Accessibility links

Breaking News

RFE/RL Review October 7, 2005

The PDF version is available at

The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
September 24-October 7, 2005

IRAQI PRESIDENT TALABANI VISITS RFE/RL Iraqi President Jalal Talabani declared his country's determination to build a democratic order after the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003 during a speech delivered on October 5 at RFE/RL in Prague. While at RFE/RL, Talabani participated in a press briefing and gave exclusive interviews in both English and Arabic -- the last for broadcast by Radio Free Iraq.
While being interviewed in Arabic by Radio Free Iraq correspondents Ferial Hussain-a-Salih and Hussein Saeed, Talabani spoke about relations among the four bodies of government, the upcoming referendum, and the trial of Saddam Hussein (English transcript at If Hussein is sentenced to death, Talabani told Radio Free Iraq, he would not be the person to sign the death sentence, in recognition of his documented opposition to the death penalty. "This does not mean, however, that I will prohibit the death sentence from being carried out," Talabani continued, noting that "the decision is not in the hands of the president... It is in the hands of the [three-member] Presidency Council."
During the English-language interview, conducted by RFE/RL regional analyst Kathleen Ridolfo and Central News correspondent Charles Recknagel, Talabani responded to questions on a wide range of issues, including preparations for Iraq's October 15 referendum to the situation of minorities in the country (a transcript of the interview can be found at
In responding to a question during the briefing on the new draft constitution, due to be voted on during an October 15 referendum, Talabani said that "the constitution is not a panacea. The constitution is the constitution. But the constitution will help to convince every Iraqi that the regime is stable, the new democratic Iraq will remain, will survive, and terrorists cannot defeat the will of the Iraqi people." Talabani also responded to questions concerning possible Iranian influence in Iraq, the role of the Mujahedin e-Khalq, Russian- Iraqi relations, the future of the Kurdish nation and his views concerning Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Ja'fari.
A special website documenting the Talabani visit to RFE/RL and to Prague can be viewed at . A transcript of Talabani's speech can be found at and of the subsequent question and answer session at; a press release on the visit may be found at

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

RUSSIAN SERVICE REPORTS, ANALYZES PUTIN TELEVISION INTERVIEW... Russian society has been dominated during the past days by a television program -- a three-hour, nationwide question and answer program featuring President Vladimir Putin that was broadcast on both of Russia's main TV channels on September 27. During the program, Putin answered questions posed by Russian citizens.
RFE/RL's Russian Service covered this unique event as a developing story, reporting on and analyzing the program's political, social, economic and media aspects (a report in English, by Central News correspondent Claire Bigg, is at Exclusive reports by Russian Service correspondents from throughout Russia (located online at discussed how Russians were selected to ask questions, how the show was assembled, and what happened to a human rights activist in Vorkuta who wanted to ask the wrong questions -- and was beaten as a result.
Transcripts of Russian Service coverage of the September 27 Putin program can be found at,,,,,,

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at

...INTERVIEWS EXPELLED KHODORKOVSKY LAWYER... On September 27, RFE/RL Russian Service broadcaster Irina Lagunina interviewed Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer for the oil company Yukos and its embattled founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The interview took place just days after Amsterdam had been stripped of his visa and thrown out of Russia -- the first of a string of official moves targeting Khodorkovsky's legal team that included threats of disbarment against his Russian lawyers. A transcript of the interview can be found at and in English at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at

...INTERVIEWS FUTURE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ON EVE OF SELECTION RFE/RL's Russian Service focused on the opposition movement in Belarus, which for the first time chose a single, joint candidate to stand against Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the upcoming presidential elections. Alyaksandr Milinkevich, one of the candidates being considered for the post by delegates to the Congress of Democratic Forces in Minsk, was a guest on the Russian Service's October 1 information program, one day before he was selected as the unified candidate. During the live program, Milinkevich answered questions posed by moderator Dmitry Volchek and by listeners calling in to the show. A transcript of the program can be found at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at

BELARUS SERVICE COVERS CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES, ANNOUNCES CHOICE OF SINGLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RFE/RL's Belarus Service has been providing regular coverage of the efforts of Belarus' diverse opposition groups to unify around a single candidate to stand against Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the presidential election scheduled for September 2006. That coverage culminated in extensive coverage, on air and on the service's website, of the October 1-2 Congress of Democratic Forces, held in Minsk. During the Congress, delegates also united behind a single candidate for president -- Hrodno-based NGO activist Alyaksandr Milinkevich (an English-language analysis of the Congress and the new opposition candidate, by Regional Analyst Jan Maksymiuk, can be found at
The service's normally scheduled pre-recorded weekend format was changed to provide live coverage of the Congress at various times throughout the 6-hour evening broadcast cycle, with additional staff working in both Prague and Minsk. The service's website was updated continuously (on average every 7 minutes) on both days with breaking developments from the Congress -- coverage that was appreciated, if one is to judge by the fact that on October 2, the second day of the Congress, was visited by Belarusians three times as often as on a typical Sunday.
The service, through its website and in its broadcasts, provided its listeners and website visitors numerous photos of the Congress; interviews with Congress delegates, potential candidates, Belarusian opposition politicians, civic leaders and Belarusian officials; guests, parliamentarians and visiting dignitaries from neighboring states; audio cuts of greetings from US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to Belarus George Krol, Russian Union of Right Forces leaders Nikita Belykh and Boris Nemtsov ( and European Parliament deputies; and listener comments in the form of man-on-the-street interviews and listener calls. A sampling of Belarus Service coverage of the Congress can be found at and
The Belarus Service was the first media to report on the selection of Milinkevich as the opposition's candidate for president, just minutes after his name was announced at the Congress ( The service also secured an extensive interview with Milinkevich immediately the announcement (; the transcript of a second interview, in English, is at, as well as Milinkevich's participation in a live conversation during the service's morning program on October 3.

** 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

AZERBAIJANI SERVICE COVERS VIOLENCE-MARRED ELECTION CAMPAIGN RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service has been providing its listeners comprehensive coverage of the Azerbaijani parliamentary election campaign. During the weeks ahead of the November 6 vote, the campaign has grown more violent (for an English-language analysis of the rising tensions, see Central News correspondent Robert Parsons' September 30 article at Beginning on September 25, the opposition has defied an official ban on holding rallies in the city center by organizing demonstrations each weekend; police forces with riot gear have responded by beating protesters (reports on the demonstrations at, and
Baku-based Azerbaijani Service correspondents reported on the excessive use of force by police during the protests on October 9 that, in some cases, targeted journalists (audio and an Azeri-language transcript are available at The service also interviewed Human Rights Watch election monitor Matilda Bogner and Norwegian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Steinar Gil, both of whom witnessed the October 9 disturbances.
In response to questions from Azerbaijani Service correspondents, both the U.S. Department of State in Washington on October 5 and U.S. Embassy in Baku on October 10 issued statements condemned the violence and calling on the government and opposition to renew their dialogue on freedom of assembly. In interviews with the service, both the deputy secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, Mubariz Gurbanli and chairman of the opposition Musavat Party, Isa Gambar said they were ready to do so (
In separate coverage of the violence against journalists, an Azerbaijani Service correspondent on October 10 visited the hospital where Idrak Abbasov, a correspondent for the newspaper Ayna-Zerkalo, was being treated for head injuries that he claims were inflicted by police during protests the previous day. During that interview, broadcast by the service, police officers abruptly entered Abbasov's hospital room and demanded that the interview stop (

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

U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE DANIEL FRIED INTERVIEWED ON POLICY TOWARD CENTRAL ASIA RFE/RL Washington correspondent Robert McMahon conducted an interview on October 5 with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried about U.S. Policy toward Central Asia. Fried had just returned from a late-September visit to Central Asia, during which he gave voice to increasing U.S. impatience with the refusal of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to permit an international investigation into the May violence in Andijon. Other issues discussed during the interview included Kazakhstan's commitment to democracy and free elections, and the increasingly complex set of relations developing both within the countries of Central Asia and in their relations with neighboring states such as Russia and China (a transcript of the interview can be found at

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

KAZAKH SERVICE ON SCENE AS POLICE RAID YOUTH GROUP OFFICES RFE/RL's Kazakh Service was the only Kazakh-language media to broadcast news in Kazakhstan of an October 4 raid by Almaty police on the offices of the pro-democracy youth group Kahar (Hero) ( Almaty-based RFE/RL correspondents were present in the Kahar offices while police conducted the raid. Policemen participating in the action refused to comment when asked by the correspondents about the raid. Their responses and those of the representatives of the youth groups were recorded and aired by the Kazakh Service as part of its "Youth Wave" program.
Kahar leader Bakhytzhan Toregozhina told the Kazakh Service that the police demanded that all of the group's financial documents be handed to them, claiming that Kahar might have broken Kazakh laws by accepting financial support from abroad. According to Toregozhina, the police refused to give any explanations and failed to show a search warrant. They did, however, show copies of letters written, according to the police, by the parents of several local juveniles in which they allegedly asked authorities to "help them to persuade their children to stop attending Kahar's gatherings calling to overthrow the government".
According to the Kahar leaders interviewed by RFE/RL, the raid may have been organized as part of a plan by local authorities to prevent mass gatherings before Kazakhstan's upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for December 4. After observing the results of the Orange and Tulip revolutions in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan respectively, Kazakh authorities may be trying to prevent any gatherings of youth in that country's larger cities and towns, the Kahar leaders said.

** 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

KYRGYZ SERVICE FOLLOWS NATO VISIT, POST-REVOLUTION POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service covered the October 3 visit in Bishkek of Robert Simmons, the special representative of the NATO secretary general for the Caucasus and Central Asia, as part of its "Ala Too" news block. During a press conference, Simmons announced that the alliance will increase its use of Ganci air base at Manas International Airport near Bishkek in conducting its operations in Afghanistan. Simmons noted that NATO looks forward to working with the new Kyrgyz authorities and to "improving and increasing contacts between Kyrgyzstan and NATO, permitting Kyrgyzstan to take a more active part in the various partnership programs" (; in English at
The service also continued to report on efforts in the Kyrgyz parliament to fully confirm the new cabinet of Prime Minister Felix Kulov, nominated by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. On September 30, another 6 nominations were confirmed by parliament, filling positions that had been left vacant after the parliament rejected candidates nominated earlier by the president -- including former ambassador and revolution leader Roza Otunbayeva. The Kyrgyz Service provided insight into the debate with roundtable discussions, interviews with senior government officials, parliamentarians, businessmen and others, including former parliament chairman Abdigani Erkebaev, deputy prime minister Bazarbai Mambetov, and man-on-the-street interviews. The topic was also debated on the October 5 edition of the Kyrgyz Service's joint venture television program with Kyrgyz Television, "Inconvenient Questions" that included the participation of current parliament chairman Omurbek Tekebaev.
Another sensitive issue in post-revolution Kyrgyzstan, the dissolution of the current, pre-revolution parliament, was discussed during a special edition of the Kyrgyz Service's "Panorama" program on October 2. Former parliament chairman Medtkhan Sherimkulov, Erkindik Party leader Topchubek Turgunaliev, Central Election Commission chairman Turgunaly Abdraimov, MSN newspaper chief editor Aleksander Kim, former Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev and other analysts and experts offered their insights during the program.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <>. The Kyrgyz Service's website is at http://www.; English-language news about events in Kyrgyzstan can be found at

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN FOCUSES ON PAKISTANI CAPTURE OF TALIBAN SPOKESMAN, ANTI-TERROR OPERATION RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan broadcast on October 4 included a piece of breaking news -- reports were circulating that Pakistani military forces had just captured Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi. The service's correspondent in Peshawar, Najib Amer, contacted the office of Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who confirmed the arrest but little else. Radio Free Afghanistan's Amer also contacted Pakistani Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, who called the arrest a "big success for our security agencies and the armed forces". The comments of both Pakistani ministers were broadcast to Radio Free Afghanistan listeners and made available to all RFE/RL services for use in their programs (an English-language report on the Hakimi capture can be found at
Minister Sherpao had been interviewed by Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Zabiullah Adel earlier that week, on October 1, on the topic of the Pakistan military's anti-terrorist operation along the Pakistan-Afghan border in North Waziristan. During that interview, Sherpao said that there were both foreign and local persons among those killed during the operation, and deflected questions about the possibility that Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden might be hiding on the Pakistani side of the border.

** 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

RADIO FREE IRAQ COVERS BAGHDAD CAPTURE OF IRAQI INSURGENTS... On September 29, Baghdad-based Radio Free Iraq correspondent Jumana Al- Ubaidi interviewed members of the Iraqi Al Sager (Falcon) Brigade after they captured of three leaders of a group allegedly involved in the insurgency in southwestern Baghdad. Al-Ubaidi was allowed to interview the captured suspects to learn more about their motivations and alleged crimes, which are said to include the killing of police, setting off of car bombs and other explosions and other crimes against the local population. Al-Ubaidi's audio report can be heard at

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

...INTERVIEWS IRAQI SUNNI LEADER ON ANNOUNCEMENT OF "NO" CAMPAIGN AGAINST CONSTITUTION. Radio Free Iraq correspondent Fa'iqa Rasul Sarhan interviewed Sunni Arab representative to the Iraqi Constitution Drafting Committee Salih al-Mutlaq on the decision of his organization, the National Dialogue Council, and other groups to campaign for the rejection of the draft Constitution during the upcoming referendum on October 15. During the interview, which took place in Amman, Jordan on September 24, Al-Mutlaq revealed that "more than 3,000 representatives of the social and political spheres, in addition to political parties and groups of civil society" had joined the campaign, which is open "to all influential parties that support the principles of unity of Iraq, independence of Iraq, and the Arab identity of Iraq" who wish to achieve "the rejection of or a change in the current [draft of the] constitution." A transcript in English of the interview can be found at; more interviews and additional news on the vote is located at

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

RFE/RL In The News

RFE/RL MACEDONIAN INTERVIEW PROGRAM NOW ON TV On September 25, the first television broadcast of the South Slavic and Albanian Language Service's (SSALS) popular Macedonian-language interview program "TV-Sunday Interview" was seen on 7 local television stations available throughout most of Macedonia. The news program can be seen at either 5:30PM or 6:00PM every Sunday on Skopje's Kanal 4 and Era television channels, TV Tera in Bitola, TV Kis in Tetovo, TV-M in Ohrid, TV-Vis in Strumica and TV-Zdravkin in Veles. The idea behind the program is to offer a new outlet for the interviews, which feature prominent personalities in Macedonia such as President Branko Crvenkovski and Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski. Transcripts of the program are regularly re-printed or quoted by many local newspapers.

** 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 Macedonian is located at; English-language news about events in Macedonia can be found at

----------------------------------------------------------------------- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, international communications service to Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central and Southwestern Asia funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

RFE/RL, Inc.

1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW * Washington, DC 20036 Phone +1.202.457.6900 * Fax +1.202.457.6992

Vinohradska 1 * 110 00 Prague 1 * Czech Republic Phone +420.2.2112.1111 * Fax +420.2.2112.3002



Get "RFE/RL Review" via e-mail!

To subscribe Send an email to <>

To Unsubscribe Send an email to <>


For the best of Persian-language Radio Farda ("Radio Tomorrow")
reporting, we invite you to read

Focus on Farda


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.

Managing Editor: Sonia Winter <>

For more information about any of the stories mentioned in "RFE/RL Review," or to learn more about RFE/RL, please contact Martins Zvaners at <> or by calling +1-202-457-6948.