AMA Agenda 08.30
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R -WI ), visiting Belgrade on August 29, has urged Serbia not to grant diplomatic status to the staff of a Russian disaster-relief center that some Western officials suspect harbors spies and disseminates propaganda to influence public opinion. Staff members of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center have sought the same diplomatic-immunity status as NATO staff have in Serbia.
Dragan Stavljanin, Editor of RFE/RL's Balkan Service
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Milos Teodorovic, Correspondent of RFE/RL's Serbian Service
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Afghan Officials Said To Talk Nearly Every Day With Taliban
Despite seemingly stalled peace talks between Afghanistan's government and representatives of the Taliban, officials say the country’s intelligence chief speaks by telephone with militant leaders almost every day about political issues, including the Taliban’s willingness to accept Afghanistan’s constitution and future elections.
Hamid Mohmand, Bureau chief of RFE/RL's Afghan Service
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Abubakar Siddique, Editor of RFE/RL's Gandhara blog
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The Baku court of appeals is to consider today the case of Turan News Agency Director Mehman Aliyev, who was sentenced last week to three months’ pre-trial detention, until November 7, on charges of tax evasion, abuse of power, and illegal entrepreneurship. Similar charges have been brought against other independent journalists, bloggers, and activists in Azerbaijan, including investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova in 2015. TURAN is the country’s only remaining independent news outlet following a years-long campaign under President Ilham Aliyev to silence critics and muzzle the press.
Ilkin Mammedov, Director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service
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Khadija Ismailova, Correspondent of RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service
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Security forces in the city of Urgench in western Uzbekistan have reportedly rounded up nearly 3,706 people overnight on August 26-27 for purportedly taking “aimless strolls.” Most of the detainees were released, but the mass detention appears to reflect a tightening-up of security measures in the run-up to Uzbekistan's Independence Day celebrations, planned for September 1.
Alisher Siddikov, Director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
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Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL's Central Asian Affairs Correspondent
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