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RFE/RL Review July 23, 2004


RFE/RL REVIEW
The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
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Week of July 17-23, 2004


RFE/RL KAZAKH SERVICE BREAKS STORY
ON SLAVERY IN REMOTE KAZAKH VILLAGE
RFE/RL�s Kazakh Service broadcast on July 16 a special report on slavery in South Kazakhstan oblast, produced by the service's Astana correspondent, Ainagul Sagdi. The story resonated with the Kazakh Service's audience, with many listeners calling the service's bureaus in both Astana and Almaty and requesting that the service follow up on the story. A transcript of the report in Kazakh is available on RFE/RL's website at http://www.azattyq.org/rubrics/domestic/ka/2004/07/4949632C-D11C-4768-BC4C-452A3A90D8B8.asp
Sagdi reports that two residents of the village of Tuetas in Baidibek district -- brothers by the name of Khalitov -- stand accused by local police of holding humans in slavery for months at a time. The chief of the local district police, Serik Utembaev, is quoted as saying that one of the brothers, Nikolai Khalitov, forced four people into working as slaves.
Among the duties assigned to these slaves were making adobe bricks, pasturing cows, farming and working on construction projects. According to police chief Utembaev, the Khalitovs promised their slaves money, but the only compensation they actually provided was abuse and starvation. Three of the slaves were homeless people, while the fourth -- Nikolai Semykin -- has a home and a family. Semykin, it is said, was chained at night to keep him from escaping.
The Khalitov brothers now face criminal charges of kidnapping, physical abuse and employing slave labor. If convicted, the brothers could each be sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison.
Police chief Utembaev is quoted telling our correspondent that this is the second reported case of slavery in Kazakhstan. However, International Migration Organization (IMO) representative Ekaterina Babikova told the Kazakh Service that this kind of servitude is a common occurrence in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in Central Asia and Russia.
The report also features a quote from the Deputy Director of the non-governmental Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Zhemis Turmagambetova, who says she cannot be certain that this slave-scandal will be fairly adjudicated. According to Turmagambetova, many slavery cases do not reach the courts in Kazakhstan, because of corruption in the country's judicial system.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merkhat Sharipzhanov, may be reached by email at <sharipzhanm@rferl.org>.


SOUTH OSSETIA LEADER GIVES RARE INTERVIEW
TO RFE/RL NORTH CAUCASUS SERVICE
The President of Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoiti, gave a rare exclusive interview to RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service on July 17. Kokoiti spoke to North Caucasus Service broadcaster Murat Temirov by phone from the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
Kokoiti told the North Caucasus Service, when asked if there is any chance of solving South Ossetia's ongoing dispute with the Georgian central government, that "We do not see any alternative to the peace process. We advocate a peaceful resolution [of the conflict], we need to sit at the negotiating table and discuss all the contentious issues." However, Kokoiti maintained that the as-yet unrecognized political status of South Ossetia will not be on the agenda in any future talks: "The people of South Ossetia have made their choice, and this has to be taken into consideration. We have been independent of Georgia for 14 years now," said Kokoiti.
That same day, July 17, North Caucasus Service correspondent Fatima Saidoulkhadjieva interviewed Georgia's State Minister for Conflict Resolution, Goga Khaindrava. Khaindrava, for his past, asserted that "South Ossetia has always been, still is, and what's more important, always will be Georgian territory." Khaindrava added, "We are going to grant South Ossetia more sovereignty. It used to be an oblast. Now that we have embarked on the path of the country's federalization ... we are prepared to give it the status of an autonomous republic."

** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <doukaeva@rferl.org>.


RFE/RL SOUTH SLAVIC SERVICE PRODUCES SPECIAL SERIES
ON U.S. POLICY DURING BREAKUP OF YUGOSLAVIA
RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) launched, on July 19, a seven-part documentary series of programs focused on U.S. policy during the breakup of Yugoslavia and the subsequent war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The series may be heard on the SSALS website, at
The programs analyze U.S. foreign policy in the region and America's eventual involvement in the war in Bosnia. It also compares differences in policy between the administrations of U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in setting the agenda for U.S. policy towards Bosnia. The series of programs also takes a close look at U.S. security and humanitarian interests in the Balkans region and at the eventual U.S. decision to intervene militarily in August 1995.
The series of 10-minute programs is a result of independent research, as well as interviews with U.S. policymakers, diplomats, military personnel and other experts conducted by SSALS broadcaster Vlado Azinovic.
The broadcasters involved in producing the documentary interviewed Clinton-era National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, former U.S. Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz, former special presidential envoys to the Balkans James O'Brien and Charles Redman and other major players who played prominent roles in the formulation and implementation of U.S. policy during that period.

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service, Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <karabego@rferl.org>.


RFE/RL'S UZBEK SERVICE THE ONLY UZBEK MEDIA REPORTING ON
PLANNED SALE OF FIRM LINKED TO PRESIDENT KARIMOV'S DAUGHTER
RFE/RL's Uzbek Service aired on July 19 a comprehensive set of reports on the business relationship that exists between Russian cellular phone operator MTS and Uzbek cellular service provider Uzdunrobita. The Uzbek Service was the only media reaching Uzbekistan that looked into this relationship, which involves interests close to Uzbek President Islam Karimov. A transcript of the report in Uzbek is available on RFE/RL's website at http://www.ozodlik.org/domesticreports/domestic/uz/2004/07/DD66551D-622C-4058-BE02-D5F5D877F02E.ASP
MTS representative Andrei Braginsky confirmed to RFE/RL correspondent Khurmat Babadjanov that the Russian cellular phone operator has agreed to pay $121,000,000 for a 74 percent stake in Uzdunrobita. The Uzbek firm is controlled by President Karimov's daughter Gulnara, who currently serves as an accredited diplomat at the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow.
Braginsky refused to comment, however, on the ownership structure of Uzdunrobita and its relation to Ms. Karimova. Braginsky said, "We are dealing with two local private companies and I don't think that the names [of their owners] are so important for us."
The Uzbek Service's reporting on the MTS-Uzdunrobita deal also includes an interview with Gulnara Karimova's former financial adviser Farkhod Inagambayev, who is currently living in US. Speaking to the Uzbek Service via phone from New York, Inagambayev said that Karimova acquired Uzdunrobita in early 2002 by employing a variety of threats, and that he has the evidence to prove that the cellular service provider belongs to her. "Stolen companies can be bought by countries like Russia," Inagambayev noted, during his interview with Uzbek service.
Gulnara Karimova could not be reached for comment. Uzbek embassy officials in Moscow also refused to comment on this issue.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Adolat Najimova, may be reached by email at <najimovaa@rferl.org>.


RFE/RL BELARUS SERVICE COVERS DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK, VITEBSK
RFE/RL's Belarus Service provided live coverage from the scene of the July 21 opposition-sponsored demonstration in Minsk marking the tenth anniversary of Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka's rule. The demonstration was attended by an estimated 4,000 people.
Belarus Service correspondents reported that Belarusian police treated demonstrators "brutally," kicking and beating some with truncheons, and arrested nearly 30 protesters. A transcript of this report can be found on RFE/RL's website, at http://www.svaboda.org/articlesfeatures/politics/2004/07/e79a3e7a-f434-42ed-b65d-e8dcbd1856a2.html. The detained protesters, whom Amnesty International had already announced would be considered "prisoners of conscience," are due to appear in court on July 22.
In another simultaneous demonstration, staged by the opposition in the city of Vitebsk, some 23 activists protesting the lack of transparency and progress in the cases of several "disappeared" opposition activists were arrested. Among those detained at the scene of the demonstration was RFE/RL Belarus Service correspondent Branislava Stankievich, who was released without charge as soon as she showed police her identification documents.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <lukashuka@rferl.org>.


NOTEWORTHY ITEMS IN BRIEF:

BELARUS SERVICE WEBSITE HOSTS ONE MILLIONTH VISITOR
On July 21, one million visitors had come to the website of RFE/RL's Belarus Service (http://www.svaboda.org), according to the independent tracking agency Akavita (http://akavita.by).

** The Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <lukashuka@rferl.org>.


ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIAN BANKS COMMENDS GEORGIAN SERVICE FOR FOSTERING TRUST IN LOCAL BANKS
RFE/RL's Georgian Service was recognized on July 22 for its work in the area of "Enhancing Trust in the Banking Sector" by the National Bank of Georgia and the Association of Banks of Georgia (ABG). The recognition came in the form of an award presented to the Georgian Service as part of a "Media Support for the Banking System" competition, sponsored by the National Bank and the ABG, which unites Georgia's leading financial institutions.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, Robert Parsons, may be reached by email at <parsonsr@rferl.org>.

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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 <zvanersm@rferl.org> or by calling +1-202-457-6948.
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