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RFE/RL Review May 15, 2006

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
May 1-15, 2006

RFE/RL JOURNALISTS TELL OWN STORY ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY All RFE/RL language services aired special programs commemorating World Press Freedom Day May 3. RFE/RL's Central News issued a dozen reports, starting the week before May 3 when programming focused on the annual Freedom of the Press Global Survey of Media Independence in 2006. The RFE/RL package included reports on female journalists in Afghanistan, the nascent media law in that country, a review of press freedoms in the five countries of Central Asia with special attention to the suppression in Uzbekistan, expanding state control of the media in Russia, the media environment in CIS member countries, and the hazardous environment for journalists in the countries of Belarus, Iran and Iraq.
RFE/RL broadcasters conducted more than 20 interviews for the package talking to human rights experts such as Christopher Walker of Freedom House, Rachel Denber of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Russia expert Robert Orttung of American University, and Ann Cooper of the Committee to Protect Journalists. But the bulk of RFE/RL's Press Freedom Day programming came from RFE/RL expertise and interviews with RFE/RL's own journalists, many of whom risk their lives working for RFE/RL. RFE/RL's bureau chief in Baghdad spoke of the daily challenge of moving within Iraq and the numerous safety precautions and restrictions journalists working there must endure. RFE/RL regional analyst Amin Tarzi spoke about the legal environment for media in Afghanistan and regional analyst Daniel Kimmage discussed the differences between Kazakh, Uzbek and Turkmen treatment of journalists. A former broadcaster for the Uzbek Service, Nosir Zokirov, who was imprisoned for six months because of a broadcast that displeased the authorities, shared his experience and steadfast professional principles. Turkmen journalists Meret Khommadov and Jumadurdy Ovezov spoke about their ten-day detention in jail earlier this year. Despite the danger, they continue to work for RFE/RL, as do other journalists in RFE/RL's 18 language services who have suffered house searches, confiscation of equipment, interrogations and beatings while defending peoples' right to accurate news and information.
Below are examples of the various approaches to World Press Freedom Day conducted by the Tajik, Kazakh and Romania-Moldova services:

* RFE/RL's Tajik Service invited young listeners to respond to a message posted on its website from "Dilshad" about the Danish cartoon controversy. He challenged them to "defend Denmark" and discuss why the Danish government did not order the newspaper to change its position. The message evoked a rich response on the web forum with a wide range of opinions. Despite some dissent, the majority of responses agreed that there is no genuine press freedom in Tajikistan. The Tajik Service continues to receive comments on the subject.

* RFE/RL's Kazakh Service aired comprehensive coverage of a long- standing dispute between 120 former employees of state-run Kazakh television and the Information Ministry. The employees quit over a management change and are demanding a parliamentary commission to arbitrate the disagreement. RFE/RL interviewed the Kazakh Information Minister, as well as some of the former TV staff. Another report covered the detention of several journalists who had reported on a gathering in Almaty which honored a murdered Kazakh opposition leader, and included interviews with participants of the demonstration. A third major story concerned the severe beating of Kazakh opposition journalist Kenzheghaliy Aitbakiev. RFE/RL's correspondent visited him in the hospital in Almaty and posted a photograph of his bruised and swollen face on RFE/RL's Kazakh and Russian language websites.

* RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service covered press freedom issues all month as a participant in the Center for Independent Journalism and the Institute for Public Policy's "Freedom of the Press Month," organized in Moldova. The service prepared a tape of excerpts from its best programs and most important interviews. In addition, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau chief, Vasile Botnaru moderated a discussion about the media and freedom of speech in Moldova.

** 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; 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; 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; 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 REMEMBERS ANDIJON RFE/RL's Uzbek service aired special programs in the second week of May, commemorating the first anniversary of the May 13, 2005 public protests and massacre in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon. Because the Uzbek government would not renew RFE/RL's license, and its Tashkent bureau was closed last December, RFE/RL had no correspondents reporting this year from Uzbekistan. However the Uzbek service still interviewed people in Tashkent and Andijon by phone. An Andijon resident told RFE/RL that no commemoration was allowed, even by close relatives of those who died when troops opened fire on a peaceful demonstration in the central square. The Uzbek Service began airing special Andijon programs May 10, giving a daily chronology including information about the trial of 23 local businessmen which triggered the protests, and other events which lead up to the May 13 bloodshed. RFE/RL had several correspondents in Andijon a year ago and was the first to report the killings when a local contact showed an RFE/RL correspondent a site with mass graves. The guide, who also spoke of planes airlifting corpses out of the town, was found stabbed to death the next day. Between May 10 and May 16, 2006, the Uzbek Service broadcast 25 special programs focusing not only on the massacre at Andijon, but also on its aftermath, the government cover-up, the government's persecution of eye-witnesses, the trials inside Uzbekistan, the refugee crisis, and international reaction then and now. Thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries and other regions and two of the 15 Andijon refugees who were granted asylum in the Czech Republic came to the RFE/RL studios in Prague to give an eyewitness account of the massacre. This May, RFE/RL's Central News sent a correspondent to Osh, Kyrgyzstan to speak to some of the Uzbek refugees. The correspondents filed daily reports from the region. Central News issued a total of 30 stories used by a number of language services in special programming on Andijon. RFE/RL correspondents from various services covered the Uzbek Diaspora demonstrations in Moscow, Stockholm, Kyiv, New York, Bishkek, and Brussels, held on Saturday, May 13, which called for Uzbek government accountability.

** 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

AFGHAN FOREIGN MINISTER OFFERS IRAN MEDIATION ON RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN In an exclusive May 15 interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, ( new Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said his country is ready to play a role in reducing tensions between its ally, the United States, and its neighbor, Iran, over Tehran's nuclear activities. Spanta said Afghanistan wants to see tensions between the US and Iran decrease, disagreements lawfully resolved, and the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met. He said: "in this regard we have said that Afghanistan is ready, if it can, to have a role in reducing the tensions...if someone will eventually ask to convey a message from one country to the other, then we would definitely do so." Spanta confirmed in the interview that he will accompany President Hamid Karzai on a trip to Iran in June, and that cooperation between Kabul and Tehran in various areas -- including railroad building -- will be discussed. "[The nuclear crisis] is not directly on our agenda but we hope that this issue will be solved between Iran and Western countries as soon as possible," Spanta said, adding "any tension in the region will affect Afghanistan, economic developments, and peace in our country."

** 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

RADIO FREE IRAQ LOOKS AT PARTIES FORMING GOVERNMENT... With the announcement of a designated prime minister, Jawad al-Maliki, after months of delay, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq focused on key issues still remaining for the formation of an Iraqi government.
RFI correspondent Layla Ahmad asked former deputy speaker of parliament Husayn al-Shahristani about the positions of the various parties involved in the process ( Al-Shahristani, a leading member of the Shi'ite-led United Iraqi Alliance, said in the May 2 interview that "most of the ministerial posts, including the power [ministries], have been divided among the [political] blocs." He said differences remain among the Kurdistan Coalition and the Iraqi Accordance Front, as well as between the IAF and the Iraqi National List, on the post of deputy prime minister. "The Iraqi National List has clearly shown its desire to revisit the question of how many members should be in the political section of the National Security Council," Al-Shahristani said. "The blocs [that will form the government] have agreed that the number would be 19: nine members from the [United Iraqi] Alliance and the rest divided among the other blocs, based on their representation in the Council of Representatives. The Iraqi National List now wishes to reduce that number to nine." The number of posts the Kurdistan Coalition will have in the new government is another point of contention, said Al-Shahristani. However he stressed that there is "still time for negotiations in which to reach positions that all can unite around."

...EXPLORES KURDISH VIEWPOINT On May 8, a correspondent for Radio Free Iraq in Irbil interviewed Karim Bahri, a member of the Legislation Committee of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly, about negotiations to form a unity government. Bahri said that issues between the city administrations of Irbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah concerning four key ministries; Justice, Armed Forces, Interior and Finance, need to be resolved. Bahri said his committee is preparing legislation to unify these four ministries in "legal, technical and organizational aspects," Bhari said. He predicted the Justice Ministry would be the first ministry to start functioning effectively. In an explanation of the legislative process, Bahri said cabinet ministers will submit a bill on how their ministries should function to the Council of Ministers, who will subsequently send them to the Kurdistan parliament for approval. Bahri estimated it would take "two, possibly three months to legally establish these ministries."

** 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

RFE/RL REPORTS ON CHENEY SPEECH IN VILNIUS Most RFE/RL language services gave in-depth coverage to a May 4 regional conference held in Vilnius, Lithuania of new EU and NATO states as well as neighbors hoping to become EU and NATO members.
A correspondent for RFE/RL's Central News, Jeremy Bransten, was at the meeting which was attended by leaders from the Baltic States, the Caucasus, and Black Sea region. He reported extensively on a speech delivered by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that was sharply critical of Russia's human rights policy and foreign policy.
On the eve of the conference, Bransten interviewed Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus ( about the conference theme: "A Common Vision for a Common Neighborhood." Adamkus said he hopes "time will show to the new generation of Russians, who are maybe reluctant at the present time to accept the values to which the European Union commits itself -- that they will come slowly to it," and that "these kinds of meetings, with different groups of people getting together, will eliminate the factor that somebody is not playing according to the rules of fair play." Commenting on Cheney's attendance, Adamkus told RFE/RL that his presence "shows the willingness of the United States, of the people of the United States, to share their experience and their values with us, the new democracies."

** 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

KYRGYZ SERVICE INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT ON 'ISLAMIC MILITANTS' President Kurmanbek Bakiev of Kyrgyzstan, in an exclusive May 15 interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, called for closer cooperation to stop the violence on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. He said closer ties between the security forces of Kyrgyzstan and neighboring Tajikistan could help prevent a repeat of the May 12 incident in which gunmen attacked border posts of both countries. Three Tajiks and six Kyrgyz were killed in the shootout. Bakiev said, "Four soldiers, one customs official and one civilian were killed on the Kyrgyz side" and that "with closer ties between our border guards and interior ministries, there would not have been such big losses." Kyrgyz authorities later killed four of the gunman and captured a fifth, whom they identified as Islamic militants. Bakiev also commented on negotiations concerning the renewal of a U.S. lease on a military base outside Bishkek, saying a delegation is scheduled to arrive in Bishkek from Washington D.C. in a few days to give a final response to the Kyrgyz proposal which would substantially raise rental payments for the base. He was interviewed in his office in Bishkek by the director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev.

** 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

TAJIK SERVICE FIRST WITH DETAILS OF ATTACK ON TAJIK-KYRGYZ BORDER... On May 12 RFE/RL's Tajik Service had a correspondent on the scene at the Tajik-Kyrgyz border within a few hours of a report that gunmen had attacked Tajik and Kyrgyz border posts and killed several people in a shootout. While local Tajik media were restricted to spare official statements from the Tajik Interior Ministry, RFE/RL was able to provide listeners with details from both sides of the border. On the Tajik side, Tajik Service correspondent Masum Imomov gave hourly updates on the situation, confirming the death of three Tajik border guards and information that more than 8 gunmen were involved in the incident. In Dushanbe, RFE/RL correspondents interviewed officials from the Interior Ministry, border guard authorities and the head of a conflict prevention group. Close cooperation with RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service and its bureau in Bishkek allowed the Tajik service to give comprehensive coverage including official Kyrgyz statements that the masked gunmen attacked from Tajik territory. Independent experts on RFE/RL broadcasts said the attackers could be criminals or Islamic militants, who recently attacked a prison in the area in order to free a prisoner convicted for being a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Kyrgyz authorities described the men as 'Islamic militants' (Tajik Service reports on the May 12-13 incident can be accessed at,,,, and

...SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF OPPOSITION ACTIVIST... The Tajik Service of RFE/RL has been following the suspicious death of Saadullo Marufov of the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party who was killed in a fall from the window of a police station. The service was among the first to report and that his body was found May 4 in the Isfara city morgue in northern Tajikistan and get confirmation of his body's location from Tajik deputy interior minister Abdurahim Qahhorov. RFE/RL also interviewed a senior IR party official, Vahidkhan Qosiddinov, who said Marufov was summoned to the police station on May 3 and had been interrogated until early morning the next day. IRP officials interviewed by RFE/RL blamed police interrogators for Marufov's death and said it certainly was not suicide. No one could say why Marufov was arrested by the police. The Islamic Renaissance Party is a leading opposition group but several of its leaders were imprisoned last year before the February 2005 parliamentary elections and its influence has weakened (the full report can be accessed in Tajik at and in English at

...CONTROVERSY OVER '1,000 POLITICAL PRISONERS' An internal debate over the existence of political prisoners in Tajikistan was covered extensively by RFE/RL in the first week of May. The Tajik service gained interviews with both sides of the dispute: Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan leader Rahmatullo Zoyirov, who says there are about 1,000 political prisoners in Tajikistan and Prosecutor-General Bobojon Bobokhonov who disagrees and has threatened to prosecute Zoyirov over his claim. Bobokhonov told RFE/RL there are no political prisoners in Tajikistan. However, Zoyirov told RFE/RL's Tajik service that he has evidence to back his statement and cited half a dozen names, including journalist Jumaboy Tolibov, Social Democratic Party activist Fayziniso Vohidova, Democratic Party leader Muhammadruzi Iskandarov, former Interior Minister Yoqub Salimov, and Rustam Fayziev, deputy head of the unregistered Taraqqiyot Party. Many political figures are in prison on what appear to be trumped up charges of non- political crimes (interviews in Tajik can be heard at,,,

** 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

RUSSIAN SERVICE COVERS MOSCOW-EMIGRE RELIGIOUS RAPPROCHEMENT In May, RFE/RL's Russian Service covered an important decision of the All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) to embark on a course of reunion with the Moscow Patriarchate after nearly 80 years of separation. The program from the service's New York-based correspondent aired May 15. Nadezhda Mokhova, a regular at the services at the Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh, told RFE/RL that the proposed reunion is long overdue. Recalling her first trip to Russia in 1989, she said people there were surprised to learn that their beliefs were nearly identical to those of ROCA. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was formed in 1927 in response to the religious policies of the Soviet Union. ROCA believes the values of Orthodoxy have been compromised in Russia and has considered itself the voice of Russian Orthodoxy outside the Soviet Union and an inseparable, spiritually united branch of the Moscow-based church. Father Yakim, of Russian parentage, was one of three priests performing the liturgy at the Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh. He told RFE/RL that, if approved, the process of reuniting the two churches would take several years. But he says it is time; "the clergy and the laity of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad feel that a historic moment has come where we can address the issues that have divided the Russian Church for so many years. The time is right, there seems to be a spiritual rebirth in Russia, there seems to be a genuine attempt by the hierarchs and the clergy in Russia to rid themselves of the obstacles that separated us." U.S.-born Father Mikhail said in an RFE/RL interview that many parishioners are divided on whether to reunite with the Moscow Patriarchate, but that the reunion will be mainly in the spiritual sense, because both churches are to remain operationally independent of one another.

** 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

NORTH CAUCASUS SERVICE SPEAKS TO ISLAM EXPERT RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service May 5 aired an interview ( with Sergei Markedonov, head of the interethnic relations department at Moscow's Institute of Political and Military Analysis, who said ethnic nationalism in Russia's North Caucasus region is giving way to a new ideology -- radical Islam. He told NC correspondent Mariyat Shkhalakhova, "there are a number of symptoms of growing destabilization...If in the beginning of the 1990s, and until the middle of the 1990s, the main challenge for the Russian state in the Caucasus was ethnic nationalism, now the main danger is not ethnic nationalism, but radical Islam." He said "the collapse of communism has left a niche for demands for social justice and radical Muslims have occupied this niche of egalitarianism, the niche of social justice." Markedonov also noted that Chechnya is no longer the main trouble spot for the Kremlin in the region, saying, "Daghestan has become the leader in terrorist activities. Just last year it surpassed Chechnya in terms of the number of terrorist acts. Daghestan has become a territory in which Islamism is very active. Daghestan has become a leader in this negative kind of competition."

** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <>. English-language news about events in the North Caucasus region can be found at

RFE/RL SCOOP ON RUSSIA-ARMENIA TENSIONS OVER PLANE CRASH RFE/RL Russian, Georgian and Armenian broadcasts in the first week of May brought listeners unique coverage of the breaking news that an Armenian plane had crashed in the Black Sea on May 3 with the presumed loss of all 113 people on board ( The Airbus 320 was flying from Yerevan across Georgia and went down before it was to land at the in Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. An RFE/RL correspondent accompanied Armenian investigators to the crash scene and was able to report latest findings.
RFE/RL also contacted civil aviation authorities in the three countries concerned. Spokeswoman Tea Gadabadze of the Georgian Air Navigation Service told RFE/RL that the Armenian crew may have been given contradictory information on weather conditions at its destination. She said Georgian air-traffic controllers were in contact with the airliner and had told the Armenian crew that the weather was unfavorable for a landing in Sochi. She said the Armenian pilot decided to return to Yerevan. But 20 minutes later, the Armenian crew told the Georgians they were "getting different information" from Russian air- traffic controllers in Rostov and were proceeding to Sochi. Russian officials denied responsibility and said rough weather and pilot error caused the crash.
The Russian foreign ministry said most of the passengers were Armenian holidaymakers, but that there were also 26 Russian nationals on board. The Russian and Armenian services aired a feature May 12 on the slow recovery effort under the joint supervision of Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and the growing anger of Armenians at the lack of information. Some Armenians interviewed by RFE/RL expressed doubt that a Russian-led investigation could be completely honest.

** 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; 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; 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

ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER OUTLINES GOVERNMENT AGENDA TO RFE/RL... A Yerevan-based correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service gained an exclusive interview with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian about the government's agenda. In the May 15 interview, Markarian also spoke of the political impact of Parliamentary Speaker Artur Baghdasarian's recent announcement that he is resigning and withdrawing his party from the government's ruling coalition. He said that his government may "have certain difficulties initially, but there will be no major changes in the domestic policies in our country." Baghdasarian had angered Armenian President Robert Kocharian and other politicians by openly contradicting Armenia's stated policy of non-membership in NATO and the European Union. Markarian said political differences have always existed between the coalition members, but that Baghdasarian's party provoked resentment by pushing too hard for change. According to Markarian, "we may have the same goals, but we have to consider the problem of time and means. We need to wait for opportunities and that causes certain differences."

...ETHNIC ARMENIAN JOURNALIST TELLS RFE/RL OF TRIAL IN TURKEY On May 2, Turkish ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink spoke to the Armenian Service by phone from Turkey about the decision of an appeals court to send his case back to the lower court that first heard it. Dink is accused of insulting the Turkish identity in an article about the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. He told RFE/RL the May 1 decision was a political one and vowed to "continue my fight by all possible means at all possible levels of courts in Turkey, and up to the European Court." Dink, publisher of Agos, a bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper, was sentenced to a suspended six-month sentence in October by a court in Istanbul for an article published in February 2004. The article about the massacre of Armenians during World War I in Turkey called on ethnic Armenians to reject Turkish roots. Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin died in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 in the final days of the Ottoman Empire and for decades have demanded international acknowledgement of this as genocide. Turkey denies that the killings amounted to genocide.

** 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

UKRAINIAN SERVICE ATTENDS RECONCILIATION CEREMONY WITH POLAND... A correspondent for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service went to the Polish village of Pawlokoma to report on a May 13 Ukrainian-Polish reconciliation ceremony attended by the presidents of both countries. Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and Lech Kaczynski of Poland came for the unveiling of a memorial to more than 360 ethnic Ukrainian villagers who were slain in Pawlokoma by a Polish military group in 1945. Kaczynski said the two countries "must speak openly of our painful and difficult past.... Strong and lasting reconciliation may only be built upon a foundation of truth." In turn, Yushchenko said in his speech at the Pawlokoma memorial: "I can imagine what a difficult road has been traveled by tens of thousands of people to this act of reconciliation to which we are witnesses today. . . .I bow my head before you, beloved Ukrainians and Poles who stand before me and who stand on these hills. You are creating a courageous and correct policy."

...INTERVIEWS REGIONAL LEADER RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service conducted a one-hour in-depth interview with Mykola Azarov, a leading politician of the Party of Regions and former prime minister ( The interview aired May 8 on RFE/RL's 'Nashe Radio' FM partner in Ukraine and was moderated by broadcaster Serhiy Rakhmanin of RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau. Azarov spoke about the coalition talks and attempts to form a new government. He said President Viktor Yushchenko should invite the Party of the Regions to participate in government and though he had once called Yulia Tymoshenko a criminal, he now wants to be her coalition partner. Azarov said, "there is reality and real life and no matter if we like her or not, if she likes us or not, have evidence against her or not, she will occupy 129 seats in the Rada"

** 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

NEW BELARUS PROGRAM ATTRACTS LISTENERS The new "Liberty at Night" program of RFE/RL's Belarus Service received a good response both on air and online. The broadcast, launched May 2, is a live, one-hour, interactive program and can be heard daily from 11 PM to midnight (Minsk time). Its informal, relaxed style seems to appeal particularly to young people, who call in and send online questions for the "Night Guest," often an opposition politician or rock musician. Recent guests included Ina Kulej, wife of the leading opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich, Belarus's most popular rock musician Liavon Volski, Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, and Mikola Statkevich, leader of the Social Democratic Party, who is confined to a "restricted freedom" facility outside Minsk. The show also includes a regular segment on Belarusian blogs and popular websites. A recent program rebroadcast a blog's audio clips of KGB and police messages during one of the March opposition rallies. In another broadcast, the feature story was about Google's new "Index" identifying the word most searched in a particular country, which for Belarus turned out to be "Lukashenka."

** 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

RFE/RL BROADCAST TO BALKANS ON SOLUTION FOR KOSOVO The Kosova subunit of RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) gained an exclusive interview with UN Special Representative Soeren Jessen-Petersen May 4 ( Jessen-Petersen discussed proposals for the status of Kosova, the main item on the agenda of a meeting of the South East European Cooperation Process, held in Thessalonica, Greece, May 3- May 4. Jessen-Petersen emphasized that every effort is being made to reach a settlement in 2006 and said there is progress in Kosovo, as the ethnic Albanian majority is now reaching out to the Serb minority. "We need the settlement that is acceptable to a majority of Kosovo Albanians, but the solution also must be acceptable for minorities," he said. Jessen- Petersen told RFE/RL that he had talks with the delegation from Belgrade during the Thessalonica conference about efforts to build a multi-ethnic society in Kosova, telling them: "we are trying to reach out to Kosova Serbs and reassure Kosova Serbs about the future. However, for more than two years Belgrade has deprived Kosova Serbs of an opportunity to be part of the institutions of Kosovo." Jessen- Petersen said in the interview that he is not very optimistic about Belgrade's response and that, "there is an increasing amount of division among Kosova Serbs. There are many Kosovo Serbs who want to be part of the process and are running out of patience waiting for a positive signal from Belgrade."

** 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 Albanian at; English- language news about events in Kosovo can be found at

RFE/RL in the News

U.S. LAWMAKERS ANNOUNCE UZBEK SANCTIONS LEGISLATION AT ANDIJON CONFERENCE CO-SPONSORED BY RFE/RL On May 9, 2006, RFE/RL, the National Endowment for Democracy, and U.S.- based organizations including Amnesty International, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Freedom House, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Open Society Policy Center and American Center for International Labor Solidarity co-hosted a conference on the May 2005 events in Andijon and their aftermath in Uzbekistan and throughout the region. The first panel featured Andijon eyewitness Galima Bukharbayeva, National Endowment for Democracy Fellow Nozima Kamalova, RFE/RL Central Asia analyst Daniel Kimmage and RAND Corporation analyst Olga Oliker. The second panel featured presentations by U.S. Senator John McCain and U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith, who used the forum to announce they had introduced legislation calling for sanctions and other measures against the government of President Islam Karimov. An RFE/RL article about the conference, with links to archived audio of the presentations, can be found at

MAY 10 -- A BAD DAY FOR RFE/RL CORRESPONDENTS IN IRAQ, CROATIA, TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA * Radio Free Iraq's correspondent in Hilla received a warning May 10 that his name is on a list of people to be assassinated. He immediately moved with his family to another location. During the night, a hand grenade was thrown into the correspondent's empty house, demolishing walls and windows but injuring no one. The correspondent and his family remain in hiding while local police investigate the incident.

* Drago Hedl, a correspondent for RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service in the Croatian town of Osijek is being guarded by police after a man harassed him on the street May 10 and threatened "to kill him like a dog." The man was a supporter of Branimir Glavas, a former warlord and member of Croatia's parliament. Hedl has angered Glavas with several investigative reports about the politician's involvement in the killing of Serb civilians in the early 1990s. These reports include interviews with a former Croatian police officer, who has confirmed that in 1991 and 1992 Glavas gave orders to kill and torture Serb civilians in Osijek. The ex-policeman is to be a key witness for the prosecution at Glavas' upcoming trial.

* In Turkmenistan, local police came to the house of dissident Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev on May 10 and ordered him to stop working for RFE/RL. Durdykuliev, a longtime contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, was imprisoned for more than two years in a psychiatric institution and released April 11 after a distinguished group of 54 U.S. Senators and Congressmen sent a letter to Niyazov urging the release of Durdykuliev (an RFE/RL release about Durdykuliev can be found at

* Russian Service correspondent Murat Gukemukhov in Cherkessk, capital of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic in Russia received telephone threats after he filed investigative reports on the so-called "Kaitov case." The case involves Ali Kaitov, the son-in-law of Karachay-Cherkess Republic President Mustafa Batdyev, who is accused of murdering seven people. Gukemukhov ignored the warnings and continued to report on the story. On May 11, Gukemukhov's 69-year-old father was attacked, severely beaten and hospitalized with a serious head injury (

RFE/RL ANALYST PUBLISHED, QUOTED RFE/RL Regional Analyst Amin Tarzi, an expert on Afghanistan, authored a chapter in the recently published "Muslim Cultures Today" edited by Kathryn Coughlin (Greenwood Press, 2006). He was also quoted in the May 2, 2006 edition of "The Christian Science Monitor" in a story on why the Taliban are not on the U.S. list of organizations sponsoring terrorism. The report was re-printed by several other media outlets, including India's largest English language daily, "The India Monitor."

RFE/RL IRAN EXPERT ON TV, RADIO RFE/RL Iran Regional Analyst, Bill Samii, appeared live on Canada's CTV Canada AM program May 1 to talk about a United Nations report on Iran's nuclear program, concluding that Iran has not cooperated with UN demands to halt its nuclear weapons program. Samii said "the entire government of Iran is backing the international nuclear program." Samii was also featured on BBC News Channel 24 and BBC World on May 2 to discuss the impact of a UN Security Council report, stating Iran has violated guidelines to suspend nuclear fuel enrichment activities. During the interview, Samii said Iran has kept parts of its nuclear program carefully hidden for 18 years but, may now begin cooperating with the international community.

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