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RFE/RL Review November 18, 2005

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
November 5-18, 2005

IRAQI PRIME MINISTER TALKS TO RFE/RL ABOUT AMMAN BOMBINGS Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Ja'fari of Iraq gave an interview to RFE/RL's Arabic-language broadcast service, also known as Radio Free Iraq (RFI) on November 14, urging the international community not to become prejudiced against Iraqis because of the citizenship of the terrorists who carried out the November 10 suicide bombings in Amman. Al-Ja'fari told RFI Baghdad correspondent Ahmad Al-Zubaidi that "We have to make a distinction between individuals, people, the government, and the state in a certain country. It is unjust and unfair to judge a people through one certain individual." Al-Ja'fari added, "The woman [Iraqi citizen Sajida al-Rishawi -- eds.] who was interviewed on Jordanian TV yesterday does not reflect the culture, values, mentality and morality of Iraq. Being part of terrorism does not signify material membership in an organization in as much as it means belonging to an aberrant system of thinking. So we cannot judge the people of a certain country, any country in the world, based on the behavior of an exceptionally delinquent minority in it consisting of murderers." During his interview with RFE/RL, Al-Ja'fari addressed the Jordanian population, calling Jordanians brothers of Iraq and regretting the loss of some 60 lives in the Amman bombing -- among them Iraqis and Syrians, as well as Jordanians. Al-Ja'fari also appealed to religious leaders, asking that "The clerics, in particular, spread awareness that the natural answer to [terrorists] is to eliminate terrorism as a tactic and to eliminate terrorism as an idea. This is what I have to say to Jordanians and to all people in the world, that they should not give terrorism a chance." The interview was translated and broadcast by a number of RFE/RL language services and posted on the English language website at; the audio of the interview may be heard in Arabic 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

RADIO FREE IRAQ INTERVIEWS ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER RFE/RL's Arabic language broadcast service, Radio Free Iraq (RFI) aired a broadcast on November 17 that addressed the Iraqi government's fight against corruption and thievery. RFI Baghdad correspondent Zamya Husayn interviewed the head of Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, Radi Hamza Al-Radi who said that a long list of officials and candidates in the forthcoming December elections are currently facing embezzlement charges (audio at Al-Radi said those officials currently holding office should be stripped of their immunity and tried in the courts, and that candidates should not be allowed to run until all charges lodged against them have been resolved: "How can someone facing a legal case of embezzlement in public money become a candidate to represent the people?" Al-Radi said. He said the list of those under investigation includes a number of former ministers and their deputies. In a separate interview, Iraqi National Assembly member Madame Zakiya Isma'il Haqqi told RFI that the biggest case of embezzlement concerns former defense minister Hazim al-Sha'lan, who allegedly is responsible for the disappearance of two billion dollars (audio at According to Haqqi, "This is the first time in Iraq's history that a minister is to be put on trial. It was the decision of the judicial authority that issued a warrant against him, and the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission must disqualify him unless he clears his name." Haqqi said the Commission for Public Integrity has notified the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission, requesting that it disqualify candidates facing legal charges.

** 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

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN DEBATES TERRORIST ATTACKS Radio Free Afghanistan's most popular call-in program, "On the Waves of Freedom" was devoted on November 17 to the rising number of suicide terror attacks in Afghanistan -- a relatively new phenomenon in that country. The two-hour live show, moderated from Prague by broadcasters Jan Alekozai and Zarif Nazar, featured questions and comments phoned in from all over Afghanistan, as well as from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark and Germany. Guests in RFE/RL's Kabul studio were the Chief of the Afghan Interior Ministry's Anti-Terrorism Department Abdul Manan Farahi, political analyst Ismail Akbar and Afghan Economy Minister Amin Farhang. Questions focused on the relationship between Al Qaeda in Iraq and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; what the Afghan government is doing to control the mostly-foreign elements thought to be responsible for the suicide attacks; and what people can do to stop more such attacks from occurring. Farhang said security measures need to be accompanied by an improvement in the economy, to undercut the attraction of terrorism. All of the participants agreed that the presence of foreign troops in the country is no justification for terrorism, and that elsewhere such a presence is an asset that helps facilitate economic development and reconstruction.

** 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

TAJIK SERVICE INTERVIEWS POWERFUL POLITICIAN RFE/RL's Tajik Service broadcast an exclusive interview on November 16 with Deputy Speaker of Parliament Abdulmajid Dostiev, a powerful political figure in Tajikistan. The interview, conducted by RFE/RL Dushanbe Bureau correspondent Abdukayum Kayumov, concerned the historic parliamentary session in 1992 during which current president Imomali Rakhmonov came to power. Dostiev, a key player in the session, provided a rare, first-hand description of the process that led to Rakhmonov's election to lead Tajikistan's "Popular Front" party and the country as a whole. The 1992 parliamentary session remains controversial in Tajikistan, with one school of thought arguing that Rakhmonov was chosen because he enjoyed the backing of Russia and Uzbekistan. During the interview, Dostiev said that Rakhmonov was a little-known candidate at the time and that he was accepted as a compromise candidate by the main political protagonists of the day. The interview was broadcast during the Tajik Service's daily "In- Depth" program (a Tajik-language article, with audio link, of the Dostiev interview can be found on the Tajik Service's website at The Dostiev interview was followed the next day, November 17, by a program that provided a variety of other views on the 1992 parliamentary session, from opposition and other political figures.

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

UZBEK SERVICE PROVIDES LISTENERS EXCLUSIVE, IN-DEPTH REPORTING ON ANDIJON VERDICTS... Listeners to RFE/RL's Uzbek-language broadcasts were the first in Uzbekistan to hear a full report and analysis of the guilty verdicts handed down on November 14 in the trial of 15 accused ringleaders of the bloody uprising in May in the town of Andijon. The service opened its daily two-hour broadcast at 2100 local time with a report from its correspondent at the courthouse in Tashkent and excerpts of the reading of the verdict, which lasted five hours ( Uzbek media carried only brief reports on the trial, along with lengthy official justification for the guilty verdicts. The Uzbek Service's continuing coverage of the trial and its aftermath included interviews with journalists who had been in Andijon during the unrest, to give eyewitness accounts of what happened there and comment on the verdict that sent all 15 defendants to prison to serve sentences of between 14 and 20 years. Uzbek journalist Matluba Azamatova, who had worked for the BBC and now lives in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan spoke about the protests and the bloodshed. Another Uzbek journalist, Galima Bukharbaeva, who was also in Andijon in May and is now living in exile in the United States, was interviewed by telephone from Prague. On November 15, the service continued its coverage with reports on a demonstration protesting the verdict in front of the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow ( and on international reaction from the U.S. State Department, European Union, Committee to Protect Journalists and other bodies, which universally condemned the trial and the sentences ( 6332-4AA8-BCF0-08A01292D0F9.ASP). In exclusive interviews with German Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Iber and European Union spokeswoman Christina Gallach, the Uzbek Service explained to listeners the reasons for the travel ban imposed by the EU against certain Uzbek officials in reaction to the Andijon trial (; A special segment aired reports filed by Uzbek Service correspondents in Timisoara in Romania and the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, both of which currently serve as homes for hundreds of Uzbek refugees. RFE/RL reporters went into the refugee camps and interviewed residents for their comments on the Andijon verdicts.

** 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

...DISCUSSES IMPACT OF RUSSIAN-UZBEK MILITARY PACT... RFE/RL's Uzbek Service provided in-depth coverage of President Islam Karimov's trip to Moscow November 14, to sign a military pact with President Vladimir Putin of Russia ( In same-day broadcasts, the service carried reaction from Uzbek citizens in Tashkent. An informal sampling of a half-dozen people stopped on the street drew a mixed response to the question: "Do you want to have close military relations with Russia again?" But all the Uzbeks interviewed were critical of their government's economic policy and what they said was widespread poverty in the country ( In another November 14 broadcast, the Uzbek Service interviewed several experts about their views on the, including former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Paul Bergne; journalist Sanobar Shermatova, an Uzbek living in Moscow who works as a correspondent for the daily "Moskovskiye Novosti;" and Tashkent-based independent Uzbek sociologist Bahodir Musayev. The majority view was that the Russian-Uzbek military pact takes Karimov's foreign policy another step away from the West and closer to a restoration of Soviet-era ties with Moscow ( On November 15, the Uzbek Service focused on the regional impact of the new military treaty in Central Asia. Service correspondents interviewed a dozen experts in several countries, including Columbia University research fellow Farkhod Inagomboev in New York, Central Asian Institute for Political Research Director Erlan Karin in Almaty, Central Asian Democratic Congress head Topchubek Turgunaliev in Bishkek, Uzbek economist Otabek Bakirov of the government-controlled Asakabank and two other pro-government analysts in Tashkent and Miklos Marschall, the Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia at Transparency International.

** 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

...INTERVIEWS BEATEN JOURNALIST RFE/RL's Uzbek Service carried an interview November 9 with Uzbek journalist Alexei Volosevich, a reporter for the Central Asian website known for his critical reporting on President Karimov's authoritarian regime. Volosevich, who also coordinated extensive coverage by of the May uprising and bloodshed in Andijon, was beaten outside his apartment by five young men, who also threw paint on him and shouted abuse. Volosevich suffered minor injuries during the attack, but he was able to speak to an RFE/RL correspondent in Tashkent one hour after the incident (article and photo at Volosevich said he believed Uzbek security forces were responsible for the attack and that it was related to his Andijon reporting. Uzbek Service broadcasters in Prague called the Uzbek National Security Service (NSS) in Tashkent for comment on the attack; NSS representatives denied any involvement in the beating (article 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

RUSSIAN SERVICE LOOKS AT KREMLIN RESHUFFLE RFE/RL's Russian Service responded quickly to news of President Vladimir Putin's cabinet reshuffle on November 14, devoting its daily 1600 local time "Time of Guests" program to a discussion of Putin's promotion of two key allies -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, now a Deputy Prime Minister also responsible for the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry in addition to the armed forces; and Dimitry Medvedev, Kremlin chief of staff since 2003 and chairman of the state- owned natural gas giant Gazprom, who is now First Deputy Prime Minister. Independent State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, who was interviewed in RFE/RL's Moscow studio (transcript in Russian at, speculated that the personnel change is part of the Kremlin's efforts to position itself for Russia's 2008 presidential election. During the Russian Service's 2000 local time "Time of Liberty" program that same night, leading Russia analyst Andrei Piontkovsky was interviewed by Russian Service correspondent Andrei Shary (;;

** 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

RFE/RL ARMENIAN SERVICE INTERVIEWS U.S. CONGRESSMAN HASTINGS RFE/RL's Armenian Service secured an exclusive interview November 9 with U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) in Yerevan. Hastings was visiting Armenia in his capacity as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, on his way back from Azerbaijan where he led the OSCE monitoring team for the flawed November 6 parliamentary elections there. Rep. Hastings spoke to Armenian Service Yerevan Bureau correspondent Anna Saghabalian about the serious election irregularities documented by western observers in Azerbaijan and the purpose of his visit to Armenia -- to get Armenian authorities to allow OSCE monitors at the forthcoming November 27 referendum on constitutional amendments sought by President Robert Kocharian. "My great hope is that we will be invited, and if we are, then we are prepared to send a small team to work on the November referendum," Hastings told RFE/RL. He said he had raised the subject with senior officials in the Armenian parliament and at the foreign ministry and that he was "hopeful that they will, even at this late date, invite the OSCE." Hastings added that "if the government is interested in having the perception of legitimacy of their election, regardless of outcome, they would undertake to invite [OSCE observers]." The Armenian government has yet to respond to Rep. Hastings' invitation on behalf of the OSCE. The referendum is scheduled to be monitored by a dozen representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). By comparison, the November 6 parliamentary election in Azerbaijan was watched by more than 600 Western observers. The broadcast interview was widely quoted in Armenian media the next day and also picked up by international wire services. A report on the interview was also posted to the Armenian Service's website, at

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

BELARUS SERVICE LOOKS AT NATO ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION ON BELARUS... RFE/RL's Belarusian Service gave extensive coverage November 15 to a resolution adopted unanimously by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, calling on Belarusian authorities to ensure a free and fair presidential election in 2006 and abide by international standards and their OSCE and UN commitments. The service interviewed the author of the resolution, Dutch parliamentarian Bert Kunders and NATO Parliamentary Assembly Political Committee chairman Wolfgang Merket, as well as two witnesses from Belarus invited to testify before the Assembly -- Sviatlana Zavadskaja, the wife of disappeared ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadsky, and opposition politician Stanislau Shushkevich, a former speaker of the Belarusian parliament ( The resolution, among other things, condemned "all the tactics of intimidation, harassment and repression employed against opposition candidates in the election, the non-state-owned press, representatives of independent trade unions, ethnic minorities and other organizations of Belarusian civil society as well as independent national observers." It said the Assembly recognized the credibility of reports about the disappearance and murder of political opponents inspired by members of the government and called on Belarusian authorities to "free all remaining political prisoners immediately and to promptly set up impartial in-depth inquiries into the fate of persons who have disappeared and to bring those responsible for the abductions and killings to justice." The resolution also urged Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his government to "restore democracy and the rule of law in Belarus and to guarantee the protection of human rights, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and free enterprise."

** 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

...BROADCASTS STATEMENT OF U.S. AMBASSADOR U.S. Ambassador to Belarus George Krol held a news conference in Minsk on November 15, to refute Belarusian government and state media claims that the United States has a plan to destabilize the country and foment revolution. Belarus Service Minsk correspondent Valer Kalinouski was there and spoke with Krol, who stated "categorically for the record that the United States of America respects the sovereign right of the Belarusian people to determine their own policies and politics, without intimidation or coercion from inside or outside of Belarus" (article at Krol also said he is familiar, from Cold War days, with the tactics of disinformation, distortion and lies in public propaganda campaigns and noted that state media in Belarus do not inform the public, but seek to mold the Belarusian public's mind against the U.S., the values of democracy and free choice that the U.S. and other countries in the region have long championed. "We would like to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and economically prosperous Belarus, as an equal partner addressing common challenges, what's so destabilizing about that?," Krol said, adding that the US embassy had notified the Belarusian foreign ministry of its concern about the campaign against the U.S. in the state media.

** 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

BELARUS SERVICE INTERVIEWS GEORGE SOROS AT CLUB OF MADRID CONFERENCE IN PRAGUE... RFE/RL Belarus Service broadcaster Volha Karatkevich covered the annual conference of the Club of Madrid that took place in Prague in mid- November. The event was attended by dozens of former heads of state, including Vaclav Havel and Bill Clinton. Karatkevich gained an interview that aired on November 14 with American financier and philanthropist George Soros (article at, who expressed skepticism about prospects for internal change in Belarus under its "totalitarian regime." Soros said the situation in Belarus was debated by conference participants who concluded that prospects for change are bleak because of the political isolation of the country, the refusal of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government to engage in constructive dialogue and the weakness of the opposition.

** 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

...CLINTON TELLS SOUTH SLAVIC CORRESPONDENT: CRITICAL TIME FOR KOSOVO RFE/RL South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) correspondent Ilirijana Bajo got an interview with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in which the former president said negotiations on the status of Kosovo were at a critical point and urged reconciliation and cooperation. Clinton spoke to Bajo on the sidelines of the Club of Madrid gathering in Prague November 11 ( Clinton said he supports freedom for Kosovars and believes "it's very important now that we maintain both order in Kosovo and respect for the legitimate rights of all people including the minorities. What the Serbs did to the Kosovar Albanians was terrible, but the Kosovar Albanians should not now respond in kind. We should all find a way to live together, work together and go forward together." The Club of Madrid is an independent organization founded in 2001 in Madrid of 67 former heads of state or government.

** 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 and in Kosovo at

KAZAKH SERVICE COVERS SUSPECTED POLITICAL MURDER RFE/RL's Kazakh Service was among the first to inform listeners on November 12 of the murder of opposition leader Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a former government minister, mayor of Almaty and former ally of President Nursultan Nazarbayev ( Since joining the opposition two years ago, Nurkadilov has become an outspoken critic of the government, particularly on the issue of corruption. News of his death from multiple gunshot wounds was a big story covered comprehensively by the Kazakh Service ( RFE/RL was the only broadcaster to bring to its airwaves not only to government authorities and investigating officials, but also members of Nurkadilov's family, his lawyers and fellow opposition figures. General Moldiyar Orazaliyev, the Head of the Almaty City Interior Affairs Ministry Department told RFE/RL that Nurkadilov's death was reported by an ambulance team called to his house. Serikkali Musin, the Nurkadilov family lawyer, said in that evening's broadcast that "there were two gunshot wounds around the victim's left chest... A third, so-called "control shot" was directed into his head, from right to left... In addition, a small pillow was found during the inspection of the place of the accident. There is a hole from a gunshot in this pillow. The gunshot was made through this pillow." Guljan Ergaliyeva, prominent opposition journalist (in Russian) linked the killing to the approaching presidential election scheduled for December 4. She said in an RFE/RL interview: "There is a presidential campaign going on in the country. Taking into account Zamanbek Nurkadilov's personality and his (political) position, I personally cannot exclude the possibility of political murder in this case." RFE/RL continued to follow the story over the next several days, carrying a statement November 14 by the "For a Just Kazakhstan" coalition. The group called on law enforcement agencies to carry out a "meticulous and transparent" inquiry into Nurkadilov's death (

** 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

AZERBAIJANI SERVICE PRE-EMPTS PROGRAMMING FOR ELECTION The November 6 parliamentary election in Azerbaijan was the culmination of months of special programming by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, which began in June with daily election segments on candidates, platforms and procedures. Starting on November 4, the daily broadcast focused entirely on election issues and on Election Day, all reporting during the service's 5.5 hour broadcast program was live with more than 20 correspondents in Prague, Baku and major points around Azerbaijan bringing news and analyses to RFE/RL listeners. The Azerbaijan Service, known locally as Azadliq Radiosu, was a rare news source where Azerbaijanis could hear representatives of both the opposition and the government. Throughout, coverage was sustained with two moderators in Prague and two broadcasters in Baku with one or more guest experts and commentators. The service's Azeri language website was updated continuously throughout the day to provide an uninterrupted flow of information when the service was off the air (election coverage can be found at; a gallery of photos taken during the vote can be viewed at In the aftermath of the election, Azerbaijani Service broadcasters continued to remain on high alert, covering international criticism of election irregularities, and pro and anti-government demonstrations in Baku.

** 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

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