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RFE/RL Review August 26, 2005

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
August 13-26, 2005

RFE/RL COVERS PLIGHT OF UZBEK REFUGEES A common theme for RFE/RL's Central Asian language services continues to be the plight of refugees who fled the March 12-13 unrest in Andijon, many of whom ended up in neighboring countries -- Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

* Tajik Service Reports Arrests of Uzbek Migrants Seeking Work RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported on August 18 that ten Uzbeks had been arrested in Konibodom, in northern Tajikistan near the Uzbek border, for crossing illegally into the country. Traditionally, the Tajik-Uzbek border is open, allowing residents on both sides free transit for up to 5 days. However, the detainees -- Uzbek nationals from Andijon and Ferghana -- were told that Konibodom is not in the two-state border area, and that Uzbeks from Andijon and Ferghana do not have the same transit rights as others. A Tajik Service correspondent traveled to Konibodom and spoke to the detainees, who remain behind bars.
While in Konibodom, however, the RFE/RL correspondent found hundreds of young Uzbek men streaming across the border into Konibodom in search of work, many from Andijon. In the report aired in four parts (, the correspondent revealed that most of the migrants are from Bisharik in the Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan. "We haven't got any money to live, how can I look after my children?" said one construction engineer, who can't find work at home. Those interviewed said they have skills and technical expertise, but there are no jobs in Uzbekistan for them. One interviewee said "there are plenty of construction jobs here" and good money to be made. He said he earns 15-20 somoni per day [about $5-$7]. Border guards, on the other hand, told RFE/RL that the ten detainees had not come for work and that their case is being investigated.

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

* Kazakh Service Talks to Uzbek Refugee in Almaty Uzbek journalist and poet Rizahodja Obidov wrote a poem for the victims of Andijon that he recited for a Kazakh Service correspondent in Almaty. A loose translation of the poem follows:

"Who needed the blood they have shed in Andijon?
Who was the one who needed lives of mothers and children?
Who was that who gave the order to start "the steel rain"?
Whose hands are marked with the innocent blood, Almighty Lord?"

Because of these four lines, Obidov is now seeking refugee status in Kazakhstan through the UN office in Almaty.
Obidov used to live in the city of Namangan, not far from Andijon. Some of his relatives used to live in Andijon, but Obidov has no idea about their current situation or even where some of some of them are. He told RFE/RL that in Namangan, "On June 25, at around 1 o'clock at night a group of policemen entered my apartment, and took me away. They brought me to the Namangan City Interior Affairs Department and interrogated me there for several hours, asking me if I had relatives in Andijon, then let me go home. But on July 5, police again detained me and kept me in a police station for three days. Namangan's Deputy Prosecutor General Nazarov officially told me that I was accused of insulting the dignity and honor of the Uzbek President, according to the Article 158 of Uzbek Criminal Code." Under Uzbek law, Obidov could spend up to five years in prison for such an offense, so he fled to neighboring Kazakhstan.

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

* Kyrgyz Service Finds Fate of Uzbek Refugees Hanging in the Balance RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service took the lead on covering the fate of Uzbek refugees in that country, with daily reports and interviews with Kyrgyz officials on both sides of the issue -- those wanting to return the refugees to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz politicians and international organizations opposing the move. In roundtable discussions and interviews with experts, the Kyrgyz Service discussed the reasons for the refugee official dilemma, including economic pressure from Uzbekistan which supplies much of the country's energy needs.
Kyrgyz Service correspondents in Bishkek interviewed some of the refugees, and representatives of Kyrgyz human rights groups protecting them. In an August 20 broadcast, the Kyrgyz Service reported that three Uzbeks from Andijon, hiding in Kyrgyzstan since the May 13 massacre, had come forward to the UN refugee agency in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh to request refugee status. One of them told RFE/RL's correspondent that he was inside the administration building in Andijon during the shooting, but would not give his name to protect relatives left behind in Uzbekistan. Izzatulla Rakhmatullaev, head of the Kyrgyz human rights group "Justice and Legal Order" said in the August 20 broadcast that there are at least 100 Uzbek refugees in hiding in Kyrgyzstan, afraid to register with the UN commission for fear they will be denied refugee status and handed over to Uzbek authorities. Some of them are homeless and living in terrible conditions, Rakhmatullaev said (;;

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

UZBEK SERVICE FOLLOWS JOURNALIST'S DETENTION... RFE/RL's Uzbek Service August 12 reported on the detention of Igor Rotar, a journalist and religious rights activist who had arrived in Tashkent from Kyrgyzstan. An Uzbek Service correspondent interviewed Christopher Swift of the Jamestown Foundation; and sought reaction from the Russian embassy in Tashkent. RFE/RL also contacted the Uzbek foreign minister who did not wish to be recorded, but said that there is a black list for journalists who have written unfavorable articles about Uzbekistan.
Rotar, a Russian citizen, was deported the next day and put on a flight for Moscow.

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

...TASHKENT'S QUARREL WITH UN COMMISSION In a program aired August 23, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service carried a statement by the office of Uzbekistan's chief prosecutor attacking the UN High Commission for Refugees for protecting terrorists, and thus damaging the UN and discrediting the global war against terrorism. The Commission has given refugee status to Uzbek asylum seekers, and evacuated more than 400 Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan to Romania.
The broadcast included an interview with UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville, who told an Uzbek Service correspondent in Prague that there is no evidence to support the Uzbek government's claim that the refugees are terrorists, drug dealers and common criminals. "If the Uzbek government has such evidence, it would be helpful if they shared it with us, but right now, we haven't seen that," Colville said, adding that "most, if not all of these people really do qualify as refugees under international law."

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

NEW CONSTITUTION NEGOTIATIONS THE CENTERPIECE OF RADIO FREE IRAQ BROADCASTS RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq continued to closely follow all developments in negotiations on the new constitution and the moving deadline of delays. The service has a daily special program "Iraq's Constitution", highlighting the main news of the day in the negotiating process. In five hours of daily broadcasting to Iraq, the service also aired at least ten stories a day on the subject, including press conferences, interviews with politicians and negotiators, interviews with representatives of different groups and factions and discussions and interviews with political experts drawn from inside the country to analyze progress, legal trends, points of controversy and what agreement will mean for all the citizens of Iraq.
More on Radio Free Iraq's coverage of the constitution drafting process can be found at and

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

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN FINDS LOCAL HEROES Many listeners have responded to a competition announced by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in July, asking listeners to write the service about a "local hero" -- a teacher, doctor, family member, or neighbor - - who made a difference in their lives. Letters continue to pour in at such a rate that Radio Free Afghanistan extended the format from a once-a-week, 10-minute program to 15 minutes daily. Every letter is at least mentioned on-air.
Many of the stories date back 20-30 years, to the time of mujaheddin warfare. One letter, written by an elderly woman, recounts how as a child she witnessed an attempt by mujaheddin to kill her two brothers; a neighbor interceded and saved their lives. That person was her local hero. Many letters are from listeners in some of Afghanistan's remote villages sharing present-day testimonies of toil and hardship.
A particularly poignant letter, aired August 5, was from a teacher, Jalad Khan, living in a remote village in Farah province on the Iranian border -- a lawless and dangerous part of the country. Khan recounted the story of his hero -- Torko Ana, a woman whose husband was killed during the Soviet invasion. Alone, she raised a son and two daughters and fled to Iran with them. After the Russians left, she came back with her family and started a business. Torko Ana could neither read nor write, but she prospered, traveling weekly along a dangerous road to the nearest town to buy goods for her village. Torko Ana wanted to make life better for the village so she employed her son and out of her own pocket paid for the construction of a road and a bridge to lessen the isolation of the village and connect it with the outside world. For Jalad Khan, Torko Ana is a local hero.
Radio Free Afghanistan sent a reporter to the village, who spoke with Khan and learned that he has a master's degree, but -- embittered by the endless warfare -- settled in this remote place and shut himself off from the world, content to teach primary school out of a tent. But Khan said in the interview that he was so inspired by the example of Torko Ana that he has now registered as a local candidate for parliament and wants to get a proper building for the school.
In a postscript to the broadcast, RFA received a letter recently from a listener in another remote village, who said he was so impressed by hearing what an illiterate woman like Torko Ana could achieve that he decided to escort his two children to school, walking two hours every day to get there.

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

UKRAINIAN SERVICE MARKS INDEPENDENCE DAY WITH EXCLUSIVE SERIES On August 24, Ukraine celebrated its first Independence Day since the Orange Revolution brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power. RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service marked the occasion with a series of exclusive VIP interviews aired daily, starting on August 15.
The interviews, conducted by Ukrainian Service broadcaster Vasyl Zilhalov, were broadcast as part of the service's "World in News" program and posted on the service's website. Among those interviewed were Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and Yushchenko's rival for the presidency in the 2004 election campaign, then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych sent a 15-minute long statement to RFE/RL and refused to answer any questions. Thus, in accordance with RFE/RL policy, his response was not broadcast. * First Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to the U.S. Anton Buteiko; broadcast 15 August ( * Ukraine's first post-Soviet President Leonid Kravchuk; broadcast 16 August ( * Former Belarusian Parliament Speaker Stanislav Shushkevych; broadcast; 17 August ( * Best-selling author Andriy Kurkov; broadcast 18 August ( * National Security Service director Oleksandr Turchynov; broadcast 19 August ( * Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn; broadcast 22 August ( * State Secretary Oleksandr Zinchenko; broadcast 23 August ( * ** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Olga Buriak, may be reached by email at <>.

...FLAP OVER SINGLE ECONOMIC SPACE An RFE/RL exclusive interview with Ukrainian Economy Minister Serhiy Teryokhin prompted denials by other senior officials of the Ukrainian government and was widely quoted in Russia, Ukrainian and regional media.
In the interview, Teryokhin announced that Kyiv will strengthen bilateral economic relations with Moscow and may eventually withdraw from the so-called Single Economic Space, set up in 2003 by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine. Teryokhin said the participating states have widely differing economic structures and that Ukraine, for example, as an agrarian exporter and energy importer should not have equal tariffs with Russia. He said the proposal to switch to a bilateral format is Russia's idea.
The first denial came from Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who called Teryokhin's comment was a consideration -- not a decision. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko reinforced her statement on August 22, telling journalists in Kyiv that Ukraine will continue to take part in the Single Economic Space and will present 10 initiatives to resolve "the most complicated and urgent problems" at the CIS summit in Kazan, Russia, August 26-27.

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT BAKIEV The RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service broadcast an interview on August 23 with President Kurmanbek Bakiev about the new Kyrgyz government's responsibility to improve the lives of Kyrgyz citizens ( The only other media present during the interview, in Bakiyev's presidential office, was state owned Kyrgyz National TV and Radio Company (KTR), which televised the meeting.
Bakiev stressed that local officials of the new Kyrgyz government must have more direct contact with people and learn firsthand about the difficulties they face. He told an RFE/RL Bishkek correspondent that "in recent years, the Kyrgyz government was existing just for itself. The people were on their own. (There was) no connection, no cooperation between the two. Even now, many local governors don't know the real life of the people, their problems. They only see what is on the surface. We have to change that situation. We have to turn to our people, be closer to them, to improve their life."
RFE/RL reported live from the inauguration ceremony in Bishkek on August 14, during which Bakiev formally took office. Bakiev, acting president since a wave of protests ousted the country's first post- Soviet leader, Askar Akayev, in March, swept to an apparently democratic victory in the July 10 presidential poll with nearly 89 percent of the vote.

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

BELARUS SERVICE PROVIDES VENUE FOR BANNED CARTOONS RFE/RL's Belarus Service broke a story for its listeners on August 16, about a criminal libel case involving satirical animated Internet cartoons that has now come to the attention of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
RFE/RL reported that the Minsk prosecutor's office started a criminal investigation into a series of cartoons posted on the Internet, alleging that they defamed Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka -- an offense meriting up to five years in prison. The two- minute animations lampooning Lukashenka were posted by members of the student association "Third Path" (Tretsi Shlyakh). RFE/RL Minsk correspondents interviewed the students, who had been interrogated by government security. Pavel Marozaw, project coordinator for Third Path, told RFE/RL the students' apartments had been searched and their computers confiscated ( Access to the Third Path website was blocked on August 17, but RFE/RL's Belarus Service provided a link on its page to an alternative site for the cartoons, which continues to enjoy heavy traffic ( The Belarus Service is also updating the story with interviews with other cartoonists and free speech advocates, who stressed the cartoons were distributed only on the Internet, which is a global information network and not the property of the Belarusian government (;
In an August 22 broadcast, the service reported the OSCE has issued a statement expressing concern about the case. OSCE media Freedom representative Miklos Harazsti said in the statement that treating cartoons as acts of criminal libel is completely against the concept of free political debate.

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

BELARUSIAN BROADCAST HELPS RESTORE CENTENARIAN'S SIGHT Thanks to a broadcast by RFE/RL's Belarus Service, a blind centenarian can now see.
This past spring, the service aired a program on longevity that included an interview with Hanna Barysevich, possibly the oldest woman in Europe. She claimed to be 117 years old and said she felt fine, except for not being able to see.
The RFE/RL program was heard by several pharmaceutical, medical companies, and ophthalmologists in Belarus who contacted the Service. Eye specialists examined Hanna Barysevich, determined she had cataracts - and recently performed successful surgery.
RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent Ina Stuzhinskaya followed up with interviews with her doctors and another conversation with Mrs. Barysevich, who was skeptical and fearful of the surgery at first, but is now delighted. She said in the second program, aired August 19, that the secret of her long life is avoiding negative emotions: "Don't get nervous, angry or jealous - and you'll live long," she said (

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

SSALS INTERVIEWS UN CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR ON KOSOVO RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) aired an exclusive interview on August 22 with UN Civil Administrator of Kosovo Soren Jessen-Petersen, in which he reaffirmed that status talks on the enclave would not be postponed and would begin as planned in October. Petersen was interviewed in Kosovo by RFE/RL's bureau chief there, Arbana Vidishiqi (A transcript is available in Albanian at; in Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian at
Petersen said the agenda and timetable for moving forward was set in a meeting in New York and that everyone was aware of shortcomings in some of the benchmarks set, but that these shortcomings are not problems that can be solved overnight. He noted the refusal of Kosovo Serbs to participate in the process, emphasizing that this will in no way affect the beginning of the status talks. "If lack of progress is due to the non-participation of Serbs, institutions will not be the ones to pay the price," Petersen said. He also explained in the RFE/RL interview how the talks would be conducted: "As for the international community, there will be a status envoy appointed by Secretary General of UN. He will also have deputies, which are due to be appointed by the US, Russia maybe and the EU. Although I think the status envoy himself would be of European nationality. The status envoy will then conduct a shuttle diplomacy between Prishtina, Belgrade and capitals of the Contact Group to reach a framework agreement", Petersen said.

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

KOSOVA PRIME MINISTER RULES OUT SERBIA IN KOSOVO STATUS TALKS Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi gave an exclusive interview to RFE/RL's Melazim Koci, who heads the SSALS Kosovo subunit, declaring that Serbia will not be involved in talks about Kosovo's final status, which are expected to begin later this year. "We are ready to talk with Belgrade about a lot of matters, but when it comes to Kosovo's independence, this is not a matter for talks with Serbia," Kosumi said in the interview, broadcast August 19. Kosumi reaffirmed in the interview that Kosovo institutions "are strongly committed to creating multiethnic municipalities where Serbs and Albanians will live together" striving for harmony. But he was adamant about not allowing Serb participation in the forthcoming status talks, saying the Serbian leadership would use the opportunity to try and set up "ethnically pure" Serb districts. The SSALS interview with Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi was widely quoted the next day, August 20 by print and electronic media throughout the region (A transcript of the interview is available in Albanian at; in Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian at

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

MILOSEVIC FAMILY MAKING COMEBACK? RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) aired a program August 16 that assessed the Serbian government's recent decisions to drop criminal charges against Marko Milosevic, son of former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and lift an international arrest warrant against Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic. The actions prompted many Serbs to wonder whether the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is restoring the former dictator's legacy.
Marko Milosevic was wanted in connection with death threats and maltreatment of opposition activists during his father's reign, when he ran shadowy businesses that allegedly earned him millions of dollars. Mirjana Markovic, once politically very influential and dubbed the "Lady Macbeth of Serbia", was charged with misconduct in providing a governmental apartment for her grandson's nanny. Marko has been on the run since his father was toppled in October 2000; his mother, Mirjana left the country secretly later. Both are believed to be living now in Russia.
The international warrants were revoked recently under questionable and controversial circumstances by Serbian courts. Djordje Todorovic, a spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Party told RFE/RL that the lifting of the warrants was the price paid by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's minority government for support from Milosevic's Socialist Party. However, Andreja Mladenovic, a spokesperson for Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia strongly denied any political interference during an interview with RFE/RL, saying, "This is the decision of an independent judiciary." The withdrawal of the charges against Milosevic's son and wife has split the parties of the governing coalition (;;

** 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

HONOR FOR TURKMEN SERVICE BROADCASTER Turkmen Service broadcaster Mohammad Tahir has been awarded the "Star of the Nation" in Pakistan for his work with young people. The award, sponsored by the Education and Culture Ministries with the prominent Pakistani daily newspaper "The Nation", is given every ten years to ten Pakistanis in recognition of excellence in their chosen field and their contributions to Pakistan. The award ceremony took place in the Pakistani city of Lahore on August 14, Pakistan's Independence Day.
Tahir, an ethnic Turkmen and Pakistani citizen from Baluchistan, joined RFE/RL in 2003 and is based at RFE/RL's Broadcast Operations Center in Prague. He was recognized for a book he wrote for young people: "Papa, We Are Sorry." Written in Urdu, it presents the views of young people on the world they live in. The Pakistani Ministry of Education acquired rights to the book and republished it for every school library in the country. Tahir also founded eight non- governmental organizations for young people in his home province Baluchistan. At RFE/RL, he has launched a 15-minute weekly youth program: "Youth Club."
Each recipient is also traditionally invited to address the local parliament in their province on any topic they liked. Tahir spoke August 17 to the Baluchistan Assembly about the Social Impact of Tribalism.

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

RFE/RL PLAYS THE "TURKMENBASHI BLUES" A New York rock band, Foreign Accent, is gaining popularity with its first CD "Pardon My French" -- in some measure thanks to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service. In appreciation, the band sent the service a signed CD in mid-August.
The Kazakh Service had broadcast a program about the band because several members are Americans of ethnic Central Asian origin. During the broadcast, which aired last September 18, three Foreign Accent musicians were interviewed and played for RFE/RL their own composition: "Turkmenbashi Blues". Turkmenbashi, or "Father of Turkmens", is meant to be a term of respect for Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov, but is often used in a satirical sense by critics of the dictatorial head of state. RFE/RL's Uzbek and Turkmen Services also played the music and interviews in similar broadcasts.
After it aired, the Kazakh service posted the program on its website (In Russian:; From there, it was picked up by several other Internet sites and heard by listeners all over the world, including a young student at Illinois State University. Listening to the RFE/RL program, Maria Cristina Galmarini was inspired by the song "Turkmenbashi Blues" to write her mid-term thesis on President Niyazov's regime in Turkmenistan. She then wrote to tell the Kazakh Service how their program on "Foreign Accent" inspired her, and sent the service a copy of her paper.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merhat Sharipzhan, 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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