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RFE/RL Review August 13, 2004

The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of August 7-13, 2004

The RFE/RL Romanian/Moldovan service will start regular weekend programs to Moldova on August 14. Thirty-minute long programs will be moderated from the RFE/RL studio in Chisinau and will be broadcast on weekends, 13.00-13.30 local time. To date, RFE/RL has been broadcasting to Moldova from Mondays to Fridays, 21:00-22:00 local time.
Romanian/Moldovan service director Oana Serafim says she is happy to expand RFE/RL programming into weekends, because the Transdnistria issue once again presents new challenges for Moldova. "RFE/RL has always been close to its audience and our listeners expect us to be with them when tensions arise," Serafim added. The format of the weekend program will be similar to that heard on weekdays, but will feature more roundtable discussions. The Romanian/Moldovan programs may be heard on service's website at
The introduction of weekend programming to Moldova coincides with the growing tensions in Transdnistria. On July 26, pro-Moscow separatists in Transdnistria began closing schools that teach in Romanian/Moldovan. A row over the use of the Romanian/Moldovan language in schools in Transdnistria has been a focus of RFE/RL broadcasts to Moldova this week. RFE/RL Chisinau Bureau correspondent Vasile Botnaru was the only journalist from Moldova to visit a school that has been at the center of the controversy in Tighina, Transdnistria. Botnaru interviewed teachers, schoolchildren and their parents who are protesting at the school, which has been sealed by local militia for the last two weeks. They are protesting that they cannot continue education in their native language. The protesters, who oppose the Transdnistrian separatist government's effort to keep their native language out of their school, receive food deliveries from the OSCE mission in Moldova.
Botnaru's report was aired by the Romania/Moldova Service on August 9, and can be heard on the Service's website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romanian/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>.

Radio Free Iraq continues its in-depth coverage of the most important developments in Iraq during that country's transition period. The political issues concerning the postponement of the Iraqi National Conference have been the latest focus for the Service. RFI Prague- based

broadcaster Nazem Yaseen's feature on the transition, "With UN Assistance, Preparations Are Underway For The Convening Of Iraq's National Conference in Mid-August," was broadcast on August 8. The story can be heard on the service's website at
In an exclusive interview with Radio Free Iraq, the official spokesman for the Preparatory Committee of the National Conference, Abdul Haleem al-Ruhaimi, spoke about the ongoing consultations to secure maximum participation at the conference. These consultations included groups reluctant about participation, such as that of Muqtada al-Sadr. In the interview, Al-Ruhaimi said that he believes the refusal of some groups to participate in the National Conference will not undermine its legitimacy or representation base. "Al-Sadr's movement is a very small part of the Shiite community, if you compare it with other groups and movements that represent Shia Muslims. Those groups include the Badr Forces, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Al-Dawa party, and [the supporters of] Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim and Bahr Al-Uloum. We [the members of the Preparatory Committee] and the Iraqi people are totally convinced that more than 95 per cent of the parties and movements will be represented in the Conference and will attend it," Al-Ruhaimi said.
A News and Current Affairs (NCA) feature on recent developments in Iraq is also available on RFE/RL's website at

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergey Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL News and Current Affairs (NCA) correspondent Ahto Lobjakas was one of five Brussels-based reporters to accompany NATO Supreme Allied Commander General James Jones on a three-day trip to Afghanistan that began on August 10. Jones and his delegation held a series of meetings in Kabul with other NATO officials and representatives of the Afghan government and paid a brief visit to Camp Salerno -- a small U.S. base close to Afghanistan's southeastern border with Pakistan, in the troubled "Pashtun belt" in Khost Province.
During an interview at Camp Salerno on August 12, General Jones said that both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been decisively defeated in Afghanistan. Although neither group has been completely crushed, according to the General, neither constitutes a serious threat to the Afghan government. Terrorist attacks and disturbances may take place, but Islamic fundamentalism will not regain its former strength. General Jones said, "In terms of radical Islamic fundamentalism, Al-Qaeda and [the] Taliban reasserting themselves in this country -- it's over. And we ought to understand that and not dwell on the fact that there's an explosion here or there, or an isolated attack ...this is not going to topple the Karzai government, this is not going to prevent the election."
NATO will increase the number of ISAF troops in Afghanistan in preparation for the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for October 9. Jones noted, however, that Afghan forces will have primary responsibility for ensuring security. General Jones did not preclude the possibility that political disagreements could lead to armed conflict, even between forces participating in the current Afghan government. According to the General, "All things are possible, the military's headquarters exist to plan for [and] to anticipate those things that could happen, worst-case scenarios, and be prepared to respond to those things. Obviously, we would prefer that it not happen, but you shouldn't be unprepared and you shouldn't ever have to say to yourself, 'Why didn't we think of what we could have done better?'"
Lobjakas' story can be read on the RFE/RL website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's News and Current Affairs Service, Kestutis Girnius, may be reached by email at <>.

The RFE/RL Azeri Service broke news about contamination that is the byproduct of tons of radioactive coal located near an iodine plant in the suburbs of Azerbaijan's capital city of Baku. The news was reported on August 9 by Baku-based Azeri Service correspondent Rovshan Qanbarov. He interviewed residents in the affected suburbs of Yeni Suraxani and Ramana, as well as local officials, plant management, and the Baku representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). A transcript of Qanbarov's program in Azeri is available on service's website at
Artur Ostrovsky of the Baku municipal Radioactive Control Office confirmed the contamination to RFE/RL, saying that radiation exceeds the allowed level by twenty to forty times. In an interview with RFE/RL, IAEA representative Joseph Sabol said Azerbaijan could request that his agency remove the radioactive materials. Sabol added: "It would be good if Azerbaijan could prepare and provide to us a national project on this issue and show there how to solve this problem. In that event, the IAEA could provide assistance through its Technical Cooperation Program." Sabol noted, however, that the Azeri government has not contacted the IAEA so far regarding the issue. The authorities seem to be unwilling to deal with the contamination, which according to the residents harms their health.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Azeri Service, Abbas Djavadi, may be reached by email at <>.

The RFE/RL Kazakh Service was the only media in Kazakhstan to report on the allegedly illegal activities of Dalibor Kopp, a Czech businessman with interests in Kazakhstan and the Middle East, who is currently in Liberia.
In July 2004, the Czech daily newspapers "Hospodarske Noviny" and "Mlada Fronta Dnes", quoting Czech police officials involved in the investigations and Brno Prosecutor's Office spokesman Pavel Rujbr, published articles alleging that Kopp had attempted in 1998 to smuggle 500 kilograms of marijuana and 900 Kalashnikov machine guns from Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic. The same sources informed the Czech newspapers that Kopp was reportedly involved in some arms deals in the Middle East and in other scandals in the U.S. and Russia. Czech Ministry of Industry spokesman Ivo Mravinac told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that Kopp held 19 licenses allowing him to trade in so-called non-military weapons and the parts for such weapons. If Kopp returns to the Czech Republic, he may face charges of illegal arms trading that could result, if convicted, in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The Kazakh Service interviewed representatives of the Czech Foreign Ministry's Press Service and the Czech Embassy in Almaty about the matter. Czech Consul in Almaty Jana Simbolinska told the service, "I am aware of Dalibor Kopp only from newspapers. He might have visited Kazakhstan, met with some people here and negotiated the weapons purchase. Kopp has a right to do so, since he is a businessman and is responsible for his activities. The Embassy is not informed about such activities." Kazakh Service report in Russian on the allegations can be read on the service's website, at
Kamal Burkhanov, the Director of the Almaty-based Institute on China and Russia told RFE/RL that recent information about the allegations that Dalibor Kopp may have sought to purchase weapons in Kazakhstan should make everyone think about the issue of corruption in Kazakhstan. Kazakh political observer Dosym Satpayev said there have been several arms trade scandals in Kazakhstan in the past, which have caused great harm to Kazakhstan's image.
The Kazakh National Security Committee, successor to the country's Soviet-era KGB, responded to the Kazakh Service reports with a statement, issued on August 9, saying that "A special investigation has been conducted. The outcome of that investigation showed that there were no agreements or contracts signed between Kazakh officials and Dalibor Kopp at all," according to Islam Bekishev of the National Security Committee.
The RFE/RL Kazakh Service immediately interviewed Mr. Bekishev and aired the additional information on Mr. Kopp's on Monday, August 9.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merkhat Sharipzhanov, 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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