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Breaking News Coverage in Azerbaijan and Pakistan Honored By RFE/RL Colleagues

Protestors took to the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan March 10, and RFE/RL was in the thick of the demonstration to get the story.
Protestors took to the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan March 10, and RFE/RL was in the thick of the demonstration to get the story.

RFE/RL's monthly “Best of RFE/RL" competition recognized journalists' achievements in covering such stories as police crackdowns in Azerbaijan, kidnappings in Pakistan, literal roadblocks to humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, and a commemoration of Stalin’s victims in Belarus.

News & Current Affairs:
Protest Coverage by the Azerbaijani Service and Central Newsroom / Kidnapping Coverage by Radio Mashaal

  • "Brutal Police Crackdowns In Azerbaijan, Courtesy Of Western-Made Weapons" -- Daisy Sindelar, Central News & Arifa Kazimova, Azerbaijani Service
  • "Multimedia Coverage Of March 10 Protests In Baku" -- Azerbaijani Service, photos by Abbas Atilay
The judges recognized the Azerbaijani Service for its creative coverage of the ongoing opposition protests in the country. The service went behind the headlines of the street
Police in Baku using western-made water cannon to break up protest, 10Mar2013
Police in Baku using western-made water cannon to break up protest, 10Mar2013
protests to focus on the methods used by Azerbaijani police to break up demonstrations, including using riot control equipment provided by Western states which officially criticize the regime for authoritarianism. Also in March, the service posted a photo gallery of the protesters by correspondent Abbas Atilay. The gallery gave a human dimension to the crowds, which otherwise might appear to be faceless groups of malcontents. The service further maintained its compelling live video and blog coverage of the demonstrations by sending reporters into the thick of the protests to show how police used water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas to subdue the opposition. The live blog coverage received almost 1,200 likes and shares on Facebook, 50,000 visits to the service’s website, and over 100,000 people watching video on YouTube.

  • "Czech Women Kidnapped In Pakistan" - Radio Mashaal

Hana Humpalova a Antonie Chrastecka, the two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan.
Hana Humpalova a Antonie Chrastecka, the two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan.
On March 13, 2013, several gunmen stopped a bus on the way from the Iranian border to Pakistan’s western city of Quetta, Balochistan province and kidnapped two Czech women after overpowering their security guard. Mashaal, one of the only media outlets to cover the event as a flash news item, later tracked down the driver of the bus and interviewed him about the kidnapping. The driver then declined to talk to any other media in the region for fear of his life. The interview was the first to provide an eyewitness account of the kidnapping. Mashaal’s coverage of the kidnapping was widely picked by Czech media, both television and newspapers.

"Humanitarian Assistance Blocked at the Ukrainian Border" -- Natalya Kovalenko, Ukrainian Service
Ukrainian Service correspondents were the first Ukrainian media to report on the struggle of the parents of twin handicapped daughters in receiving international
umanitarian assistance. The family told correspondent Natalya Kovalenko that a car, sent by a U.S. donor to help them transport their disabled children, had been mired in bureaucratic delays at the Ukrainian border for four months.

The family’s plight became the centerpiece of Kovalenko’s feature on the challenges many Ukrainians face as a result of government-imposed delays in clearing assistance shipments across the Ukrainian border. Within a week of Kovalenko’s article being posted to, the issue had become the main topic of debate in Ukraine’s parliament -- and one week later, the Ukrainian Service received a letter from the Ministry of Social Policy saying that the family had received their car.

"Raising Julia" -- Olga Loginova, Russian Service
Thousands of children in Russian orphanages have found themselves at the center of a political battle between Russia and the United States, following passage by the U.S. Congress of the “Magnitsky Act” and the Russian government’s response with a law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans. While Russian media gave wide coverage to the deaths of some Russian children adopted by American parents, none reported on what life is like for the average Russian child with their adoptive family in America.

Overcoming ‘Attachment Disorder’ In An Adoptive Family
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Russian Service video journalist Olga Loginova sought to bridge that gap by filming a day in the life of Julia, a young girl adopted from Russia. Julia’s mother spoke about her precious daughter, the joy that she brings to the family, and also about the challenges that they face as parents. The beautifully shot and edited video reminds us of the other orphans in Russia, and their would-be adoptive parents in the United States, who cannot connect because of the political disputes between the two countries.

Special Project:
"The Stalin Roll Call" -- Belarus Service
As part of RFE/RL’s comprehensive coverage of the 60th anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin and the lasting scars the Soviet leader left on RFE/RL’s broadcast egions, the Belarus Service posted to its website the names of 60,000 of Stalin’s victims. Over the course of two months, the service posted 1,000 names and short
iographies each day of those sentenced to death or to prison terms in the Gulags. In addition, one name a day was read on-air by Belarus service broadcaster Siarhiej Dubaviec of the Belarus Service, as that day’s member of “The Stalin Roll Call.”

To date, the project’s pages have been viewed more than 35,000 times, and it has received hundreds of comments from readers, including this: “One death is a tragedy, but 60,000 deaths is a statistic. With your list, you have made these deaths a tragedy.”

--Zydrone Krasauskiene