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RFE/RL Review September 30, 2006

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
September 16-30, 2006

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN COVERS KARZAI'S TRIP TO NORTH AMERICA In addition to numerous original reports from Washington, Prague and Kabul on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's two-week trip to North America, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan service broadcast a number of exclusive interviews and roundtables, including: * A September 20 interview with Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Said Tayeb Jawad on Afghanistan-US relations and US support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the war on terrorism; * An interview with RFE/RL Afghanistan analyst Amin Tarzi, on why the verbal sparring between Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is so heated at a time when both leaders are in the U.S. to reach an understanding and achieve close cooperation in the war on terrorism, and the role being played by the U.S. to bring the two countries together as allies; * A September 25 interview with Afghan Ambassador to Canada Dr: Umar Samad on Karzai's trip to that country and Canada's commitment to the NATO mission in Afghanistan; * A September 26 interview with Afghan Embassy to the U.S. counselor Hamid Elmi, who briefed Radio Free Afghanistan listeners on the agenda for President Karzai's trip; * A September 26 interview with President Karzai's chief of staff, Jawed Lodin on the achievements of Karzai's trip to US and Canada * An interview with Peshawar University journalism professor Dr. Fazal Rahman Murowat on the tensions between Karzai and Musharraf and what President Bush can do to bring down the tension; * A roundtable discussion with Afghan analyst Asadulla Walwalje, Afghan presidential press office official Siamak Herawy, Afghan journalist Haji Dawod and Afghan writer Ahmad Saidi, on the role played by the U.S. in the ongoing tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and whether Karzai's trip will boost his image domestically at a time when Afghan citizens are increasingly unhappy with the way Karzai manages the country; * An interview with former Kabul University professor Akbar Wardak on the importance of Karzai's trip for the future of Afghanistan; * An interview with Kabul University law and political science professor Wader Sapai, who argued that Karzai's trip will not help him improve his image domestically.

** 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

MURADOVA DEATH TOP STORY FOR TURKMEN SERVICE RFE/RL's Turkmen Service continued to report on the reaction to the death in prison of Turkmen journalist and contributor to RFE/RL broadcasts, Ogulsapar Muradova, at age 58 ( Programming focused on the Turkmen government's silence, leaving unexplained the circumstances and inconsistencies surrounding her death.
Arrested on June 18, 2006 and charged by the Government of Turkmenistan with possession of illegal weapons, Ogulsapar Muradova was convicted on August 25 (following a minutes-long, closed-door trial) and sentenced to six years in prison. Less than two weeks later, she died in a Turkmen prison. Human rights groups report that the telephone lines of her three children and other relatives are being blocked.
In the days immediately following her death, organizations including RFE/RL (, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, World Association of Newspapers, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute all condemned Muradova's death and called for thorough, open investigations into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Such calls were echoed by U.S. government officials. During an exclusive Turkmen Service interview on September 18 with U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), the co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Brownback urged authorities in Ashgabat to answer the questions raised by Muradova's death and allow for a thorough investigation. "Clearly the Turkmen authorities need to allow the family to speak out and speak with the family," he said. "This is just a matter of human decency. Here's a woman who has a family, who has died at a relatively young age and in highly questionable circumstances after a bogus trial. The Turkmen government needs, just as a matter of decency to the family, to allow the family to look into this, to allow the family to have some closure on this matter. We will be pushing the Turkmen government to allow the family these modest rights as a family of a person who has passed away" (; transcript at
The service also gathered comment from the US Embassy in Ashgabat, where Public Affairs Officer Andrew Paul said on September 21 that the U.S. is trying to determine the facts of the case and the precise circumstances of Ogulsapar Muradova's death, and urged the Turkmen government to respond to the enquiry with full disclosure and transparency. That same day, U.S. Representative to the OSCE Julie Finley told the OSCE's Permanent Council that, "We in the United States were saddened and concerned" to learn of Muradova's death, adding that "This case highlights the lack of independence in the Turkmen judicial system, and raises concerns regarding the absence of due process in both criminal and civil proceedings" (
On September 22, the Turkmen Service reported on a statement by Reporters Without Borders that said it was �extremely alarmed� by the threats hanging over the relatives of Ogulsapar Muradova, who "died under torture in a Turkmen prison earlier this month and the two others journalists and human rights activists imprisoned with her, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev" (
The service also covered rallies held in France and Russia to protest Muradova's death. On September 15, Reporters Without Borders organized a protest at the Turkmen Embassy in Paris, while on September 27, a Turkmen Service correspondent described a rally by 30 people at the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow.

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

RFE/RL TAJIK REPORTER DETAINED A Tajik Service correspondent on assignment was detained by police on September 18 and questioned for 90 minutes at the Qurghonteppa police station in southern Tajikistan, before being released with a warning not to report news that could "destabilize the country" ( The correspondent, Nossir Mamourzoda was interviewing students and their parents at a local college asking about compulsory student labor in the cotton fields. The students were being involuntarily drafted to help with the cotton harvest, despite President Imomali Rahmonov's September 12 announcement that this year farmers have to get the harvest in on their own, without students and schoolchildren. International human rights organizations have been critical of the practice, which is tantamount to forced student and child labor with little or no compensation.

** 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

NORTH CAUCASUS SERVICE INTERVIEWS CHECHEN LAWMAKER RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service gained an exclusive interview, which aired on September 18 with Magomed Khambiev, former defense minister for the Chechen separatist government of Aslan Maskhadov ( Forced to surrender after dozens of his relatives were taken hostage, he now has switched camps and is serving as a lawmaker in Chechnya's pro-Moscow parliament. He spoke to RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service about his work as a lawmaker, prospects for peace, and those who criticize him for shifting allegiances.
Khambiev told the North Caucasus Service that "hundreds of people" ask him for help in finding missing relatives and that 99.9 percent of these (missing) people were guilty of nothing. They were either relatives of Chechen fighters or people who, according to hearsay, gave shelter to fighters or fed them. Khambiev said he has "the addresses, names, and families of the commanders of military units who detained the people we are looking for. It's my task to bring them to trial, in order to force them to say what happened to the people they detained." But he gave an idea of how difficult this task is, explaining: "Today, as in 2000, there are Russian military units stationed everywhere in Chechnya who act independently of each other. When someone disappears it is practically impossible to find him. Each unit denies responsibility and blames others. They wander around in their multi- colored military uniforms, festooned with weapons. Today Chechnya is swarming with these people. If the troops aren't returned to barracks and nothing is done to organize a unified chain of command then I can see no hope today of restoring order here." Asked about the chances of Chechnya gaining independence, Khambiev said Chechnya is small and the world does not hear about what is happening there, adding: "I don't think the changes will happen that we've been dreaming about. And I think the freedom about which we speak may come as a consequence of changes in international politics."

** 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

GEORGIAN SERVICE HOSTS STATE MINISTER FOR NATO, EUROPE... Georgia's state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, visited RFE/RL's broadcast center in Prague on September 21, where he gave an interview to the Georgian Service and Central News ( Baramidze spoke about Georgia's aspirations to join NATO and desire for the European Union to take a more active role in resolving the frozen conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

...FOLLOWS DEBATE ON NATO MEMBERSHIP... The Georgian Service followed Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili's visit to NATO's headquarters in Brussels, reporting on September 19 that NATO sources have told RFE/RL the military alliance is to offer Georgia talks on closer ties. The offer was to be made during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 21. The talks would be Georgia's first step toward membership of NATO, although entry into the alliance would still not be guaranteed. Since Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in 2003, Tbilisi has pushed for closer ties with NATO. Washington has offered its support while Russia has opposed Georgia's potential membership of the alliance.

** 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

ROMANIA-MOLDOVA SERVICE FOCUSES ON ROMANIA'S INVITATION TO JOIN EU... RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service devoted extensive coverage to the European Union's September 26 decision to approve the membership applications of Romania and Bulgaria, beginning on January 1, 2007. In addition to regular news coverage of the decision, the service broadcast analyses, commentaries, features and exclusive interviews that addressed various aspects of the story, including the impact of Romania's pending EU membership on Moldova.
On the day of the announcement, the service broadcast an exclusive interview with Romanian President Traian Basescu, by Central News correspondent Eugen Tomiuc (audio at; an English transcript can be found at The transcript of the RFE/RL interview was also reprinted by the daily Romanian newspaper ZIUA and published by the on-line news agency Romanian Global News (
On September 27, 28 and 29, the service broadcast several other exclusive interviews on the issue. On September 27, European Parliament foreign affairs commission president Elmar Brok ( and told the service about issues that remain unresolved concerning Romania's application and the importance of continuing the reforms. Brok added that he did not see the possibility of further EU enlargement taking place in the next 10-15 years. Other interviews were with Polish EuroMP and former Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek and British Liberal Democrat EuroMP Graham Watson (
The Romania-Moldova Service gained insight into the economic impact of EU enlargement for Romania during an interview, broadcast on September 25, with Gabor Hunya of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (, who forecast that Romania's economy would continue to develop rapidly, as well as on September 27 with former Romanian economics minister Ilie Serbanescu (
The impact on Moldova of having the EU "at its border" was the subject of an exclusive Romania-Moldova Service interview with Vladimir Filipov, the special representative of the Council of Europe in Chisinau, ( D707-441C-8F8D-47C054A107BD_2703174.RAM) who talked about the opportunities Romania's EU accession would bring to Moldova: "The EU wants strong democracies around and helps them to achieve this goal." The service also spoke with several Moldovan politicians and with ordinary Moldovans about the issue; for them, the main "benefit" is seen to be the chance to get a Romanian passport and to be able to travel and work in Schengen states. Many of the Moldovans interviewed were concerned that visas for Romania will now become more difficult to obtain (

...TRANSDNIESTER REFERENDUM The September 17 referendum in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region was a top story for RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service and other post- Soviet entities with similar separatist aspirations or large, Russian- speaking populations. The story was followed closely by many RFE/RL services, including Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian, Armenian, North Caucasus and Kazakh broadcasters. After the announcement of the results, 97 percent in favor of maintaining independence and eventually joining Russia, an RFE/RL reporter spoke to people on the streets of Tiraspol to get their reaction ( In typical responses, most people said they want a good life for their children and that can be guaranteed only in a union with Russia (

** 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

ARMENIAN SERVICE REPORTS PRESIDENT'S APPEAL TO DIASPORA A Tbilisi correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service covered this year's annual meeting of the Armenian diaspora on September 18. President Robert Kocharian addressed the gathering of roughly 1000 participants, urging them to contribute to the government's new rural poverty eradication program. He said U.S. aid of more than $235 million "is not enough."

** 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

KAZAKH SERVICE REPORTS ON HIV EPIDEMIC... RFE/RL's Kazakh Service focused on the Kazakh health system and response to an HIV epidemic which has infected 55 children in the Southern Kazakhstan region. At least four infants have died of AIDS since May. RFE/RL reported officials saying the children were accidentally infected from non-sterilized syringes and transfusions with HIV-tainted blood at three hospitals in the Shimkent area. Although the first cases were diagnosed in May, an official investigation into the source of the infection only started in September. The Kazakh Service spoke with experts about the way the HIV virus spreads and followed the political fall-out from the epidemic in Astana ( President Nursultan Nazarbayev on September 20 dismissed health minister Yerbolat Dosaev and replaced him with Anatoly Dernovoi. He also fired the governor of the region, appointing instead Astana mayor Umirzak Shukeev. Nazarbayev further tasked his government with drafting a new national anti-AIDS program in three months (

...COMMEMORATES ANTI-MOSCOW PROTESTS... Correspondents for the Kazakh Service in Almaty and Astana reported ceremonies in the country on September 18 to commemorate anti-Kremlin protests that took place in Soviet Kazakhstan 20 years ago, seen as contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

...FOLLOWS MINE EXPLOSION Kazakh Service broadcasters followed developments in a mine disaster on September 20, bringing listeners fresh information regularly. At least 40 people were confirmed killed in a methane explosion and fire at the coal mine in the town of Shakhtinsk in the central region of Qaraghanda, operated by Mittal Steel Termitau, a subsidiary of the world's largest steel producer. A criminal investigation is under way to determine the cause of the blast. RFE/RL quoted Kazakh politician Dos Kashim, head of the Network of Independent Observers, as blaming "negligence and the search for profit on behalf of foreign investors and local authorities." He said "unfortunately, they don't care about the most important thing, the safety of miners." The mine supplies coal to a Mittal steelmaking complex in Kazakhstan.

** 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

TAJIK SERVICE COVERS PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING CONVENTIONS... RFE/RL Tajik Service coverage of Tajikistan's upcoming presidential elections on November 6 began in earnest in late September, with coverage of seven political party conventions on September 16-17, reporting on the naming of each party's candidate -- including current president Imomali Rahmonov. Experts interviewed by the Tajik Service referred to the other parties as "pocket-parties," existing only to demonstrate how democratic Tajikistan is -- Ismael Talbakov, the Communist Party's candidate, told the service that "His nomination became possible due to the brilliant leadership of Imomali Rahmonov and that parties should participate in the election to show the world that they are free to do that." Tajikistan's three main opposition parties refused, however, to participate, however. A representative of Tajikistan's Democratic Party called the election run-up a "political farce," while the leader of the Social Democratic party, Rahmatullo Zoirov, called for the nomination process to be halted. On the other hand, Muhhidin Kabiri, the leader of Tajikistan's largest opposition political group, The Islamic Renaissance Party, told the Tajik Service on September 25 that his party wouldn't nominate a presidential candidate in order to save Tajikistan from accusations that "Islamic movements are very active here. We have once again sacrificed our rights so as not to block possible aid to Tajikistan" ( Political experts told the Tajik Service that there will be no real competition for the presidency if both main opposition parties boycott the elections (;

...INTERVIEWS ELECTION COMMISSION HEAD, OSCE OFFICIALS ABOUT OBSERVERS... The head Tajikistan's Central Election Commission, Mirzoali Boltuev told the Tajik Service, in an exclusive interview on September 19, that the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) will send about 200 observers. In a separate interview by the service conducted the same day, OSCE officials said the organization has yet to decide whether it will monitor Tajikistan's presidential election (

...INTERVIEWS U.S. AMBASSADOR ABOUT NEED FOR FREE, FAIR ELECTIONS Continuing the theme the Tajik service conducted an exclusive interview with the United States' Ambassador to Tajikistan Tracey Ann Jacobson, who urged authorities in that Central Asian country to ensure a free and fair presidential election. She said: "This is something we'll be watching very closely. How Tajikistan conducts these elections will be an important sign of the government's readiness to continue on the path to democracy, which we know is necessary for long-term stability" (

NEW TAJIK SERVICE PROGRAM GIVES PEOPLE A VOICE IN ELECTION PROCESS A new program by the Tajik Service, the weekly "Open Microphone" show has now become a daily means for ordinary Tajiks to voice their views during the initial period of the presidential campaign. The service reports that dozens of Tajik citizens are coming to RFE/RL's Dushanbe bureau to record their views every day; a similar phenomenon is happening in the regions, with residents seeking out Tajik Service correspondents to share their thoughts about the forthcoming election. Through their comments, they are asking for free and transparent elections and want someone to win who would eliminate corruption and poverty, fix the economy and show real support for freedom of speech and the media (

** 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

KYRGYZ SERVICE FIRST WITH COVERAGE OF OPPOSITION CONGRESS RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service was the only local media to give listeners same-day coverage September 17 of the 8th Congress of the Kyrgyzstan People, in the remote southern town of Bospiek. Kyrgyz Service correspondents covering the event reported that more than 2,000 people from several political parties and blocs were at the open-air gathering ( RFE/RL reporters drove two hours to the nearest town with a phone in order to get the story on air that night, including exclusive interviews with opposition leaders and Kyrgyz government officials present.

CENTRAL NEWS INTRODUCES NEW SERIES... RFE/RL's English language Central Newsroom launched a new weekly series to be used in business news programming by RFE/RL language broadcasts. The first set of stories issued on September 18, included a report on makers of halal chocolate in Great Britain. RFE/RL spoke to Khalid Sharif, who is now selling halal chocolate bars to big supermarket chains, British Islamic bookshops and grocery stores. His caramel chocolate avoids ingredients like alcohol and animal fats that devout Muslims cannot eat and none are used in the packaging. Another story tackled the US trade imbalance with China, explaining the purpose of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's trip to China on September 19.

...INTERVIEWS US MUSLIM CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE Central News correspondent Heather Maher gained an exclusive interview on September 18 with Keith Ellison, a Muslim and Democrat candidate for the US House of Representatives for Minneapolis, Minnesota ( Ellison said he grew up Catholic and converted to Islam at university when he was 19 years old. He said "democracy and Islam are very compatible" and that "Muslims should express their will through the ballot box and freedom of expression. If he wins in November and becomes the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress, Ellison said he wants "to pull people of all faiths together -- Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, all faiths -- around an agenda that elevates the average working man and woman."

** 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

RFE/RL in the News

RFE/RL AZERBAIJANI BROADCASTER PUBLISHES ARTICLE Kenan Aliyev of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service published an article in the September 20 EurasiaNet: Eurasia Insight, a New York based web site of the Open Society Institute, offering information and analysis on developments in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Aliyev's article headlined "Wither Azerbaijan's Oil Profits?" ( examined the revenue from Azerbaijan's oil boom and what the government is doing with it. He said "the government has yet to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to manage the projected windfall from oil sales."

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Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. "RFE/RL Review" is a weekly compilation of the best programming produced by the 19 services of the RFE/RL broadcast network. RFE/RL broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of programming a week in 28 languages to 20 countries in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central and Southwestern Asia.

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