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RFE/RL Review September 23, 2005

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
September 10-23, 2005

AFGHANS TURN TO RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN FOR ELECTION NEWS For most Afghans, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan was the prime source of news for the September 18 parliamentary elections to a new National Assembly. Radio Free Afghanistan provided comprehensive reporting on the election, with 12 hours of nonstop, live, bilingual (Dari and Pashto) election day programming that could be heard nationwide. The election day programs provided a fitting climax to two months of reporting, analysis and educating of listeners about the elections -- a historical first for Afghanistan.
Three days ahead of the elections, Radio Free Afghanistan completed a series of broadcasts about the candidates and campaigns in each of the country's 34 provinces. On election day, 16 correspondents reported on the voting in Kabul, while another 21 journalists reported from polling stations in 26 provinces. In the remaining eight remote and dangerous provinces, Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents conducted telephone interviews throughout the day with provincial governors, local election officials, human rights monitors and police chiefs to keep track of the security situation. More than 20 Radio Free Afghanistan broadcasters ensured the smooth broadcast of election day coverage from the service's studios in Prague.
Every 30 minutes throughout the day, Radio Free Afghanistan updated listeners on breaking election news, followed by interviews with voters around the country, call-in reports from polling stations in the provinces, closing each half-hour segment with a security update and discussion by experts analyzing election developments. In the interviews and discussions, Radio Free Afghanistan focused especially on issues of security, voter turnout, freedom of political choice and the participation of women. Every second hour, Radio Free Afghanistan broadcast special programs on democracy that examined the key role of elections, women's rights, the guiding importance of the constitution, the role of youth and political choice.
Afghans across the country used Radio Free Afghanistan's 24-hour election hotline to leave messages of praise and appreciation for the coverage, as well as complaints about the election process that the service selectively aired. A voter from Dashti Barchi called to complain that his polling center had run out of ballots -- then called again to say, gratefully, "Long Live Radio Azadi" (as Radio Free Afghanistan is known locally) after the service broadcast his message with a response from the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB). Radio Free Afghanistan also got quick remedial action and a thank you from the JEMB after advising them that a listener was expressing voter frustration because of long delays at the Hotkhil polling station.
Before the election, several candidates in Helmand province called to say the Helmand governor is campaigning for his brother and putting pressure on other candidates to withdraw. Radio Free Afghanistan reported the violation and interviewed the Governor, earning a grateful comment from a listener: "Without Radio Azadi, it was too difficult to raise our voice against the governor."
In addition to Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents, RFE/RL's Central News department sent two correspondents, Ron Synovitz and Golnaz Esfandiari, to Kabul to file English-language reports used by many services in their Afghan election coverage. Both Synovitz and Esfandiari remained in Kabul after the election and gained a number of exclusive interviews with senior officials, including Dadfar Sepanta, senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai (see below), Emma Bonino, head of the European Union's election observation team in Afghanistan, and Hossain Ramoz, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Much of Radio Free Afghanistan's popularity in the country comes from its interaction on the airwaves with Afghans from all walks of life. At the polls, some voters did not wait for a question and grabbed Radio Free Afghanistan microphones to express their views. In a series of reaction reports on September 19, many of those interviewed expressed disappointment both with the candidates and with democratization. In one interview, a 40-year-old driver from the Laghman district in Kabul said he did go to the polls the day before, but without much enthusiasm, noting that "The problem is that in Afghanistan, there are not even two good candidates to vote for, or are there?" A 22-year-old Kabul student felt turnout had been low, because, in his words, "the expectations that people had from their president during the presidential elections, well, their demands were not fulfilled. And it led to frustration."
In an effort to make Radio Free Afghanistan's comprehensive Afghanistan election reporting widely available, RFE/RL posted a special "Afghanistan Votes" website (available at that is regularly updated with election news and analyses and RFE/RL exclusive interviews. Radio Free Afghanistan's Dari ( and Pashto ( language websites were also focused on election news, posting 90 reports on September 18.

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <>. Radio Free Afghanistan's website is located at; English-language news about events in Afghanistan can be found at

AFGHAN PRESIDENT'S OFFICE CLARIFIES CALL FOR CHANGE IN EXCLUSIVE RFE/RL INTERVIEW Dadfar Sepanta, senior adviser to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, gave an exclusive interview to RFE/RL September 21 to explain Karzai's comments urging the U.S. to change strategy against terrorism. Sepanta stressed in the RFE/RL interview in Kabul that Karzai fully supports the US fight against terrorism and Al-Qaeda, but would like to see some aspects of that policy changed. He repeated that house searches at night are upsetting for Afghans and should not be conducted without approval from Afghan authorities. Sepanta said the U.S. and international community "should learn from our experience and knowledge about Afghan society... and not take measures that cause dissatisfaction among people who are against terrorism."
Sepanta's comments are included in an article by RFE/RL Central News correspondents Ron Synovitz and Golnaz Esfandiari that can be found on the RFE/RL website, at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Central News department, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <>.

ROMANIAN SERVICE CORRESPONDENT REPORTS FROM AFGHANISTAN RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service sent correspondent Dan Alexe to Afghanistan September 12 to cover the September 18 parliamentary elections and other important stories for Romanian listeners. The service was the only Romanian-language media with a correspondent reporting on the elections directly from Kabul. He filed daily reports on the importance of the elections for building democracy in the country; on its significance for the US and its NATO allies; and the security situation in Kabul and Afghanistan's northern and northeastern regions.
During the week before the election, Alexe's reports were an important part of Romania-Moldova programming that addressed the start of the UN Millennium Review in New York and the NATO conference in Berlin on plans to expand NATO operations in Afghanistan. Following the election, Alexe remained in Afghanistan to take a close look at the role of the Romanian battalion of some 400 troops that is participating in the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom; another 150 soldiers are taking part in reconstruction and training efforts in Afghanistan. Alexe had a series of interviews with Romanian military representatives on their strategic mission and life in Afghanistan.
Streaming Internet audio of Alexe's reports from Afghanistan can be found on the service's website, at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>. The Romania/Moldova Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Moldova can be found at and in Romania at

UZBEK SERVICE FILLS GAPS IN REPORTING ON ANDIJON TRIAL Uzbek media remain largely silent about the closed trial of 15 men accused of terrorism in connection with the May uprising in Andijon. But RFE/RL's Uzbek Service is filling that gap, pre-empting regular programming to bring listeners regular news updates and two 30-minute special programs a day, analyzing and commenting on what is happening in the courtroom.
Uzbek authorities allowed a Tashkent-based Uzbek Service correspondent to attend the trial which began September 20. Like the rest of a small pool of reporters, he must sit in a side room and watch the court proceedings via closed circuit television -- but has also been able to file unique photographs of the defendants and courtroom for use on RFE/RL websites (
In statements at the trial, prosecutors repeated accusations that foreign media, including RFE/RL and specifically RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky, spread slanderous and untrue accounts of what happened at Andijon during the mass unrest that unfolded there May 12-13. The Uzbek Service focused on the role of the media in a panel discussion with experts and journalists that aired on September 20. The program, moderated in Prague linked participants in five countries in a phone hook-up with Sweden, Washington, Moscow and Tashkent to Prague.
The service also broadcast numerous exclusive interviews with representatives of international human rights groups, including the OSCE, the UN High Commission for Refugees and Human Rights Watch. In one interview, broadcast September 20, the service interviewed a former Uzbek prosecutor, now living in the United States, who gave a chilling account of how prisoners are tortured and compelled to make "confessions" and admissions of guilt at trials. All 15 defendants at the current trial pleaded guilty to all charges. More than 100 other defendants are awaiting trial in connection with the violence in Andijon.
RFE/RL's English-language coverage of the Andijon trial can be found at; a complete timeline of the events at Andijon and its aftermath is available at

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Sojida Djakhfarova, may be reached by email at <>. The Uzbek Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Uzbekistan can be found at

KAZAKH SERVICE REPORT LOCATES LOST ANDIJON REFUGEE FAMILY A report aired by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service in early September enabled Uzbek refugees in Kazakhstan to learn their loved ones were alive and well in a refugee camp in Romania. In gratitude, several refugees now living in Almaty visited RFE/RL's bureau there on September 20. The group was led by 70-year-old Mamotkhon Zakhidov, who told Kazakh Service correspondents that, until the broadcast, he had no knowledge of the whereabouts of his wife, his daughter-in-law and grandchildren and feared them dead. Thanks to the Kazakh Service program, he and his son Akram heard the voices of their loved ones and both were rejoicing that their lost family members were safe in the Timisoara refugee camp.
The Zakhidov men heard a repeat broadcast of one of a series of reports by Kazakh Service correspondent Saida Kalkulova that aired the first week of September ( Kalkulova spent a week in Timisoara talking to the Uzbek refugees from Andijon. Her reports in Kazakh, Uzbek and English were widely broadcast by several RFE/RL language services and rerun as part of a joint Kazakh and Kyrgyz Service youth program on September 16.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merhat Sharipzhan, may be reached by email at <>. The Kazakh Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Kazakhstan can be found at

UKRAINIAN SERVICE REMEMBERS GONGADZE... On September 16, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service marked the passing of five years since the disappearance of independent journalist and editor-in- chief of the "Ukrayinska Pravda" Internet news site Georgiy Gongadze with a live roundtable discussion featuring Gongadze's mother Lesia, former Gongadze colleague journalist Iryna Pogoryelova and parliamentarian Volodymyr Stretovych, who chairs the parliament's organized crime and corruption committee (audio and a transcript of the roundtable can be found at
Known for investigating corruption and graft in the highest echelons of the Ukrainian government, Gongadze's beheaded body was later found in a woodland outside Kyiv. Audio recordings of conversations made secretly in former President Leonid Kuchma's office implicated the former president and several other senior officials in the murder. When the Orange Revolution swept Viktor Yushchenko to power, he vowed that the Gongadze case would be solved. Gongadze's actual killers are in custody -- but those who allegedly ordered the murder have not been charged with any crime.
During the roundtable, conducted as part of the Ukrainian Service's "Evening Liberty" program, participants discussed the Gongadze murder and what the government has done to fulfill its promises. According to the roundtable guests, Gongadze's remains continue to lie unburied in a Kyiv morgue, no progress has been made in locating the rest of his remains, and appeals by Gongadze's mother and his widow, Myroslava, continue to fall on deaf ears.
The "Evening Liberty" program on September 21 discussed the findings of a special parliamentary committee investigating the Gongadze murder. Parliamentarians Serhiy Holovatyj (Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc) and Dmytro Sviatash (Ukrainian People's Party), as well as Ukrainian Legal Foundation analyst and attorney for Lesia Gongadze Valeriy Ivasiuk to discuss the parliament's decision to ignore the committee's recommendations and the inaction of the General Prosecutor's office (
The committee, established in 2002, presented its findings to the Ukrainian parliament on September 20. In its report, the committee named parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and other senior officials as the instigators of the murder and claimed that former president Leonid Kuchma gave the order. The report had been ready for presentation for more than a year, but the parliamentary leadership would not allow committee chairman Hryhoriy Omelchenko to present it until this month. After listening to the report, Ukrainian parliamentarians voted to disband the committee and recommended that Omelchenko submit his findings to the General Prosecutor.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Olga Buriak, may be reached by email at <>. The Ukrainian Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Ukraine can be found at

...COVERS GOVERNMENT CRISIS RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service had correspondents in parliament and at key government offices in Kyiv covering the week-long government crisis that led to the Ukrainian parliament's failure on September 20 to approve President Viktor Yushchenko's new choice of Prime Minister, Yuriy Yekhanurov. The failed vote and the reasons behind it were analyzed on "Evening Liberty" that day by parliamentarians Oleh Bilorus (Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc) and Heorhiy Manchulenko (Ukrainian People's Party) (
Ukrainian Service correspondents in Kyiv continued to follow the fast-changing situation that led to a second vote in parliament, on September 22, that approved Yekhanurov's candidacy as prime minister. A live panel discussion on "Evening Liberty" featured parliamentarians Ihor Shurma (United Social Democrat Party), Ludmilla Kyrychenko (Ukraine's Regions) and Ivan Drach (Ukrainian People's Party), who said Yekhanurov is a politician who shuns the limelight and has no known political enemies or individual agenda. The guests claimed that, in order to secure the votes needed in parliament to approve his nominee, Yushchenko gave guarantees to his election opponent, Viktor Yanukovych that those who falsified the 2004 election results would not be held accountable (

** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Olga Buriak, may be reached by email at <>. The Ukrainian Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Ukraine can be found at

ROMANIA/MOLDOVA SERVICE MEASURES IMPACT OF UKRAINE CRISIS ON TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS... RFE/RL's audience in Moldova followed with great interest Romania/Moldova Service coverage of the dismissal of the Ukrainian government and wondered how it might affect negotiations underway to resolve the "frozen conflict" involving the self-declared "Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic". Along with Russia and the OSCE, Ukraine is one of the mediators of the current round of negotiations. The service broadcast an exclusive interview on September 8 with Ambassador William Hill, head of the OSCE's mission in Chisinau ( and held a roundtable to get a variety of opinions on the issue from political analysts in Moldova and abroad ( The interview with Ambassador Hill was widely quoted in the domestic media. In another program, aired in two parts on September 14 and 15, the service broadcast an exclusive interview with Economist Intelligence Unit expert Stuart Hensel on political and economic developments in Moldova.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>. The Romania/Moldova Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Moldova can be found at and in Romania at

...INTERVIEWS U.S. CONGRESSMAN ON ROMANIAN ADOPTIONS In mid-September, RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service looked at the continuing controversy over foreign adoptions of Romanian babies, many of them living in neglect in substandard orphanages.
An exclusive interview with U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), a co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, was aired in two parts on September 13 and 14 ( and In the interview, Rep. Smith said that a new Romanian adoption law had been written under the "misguided proposition that an institution, or even a foster family, is preferable to an adoptive family from outside the child's country of birth." Smith noted that "each year, 1,000 children are adopted domestically while 8,000 children in Romania are being sentenced to a life without knowing family or a parent's love. This is undeniably a human rights abuse." Rep. Smith also pledged to "continue to try to encourage the Romanian government to stand up on its own two feet and not allow itself to be cowed into adopting an anti-child, an anti-adoption policy, which is what has happened".
In his remarks, Rep. Smith was very critical of the position of British Europarliamentarian Baroness Emma Nicholson, who has been leading a campaign to get the new adoption law passed by the Romanian Parliament. The Romania-Moldova Service also gained an exclusive interview with Nicholson that it broadcast with the Smith interview on September 14, in an effort to give listeners some insight into the complexities of the issue (
The service also reported on a September 14 hearing of the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the status of inter-country adoptions from Romania. The hearing featured testimony by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty, Romanian Ambassador to the United States Sorin Ducaru and child welfare experts.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>. The Romania/Moldova Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Moldova can be found at and in Romania at

BELARUS SERVICE FOCUSES ON THE LANGUAGE OF MEDIA RFE/RL Belarus Service correspondent Alena Struve interviewed European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin on September 9 about an EU proposal to fund independent TV and radio broadcasting in Russian to Belarus early next year ( Udwin said the decision was prompted by deteriorating human rights in Belarus and the need to provide people independent information, noting that "this will complement an earlier decision" to award Germany's Deutsche Welle international broadcasting with a one-year contract to provide radio for Belarus starting in November.
But the language of such a broadcast has become a controversial issue. Deutsche Welle's decision to beam Russian language broadcasting into Belarus was not welcomed by many Belarusians, as well as EU parliamentarians, who called for a reassessment of the project. Udwin told RFE/RL that both Russian and Belarusian are envisaged as languages of the new broadcast: "We have taken a very simple decision to deal with the project that will be covering broadcasting in the two national languages of Belarus and, whether you like it or not, there are two national languages in Belarus," she said.
But the concept came under heavy criticism at a meeting of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee aired by the Belarusian Service September 14 (an English-language report on the meeting can be found at Several MPs said too much emphasis is being placed on the importance of Russian and that broadcasting in Russian supports Russia's longstanding ambitions to "russify" its neighbors. Former Lithuanian president Vytautas Landsbergis made this point while former Estonian foreign minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves said indigenous languages had served as the main vehicles of democratic change in eastern Europe. He put it this way: "Imagine if in this parliament we said, 'Well, all the Slovaks understand Czech, all the Danes understand Swedish, all the Portuguese understand Spanish and all the Dutch understand German.' What would be the reaction here? We can say, of course, 'All the Belarusians understand Russian,' but what does that mean for the people you are talking to?"

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Bohdan Andrusyshyn, may be reached by email at <>. The Belarus Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Belarus can be found at

SERBIA, MONTENEGRO TENSION OVER MILITARY SCANDAL RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) has been broadcasting daily updates about an ongoing military supply scandal that has severely strained relations between Montenegro and Serbia.
The scandal is swirling around allegations of excessive payments for purchases by a foreign contractor of military supplies for Iraqi forces that are still using old Soviet-era equipment and a disappearing money trail. SSALS interviewed two of the protagonists in the affair -- Serbian finance minister Mladjan Dinkic and Serbia and Montenegro Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic ( Dinkic has accused Davinic of corruption in military procurement; Davinic denies any wrongdoing.
In an exclusive SSALS interview, Belgrade analyst Zoran Dragisic said the main deals in question -- excessive purchases of helmets and pilot jackets -- are just the tip of the iceberg with much more questionable procurement still not revealed. The issue has now become a political football that is being used by both sides to score for each side winning points on the long-simmering question of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro -- all that remains of the former Yugoslavia. On September 18, Montenegrin Prime Minster Milo Djukanovic accused Serbian authorities of using the procurement scandal to take control of the institutions of the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro. Miodrag Vukovic, head of the ruling party caucus in the Montenegrin parliament made a similar point in another exclusive interview (, telling SSALS that "this crisis is a Serbian attempt to swallow Montenegro." Montenegro is planning a referendum on independence from Serbia in early 2006.

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <>. The SSALS website in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is located at, in Albanian at and in Macedonian at; English-language news about events in Serbia and Montenegro can be found at

RFE/RL in the News

CPJ, RSF PROTEST JAILING OF RFE/RL UZBEK CORRESPONDENT The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on September 22 ( joined protests by numerous media and human rights groups, including Reporters Without Borders (, against the imprisonment of Namangan-based RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Nosir Zokirov. On September 19, an appeals court upheld Zokirov's recent conviction for insulting a security officer and sent him back to prison to complete a six-month sentence. The CPJ sent an appeal to Uzbek president Islam Karimov, asking Karimov to, among other actions, stop using security services to silence journalists. "His government wants to hide the terrible events in Andijon and shift blame on to journalists who simply reported what happened," said CPJ director Ann Cooper in the statement.

RFE/RL CELEBRATES 10 YEARS IN PRAGUE Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on September 12 celebrated a decade of broadcasting from Prague in the Czech Republic. The radio commemorated the event with a conference and reception at its broadcast operations center that widely reported in the Czech media the next day. Among the guests were former Czech president Vaclav Havel, current Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, U.S. Ambassador William Cabaniss and BBG Governor D. Jeffrey Hirschberg. RFE/RL held its inaugural ceremony in Prague on September 8, 1995, following the move from Munich where it began broadcasting in 1951. A special website commemorating the 10th anniversary event can be visited at

RADIO FARDA EXPERTS ON CZECH TV Radio Farda Prague News Director Kaveh Basmenji and Radio Farda correspondent Maryam Manzoori were interviewed for a report prepared for the evening "Events and Commentaries" news program on Czech Television (CT1) on September 22, to discuss the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq-Iran War. The video clip, featuring Basmenji and Manzoori, can be viewed at

KYRGYZ BROADCASTER INVITED TO LECTURE IN CHINA A Bishkek-based correspondent for RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service has been invited to give a series of lectures at Xinjiang University in Urumchi, in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Kanat Muratbek Uulu Subakojoev, who left on the one-week trip on September 13, was invited by the World Politics Research Institute of China to brief Russian- speaking Chinese students on post-Soviet developments in Kyrgyzstan (1991-2005).

NEW AFFILIATE FOR ROMANIA-MOLDOVA SERVICE RFE/RL has gained a fourth affiliate in Moldova and is now able to reach for the first time on FM the population in the separatist Transdniester region. Starting September 15, the Chisinau-based "Radio Retro" (89.1 FM) one hour a day of Romania-Moldova Service programming.

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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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