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RFE/RL Review August 6, 2004

The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of July 31-August 6, 2004

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service was among the first media outlets in Uzbekistan to report on last week's bombings in Tashkent, with an Uzbek Service correspondent reporting live from the site of the first explosion, outside of the Israeli Embassy. In the week since the bombings, the Uzbek Service has focused its reporting on trying to determine who might have been responsible for the attacks and what the bombers' motives might have been.
On July 30, three suicide bombers staged coordinated attacks near the U.S. and Israeli embassies and inside the lobby of the Uzbek Prosecutor General's office. Three law enforcement officers and a security guard were killed in the blasts, as were the bombers themselves.
Two organizations have claimed responsibility for the July 30 attacks: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and a previously little-known group called Islamic Jihad in Uzbekistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov, however, has blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) for the bombings, even though the group has never been linked to any acts of violence and publicly disavows the use of violence in pursuit of its goal to re-establish a Caliphate in Central Asia.
In an interview with the service on August 2, the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir's London office, Imran Waheed categorically denied any involvement by his organization in the attacks. Several Western experts on Central Asia have also questioned the possibility of HT being involved in the bombings. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Paul Bergne told an Uzbek Service correspondent: "So far I haven't seen any persuasive evidence that HT has changed its policy. So, at first sight at least, it seems unlikely that HT was behind the bomb explosions".
An Uzbek-language transcript of the program, aired on August 2, is available on the service's website at An NCA feature, in English, is available on the RFE/RL website at

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

On August 3, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad visited the Kabul bureau of RFE/RL's Afghan Service and sat down for a half-hour interview in both Pashto and Dari. The Ambassador responded to a wide range of questions posed by service Deputy Director Zarif Nazar, addressing issues from his personal role in Afghan politics to Taliban efforts to sabotage free elections in the country. During the interview, Amb. Khalilzad said, "I am very optimistic

because the people of Afghanistan want the elections to take place... Groups such as the Taliban extremists have already announced their war against the elections, they have murdered people who have registered to vote. But ... in the end, they will fail in disturbing the election process. The Afghans ... will choose their leader." The interview, in Pashto, can be heard on the service's website at A transcript of the interview, in English, can be found on RFE/RL's website at
Ambassador Khalilzad made a point of telling RFA that he starts his day by listening to the broadcaster's hour-long morning magazine from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and doesn't leave the house for work until he's listened to it in its entirety, including the daily review of the Afghan press.

** The Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Andres Ilves, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL's Georgian Service has provided comprehensive coverage of the growing tension in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The service has worked to keep on top of developments with reports from the region using stringers in nearby Gori, Tbilisi and distant Moscow. A report in English on the rising tensions in Georgia's two breakaway provinces can be viewed on RFE/RL's website at
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on August 3 threatened to open fire on any ship that would approach the coast of the separatist republic of Abkhazia, adding his warning was mainly meant for Russian tourists traveling to Abkhazia from nearby Sochi. On August 4, the head of the Duma committee on CIS affairs Andrei Kokoshin came under fire in another Georgian republic, South Ossetia.
Stopping in Washington, DC on August 5, during an unofficial visit to the U.S., President Saakashvili told a briefing audience that no one should be surprised by his decision, as the Georgian government has warned countries since 1995 that they may not land in Abkhazia without permission. A report in English on President Saakashvili's comments in Washington can be viewed on RFE/RL's website, at

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

South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) correspondent Nikola Gurovic interviewed Niall Ferguson, professor of history at New York University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University about the global challenges now facing the United States as the world's last remaining superpower.
Ferguson, one of Britain's most distinguished young historians, will soon start teaching at Harvard. His most recent book, titled "Colossus: the Price of America's Empire" was published this past April. A Bosnian language transcript of the interview, broadcast on July 31 but posted to the service's website on August 3, is available at
America's intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the U.S. government's policy on preemptive strikes has created much resentment towards the U.S., Ferguson told the service. He discussed with the interviewer a variety of alternatives to U.S. global influence, such as multipolar utopia, instability, or the rise of China, the European Union, the United Nations or the Islamic world as superpowers.
Ferguson told the service that he doubted that China, EU, the UN or any other entity could replace the U.S. as a global leader, arguing that the EU did not have the military power, China was still far from being a rival to the U.S., and the UN didn't have enough authority to impose an international order of its own. In considering the potential for an Islamic challenge to the U.S., Ferguson noted that the Islamic world is fragmented and that huge differences exist between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Ferguson added that a world that lacked a superpower would drown in instability and feared that, as a result, it would experience a new "Dark Age."

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

On the eve of an August 4 eviction deadline imposed by government authorities on the European Humanities University in Minsk, the institution's dean, Prof. Anatol Mikhajlau spoke exclusively with RFE/RL's Belarus Service by phone from Washington, D.C.
Prof. Mikhajlau said he was negotiating with various foreign assistance programs in the U.S. capital to secure the funds needed to continue EHU operations in exile. EHU administrators in Minsk have also decided to appeal the decision of Belarus' Education Ministry to strip the institution of its operating license to the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus.
During the interview, conducted by Belarus Service correspondent Valer Kalinouski, Prof. Mikhajlau denied rumors that his political aspirations might have been a motive for the authorities' attack on the EHU. A transcript of the interview, in Belarusian, is available on service's website at
The Service aired reports throughout the week of widespread international condemnation concerning the closure of the unique private institution, funded mainly by the western countries and taught by visiting western professors. Belarus Service correspondents also interviewed students at EHU, who continued to demonstrate against the school's closure through the August 4 eviction deadline.

** 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.

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