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RFE/RL Review for October 2008

Kyrgyz Service Covers Deadly Earthquake

The Kyrgyz Service delivered comprehensive coverage of the devastating earthquake that struck the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan on October 5. The Service immediately sent two correspondents to report from the remote village of Nura, the earthquake’s epicenter. An estimated 72 people died in the quake.

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

Russian Service Interviews Politkovskaya Lawyer About Mercury Suspicion

Just before the trial of the men accused of murdering journalist Anna Politkovskaya was set to begin, Karina Moskalenko, the Politkovskaya family’s lawyer, fell ill in Strasbourg under mysterious circumstances. Police found traces of mercury in her car and are investigating further. The Russian Service landed an exclusive interview with Ms. Moskalenko in which she discussed the Politkovskaya case and her own possible poisoning.

** 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

Georgian Foreign Minister Criticizes Russia in Exclusive Interview with RFE/RL

In an exclusive interview with the Georgian Service on October 29, Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili said that Russia “does not show any intent of being constructive in bringing positive change” to the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “On the contrary, Russia continues to be very dangerous with its actions on the ground,” she said during a visit to RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. Tkeshelashvili described the August conflict as a “losing game” for Russia, arguing that “the aims that Russia had for Georgia were not served at all” by the fighting. She noted that the Georgian government is still in place, the country has not re-oriented away from the West, and relations between Georgia and NATO and the EU are still strong.

** 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

Kazakh Service Covers U.S. Secretary of State’s Visit

The Kazakh Service provided its listeners with extensive reporting and analysis of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s October 5 visit to Kazakhstan. During her visit, Rice met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and other officials. The Service enhanced its coverage of the visit with analytical programming on the broader role of the United States in Central Asia.

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

Armenian Service Discusses Nagorno-Karabakh with State Department Official

On October 21, the Armenian Service interviewed U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried about the prospects for a settlement of the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Fried, a deal between the two Caucasian nations could be reached by year’s end but was far from certain. “There are hard decisions that need to be made on both sides. If the conflict were easy to resolve, it would have been resolved already,” Fried said. He spoke to the Armenian Service shortly after holding talks in Yerevan with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, and opposition leaders. Fried also said he believes the likelihood of a full-blown armed conflict breaking out over Nagorno-Karabakh has decreased since Russia and Georgia fought a brief war over the territory of South Ossetia in August.

** 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

Radio Free Afghanistan Monitors Plight of Journalist Sentenced to Death

Throughout October, Radio Free Afghanistan continued to cover the saga of journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambaksh, who was sentenced to death months ago for distributing an Internet article that questioned Islam’s treatment of women. On October 21, an Afghan court commuted the death sentence but ordered Kambaksh to spend 20 years in jail. Radio Free Afghanistan interviewed Kambaksh’s lawyer, Afzal Noristani, who said “I am not convinced by the court session because witnesses didn’t say a word relating to the alleged distribution of that anti-Islamic article; they [the witnesses] were simply discussing some classroom arguments with no logical connection to this case.” Noristani also told listeners, “An individual who was presented as an eyewitness to the primary court—who has been forced to testify—has admitted to providing false information. I would perceive today’s verdict as an attempt at conspiracy, since no credible evidence has been provided to the court.”

** 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

Belarus Service Examines Suspension of EU Travel Ban Against Belarusian Officials

When the European Union suspended its travel ban on Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenka and other top Belarusian officials in mid-October, the Belarus Service gathered a wide array of reactions to enhance its coverage of the story. The Service landed interviews with officials from both the EU and the Belarusian government, and broadcast reactions from opposition leaders. The Service also devoted roundtable discussions to the issue and featured man-on-the-street comments from Belarus.

** 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

Azerbaijani Government Threatens RFE/RL, VOA Rebroadcasting

On October 31, the Chairman of Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council announced that foreign broadcasts on frequencies controlled by the government would cease in 2009. This includes a 24/7 FM stream jointly used by RFE/RL and the Voice of America. The government claims the decision was made in order to be consistent with European and international standards. In November 2006, the government of Azerbaijan shut down the BBG’s affiliate station, ANS, which ended local rebroadcasting of both RFE/RL and VOA radio and television programs. The radio license now under threat was offered as a compromise solution. Since then, RFE/RL and VOA have reached substantial audiences within the country on the FM station.

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

Former Uzbek Service Correspondent Sentenced to Ten Years on Bogus Charges

Former Uzbek Service correspondent Salijon Abdurahmonov was sentenced to ten years in prison on October 10, following his conviction by an Uzbek court on illegal drug possession charges. Human rights and media rights groups characterized the charges as “bogus” and an attempt to silence a critic of the Uzbek government. Abdurahmonov was arrested in June, when traffic police claimed to discover drugs in his car during a stop in the western Uzbek city of Nukus. Abdurahmonov’s defense attorney, Rustam Tulganov, says the lack of evidence linking his client to the seized drugs and video footage of the raid shown during Abdurahmonov's trial shows that “Everything has been staged...It’s one big setup.”

** The 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