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Historic Debates and Groundbreaking Use of Digital Media Recognized in April

Kazakhstan -- Family of Kazakh repatriates from Mongolia.
Kazakhstan -- Family of Kazakh repatriates from Mongolia.

What do the teachers and neighbors in Kyrgyzstan remember of alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? RFE/RL journalists asked that question, organized the first-ever debates between tribal candidates in Pakistan’s regional elections and employed an array of new technologies to cover Genocide Remembrance Day in Armenia in articles that were judged among the “Best of RFE/RL” in April.

News & Current Affairs:

The Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing -- North Caucasus Service, Kyrgyz Service, Central Newsroom

Russia - Grozny residents look at a leaflet in support of Dzhokar Tsarnaev pasted on city streets on May 2, 2013.
Russia - Grozny residents look at a leaflet in support of Dzhokar Tsarnaev pasted on city streets on May 2, 2013.
RFE/RL took advantage of its network of correspondents in the North Caucasus to interview former neighbors and teachers of suspected Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. RFE/RL’s coverage was quoted by many media outlets, and North Caucasus Service Director Aslan Doukaev was tapped as an expert on the region by several publications. The coverage included:

-- A profile of the Tsarnaev brothers, including some of the first interviews with the suspects' father, a former teacher and a former employer.

-- A video and text report from the Kyrgyz village where the family lived for several years, which was cited in coverage by the Washington Post.

-- Reports from on the ground in Makhachkala, Daghestan, including interviews with the suspects’ parents and aunt.


Multimedia Coverage of Genocide Remembrance Day in Armenia

The Armenian Service broadcast day-long coverage of Genocide Remembrance Day on a dynamic internet TV platform that linked studios in Prague and Yerevan with reporters gathering live comments from people on the streets of Yerevan. The well-coordinated efforts were supported by the use of a variety of technologies including Tricaster-virtual studio and LiveU.


Two feature stories were cited for recognition in April.

"The Fate of 800 Ethnic Kazakhs From Mongolia" -- Nurtay Lakhan, Kazakh Service

Hundreds of ethnic Kazakhs living in Mongolia who had, for any reason, visited Kazakhstan at least once were told -- without warning -- that they had been stripped of their Mongolian citizenship and issued Kazakh passports. Kazakh Service correspondent Nurtay Lakhan, himself a Kazakh repatriate from Mongolia, looked into the case and learned that someone had used their documents to embezzle Kazakh government funds intended to provide financial support to Kazakhs who wanted to return to their ethnic homeland.

This criminal scheme, revealed by Lakhan in a report that aired on Radio Azattyq on April 17, triggered a heated discussion in the media. One week later, a Kazakh Interior Ministry official called Lakhan to say an internal investigation had been started into the case and asked the journalist if he would cooperate with the probe -- demonstrating how good journalism can help shed light on official corruption.

"Serbian Orthodox Church Rocked By Sex Scandal" -- Branka Trvic, Marija Arnautovic and Tina Jelin, Balkan Service, and Daisy Sindelar, Central Newsroom

On April 22, the Serbian Orthodox Church approved the resignation of powerful cleric Vasilije Kacavenda, who had stepped down as bishop of Tuzla and Zvornik in Bosnia-Herzegovina months earlier. Although “health reasons” were officially cited, the Holy Synod approved the resignation only after the release of a graphic video showing Kacavenda engaging in sexual activity with young men.

Bosnia-Herzegovina - Serbian orthodox bishop Vasilije Kacavenda on May 10, 2012.
Bosnia-Herzegovina - Serbian orthodox bishop Vasilije Kacavenda on May 10, 2012.
Rumours had circulated for years about Kacavenda’s phone-calls to escort services. He allegedly organized frequent orgies, raped underage boys and girls, and asked his own students to procure young children to spend the night with him. Why did the church remain silent in the face of such rumours?

In an analysis written by Central News correspondent Daisy Sindelar with Balkan Service journalists Branka Trvic, Marija Aranutovic and Tina Jelin, RFE/RL provided its audience a full picture of what was known about the case in both Bosnia and Serbia, where Kacavenda maintained a network of friendships among the political and business elite. A lawyer who had collected evidence from numerous alleged victims of the bishop’s sexual abuse said Kacavenda may face additional charges in court. Despite extensive local coverage of the case, only RFE/RL was able to connect the dots.


"Reimagining the Bosnian Coffeepot" -- Dzenana Halimovic, Balkan Service

This video report profiles an American entrepreneur who was inspired to meld traditional Bosnian crafts with high-end design. The result: beautifully executed lamps, flower pots, and trays, crafted by Sarajevo metal-smiths, that are selling for high prices at a New York gallery.

Special Projects:

Two special projects were recognized by the judges as among April’s “Best of RFE/RL”

Molaghat (“Visit”) -- produced by Arash Hassannia, Radio Farda

Each episode in this multi-part series of programs documents the experience of an individual political prisoner in Iran. The project successfully utilizes new media and social networking to conduct investigative journalism -- and has made dedicated Radio Farda listeners out of many of the prisoners. Launched in December 2011, Molaghat has already profiled more than 270 people who have been imprisoned by the Iranian regime because of their political or religious beliefs: both well-known and less recognizable political and civil society activists, journalists, prisoners of conscience, Christian converts and adherents of the Baha'i religion.

Radio Debates with Candidates from Pakistan’s Tribal Areas -- Radio Mashaal

Pakistan--Tribal candidates in a debate arranged by Radio Mashaal in Islamabad on April 27, 2013.
Pakistan--Tribal candidates in a debate arranged by Radio Mashaal in Islamabad on April 27, 2013.
Radio Mashaal hosted the first-ever debates between the candidates in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) ahead of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections. In all, 12 debates took place with candidates from each of the 12 FATA constituencies. The debates were widely covered in the Pakistani media, and Radio Mashaal received hundreds of messages about the debates on Twitter and Facebook from listeners.

--Zydrone Krasauskiene