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RFE/RL Review July 9, 2004

The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of July 3-9, 2004

The fifth anniversary of Iran's student protest movement passed on July 8 in a more low-key fashion than in previous years -- largely as a result of the government's heavy-handed preparations that included the arrest of scores of student leaders and activists. The government has also kept Iran's main universities shut since late-June, in order to minimize the chance of any gathering of students.
As the Iranian government has also shut down many reformist newspapers and provides the student activists no access to government-run media, Radio Farda serves as a bridge between student leaders and the people of Iran.
Radio Farda provided comprehensive coverage of the anniversary, surveying reactions to the anniversary from throughout Iran and gathering interviews with veteran student leaders in Teheran and human rights group representatives in the West. Urmi Shah, spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch in London, told Radio Farda on July 8, "In 1999 they [Iranian authorities] detained thousands of students, held them in solitary confinement, some were tortured, and so many of them still suffer physically and psychologically from the time in detention." Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to release any students still remaining in custody of the thousands authorities claimed to have initially arrested.
On July 9, 1999 ("18 Tir" on the Persian calendar), pro-democracy students clashed with police in cities across Iran after a police crackdown at an earlier student protest. One student was killed and hundreds were injured in the violence.
Radio Farda, a round-the-clock Persian service aimed at listeners under 30, is a joint service of RFE/RL and the Voice of America (VOA). Radio Farda's coverage of this year's 18 Tir anniversary may be viewed at
** The Director of Radio Farda, Andres Ilves, may be reached by email at <>; Radio Farda's News Director, Mardiros Soghom, may be reached by email at <>.

On July 7, RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs (NCA) department issued a special four-part series of articles on corruption in education in Central Asia. An example of enhanced cooperation between NCA staff writers and RFE/RL's 19 broadcast services, the idea for the series came from RFE/RL's five Central Asian services through a regional task force led by Associate Director of Broadcasting, Joyce Davis.
The series attempts to define the problem of corruption in education in the former Soviet Central Asian states and review strategies that could be used to minimize or counter the problem. With input from all five Central Asian services, NCA assembled a package of articles, titled "Buying Ignorance," that addresses several aspects of the issue. "Corruption In Education Widespread, Corrosive," by Kathleen Moore, provides an overview of the issue; "Corruption Touches Many Different Lives," by Bruce Pannier, interweaves audio of students, teachers and others affected by corruption in Central Asia's educational systems; "Society Bears The Hidden Costs Of Corruption," by Antoine Blua, looks at the consequences of unchecked corruption for students, schools and society; while the final article, "Kyrgyz, Kazakhs Lead In Education Reform," also by Antoine Blua, examines efforts by Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to introduce nationwide testing systems to minimize corruption. The entire series was edited by NCA deputy director Mark Baker.
The series on corruption were released ahead of the annual admissions season in Central Asia. The articles in the series may be read on RFE/RL's website, by visiting our "Feature Articles" page ( and selecting the Archives page for "7 July 2004".
** The Director of RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs Service, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL Russian Service programming this week focused on the ongoing Russian government pursuit of the leaders of Russia's largest oil firm, Yukos and the building banking crisis in Russia.
The Strasbourg-based Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has been closely monitoring the Yukos case. PACE's rapporteur for the Yukos case, former German justice minister Sabine Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger, gave Russian Service Berlin correspondent Yuri Veksler an exclusive interview this week. "My mandate -- which came into being in the past year -- is to focus on the arrests of [Yukos executives] Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and Alexei Pichugin. Also everything concerning Yukos and also the conditions of the court proceedings and the imprisonment. What [falls outside of my domain] is whether the actual charges of tax evasion, etc., against Yukos are justified," said Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger. A transcript of Veksler's interview with Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger may be read (in Russian) on the Russian Service's website, at The Russian Service's interviews with former Russian Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin on the Yukos situation may also be viewed at and
Yukos is now at risk of having its assets seized by Russian authorities after a June 7 deadline passed for settlement of a $3.4 billion tax bill, incurred in 2000. A lawyer for Yukos' main shareholder, imprisoned former Yukos chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Khodorkovsky has offered to give up control of his 44 percent stake in the firm to prevent the company's collapse.
** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>.

On July 7, RFE/RL's Arabic-language Radio Free Iraq (RFI) service secured an exclusive interview with Iraq's National Security Advisor Muaffaq al-Rubaie about the new "Defense of National Safety Law" (in Arabic: Qanoon Al-Difa'a 'An As-salaamah Al-Wataniyyah). Al-Rubaie told Prague-based RFI correspondent Nazem Yassin that the law, which had only minutes before come into effect, contains clauses and mechanisms that guarantee individual freedoms, human rights and the rule of law. "There is no doubt in the necessity of this new law on protection of national security. This new law gives greater authorities to the Iraqi Prime Minister [Iyad Allawi] and to the Council of Ministers. It gives [them] the right to impose a curfew but in a certain area or secure and search a certain area for arms or terrorists or insurgents," al-Rubaie told RFI.
When proposals for the law were unveiled, many observers expressed reservations about the possibility that severe measures, even martial law, would be implemented and extraordinary powers granted to the members of the Iraqi Interim Government. When the law was actually promulgated, the clauses concerning martial law were less strong than initially feared.
During the interview, al-Rubaie noted the important mission that Radio Free Iraq serves in helping Iraq rebuild. RFI's interview with Muaffaq al-Rubaie may be heard (in Arabic) on the service's website at
** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergei Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL's Belarus Service on July 7 interviewed prominent opposition activist Siarhej Antonchyk, who recounted an attack he said he suffered that same morning, as he was getting into his car in a Minsk public parking lot.
Antonchyk said three attackers chased Antonchyk on foot when he abandoned his car after a brief scuffle, and then left the scene in their own car. Witnesses noted the car's license plate and Antonchyk reported the attack to police. The Belarus Service also interviewed the police officer involved in the case. Police are considering opening a criminal case in connection with the incident.
Antonchyk was a deputy in Belarus' democratically-elected parliament, the Supreme Soviet, which was disbanded in November 1996 by Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A leader of Belarus' independent trade unions, Antonchyk is the author of a well-known December 1994 report on alleged corruption in the Lukashenka government. Antonchyk has been actively mobilizing the Belarusian opposition for parliamentary elections that are scheduled to take place in October.
Antonchyk has said that he believes the attackers intended to kidnap him using his own car, and that the assault was politically motivated, noting that none of his personal belongings were taken by the attackers. Antonchyk has also said that he believes Belarusian authorities were behind this attack, as well as one that occurred July 1 to opposition MP and recent hunger striker Valery Fralou.
Human rights groups, international organizations and domestic opposition say there is strong evidence suggesting that high-ranking Belarusian officials, including current Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman, were involved in the disappearance of four opposition and public figures in 1999-2000.
The Belarus Service's interview with Siarhej Antonchyk may be viewed (in Belarusian) on the Belarus Service's website, at
** The Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <>.

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Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. "RFE/RL Review" is a weekly compilation of the best programming produced by the 19 services of the RFE/RL broadcast network. RFE/RL broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of programming a week in 28 languages to 20 countries in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central and Southwestern Asia.

For more information about any of the stories mentioned in "RFE/RL Review," or to learn more about RFE/RL, please contact Martins Zvaners at <> or by calling +1-202-457-6948.