Balkan Service, “Baby-lution”
The Balkan Service’s coverage of protests in Bosnia against government inaction that has left newborns without the identity numbers and passports they need to get medical care abroad addressed an issue with the rare power to unite all Bosnian families, no matter their ethnic group. The Service produced numerous stories, videos and news reports on the protests that came to be known as the “Baby-lution,” as well as a live, online Google Hangout with protest leaders. As a result, the public was able to not only follow the story in detail, but it also had a forum in which they could talk about the issues directly.
Runner Up -- Ukrainian Service, Interview with Vitaly Klitschko
The Ukrainian service’s exclusive interview with world heavyweight boxing champion and opposition faction UDAR leader Vitaly Klitschko put a spotlight on jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and the dramatic interview set the news agenda on the Tymoshenko story in the days following its broadcast.
Feature or Feature-length Programs
Kyrgyz Service, “Janysh Bakiev’s Diary”
The Kyrgyz Service’s investigation into the contents of a personal diary kept by Janysh Bakiev, the powerful brother of ex-president Kermanbek Bakiev, revealed the inner workings of the ex-president’s tight circle of allies and relatives, in the process showing how authoritarian regimes operate and the abuses of power they commit. The Service’s reporting took listeners far beyond the usual, carefully controlled world of officials’ public statements and deep into their inner world.
Runner Up: Balkan Service, “The Footsteps of Sandzak Youths Who Fight in Syria”
This report (Serbian audio / English transcript), by Balkan Service correspondent Milos Teodorovic, continues RFE/RL’s important investigations into the at-times unanticipated impact of the Syrian conflict in our broadcast regions. Teodorovic documented how young militants--in this case, from Serbia’s Sandzak--are going to Syria, gaining warfighting experience, and now pose the danger that they will return home one day fuel militant movements in their own countries.
Afghan Service, “Afghanistan’s Disabled Population Struggles To Survive.”
Seemingly endless lines to apply for government aid that may never come, social alienation and rejection by family, and a daily struggle to survive--this is reality for hundreds of thousands of handicapped Afghans suffering the effects of decades of conflict.
In this video, Afghan Service correspondent Sayed Sabawoon introduces viewers to a 32-year-old man who was paralyzed from the waist down after stepping on a landmine. The three-minute video features strong visuals and a gripping narration that raises important questions about the consequences of war in Afghanistan.
Runner Up: Belarus Service, “The Naked Truth” / Kupalle Celebration
Belarus Service correspondent Sieviaryn Kviatkouski is being recognized for his weekend vox pop series, "The Naked Truth," that each week poses a different question to typical Belarusians, often eliciting hilarious responses. Recent shows have asked questions like, "Is Belarus thriving?", "Are Belarusians unemotional?", and "How can you explain the two spellings of the word 'fifty' --’pyatdesyat’ and ‘pyatdyasyat’-- on one banknote?"
The Belarus Service also produced a beautiful video story about Kupalle, the pagan holiday celebrating the summer solstice that is celebrated in the Homel region.
Kyrgyz Service, “Diary of an MKO Rent-a-Protester"
This blog piece by Kyrgyz Service intern Alina Alymkulova tells the story of how she was recruited to travel from Prague to Paris, to participate in a rally for the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), an Iranian opposition movement in exile.
The MKO’s political wing, the National Council of Resistance in Iran and its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi, are famous for organizing mass rallies that attract Iranian exiles and VIP supporters from around the world. But as Alymkulova's diary makes clear, some of the tens of thousands of supporters who attended the June 22 rally in Paris might have been motivated by more than their wish for a free Iran.
Alina writes that most of the "protesters" were young and obviously students like her. She tells how she came across many Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs, and students from Asian countries who were all recruited via the Internet and promised very cheap accommodation and travel to the French capital in exchange for a few hours of protesting.
Ukrainian Service, “How Tuberculosis Patients Are Treated in Ukraine."
Ukraine's Health Ministry claims that it provides free treatment to TB patients using funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. But the real picture is not so straightforward. As part of a Ukrainian Service investigation, patients told Service correspondents that they were not receiving their medicine and that doctors often demand bribes before they will prescribe drugs that should be distributed for free.
The Service also learned that because conditions in state TB facilities are so dreadful, patients often return home with a still-active form of the disease. That, in turn, increases the chances they will develop a drug-resistant form of TB that is much more difficult and costly to treat.
Ukrainian officials continue to insist there is no problem, but Radio Svoboda was able to help at least a few patients. One man named Serhiy who called in during a live program was later able to get an appointment for an examination. Another caller named Anatoliy K. was invited to a clinic to get medication after he told his story on the air.