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RFE/RL Review April 22, 2005

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
April 13-22, 2005

BAGHDAD MAYOR CALLS FOR NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH MEDIA DURING VISIT TO RFE/RL PRAGUE Baghdad mayor Alaa Al-Timimi called for a new relationship between the government and the media in Iraq, in an interview in Prague with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI; article at; audio at Al-Timimi told RFI that Iraq's new government needs to develop closer contacts with the public to be truly representative of the people and can only do that through the media. Al Timimi praised the work of western broadcasters to Iraq, including RFI and said western journalists serve as a model for Iraqis, asking difficult and sometimes provocative questions of government officials. "This is the way it should work, this is what we need," Al-Timimi said.
Al Timimi was in Prague to sign an agreement with the Czech officials on reconstruction and development projects. He spent more than an hour at RFE/RL's Broadcast Operations Center and wrote the following message into RFE/RL's guestbook: "I am proud and happy to be with the accompanying delegation at this spot and in this place. During the time of the murderous Saddam regime Radio Free Iraq was, for us Iraqis, the voice of truth giving us hope to be rid of the regime and all those who supported it against our beloved Iraq. My thanks to all members of the staff wishing for them to always continue saying the truth."

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

RADIO FREE IRAQ FOLLOWING MYSTERY OF MADAIN RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq is looking into the murky, controversial circumstances surrounding reports of the mass hostage-taking and killings that first arose a week ago and to this day remain unclear. On April 18, Iraqi security forces raided the town of Madain, 30 kilometers south of Baghdad after receiving reports that Sunni militants had kidnapped more than 50 Shiites and were holding them hostage. No hostages were found; but several days later, scores of bodies were being pulled from the Tigris River.
Radio Free Iraq sent two correspondents to Madain April 18, where they filed several reports on the crisis (;;, speaking to the families of some of those missing and presumed dead ( and interviewing government officials about the situation ( RFI later broadcast statements by the Iraqi government that asserted the bodies pulled from the Tigris were those of the hostages and included many children.
RFI correspondents say families in Madain have not been given remains of their loved ones for burial. It has not been possible to confirm the identity of the dead or under what circumstances they died.

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

RFE/RL SERVICES BREAK NEWS, GAUGE REACTION TO ELECTION OF NEW POPE RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service was among the first to break the news to Ukrainian listeners that the conclave of cardinals in Rome had elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger the new Pope. Seconds after white smoke began billowing from the roof, the information was passed to the newscaster who was already on-air (, The service followed the news with an interview with Ukrainian Theology Professor Andrij Onuferko (, who talked about Cardinal Ratzinger's life and career in the Vatican and what his policies might be as Pope Benedict XVI, particularly toward the Ukrainian Catholic Church. On April 18, the first day of the conclave, the Ukrainian Service aired an interview with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church representative to the Vatican Father Adrian Ckun who explained the workings of the conclave.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Alexander Narodetsky, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service (known locally as Radio Azattyk) was on the air live April 20 with reaction to the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pope. The program included an interview with the former head of the state commission on religious affairs in Kyrgyzstan, who noted that "former Pope John Paul II was distinguished by an exemplary and very humane attitude toward not only Islam, but to all religions and beliefs" and said he thinks "Benedict XVI will continue this line." Later that day, a special feature on Kyrgyz reaction to the new Pope included an interview with the head of a tiny Catholic community in Kyrgyzstan, Father Alexander Kan, who also welcomed the newly elected Pope.

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

ANALYZING RUSSIA'S ANNUAL ECONOMIC FORUM A record number of more than 2,000 Russian and international delegates attended the annual Russian Rconomic Forum in London on April 11-12. RFE/RL's Russian Service sent a correspondent to cover the event and continues to program on the rich material he gathered. The two day conference featured 177 speakers in 28 sessions, including many leading Russian and international economists, politicans and academics.
A major item on the forum's agenda was an address by former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, a potential candidate in the 2008 presidential election. RFE/RL's correpsondent interviewed Kasyanov, as well as Anatoly Chubais,head of the Russian Electricity Enterprise, and spoke to a number of presidents of major banks. The interviews aired in the Time of Politics program, April 18 (transcript at

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

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES REFORMS WITH RFE/RL RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service hosted, by phone from Kyiv, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Roman Bezsmertnyj on its daily Evening Liberty live call-in talk show April 19 ( On the program, moderated in Prague, Bezsmertnyi discussed what President Yuschchenko's government has achieved in its first months in office, particularly in his own area of responsibility for administrative and territorial reform. Bezsmertnyj spoke about his proposal for reorganizing regional managers into a three-tier system and that generated a lively discussion with other participants and many call-ins from listeners.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Alexander Narodetsky, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL INTERVIEWS AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER RFE/RL correspondents from both the Armenian and Azerbaijani language services were granted a rare, exclusive interview on April 15 with Azerbaijani foreign minister Elmar Mummadyarov in London. The interview, on the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, aired in both countries the following day. This was the first time Armenian listeners were able to hear the voice of a senior Azerbaijani government official speaking to a correspondent of the Armenian Service.
Mummadyarov met with the RFE/RL correspondents in London after the conclusion of one-day talks with OSCE negotiators. His Armenian counterpart, Vardan Oskanian, who declined RFE/RL's request for an interview, held separate "proximity"discussions with the OSCE. Mummadyarov said some progress is being made in the OSCE-sponsored talks on resolving the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and that he is cautiously optimistic about the next round. "We hope that the movement will [continue] steadily further and we agreed that the next meeting is going to be in Frankfurt, on the 27th of this month," Mummadyarov said. Mummadyarov told RFE/RL's Armenian correspondent that "Azerbaijan is ready for compromise" on the status of the disputed territory, provided Armenian forces withdraw and end their occupation (

** 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 <>.

KYRGYZ SERVICE AIRS INTERVIEW WITH KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER... RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service aired an exclusive interview with interim foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva on April 16 and 17, about Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy in the post-Akayev era. Speaking to a Kyrgyz Service correspondent in Bishkek, Otunbayeva, among other things, disclosed that the new ambassador to the United States will be Zamira Sydykova, currently editor-in-chief of the independent "Res Publica" newspaper.
Otunbayeva also commented on internal politcs, saying it may take up to two years to clean up the political mess left by Akayev's presidency. She said the entire political system has to be overhauled. One of the first changes, Otunbayeva said, will be the resignation of Supreme Court chairman Kurmanbek Osmonov because of the biased conduct of his court and the activities of the judiciary during the disputed parliamentary elections in February and March.
A transcript of the Kyrgyz Service's interview with Kyrgyz interim Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva can be read on the service's website, at

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

...AKAYEV'S DAUGHTER RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service also aired an exclusive interview April 21 with Bermet Akayeva, the 32-year-old daughter of ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. She fled the country with the rest of her family late last month when a popular revolt ousted her father, but returned to Kyrgyzstan April 15.
Akayeva came to RFE/RL's studio in the Bishkek bureau, declaring she intended to take her seat in parliament as a duly elected deputy. She denied there was any vote-rigging or other special help to ease her and her brother into parliament, saying: "It was possible for anyone to monitor (the elections). International organizations especially could monitor (events in the constituency)... There was a record number of monitors in my constituency. That is why my election campaign was very open and transparent." Akayeva won run-off elections March 13 to become the only female MP in Kyrgyzstan. However a challenger has lodged a complaint of vote-rigging with the Central Election Committee and her deputy mandate could be revoked.
In the RFE/RL interview, Akayeva also said her parents, Askar Akayev and his wife Mairma are still recovering in Moscow from the shock of being deposed, but that "they will surely come back to Kyrgyzstan in due time."
Akayeva repeatedly denied allegations of corruption and illegal financial transactions. She also expressed skepticism about a commission formed to look into the allegations. Akayeva said: "I don't trust the commission to be objective because their task is just to destroy us. Now they are persecuting and firing our relatives from their positions. Even (some) members of the government in official meetings are saying we have to fire Akayev's relatives from their positions and destroy Akayev's businesses. That is why I don't trust the commission."
The commission is identifying the holdings of the Akayev family and has produced a list of businesses they own. Bermet's husband Adil Toigonbayev figured prominently on the list and officials announced he would be investigated. After the Akayeva interview, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service broadcast a story on the work of the commission that included interviews with two of its members.
An English-language article on the Kyrgyz Service's interview with Bermet Akayeva can be found on the RFE/RL website, at

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE PURSUES POST-AKAYEV REVELATIONS RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service is giving extensive coverage in interviews, analyzes and panel discussions to revelations about misdoings of the Akayev presidency and the work of the interim administration to weed out corruption and establish functioning democratic branches of governrment in Kyrgyzstan.
A Kyrgyz Service correspondent covered the two-day Civil Society Forum in Bishkek from April 19-20, which addressed many of the issues facing the new government ( Kyrgyzstan's acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, spoke to the forum April 20, saying there is plenty of evidence proving the ousted government was corrupt from the top. He said: "materials from former president Askar Akayev's personal archives show the fairy tale about a good president and his bad ministers has nothing to do with reality. The (ex-)president personally directed, planned and financed bribery and vote-rigging."

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

RFE/RL KEEPS SPOTLIGHT ON JAILED UZBEK JOURNALIST RFE/RL's Uzbek Service has broadcast programs throughout the past week on the detention of Uzbek journalist Sobirjon Yakubov, a 22-year-old correspondent for the Hurriyat newspaper. Yokubov was arrested April 11 and taken into custody by the Tashkent Internal Affairs Department. RFE/RL correspondents in Tashkent are in touch with Yokubov's family, who do not know where he is being held. RFE/RL was told by Internal Affairs Department officials that Yakubov was not arrested and they have no knowledge of him. It was not until April 15 that First Deputy of Internal Affairs Minister Alisher Sharofitdinov confirmed the arrest at a press conference and said Yakubov was being charged with "undermining Uzbekistan's constitutional regime."
The Uzbek Service was the first to break the news of his arrest and has been an information source for international human rights groups. Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have issued press releases calling for Yakubov's release. The CPJ noted in its news alert that Yakubov's colleagues have said that he was arrested after writing that slain Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze "became a driving force [for Ukrainians] to realize the necessity of democratic reforms and freedoms."
A RFE/RL English-language article putting the Yakubov arrest in context with the April 18 opening of the trial of 20 Uzbeks charged with the 2004 attacks in Tashkent and Bukhara can be found on the RFE/RL website at; additional background (in Uzbek) can be found on the service's website,

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

RFE/RL OUTLINES EXPECTATIONS FOR GUUAM SUMMIT RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service is gearing up for coverage of the GUUAM summit in Chisinau on April 22. This five-member grouping of states -- Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova -- formed eight years ago with the aim of fostering regional cooperation outside the boundaries of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but has accomplished little so far.
The Romania/Moldova Service conducted a series of exclusive interviews to find out what the expectations are for this year's summit conference. Correspondents spoke to Moldova foreign minister Andrei Stratan (, as well as to the Romanian president's foreign policy adviser Andrei Plesu. To round out the story, the service contacted Germany-based political analyst Vladimir Socor, Russian political analyst Pavel Felgenhauer and others.
In an article posted on RFE/RL's English language page (, experts told RFE/RL that efforts are underway to breathe new life into the group, which is increasingly turning away from Moscow and looking toward the West.

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

SSALS REVEALS WAR CRIMES SUSPECT TO TURN SELF IN RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) broke the news April 15 that General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who has been in hiding, will soon turn himself in to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. His lawyer, Ljubisa Zivadinovic, disclosed in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL ( that contact was only recently established with Pavkovic, who was indicted by The Hague tribunal for war crimes in Kosovo in 1999 and is also believed to have been involved in an assassination attempt against Serb opposition leader Vuk Draskovic. He disappeared a month ago, to avoid being arrested and facing trial on the Draskovic charges. Zivadinovic said in the RFE/RL interview that "Pavkovic is asking me to work day and night in order to finish preparing a defense case so that he can go to The Hague... a defense case is his condition for surrendering to The Hague court." Pavkovic was a Yugoslav army commander in Kosovo in 1999 and later army chief of staff.
RFE/RL's revelation that Pavkovic would soon go to The Hague made headlines in all major papers in the region and was widely quoted in other media. In related stories April 15, RFE/RL examined the issue of who provided safe haven for Pavkovic for almost a month and why police seemed unable to track him down.

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

90TH GENOCIDE/MASSACRE ANNIVERSARY TOP NEWS FOR ARMENIAN SERVICE Ninety years later, whether to call the killings of Armenians in 1915 a massacre or genocide remains one of the most important and most sensitive political issue for Armenians and a question that can raise international tensions. RFE/RL's Armenian Service has been broadcasting special programs three times a day all week, examining various aspects of this controversial and painful subject.
On April 19, the service aired a special report on the Polish parliament's decision to recognize the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide. The following day, it carried an interview with former Polish president Lech Walesa who condemned what he called "the first genocide of the 20th century" (
Walesa was in Yerevan attending an April 20-21 international conference of scholars, historians, journalists and politicians, debating the terminology and its political implications. The Armenian Service had two correspondents on the scene, interviewing participants over the two days of the event and reporting live on the proceedings. Interviewees included two Turkish scholars who disagreed on the subject, one supporting the term "genocide" and the other opposing it; a politician from Israel, and U.S. and German historians.
The Armenian service also sent a correspondent to Berlin April 20 to cover a debate in the Bundestag on a resolution on the massacres. The resolution said between 1.2 and 1.5 million Christian Armenians died or were killed by Muslim Turks during "planned" deportations during World War One.
Turkey rejects this version of events, saying the numbers are inflated, and the U.S. also officially refrains from calling the tragedy "genocide." However, the 90th anniversary was also commemorated in the U.S. Congress, at an unofficial event attended by more than 100 congressmen April 20. The Armenian Service reported on April 20 about a letter from U.S. lawmakers to President George Bush, urging him to recognize the 1915 killings as genocide. April 24 is marked in the U.S. as "Armenian Remembrance Day," when Bush traditionally issues a message to that effect. The Armenian Service's broadcasts that day will feature President Bush's message as the centerpiece of its commemoration of the anniversary.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Hrair Tamrazian, may be reached by email at <>.

RFE/RL ADDS EDGE TO STEM CELL DISCOVERY A Czech research laboratory made international headlines recently when it announced a discovery that brings scientists a step closer to controlling the behavior of embryonic stem cells. An RFE/RL correspondent visited the lab, in the southeastern Czech city of Brno, and filed an English-language feature April 21 that is being translated and broadcast by a number of RFE/RL language services. The feature can be read on the RFE/RL webpage, at
The head of the lab, Dr. Peter Dvorak, explained his team's latest discovery as "a possible mechanism to keep human stem cells in their original blank state." This is a milestone on the way to cultivating different cell types that may one day help doctors cure such diseases as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, as well as help rehabilitate people suffering from spinal cord injuries.

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

RFE/RL in the News

* RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau Chief Rimzil Valeev of the Tatar-Bashkir Service was a guest on the "Good Morning Tatarstan" TNV ( New Century TV) show April 22. He took part in a 20-minute segment about the role of native language in political and social life and in the media.
During the program, a viewer called in to complain that in recent days she has been unable to hear "Azatlyq" (as the Tatar-Bashkir broadcasts are known locally) programs on radio. Valeev used the opportunity to give detailed information on how to find RFE/RL programs or access them on the Internet. RFE/RL's Tatar and Bashkir language broadcasts used to be rebroadcast by Tatarstan State Radio and TV Company (GTRK). That relationship ended on April 1, when GTRK became a branch of the State Radio and TV Company of Russia, headquartered in Moscow; it is now prohibited from airing foreign broadcasts.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Ferit Agi, may be reached by email at <>.

* Reports produced by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service (known locally as "Radio Azattyq") continue to be re-published by leading print media in Kazakhstan. This month, the leading independent newspaper in Western Kazakhstan "Altyn Orda" used "Azattyq's" materials on political developments in Kyrgyzstan after the revolution and its possible impact to political developments in Kazakhstan. Beyond that, the same newspaper continues printing its special rubric: Radio-Review-Azattyq Report, in which major domestic and international reports aired by RFE/RL's Kazakh service are cited.
In addition, the Kazakh Service's reports on the fate of Asel Abdygapparova, a young Kazakh woman sentenced to life in prison by a court in San Antonio, Texas continue to be cited in Kazakh media as well. On April 2, one of the leading Kazakh newspapers "Jas Alash" published a report by Kazakh Service broadcaster Yerzhan Karabekov, devoted to further developments of Abdygapparova's story and her fate.
The Kazakh Service has been closely monitoring Abdygapparova's case since January and was the first -- for some time the only -- source of information in Kazakhstan on the story. Kazakh Service reports on the case have been republished by prominent local and foreign newspapers and websites, including Zhas Alash, Express-K, Megapolis,,

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

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Copyright (c) 2005. 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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