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RFE/RL Review February 11, 2005

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The Best of RFE/RL Broadcast Service Reporting
Week of February 5-11, 2005

RFE/RL BROADCAST STIRS ACTION BY AFGHAN GOVERNMENT, BUSINESSMEN TO AID FREEZING RETURNEES An RFE/RL broadcast about returned refugees in Kabul freezing to death set in motion a chain of events that will eventually mean permanent homes for hundreds of families who have been living in tents for more than a year.
The chain starts with a visit by a delegation from a refugee camp to Radio Free Afghanistan's bureau in Kabul last week. The five- member group said that six people in the camp had died from exposure and appealed to Radio Free Afghanistan to look into their situation. RFE/RL sent reporters out to the Chaman Huzori camp -- a city of tents and mud huts on the grounds of a former soccer field in Kabul that has been a temporary home for 450 Afghan families who returned from Pakistan more than one year ago. Heavy snows and sub-zero temperatures were blamed for the recent deaths of children and elderly people.
Radio Free Afghanistan broadcast its first program about the plight of the Chaman Huzori returnees on February 2 in Dari and Pashto. Since then, RFAfghanistan has issued daily reports about the returnees and the misery in the camp.
The RFAfghanistan coverage inspired wealthy Afghan traders to offer to donate thousands of good, warm winter coats to help their less fortunate fellow citizens. RFAfghanistan Kabul Bureau Chief Amin Mudaqiq convinced the traders to lend vehicles to transport the coats, enlisted the help of Kabul police and RFE/RL volunteers and, on his day off on February 6, delivered and distributed the coats at the camp. In addition to RFE/RL reporters, two private Afghan TV stations learned of the coat donation and sent cameras to cover the event.
Stirred by the publicity, the Afghan Minister of Returnees gave an exclusive interview to Radio Free Afghanistan, broadcast February 8, in which he announced that the families at Chaman Huzori camp would each be given a plot of land for a permanent residence.
The audio of RFAfghanistan broadcaster Farisha Jalalzai's report on the challenges faced by returning Afghan refugees at the Chaman Huzori camp (in Pashto) can be found on the service's website at

** The Acting Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <>.

AFGHAN FOREIGN MINISTER OUTLINES POLICY AIMS TO RFE/RL Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah gave a wide-ranging interview February 8, outlining his country's foreign policy priorities to Sultoni Hamad, the Kabul correspondent of RFE/RL's Tajik Service. Abdullah, speaking in Dari, said Afghanistan wants closer ties with neighboring Tajikistan, recalling that "Tajikistan, since its establishment, especially when Al Qaeda forces were in control of parts of Afghanistan, supported the resistance of the Afghan people against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and it had a clear position. Based on that, effective steps are being taken to expand and deepen ties."
On Afghan-Iranian relations, Abdullah expressed his hope for a peaceful solution to any problems that might arise, avoiding any increase in tensions. He said "Afghanistan has deep, friendly ties with its neighbors and also has good, friendly ties [with other countries], including the U.S... We will make an effort so that these ties in all areas, both with Afghanistan's neighbors and internationally, remain at their current excellent level," he said.
Tajik Service coverage of the interview with Dr. Abdullah can be read on the service's website, at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, may be reached by email at <>.

ASSASSINATION SURVIVOR TELLS RADIO FREE IRAQ OF RESOLVE TO FIGHT TERROR A Radio Free Iraq Baghdad correspondent was the first to interview at length politician Mithal al-Alusi, who survived an assassination attempt February 7 that claimed the lives of two of his sons and his bodyguard.
In the exclusive interview with RFE/RL, Al Alusi, head of Iraq's Democratic Umma Party, a secular, democratic group, vowed that "Iraq will not die... my bodyguard and my two sons have martyred like others, but in the name of God, we will not let killers and terrorists have Iraq". Speaking to RFI at his home, al-Alusi did not give way to grief but spoke mainly of the need to stand united against all the killers. "We will fight terrorism in any form or shape," he said, adding that "there can be no debate, no dialogue with killers who advocate murder." Al-Alusi said he called on his "brothers and colleagues in the political leadership, in the government or outside the government to take a clear and firm position, applying the law... and not to enter into dialogue with terrorism. Any kind of dialogue with killers means giving them some kind of legitimacy. They do not have this legitimacy ".
Al-Alusi, the first Iraqi politician to visit Israel in the fall of 2004, said he would not be intimidated by the assassination attempt and would continue to work for peace with Iraq's neighbors "even Israel," and that he is not prepared to see Iraq become "cannon fodder for criminals and harvesters of death...We want to build Iraq. Enough destruction," he said.
An English-language transcript of Radio Free Iraq's interview with Mithal al-Alusi can be found at

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

SENIOR LEADER DISCUSSES FORMATION OF IRAQ'S NEW GOVERNMENT RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq spoke, in an exclusive interview broadcast February 8, with one of the leaders of Iraq's largest party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to find out how work was going on the formation of a new interim government.
According to SCIRI Head of Political Affairs Ridha Jawad Taqi, Sunni representatives participated in an important February 7 meeting and "we told them we would take their points of view, their suggestions and their opinions in the formation of the Iraqi government. This was the first (point of discussion). The second was the writing of the constitution where we should take their points of view (into consideration)." Taqi said in the interview: "the atmosphere was very positive. Our Sunni brothers who were present at the meeting said this was a historic meeting and it might be a new page in the lives of Iraqis. We put an end to any possibility of problems between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq."
Speaking about Iraq's constitution, he said Iraq should be a secular state with Islam as its main law : "We want (to see) Islam in the constitution in three points. First, Islam should be the official religion of the state of Iraq. Secondly, Islam (should be) a primary source of legislation. If some object to it as a primary source of legislation and insist on it being one of the sources of legislation we can discuss this matter. Thirdly, no law contrary to the essential principals of Islam should be issued." Taqi explained further that "Iraq (should be) a united democratic, pluralist, federal republic, where Islam is one of the main sources in the writing of the constitution. In it there are liberals, secular, democrat Islamists, Sunni and Shiites, Yezidis and Sabia... the United Iraqi Alliance has no intention of creating a religious state," he emphasized.

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

RFI INTERVIEWS CONTENDER FOR PRIME MINISTER ON IRAQ'S FUTURE Iraqi interim Vice-President Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq in Baghdad February 9, said that if he is confirmed as prime minister his priorities would be security together with public services, raising the living standard and improving the situation of women. "We have to overcome the former regime's heavy legacy in terms of the tragic situation of martyrs' relatives, of their widows and children," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, al-Ja'fari said talks have begun "to form a pluralist government that represents Iraq's diverse spectrum," and that "representation of our Sunni brethren in government, is a basic issue because they are a basic element in Iraqi society. That is why they must have their rightful place in government as well."
Addressing the security situation, al-Ja'fari said "If it comes to choosing between the multinational forces staying until we build up our own capacity, or exposing people to murder during this period, we will tolerate the presence of the multinational forces while working to shorten their stay by intensifying efforts for the nascent Iraqi security forces to be able to fill the vacuum. Then there will be no justification for the presence of any foreign forces."\
An English-language transcript of Radio Free Iraq's February 9 interview with Ibrahim al-Ja'fari can be found at

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

RUSSIAN SERVICE LAUNCHES NEW HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM RFE/RL's Russian Service launched a new weekend program February 5 that reviews the observation of human rights in Russia. The weekly, 50-minute broadcast "Road to Freedom" is produced and moderated in RFE/RL's Moscow bureau in cooperation with leading human rights organizations.
The Saturday program includes a weekly segment with Alexei Simonov, head of the Glasnost Defense Fund and, on alternating weeks, segments with the Director of the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Oleg Panfilov, and Moscow Helsinki Group Chair Lyudmila Alekseeva. Panfilov will, in his segments, focus on freedom of speech and how it is observed throughout Russia, while Alekseeva will discuss with studio guests human rights issues in the farther reaches of Russian provinces.
For the February 5 program, Alekseeva's guest was a member of the Jewish community in Kostroma, a small town on the Volga River in central Russia. He spoke about anti-Semitism which, sadly, he said is flourishing in the grassroots of rural communities. Anti-Semitism was also the topic of discussion during another segment on the show that featured Russian human rights activist David Gefter and Mikhail Berger, the Editor-in-Chief of the Moscow-based "Weekly Magazine."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>.

RADIO FARDA ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN: COVERING THE UN DELEGATION VISIT... Radio Farda covered the visit to Tehran from January 29 to February 6 of a United Nations delegation, led by UN Special Rapporteur for Violence against Women Yakin Erturk, to assess the state of human rights in that country, and interviewed human rights activists in Iran to get their views on the state of human rights and the rights of women.
In interviews recorded prior to the visit, some activists complained to Radio Farda that western delegations were meeting mostly with pre-selected, officially approved persons. In follow-up interviews, these activists said they had also been allowed to meet with the UN group and convey their concerns.

** The News Director of Radio Farda, Mardiros Soghom, may be reached by email at <>.

...POLITICAL PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE... Radio Farda broadcast news of a hunger strike by 6 political prisoners incarcerated at a facility in the city of Karaj, some 20 miles west of Tehran. The prisoners were protesting especially harsh treatment they had received under new regulations that put political prisoners into a special separate category. The service interviewed a defense lawyer about the case and the ramifications of the new law in a broadcast aired Feb 6.

** The News Director of Radio Farda, Mardiros Soghom, may be reached by email at <>.

...EBADI'S CLAIMS THAT HUMAN RIGHTS WOULD BE "FIRST CASUALTY" OF ATTACK 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi gave an exclusive interview to Radio Farda February 8, reiterating the views she expressed in a commentary published that same day in "The New York Times," that a foreign military attack on Iran would be an "utter disaster" for Iranian defenders of human rights.
During the interview, Ebadi said that, despite official persecution, imprisonment and harassment, human rights activists refuse to be coerced into silence and are maintaining a lively human rights discourse and framework for reform. Their criticism of abuses, supported by the international community, has even on some occasions led to the release of detainees. However, Ebadi warned that the threat of military intervention could give the authorities an excuse to crack down and eliminate human rights groups as elements of an enemy fifth column. According to Ebadi, human rights would be the first casualty of a foreign invasion of Iran.
Ebadi called for moral support and insistence that Iran adhere to the laws on human rights in international treaties and conventions it has signed. She also criticized what she called U.S. "hypocrisy" in overlooking human rights abuses by allies such as Saudi Arabia, while focusing on violations in Iran to mask strategic interests.

** The News Director of Radio Farda, Mardiros Soghom, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL REGIONAL PROGRAM FINDS CAUCASUS RESIDENTS UNITED BY RISING PRICES RFE/RL found, during its special weekly regional program for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, that people in all three countries had similar complaints and concerns about low wages and rising prices. Reporters in RFE/RL bureaus in Baku, Yerevan and Tbilisi did surveys of local "food basket" expenses and interviewed residents on their feelings about the cost of living. Factory workers, teachers and old-age pensioners were among those interviewed in the three countries.
The three separate stories, filed by RFE/RL correspondents in each country, were assembled as a single program package. That meant producing three separate but identical programs, with translations of non-native language reports and audio excerpts of interviews.
The program, broadcast Saturday, February 5 in all three south Caucasus countries, showed how similar the day-to-day problems of residents are in spite of ethnic quarrels, political differences and territorial conflicts. Audio of the version of the program broadcast in Azerbaijan can be found on the Azerbaijani Service's website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Hrair Tamrazian, may be reached by email at <>. The Director of RFE/RL's Azeri Service, Abbas Djavadi, may be reached by email at <>. The Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, Robert Parsons, may be reached by email at <>.

KAZAKH SERVICE ADDRESSES RISK TO HUMAN RIGHTS OF PROPOSED ANTI-EXTREMISM LEGISLATION RFE/RL's Kazakh Service is closely following a debate over legislation proposed in the Kazakh parliament that would restrict the activities of extremist religious groups. The parliament has approved the legislation, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is due to decide, within the next two weeks, whether to sign the bill, which targets political parties, nongovernmental organizations, media and religious bodies as potential sources of extremism and gives law enforcement agencies and the Prosecutor-General's Office expanded surveillance rights, as well as the power to disband organizations suspected of extremism. Human rights activists are concerned the new bill will be used by the government to crack down on dissent.
RFE/RL spoke to supporters of the legislation and their opponents in a program broadcast February 9. Kazakh lawmaker Serik Abdrakhmanov told a Kazakh Service correspondent in Astana that "any group calling for liquidation of a legitimate power structure should be defined as an extremist organization, also all those who are causing interethnic hostility." But Ninel Fokina, head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, said in an RFE/RL interview that the bill will put Kazakhstan's civil society and independent media at risk of government control. According to Fokina, "The bill introduces censorship in practice, because it says designated government bodies are given the right to monitor all print and Internet publications and prevent the publication of any material that has what the bill calls an "anti-constitutional nature. Actually, the bill is medieval. It's raised a lot of objections." She noted that Kazakh authorities recently launched a campaign against Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamic organization that seeks to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the Ferghana Valley that stretches across Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Andrei Kravchenko of the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office told RFE/RL that the religious group Hizb ut-Tahrir and others like it are likely to appear on any future list of extremist organizations. In the RFE/RL interview, he said "If this draft bill is adopted, then all the Hizb ut-Tahrir-type organizations will also be banned from the territory of Kazakhstan."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merhat Sharipzhan, may be reached by email at <>.

KYRGYZ SERVICE REPORTS ON INCREASED ACTIVITY OF OUTLAWED ISLAMIC GROUP RFE/RL correspondents in Osh and Bishkek have been interviewing Kyrgyz officials and members of the outlawed Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, who want to hold a demonstration on February 18 to protest their illegal status. Osken Osmonov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's State Commission on Religious Affairs, told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent February 9 that, as a banned Islamist organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir will not be allowed to hold a rally and its members must face justice before the law. "Any mass protest campaigns by the members of the organization are ruled out," Osmonov said (
Earlier this week, a group of some 60 Hizb ut-Tahrir members protested in front of the Osh city administration and Prosecutor's Office in southern Kyrgyzstan against the arrest of one of their members, Ulugbek Ruziyev. Another HT member, Dilyor Jumaboyev, was among the protesters and, in a telephone interview from the Osh region February 9, described the event to the Kyrgyz Service ( He said Ruziyev and some 25 people were detained a week ago in Ruziyev's house, where police found 2,000 leaflets that they termed extremist and anticonstitutional. Jumaboyev said Ruziyev's guests were released the next day, but Ruziyev is still being held.
The leaflets, titled "A Ruling on Participation in Parliamentary Elections According to Shari'a" (Islamic law), were first released in April 2003 by the Yemen branch of HT before parliamentary elections there and call on Muslims to boycott elections if candidates do not satisfy seven listed requirements. Jumaboyev described the requirements as disavowing the capitalist system; creating an Islamic system; basing the new system's program on the teachings of the Koran and the Sunnah (the second major source of jurisprudence in Islam after the Koran); and advocating Islam from political, secular and religious platforms.
Jumaboyev said HT is urging people to boycott the forthcoming February 27 parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan and has some popular support. He said " repression has been very strong against us therefore people know little about us. But lately we have been active, especially during the [Islamic holiday] Eid-al-Adha and other events. The people trust us and want Hizb ut-Tahrir to lead them."
The Kyrgyz Service also broadcast an interview with Vitali Ponomaryov, head of the Central Asia project of the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, which often interacts with members of HT. It released a report on HT in Russia on February 7. Ponomaryov said HT has called for a boycott of the Kyrgyz elections before and that this is a common position for the group in reference to elections, adding: "I don't think this will have a serious affect on the voting process even in southern Kyrgyzstan [where the HT is most active-ed.]."
The aim of Hizb ut-Tahrir -- or the Party of Liberation -- is to establish through peaceful means an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the Ferghana Valley, a region that stretches across Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It is outlawed in each of those Central Asian countries and in Russia, but not in Kazakhstan. The Kyrgyz Supreme Court banned the group in 2003.
The Kyrgyz Service broadcast on February 10 a report by broadcaster Bubukan Dosalieva, which takes an in-depth look at the question, "Are Religious Tensions Expected in Kyrgyzstan?" The report is located on the service's website at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <>.

TAJIK SERVICE FOLLOWS EXPLOSION STORY RFE/RL's Tajik Service (Radio Ozodi) continues to follow the unfolding story of a major explosion in Dushanbe on January 31 that is still being investigated. Official explanations for the explosion, which occurred near the building that houses the Ministry of Emergencies, have veered from a terrorist car bomb to a gas leak -- and back.
The Tajik Service interviewed on February 7 the Minister, General Mirzo Zia, who said that he believes it was a bomb and that he was the intended target. General Zia said that the bomb must have contained at least 15 kilos of explosives to have caused such an explosion and that it must have been a terrorist act.
A Radio Ozodi reporter was at the scene of the explosion and gave a detailed description of the damage and of an unrelated fire at the Security Minister later that day. The next day it was announced by officials that it was not a terrorist act but a gas leak that had caused the car explosion.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Massoumeh Torfeh, may be reached by email at <>.

BALKANS OFFER LESSONS FOR IRAQ RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) in weekend broadcasting examined the similarities and differences between stabilizing the Balkans after the breakup of Yugoslavia and the wars of the 1990s, and stabilizing Iraq after Coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein from power.
For the program, the service interviewed by phone from Washington, D.C. James Dobbins, Director of the Rand Corporation's International Security and Defense Policy Center and a former U.S special Envoy in Kosovo and Bosnia. In the exclusive interview, Dobbins said the Balkan experience with Bosnia and Kosovo offers a number of lessons for Iraq that may be too late to apply now. According to Dobbins, "If you are going to intervene and stabilize a deeply divided country and bring to an end ongoing conflict, you need to have a very large force, a force that is big enough to provide security to the population and intimidate anybody who would even think of offering resistance. We didn't do that. The force we put in Iraq was, on a per-capita basis, less than a third the size of the forces we put in Bosnia and Kosovo. It simply was not big enough to do the job. That's probably too late to correct," Dobbins said.
Dobbins went on to recall efforts to stabilize Bosnia in the mid 1990s, when the U.S worked with the leaders of neighboring countries -- Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian president Franjo Tudjman to gain their support. Dobbins offered a similar formula for Iraq: "You cannot stabilize a country like Iraq unless you get the support and cooperation of its neighbors. If they are operating against you, they will be able to frustrate your efforts at stabilization. Just as we had to engage all of Bosnia's neighbors in an effort to promote its stabilization, we need to engage all of Iraq's neighbors in a similar effort."
A report (in Serbian) on the SSALS interview with James Dobbins can be found on the service's website at

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

MONTENEGRIN FOREIGN MINISTER AT RFE/RL CALLS FOR INDEPENDENCE Montenegrin Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic said at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on February 10 that Montenegro wants to join the EU and NATO as an independent country and not remain a "hostage" of Serbia's reluctance to cooperate with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.
Montenegro is "patient," he said, and willing to discuss any number of political formulas for statehood, providing its "right to international recognition" is not compromised. Vlahovic said Serbia and Montenegro can find better understanding in a union of independent states than as "a non-functioning joint state." Vlahovic made the statements at a briefing for RFE/RL and Prague-based journalists and then was interviewed separately by RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), making many of the same points for broadcasting.
Vlahovic rejected arguments that Montenegrin independence would have a destabilizing effect on the western Balkans, and stressed on the contrary that an independent Montenegro would defuse long- standing tensions in the region and in Montenegrin internal politics. The government of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is committed to independence, particularly through a referendum. A recent poll suggests that about 44 percent of the population would vote for independence, while 40 percent are opposed.
An English-language report on the Vlahovic briefing can be found on the RFE/RL website at while audio and a transcript of his interview for broadcast with the SSALS can be found on the service's website at

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

RFE/RL INTERVIEWS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TRANSDNIESTER, ELECTION In an exclusive RFE/RL interview February 8, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin called for European and Romanian help in resolving a long-standing conflict over the breakaway Transdniester region. During the interview with RFE/RL correspondent Eugen Tomiuc, Voronin said there has been no progress on the issue for more than 10 years and "that is why we are looking together with international and European bodies, including the guarantor countries -- Ukraine and Russia -- for a way to resolve this problem." Reintegration [with Transdniester] is the most important, the most pressing strategic problem for Moldova. Because of this, we are simply forced to seek a solution with the assistance of the European Union and other European countries." Voronin added that "In the near future, Moldova will become a neighbor of the European Union, of an EU member country. I don't see why this country, [Romania], should not become a party in the negotiations on Transdniester."
Asked about events in neighboring Ukraine and possible impact on Moldova's forthcoming elections in march, Voronin said "the opposition has no chance to win the election unless it uses abusive ways, through all sorts of orange revolutions, or rose or sunflower revolutions," and this is "a very serious and very unpleasant one if we're talking about true democracy." According to Voronin, "for the time being, the leadership change in Ukraine has not had any concrete impact on relations with Moldova. But I hope that in a short time, I will meet with Mr. Yushchenko. During his inauguration in Kyiv, we agreed on such a meeting. It is clear that the president and the other authorities are currently occupied with more urgent issues, but we hope that we'll meet in the near future and discuss bilateral problems and especially the important issue of Transdniester."
Several audio excerpts of the Voronin interview can be found on the Romania/Moldova Service's website, at, and A complete English-language transcript of the interview has been posted to 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 Director of RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <>.

KYRGYZ SERVICE COVERS OPPOSITION PROTESTS RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service (Radio Azattyk) was the only Kyrgyz-language radio to broadcast reports on opposition rallies held in the capital, Bishkek and the southern capital of Osh on February 5.
More than 300 demonstrators gathered in Bishkek demanding that parliamentary elections on February 27 be free and fair: The Kelkel (New Epoch) youth organization was among the organizers of the Bishkek rally, along with several opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations. Participants also urged President Askar Akayev to keep to his promise not to run for another term in the October presidential election. Akayev, in power for 15 years, is constitutionally barred from seeking an additional term. RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent spoke to the police chief after city police blocked the protesters from marching to the city's central Victory Square, saying the rally was illegal. The police chief, Keneshbek Duishobaev, told RFE/RL an administrative suit will be filed against the rally organizers. (
Authorities in the city of Osh also tried to block a peaceful seminar on "Shortcomings of Democracy in Kyrgyzstan," scheduled to be held in the Osh regional library. The library director withdrew his previously-granted permission for the meeting and, under pressure from the authorities, owners of other premises also refused to host the forum. Eventually, participants moved to the "Akjol" cafe and managed to conduct a short meeting before they were thrown out by the owner. One of the speakers was former foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S., Canada and UK Roza Otunbayeva, who has been barred from running for a seat in parliament in the upcoming election. Interviewed February 9 by the Russian Ekho Moskvy, Otunbayeva said RFE/RL is the only media in Kyrgyzstan that gives her and other opposition leaders an opportunity to voice their views (

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <>.

CORRECTION: RFE/RL BROADCAST STIRS ACTION ON HOMELESS ROMA IN KOSOVA In the February 4, 2005 issue of "RFE/RL Review," the article "RFE/RL Broadcast Stirs Action on Homeless Roma in Kosova" contained several misidentifications. Here follows a corrected version of that article:
A commentary broadcast by RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) January 29 about dreadful living conditions in a Roma camp near the Prishtina capital of Kosovo has led to action by the Kosovo government.
The program emphasized the need to show ethnic tolerance and support of minorities, not only to satisfy international standards but to uphold moral and cultural standards, declaring that "no person's freedom can be built upon the misfortune of another as was proven in the 1990s in former Yugoslavia."
After hearing the program, the Kosovo PEN Center made public appeals to Kosovo UN Mission Chief Soren Jessen-Petersen, Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugovo and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to address the Roma camp problem and provide housing for its inhabitants, who were displaced by the Balkan wars and have lived in the camp since 1999. The Kosovo administration responded and announced on February 1 that the camp is being closed and that the Roma families will get temporary apartments until their own houses, damaged during the war, are rebuilt.

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

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