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Reporting On The Death Of A Russian Child In Texas, Armenian Election Coverage Among “The Best of RFE/RL” In February

In February RFE/RL investigated the case of three-year-old Max Shatto (Maksim Kuzmin), whose death deepened a political rift between the U.S. and Russia.

The tragic death of an adopted Russian child in Texas, the stories of the victims of state-sponsored violence directed at the post-election Green Movement in Iran, and multilingual/multiplatform coverage of the historic meeting between the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo were among the issues addressed by winning entries in the February 2013 "Best of RFE/RL" competition.

News & Current Affairs:
"We Together" -- moderated by Iryna Shtogrin, Ukrainian Service
An opposition Ukrainian parliament deputy wears a T-shirt reading "vote personally." Deputies often ask colleagues to vote in their stead, which is prohibited.
An opposition Ukrainian parliament deputy wears a T-shirt reading "vote personally." Deputies often ask colleagues to vote in their stead, which is prohibited.
Some lawmakers in Ukraine who routinely miss legislative sessions hide their absences by having colleagues unconstitutionally vote in their place. The Ukrainian Service's "We Together" program, moderated by Iryna Shtogrin, looked into the issue, asking the public for its views about the seriousness of the problem -- not only in Kyiv, as is often done by Ukrainian media, but also in the cities of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and Lviv in the western part of the country. As a result of the service's coverage and resulting public pressure, the parliament adopted several amendments designed to prevent similar conduct in the future. The Ukrainian Service deserves praise for its activist journalism that, at a critical moment, helped to strengthen civil society and rule of law in the country.

"All Eyes On Texas Town At Center Of Russian Adoption Drama" -- Richard Solash, Central Newsroom

Sign by road to Shatto house in Gardendale, Texas
Sign by road to Shatto house in Gardendale, Texas
Max Shatto (Maksim Kuzmin), a three-year-old Russian child adopted by an American family died on January 21. Although Russian media told the public the boy was killed by the American family, U.S. officials insisted that the investigation was not yet over. In order to cover this politicised tragedy, RFE/RL's newsroom sent reporter Richard Solash to Gardendale, Texas, to talk to local citizens and officials. Solash's coverage was featured on many web sites, and was recognized by U.S. officials for the effect it had in Russia.

"Victims of 88" -- Masih Alinejad, Radio Farda

The Radio Farda series, "The Victims of 88," tells the stories of those who lost their lives protesting the results of 2009's controversial presidential election in Iran. This
Shahram Farajzade
Shahram Farajzade
rogram examines the violent death of pro-democracy student protester Shahram Farajzade. The story is powerful, emotional, well-researched and presented in a clear, crisp, compelling fashion. In telling the stories of the "Victims of 88," Radio Farda is giving voice to the thousands of Iranians whose rights were trampled during the December 2009 protests and whose lives were put in danger as they sought freedom and democracy.

Team coverage of Armenia’s presidential election -- Armenian Service

The Armenian Service made use of multiple content platforms to cover fast-moving stories in Armenia's February presidential election campaign. Their innovative live streaming technology boosted's overall number of visits by a factor of three, quadrupled the number of page views and registered a five-fold increase in visits to its YouTube channel. In the weeks following the election, was the fastest-rising Google search term in Armenia.

Special Contribution:
Multi-lingual, multi-platform coverage of the February 6 meeting of the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia -- Amra Zejneli, Balkan Service

Amra Zejneli
Amra Zejneli
Amra Zejneli simultaneously worked in three languages and on multiple platforms to report on a landmark meeting of the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. The meeting was of utmost importance to Balkan Service listeners, because it was the highest-level initiative yet to try to break the almost 14-year deadlock in relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Zejneli filed reports from Brussels in Albanian and Serbian for both radio and web use while providing information to the English-language web site. In Serbia, it is unusual to hear a news report from a Serbian-speaking Kosovar, but Zejneli provided just that. By doing so, she sent an important message that reconciliation begins with people like herself who are ready to bridge linguistic and cultural divides.

--Zydrone Krasauskiene