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RFE/RL Review April 14, 2006

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
April 1-14, 2006

BELARUSIAN SERVICE WAITS AT PRISON GATES... RFE/RL correspondents from the Minsk bureau of the Belarus Service kept watch day and night at the gates of Akrescina prison waiting for the release of people arrested during the March 19 presidential election and the protests that followed. April 6, the Service aired a program about the prison, its history, former prisoners, and current capacity and conditions.
April 7, the major story was the release of former Polish ambassador Mariusz Maszkiewicz who was arrested March 24 when security forces attacked the tent city on October Square. The Warsaw correspondent of the Belarus Service reported the following day on Maszkiewicz's being reunited with his father, who held a hunger strike in front of the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw while his son was in prison. Maszkiewicz told RFE/RL he'd been beaten in prison and was hospitalized most of the time (
Also on April 8, the Belarus Service reported on the release of a group of 42 prisoners being held at Akrescina. A crowd of more than 200 family and supporters from all parts of Belarus waited through the night to greet them. RFE/RL carried interviews with some of the released prisoners, including friends of a well known photographer from the Homel region who had been arrested while taking photographs of the tent city. Many of those waiting held candles, they told RFE/RL, "as a symbol of solidarity" (

...LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAM... The Belarus Service launched a new weekly program, "Night Guest" on April 8. Produced in Minsk, the first guest on the program was Andrei Dynko, editor of the independent newspaper "Nashe Niva." Dynko was arrested for "hooliganism" during the post-presidential election protests in March and spent ten days in prison. Dynko answered on-air questions and comments from listeners, sent by phone, e-mail, and SMS messaging ( The Belarus Service also continues to air daily two-minute vignettes called "Faces of October Square," profiling residents of the tent city and protest participants.

...ACCOMPANIES MILINKEVICH ON EUROPEAN VISITS... A correspondent from RFE/RL's Belarus Service traveled in the first week of April with opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich to Vienna, Strasbourg, and Berlin, reporting on Milinkevich's address to the European Parliament on April 5. In an RFE/RL exclusive interview April 6, Milinkevich talked about the EU's extending a travel ban on top Belarusian government officials and the EU resolution declaring the March elections fraudulent. In Berlin, RFE/RL covered his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 7. A roundtable discussion with Polish and Lithuanian diplomats that night weighed the importance of German support for Milinkevich and the impact of the EU visa ban.

...FIRST TO INTERVIEW MARYNICH AFTER RELEASE FROM PRISON Mikhail Marynich, former Belarusian ambassador to Latvia and later one of the country's best-known opposition activists, was released on parole April 14 after serving two years in prison. He gave his first press interview to RFE/RL's Belarus Service, saying he will not give up, despite his poor health, which Marynich blamed on Belarusian authorities. Marynich said he suffered a stroke in prison while being interrogated by security forces and is now an invalid (

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

RUSSIAN SERVICE FOCUSES ON RACIST ATTACKS RFE/RL's Russian Service aired programs on the increase of hate crimes in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities where attacks have been reported on non-Russians (for a timeline of such incidents, see Elkhan Mirzoyev, a Russian television producer from the Caucasus, was assaulted by a group of young men in the Moscow Metro on Sunday (April 2). The attackers allegedly told Mirzoyev he had no place in Russia, poured beer on him, and hit him on the head. On April 6, a black Senegalese student was murdered in St. Petersburg. Russian and other RFE/RL language services broadcast a report on a case involving famous singer Zaur Tutov, who was beaten in Moscow in what he described as a racially motivated attack on April 3. Tutov, also culture minister of his native Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, said his assailants shouted: "Russia for Russians, get out of here!" He was hospitalized for a concussion and a fractured jawbone.
Moscow prosecutors initially ruled out racist motives but the Prosecutor-General's Office ordered them to reclassify the crime as an "infliction of serious bodily injuries motivated by ethnic, racial, and religious enmity," a charge which carries a much heavier penalty. Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, head of the All-Russian Movement For Human Rights, told RFE/RL that this suggests Russian authorities are finally awakening to the darker side of the surge of nationalist feeling across the country.
Aleksandr Cherkasov, a senior member of the Memorial human rights group, disagreed with Ponomarev about whether there is a new political will to combat racial intolerance. Citing court decisions handed down in late March concerning earlier high-profile, racially-motivated attacks, Cherkasov said, in an RFE/RL interview: "Considering that, after the soft sentences -- to put it mildly -- against the killers of the Tajik girl in St. Petersburg, against the skinheads in Siberia, and against Koptsev in Moscow, attention was drawn to this issue, here [prosecutors] needed to backpedal. The Prosecutor's Office did what it had to do, at least to protect its image. But the question arises: is this a one-off step or is it actually a change? Unfortunately I would not interpret this as a trend."

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

ROMANIA-MOLDOVA SERVICE LOOKS AT DEBATE OVER SECURITATE FILES... RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service extensively covered disputes about providing public access to the files of the former Securitate and the appointment of a national commission to investigate crimes committed under communism. The service contacted the newly appointed chairman of the commission, University of Maryland Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu, who gave an exclusive interview outlining the commission's goals ( Tismaneanu, a long time contributor to RFE/RL programs, is the author of several books and studies on communism.

...PERVASIVE CORRUPTION... Romania-Moldova Service New York correspondent Radu Tudor on April 7 interviewed Wayne Murdy, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Newmont Mining Corporation and board member of the World Economic Forum's Partnering Against Corruption Initiative about the pervasive problem of corruption in Romanian business and political circles and the need for increased transparency, legislation and enforcement (

...MOLDOVA'S UNFULFILLED PROMISES... In a program that aired April 6, RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service looked at Moldova's record of unfulfilled promises to the EU and Council of Europe. The service interviewed Marianne Mikko, a member of the EU Parliament socialist group and chairwoman of the EU-Moldova committee, who listed many shortcomings and also expressed concern that "words are not followed by deeds" (

...RUSSIAN BAN ON MOLDOVAN WINES Broadcasts to Moldova in the first two weeks of April reported developments in the wine dispute with Russia, which has banned imports of Moldovan and Georgian wines. RFE/RL received feedback and comments from Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, as well as the Georgian deputy foreign minister and Moldovan Economic Minister Valeriu Lazar. RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service also contacted World Bank Regional Director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova Paul Birmingham, to discuss the economic consequences of the ban.

** 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

GEORGIAN SERVICE FOLLOWS TENSION OVER RUSSIA WINE BAN RFE/RL Georgian Service Tbilisi correspondent Koba Liklikadze gained an exclusive interview on April 13 with Georgian Parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze concerning Russia's decision to suspend Georgian wine imports. She said unequivocally that the ban was politically motivated: "The exclusively political nature of the decision regarding [Georgian] wine is revealed by the decision itself, as well as the actions that followed it: rejection of the [Georgian] prime minister's visit to Moscow, refusal by Russia's agriculture minister to meet with his [Georgian] counterpart [Mikheil Svimonishvili], refusal to discuss this issue in any way." Burjanadze said Georgia is ready to collaborate with Russia to find a solution to the situation.
The service continued following the story with a report that same day on Georgian Agriculture Minister Mikheil Svimonishvili's visit to Moscow to discuss the issue with the Russian foreign ministry. The Minister was accompanied by a large delegation on his trip to Moscow (a report on Svimonishvili's Moscow visit can be found at

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

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT KARZAI... RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan secured an exclusive interview April 5 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Broadcasters from the service's Kabul Bureau met Karzai in his office in the presidential palace for a wide-ranging interview that lasted more than an hour. Karzai spoke about his choices for a new cabinet and the confirmation hearings under way in the Afghan parliament stressing that cabinet choices were based on qualifications rather than ethnic or gender representation, defending his decision to include only one woman in the cabinet by saying that women have been politically empowered with a strong presence in the parliament. In comments on foreign policy, Karzai called for closer cooperation with neighboring Pakistan.
The bi-lingual conversation aired in Dari and Pashto the same day. Karzai said he chose Radio Free Afghanistan as the venue for his remarks because of its large listenership -- over 75 percent weekly reach in the most recent survey of 31 provinces by Intermedia Survey Institute -- and what he described as "high quality service to the people of Afghanistan." A transcript of the interview appeared the next day in all major Afghan newspapers (an English transcript can be found on RFE/RL's website at

...COVERS KARZAI TRIP TO INDIA A reporter from Radio Free Afghanistan's Kabul Bureau accompanied President Hamid Karzai on a three-day visit to India April 10-13, filing daily reports live for broadcast from New Delhi. Karzai met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss a range of issues, mainly aimed at boosting economic ties. India is one of the six top donors to post-Taliban Afghanistan and has pledged 500 million dollars in aid since 2002. Karzai traveled with a large delegation, several members of which gave exclusive interviews to the Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent. Separate interviews with Minister of Rural Development and nominee for Minister of Higher Education Hanif Atamar, Karzai spokesman Karim Rahim; and Afghan Chamber of Commerce President Azarakhsh Hafizi aired on April 12; another interview with Deputy Minister of Higher Education Soraya Paikan was broadcast April 11.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Akbar Ayazi, 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

MACEDONIAN PRIME MINISTER AT RFE/RL... Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski took time out of an official visit to Prague to give an exclusive interview to the Macedonian subunit of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service. In the interview, which was widely quoted the next day in Balkan media, Buckovski said Kosovo status negotiations had got off to a sluggish start but he expected a positive outcome by the end of the year and emphasized that Belgrade cannot be Macedonia's partner in the demarcation of its northern border. He said that the problem can be settled after Kosovo acquires international legitimacy.

...KOSOVAR PREMIER INTERVIEWED ON BALKAN BROADCAST RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service Kosovo subunit correspondent Iliriana Bajo interviewed Kosovar Prime Minister Agim Ceku in Bucharest April 6, following a meeting there of the member states of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Ceku spoke about his presentation to CEFTA and aspirations for "Kosova to be positioned as a place in Europe, as an integral part of Southeastern Europe." He said "Northern Kosova is one of the greatest challenges in the Kosova status-definition talks. We have to admit that despite the serious number of initiatives, very little has been done for the integration of minorities. The UNMIK (UN mission on Kosovo), responsible for this integration, has had a very soft approach towards the parallel structures of the north, for fear Serbs would leave Kosova" (an English transcript of the Ceku interview can be found at

** 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 Bosnia- Herzegovina can be found at, in Macedonia at, in Serbia and Montenegro at and in Kosovo at

ARMENIAN SERVICE FOLLOWS MOSCOW TALKS RFE/RL's Armenian Service aired an exclusive interview with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian April 7 during his visit to Moscow for talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Oskanian said the key topic in a wide-ranging discussion of international issues was how to revive peace talks with Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh after the fiasco at Rambouillet and that some new ideas on this will be examined in coming weeks. Oskanian said the other important item on the agenda was energy and that the discussion was productive (an English report on Oskanian's Moscow trip can be found 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

AZERBAIJAN SERVICE FIRST TO TELL LISTENERS OF ALIYEV TRIP TO U.S. ... RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service broke the news April 5 that president Ilham Aliyev will go on his first official visit to Washington at the end of April. Confirmation from the U.S. State Department obtained by a Prague-based broadcaster made headlines in Azerbaijan for several days. All Azerbaijani major media carried the news, citing RFE/RL as the source. ...COVERS STUDENT PROTESTS A Baku correspondent for the Azerbaijani Service was at the Education Ministry April 6, talking to students who were picketing the building in protest of a government move against their university. The students were from Independent Azerbaijan University (Musteqil Azerbaycan Universitet, MAU), recently stripped of its license for accepting more students this year than allowed by quotas set by the government. Education Minister Misir Mardanov said that no MAU students will be allowed to graduate this year. The picketing students demanded to be transferred to other universities or allowed to sit for graduation exams. They were dispersed by police.

** 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

KYRGYZ SERVICE COVERS SHOOTING OF RIGHTS ACTIVIST... The April 12 attack on Kyrgyz human-rights activist Edil Baisalov was a major story for RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, which provided its listeners daily updates and exclusive interviews, including a bedside interview with Baisalov in the hospital, as well as panel discussions about the incident.
In an exclusive interview in the Kyrgyz National Hospital April 13 (, Baisalov gave a Kyrgyz Service correspondent in Bishkek a graphic description of how he felt a blow, but did not realize he had been shot until a passersby came to his aid.
Baisalov, head of the Kyrgyz NGO "For Democracy and Civil Society," had been organizing demonstrations against allowing criminals to serve in the government. On the day of the shooting, Kyrgyz member of parliament Melis Eshimkanov told RFE/RL�s Radio Azattyk that Baisalov had complained to him he was being watched and followed and had asked for protection and that the Interior Ministry was considering it. Baisalov's deputy, Jyrgalbek Turdukojoev, also spoke to the Kyrgyz Service, saying "We believe that this happened because of Edil Baisalov's very strong political activity."
Baisalov and his supporters told RFE/RL they are determined to continue efforts to reform Kyrgyz society and cleanse politics of organized crime. They said another rally of democratic forces is set for April 29. Radio Azattyk also broadcast a U.S. Embassy statement urging an investigation of the attack and, subsequently, the Kyrgyz parliament's announcement April 14 that it was assuming control of the investigation into the attack against Edil Baisalov.

...TALKS TO RICHARD BOUCHER RFE/RL Bishkek Bureau chief Kubat Otorbayev was one of three journalists able to interview U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher during his one-day visit to Kyrgyzstan April 11. Boucher's comments on U.S.-Kyrgyz relations, domestic reforms, and U.S. views on Uzbekistan were broadcast that day.
Asked about the fate of four Uzbek refugees detained in Kyrgyzstan since they fled Uzbekistan after the Andijon massacre, Boucher said "These people all deserve the same consideration and the same treatment as the others who were able to leave. So, we and the United Nations continue to advocate for them to be considered refugees and allowed to go through the normal refugee process." On the issue of the Ganci base, Boucher noted that "the base is very important to us and to Kyrgyzstan and to the countries of the region to be able to fight the danger of terrorism that affects all of us. That is why the base is here. That is why we want it to stay here, and that is why the government wants it to stay here. We are also prepared to pay the costs of having the base here." On economic development, he said the U.S. is looking at a lot of assistance to Kyrgyzstan for development of the economy, but we're also looking at new ideas and new possibilities of export of Kyrgyz power to other countries of the south, for example."

** 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 IRAQ FOCUSES ON SECURITY CONCERNS... A correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq in Baghdad gained a rare interview April 12 with the chief of Iraq's Interior Ministry Special Forces, General Adnan Thabit, who spoke about the results of the "Operation Scales of Justice" sweep in Baghdad and measures taken to prevent terrorist groups from impersonating legitimate Iraqi security forces. General Thabit said that, to date, the operation had netted "some seven gangs involved in theft and terror acts in the guise of [security force members affiliated with] the Interior and Defense Ministries and that new identification badges are being produced that cannot be forged."
General Mahdi al-Gharawi, head of the Law and Order Forces, said in a separate interview that "Scales of Justice," which started on April 2, would end when a new government takes office: "Then, 'Scales of Justice' will terminate and a new plan will be introduced." Al- Gharawi said the Iraqi Interior and Defense Ministry forces are working closely together and that the First Brigade of the Iraqi Army is now in control of the main roads around Baghdad (an English transcript of the interviews can be found at

...NEGOTIATIONS FOR NEW GOVERNMENT On April 2, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq aired separate interviews with Qasim Dawud, a parliamentary deputy and a member of the independent bloc within the United Iraqi Alliance, and with Iraqi Accordance Front leadership member and member of parliament Khalaf al-Ulayyan. Al- Ulayyan confirmed his bloc�s refusal to accept the nomination of current Prime Minister al-Ja�fari, saying unequivocally that "al- Ja�fari is not the man who deserves the leadership for the coming period." Dawud spoke about the status of the negotiations among the various political factions in early April, emphasizing that there is dissent within the alliance and only four out of its seven blocs are ready to choose a nominee other that al-Ja'fari. Dawud said the next few days will bring clarity to the official position and a revised choice of a nominee for the prime minister of the new government (an English transcript of the interviews can be found at

** The Director of RFE/RL's 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

RELEASED TURKMEN PRISONER THANKS U.S. CONGRESS VIA RFE/RL Turkmen prisoner of conscience Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev, released after being incarcerated for two years in a psychiatric institution, spoke to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on April 12, his first day out of prison. Durdykuliev said he owed his freedom directly to the U.S. Congress and wanted, through RFE/RL, to thank the 54 U.S. Senators and Representatives who sent a letter last week to Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov urging his release. "Without that letter, I would still be with them [in the psychiatric ward]," he said.
Turkmen authorities placed Durdykuliev in a psychiatric institution in 2004 after he requested permission to hold a rally protesting government policies on the same day as celebrations were scheduled to mark Niyazov's birthday. Prior to his arrest, Durdykuliev was frequently heard on RFE/RL Turkmen Service broadcasts.
During the interview, which was widely quoted in international media, Durdykuliev told RFE/RL he was detained for two years and two months with murderers and the criminally insane, and subjected to a systematic campaign to make him lose his mind -- even though a health commission had certified he was in good mental health and classified him as a political prisoner. Durdykuliev said that, for the last three weeks, he was not allowed hot meals or family visits. Then yesterday, April 11, Durdykuliev said he was taken out of the hospital, put in a car and driven more than 13 hours to his home in the town of Nebit Dag, near the Caspian Sea coast in western Turkmenistan. (A report on Durdykuliev's release and his interview with RFE/RL's Turkmen Service can be found on the RFE/RL website, at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, Alexander Narodetsky, may be reached by email at <>. English-language news about events in Turkmenistan can be found at

RFE/RL REPORTS FROM CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN IMAMS... Most RFE/RL language services broadcast reports by an RFE/RL Central News correspondent from a conference in Vienna of Muslim prayer leaders, or imams, from all over Europe. RFE/RL interviewed several prominent participants at the three-day event April 7-10, including Dr. Abduljalil Sajid, chairman of Britain's Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony. Sajid spoke about Islam's place in Europe and the identity of European Muslims, stressing that European Muslims are in Europe to stay: "So they need to play a positive role as citizens, and we have to educate our people so that the evil of extremism and racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism completely go away. The message is very clear: we need to create a common platform on common, shared human values." (An English transcript is available on RFE/RL's website at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at

RFE/RL in the News

RFE/RL TURKMEN CORRESPONDENT SPEAKS OUT RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Jumadurdy Ovezov gave media interviews in early April about his early March imprisonment. His April 4 statement, broadcast on RFE/RL stations, was reprinted on international media websites and widely quoted by human-rights groups and international media (an English translation of the statement can be read at Ovezov spent ten days in prison, from March 7-17, along with colleague Meret Khommadov and was released only after pledging to stop reporting for RFE/RL.

RFE/RL ANALYST PUBLISHES IN BEIRUT NEWSPAPER An article analyzing Iranian politics and its nuclear program, by RFE/RL Iran analyst Bill Samii, appeared in the April 7 edition of Beirut's "Daily Star" (

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