an MP and an announced candidate for president, was also shot at and slightly wounded on April 28. At that time he told RFE/RL the assassination attempt was linked to his political activity: "I am saying with all responsibility that this (attack) was politically motivated. I link it with my decision to run for president." Erkinbayev was also known for his alleged ties with criminal groups and his alleged involvement to drug trafficking in Central Asia.

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

UZBEK, KYRGYZ BROADCASTS ON REFUGEES RFE/RL's Uzbek and Kyrgyz language services have joined forces to take a comprehensive look at the plight of hundreds of Uzbek refugees who fled across the border to Kyrgyzstan after the bloody events in the city of Andijan on May 13.
This week, RFE/RL reported that some of the Uzbek refugees were being forcibly returned. In an exclusive interview broadcast June 10, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Rupert Colville confirmed the report. He spoke by phone with Prague-based Uzbek Service broadcaster Arral Azizullah (a short article in English can be found at
Colville said "four people (Uzbek refugees) were sent back (to Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan) yesterday evening. They were part of the group of 16 Uzbek asylum seekers, who were taken by the Kyrgyz Security forces from the camp where they had been living to a detention center in a small town called Jalalabad near the Uzbek border; then subsequently there were given back to the Uzbek authorities." Colville said the UN tried to intervene: "We went to the premises in Jalalabad and we asked to see them. And we had an agreement with the Kyrgyz authorities they would not send anybody back without proper procedure to see whether or not they are refugees and also without allowing us access to them. But we didn't get access and four of them were sent back. So we have been protesting rather strongly today (June 10)." Asked why Kyrgyz authorities took this step, Colville had no explanation: "We are not sure how this happened exactly. All this week and in the last two weeks the central (Kyrgyz) government at the very highest levels has been reassuring us that this type of thing would not happen..... It may be something to do with information the local security forces had from somewhere. I can't tell you that, but the fact was that they were detained and four of them were sent back." he stressed the UN is "strongly urging everyone in the central government and local authorities not to let it happen with any of the other asylum seekers."
Colville said it is unclear whether the refugees are criminals as the Uzbek government claims or refugees fleeing political persecution but in any case "under the international law they are asylum seekers. They should have a proper procedure to decide whether or not they are refugees," and he added "if they are refugees they are entitled under international law to stay in the asylum country, in Kyrgyzstan, but before that procedure takes place they should not be send back either. That is against the international refugee law. So there has been a violation of international law here."

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

NEGOTIATING THE UKRAINIAN TRANSDNIESTER PLAN The possibility that the 13-year conflict over the separatist Transdniester region may soon come to an end continues to hold the attention of RFE/RL listeners in Romania and Moldova. The Romania- Moldova Service aired a feature June 6 that summarized efforts over the years to establish joint check points in the Transdniester, at Moldova's border with Ukraine.
Throughout the week, RFE/RL interviewed experts about a peace plan put forward in May by Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko. The service interviewed Ukrainian experts (Volodimir Gorbaci of the Euro- Atlantic Institute in Kiev, Natalia Belizer of the Institute for Democracy, Pylyp Orlyk from Kiev and Valeri Cialyi with the Institute for Political and Economic Research), Russian experts (Pavel Felgenhauer with "The Moscow Times"), RFE/RL contributor Vladimir Socor (, as well as Moldovan experts and political leaders.
Moldovan politicians were concerned about a point in the Yushchenko plan that calls for internationally monitored elections to the Transdniestrian parliament this fall, saying that proper elections could not be organized in such a short period of time. Some Moldovans also fear that the elections, if recognized by the international community, could lead to international recognition of Transdniester as a separate entity. Another criticism of the Yushchenko plan is that it does not call for the withdrawal from the Transdniester of the Russian Army, a point Moldovan politicians do not view with confidence.
On June 7, the Romania/Moldova Service broadcast an exclusive interview with U.S. Army Reserve Major General Timothy M. Haake during his visit to Chisinau ( The service also looked at possible EU and NATO contributions to resolving this "frozen conflict" and carried interviews with Nicu Popescu from the Central Europe University in Budapest, and Ghia Nodia, Chairman of the Board of the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development in Tbilisi.
On the Russian side, the service broadcast an interview with the head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev (, who said June 10 that: "our troops are not stationed in Transdniester by Russia's own will. We have long said and continue to say that we are ready to pull our troops out, but unfortunately Transdniester's leadership is preventing us from doing it because it sees Russia's military presence (in Transdniester) as a certain guarantee against the resumption of military actions by the opposite side (Moldova)."

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

FOREIGN MINISTER OF GEORGIA AT RFE/RL Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili visited the RFE/RL Broadcast Operations Center in Prague on June 7, to meet with the staff of the Georgian Service and give an interview on Russia's role in the region, the just-concluded agreement to close its military bases in Georgia, the international fight against terrorism and the European Union ( The following are translated excerpts from Zurabishvili's comments:
"We've known for a long time that the bases have no military significance. The Russians too have long acknowledged this. But we know these bases were an important means of applying political pressure...That's why the view developed that these bases were no longer appropriate to the sort of relationship we ought to have. In spite of what is being said about the bases having no importance and the weaponry being old and rusty, this is still an historical moment. The fact that the Russians are saying they are removing their bases, the fact that Ivanov said they would withdraw on time and don't want any money... this is politically very important...
"Our long experience teaches us that there is a risk that this will be another of those agreements that Russia violates. I can't rule that possibility out. ...but the main thing is that this agreement sets out a series of steps and a process so that we can see what is happening at every stage... But I can't rule out the possibility that local military commanders or forces, who have different, even financial or commercial, interests in the bases may try to drag out the process...
"Russia must announce again at a principled level that it does not support their [Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's] independence, but probably they still find it difficult to do this. We can see that Russia is caught between two positions. On the one hand, it acknowledges Georgia's sovereignty -- indeed, in a joint statement with us it acknowledged Georgia's sovereignty and the principle of its territorial integrity, but on the other hand, its actions do not always accord with its principles...
"Russia should play a constructive, neutral role [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia] as it did, for instance, in the Adjarian conflict. In that way, Russia could maintain a sort of distance in the Ossetian conflict, which would not prevent us developing the peace process. But for as long as Russia gives them [ed: Abkhaz and Ossetians] hope that it will help them achieve not just autonomy but something even bigger, it will be impossible to talk to the Ossetian side and things will be very difficult. That's why we need international involvement in support of our peace initiatives and Russia's neutrality...
"I would say that the main difference between Shevardnadze's policies and today's is that... we think we can maintain simultaneously a pro-European direction, a strategic partnership with America and normal relations with Russia...
"The anti-terrorist center will give the Russians some form of cooperation in the military sphere. This was our idea. We didn't want Russia to think it was being thrown out of Georgia. This will be a joint center in which everything will be decided jointly. It will not be, as some have suggested, a military base in a different guise. This is a different form of cooperation, such as we have with the Americans and others, and we're prepared to work with the Russians in the same way."

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

RFE/RL in the News

HONORS FOR RFE/RL RUSSIAN CORRESPONDENT The board of the "Telecurier" magazine, a specialized publication on the media in Ukraine, has given a special award to RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Elena Rykovtseva. The citation recognizes the Moscow-based Rykovtseva for her "objective coverage of the 2004 Presidential Elections in Ukraine" in Russian Service broadcasts and in the "Russian Profile" magazine. Rykovtseva is the moderator of the Russian Service's popular daily talk show, "Press Hour."

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

INTERVIEW WITH BELARUSIAN SERVICE DIRECTOR, FORMER SINGER Unistar, one of the top three "contemporary hit" FM music stations in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, featured a 10-minute interview with RFE/RL Belarus Service Acting Director Bohdan Andrusyshyn during its "Novaja Ziamlia" ("New Land") program, broadcast June 9. In the piece, the Unistar correspondent called Bohdan "the legendary singer of the 80's and 90's" who "tragically" no longer performs, as "for the past decade, he has devoted all energies to journalism." Andrusyshyn joined RFE/RL's Belarusian Service in 1992 in Munich and moved with RFE/RL to Prague in 1995. During the Unistar program, interspersed among his comments on impressions of Minsk and his hopes for Belarus' future, were several tracks from Andrusyshyn's five albums of Belarusian songs. Known as "Danchyk" to Belarusian audiences, his music was especially popular in opposition circles. Andrusyshyn last performed on the stage of Minsk's Philharmonic Hall in 1996, in a sold-out one-man concert.

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Bohdan Andrusyshyn, 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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