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RFE/RL Review June 3, 2005


The PDF version is available at http://www.rferl.org/reviews/

RFE/RL REVIEW
The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
-----------------
May 21-June 3, 2005


RFE/RL AT SCENE OF AFGHAN MOSQUE SUICIDE BOMBING RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Reshtim Qadiri was standing in a crowd at the Abdurrab Akhondzada Mosque in Kandahar June 1 to report on a ceremony for a slain Islamic cleric when mourners in the mosque were blown apart by a suicide bomber.
Speaking in Dari and Pashto for Radio Free Afghanistan's live, bilingual broadcast, Qadiri described the scene minutes after the explosion: "I'm in the area [at the mosque's entrance], and this place is covered with blood and body parts. The scene here is horrific... This is the first time a suicide attack has been committed inside a mosque. And people who have come to pray have been killed."
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal confirmed to RFE/RL that the ministry's new security chief in Kabul, General Akram Khakrizwal, was among more than 20 people killed by the blast. Afghan officials at the scene of the explosion said later that the death toll was expected to rise and that close to 40 people had been wounded.
RFE/RL's Qadiri spoke to a witness who said Gen. Khakrizwal appeared to be the target. According to the witness, "It was when Khakrizwal paused to take off his shoes that this person jumped under [him] and blew himself up."
Gen. Khakrizwal was a native of Kandahar who had worked as the Interior Ministry's security chief in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif during the past two years. He had been promoted to the Kabul security post about two months ago.
An Afghan claiming to be a spokesman for the Taliban phoned news organizations in Kabul today to claim responsibility for the attack. But Interior Ministry spokesman Mashal told RFE/RL the claim has not been confirmed. Mashal said "an investigation is underway, it is not clear [who is behind this attack]," adding that "one thing is clear -- these are people who are enemies of Islam as well as the enemies of Afghanistan." Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali later said, at a news conference in Kabul, that "according to reports from Kandahar, the suicide bomber was considered to be a foreigner, not an Afghan." And on Wednesday, June 1, Kandahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai speaking at a news conference in Kandahar said unequivocally that "The suicide bomber was an Arab."
Witnesses injured in the blast were reluctant to give their names. But one eyewitness, speaking in Pashto gave this account to RFE/RL: "As I was entering the mosque an explosion took place. My shawl and clothes were thrown up in the air. I received a few injuries on my hands and legs. I can't hear anything right now. But I can tell you that this is not Islam. This is the killing of Muslim brothers, of innocent people. This is done by the servants of the foreigners who are against Afghanistan's security."
The ceremony for which mourners had gathered was for Mawlavi Abdullah Fayyaz -- the chairman of the Kandahar Clerics' Council who was shot dead by a suspected Taliban militant on May 29. Fayaz had been a strong supporter of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and had recently issued an edict calling on Afghans not to support the Taliban.
An RFE/RL report in English on the Kandahar mosque bombing can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/6/83377C3F-7DAC-4009-A69F-E164200BF4E3.html

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


RFE/RL LED TO MASS GRAVE SITE IN UZBEKISTAN A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent was led to a secret mass grave on the outskirts of the embattled city of Andijon, Uzbekistan and spoke to gravediggers who said 74 bodies had been buried there. The correspondent was also told that this was one of several such sites in and around Andijon. He is the first journalist to give a credible, eyewitness report on the mass graves. The name of the RFE/RL correspondent is not being disclosed for reasons of safety. The correspondent visited the site on May 27, taken there by a community elder named Juraboy. The next day, Mr. Juraboy, a man in his late fifties, was stabbed to death by two unknown assailants.
People were reluctant to speak to the correspondent because of continuing arrests and isolated killings in the region, but the gravediggers did tell RFE/RL that the first batch of bodies was brought by truck on May 13. They said corpses were brought in three large cargo trucks and that gravediggers from Russian Orthodox cemeteries were brought in to bury them, after what many Uzbeks now call "Bloody Friday" -- when mass protest and indiscriminate shooting by government authorities into a crowd of thousands in Andijon killed a still- unspecified number of people. The government admits a death toll of 173. Human rights activists say more than 1,000 people were killed that night.
The gravediggers said there were some 37 graves on the site near Andijon and each contained two bodies. Some of the graves had clearly been opened. A nearby resident told RFE/RL that families of some of the victims had come later to recover the bodies of their loved ones and take them home for a proper Muslim burial. RFE/RL has learned of another mass grave site outside of Andijon and a third mass grave in the center of the city, in the botanical gardens.
RFE/RL's Uzbek Service broadcast an interview May 30 with Vitaly Ponomaryov, director of the Central Asia Program at the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center. Ponomaryov told the Uzbek Service that "planes flew out of Andijon beginning late in the evening on 13 May. In the course of 24 hours, there were around 18 flights. Our source for this information doesn't know where they were flying to, but he spoke with an eyewitness who talked about 36 bodies that were loaded into one plane alone."
More information on the discovery of mass graves in Uzbekistan can be found on the RFE/RL website, at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/05/4981c5a2-fa91-4f1d-bf97-59e5a8d9fd70.html, or on RFE/RL's "Unrest in Uzbekistan" webpage at http://www.rferl.org/specials/uzbek_unrest/

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


UZBEK SERVICE REPORTS ON U.S. SENATORS' VISIT TO TASHKENT Three U.S. senators visited Tashkent May 29 and criticized the Uzbek government for refusing to allow an international investigation into the deaths in the eastern town of Andijan. Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Sununu (R-NH) traveled to the Central Asian republic to investigate the violence and gave a press conference.
An Uzbek Service correspondent attended and filed a report for broadcast that quotes Senator McCain expressing deep concern about events in Andijan (an English-language article about the visit can be found on the RFE/RL website, at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/5/31FF2835-FAD4-4A1B-9A45-8CFD9F31B89D.html). McCain noted than "innocent people" had been killed and criticized President Karimov's decision not allowing international human rights monitors to independently investigate what happened. The death toll is unofficially estimated at as many as 1,000 people, although the Uzbek government said 169 people were killed, mostly what it called "bandits." McCain noted also that Uzbek government officials had declined to meet with the U.S. Senate delegation. The Uzbek Service broadcast interviews with local and international experts discussing the visit and the reasons and consequences of the Uzbek government's behavior.

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


ARMENIAN SERVICE INTERVIEWS SENATOR COLEMAN During a recent three-day trip to Yerevan, U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) gave an exclusive interview to RFE/RL's Armenian Service during which he expressed optimism about the progress of democratization in Armenia (an article in English can be found at http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2005/05/D4B94345-5146-4742-AC1E-ECB93084C6C3.ASP).
Senator Coleman said in the interview, aired June 1, that the United States believes it can help to make future elections in Armenia more democratic by continuing to "aggressively" support economic reforms and efforts to tackle poverty. He noted that "elections alone don't make democracy," and that stability is important for economic development.
Coleman spoke to RFE/RL after a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and Finance Minister Vartan Khachatrian. He was received by President Robert Kocharian later in the day. Markarian's office told RFE/RL the meeting focused on the provision of additional U.S. assistance to Armenia under Bush's Millennium Challenge Account program. Yerevan hopes to receive $175 million within the next four years under the scheme designed to spur economic reforms around the world. According to Coleman, the Armenian government also wants "more aggressive" U.S. efforts to get Turkey to lift its long-running economic blockade of Armenia. He said Washington, for its part, is concerned about government corruption and "would like to see a strengthening of rule of law in Armenia."

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


RADIO FREE IRAQ HELPS FOSTER DIALOGUE ON CONSTITUTION RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) has dedicated much of its daily programming in recent weeks to the forthcoming constitution. RFI acting Director Sergei Danilochkin says that the programming aims to promote dialogue and debate among various Iraqi groups. The programming addresses such issues as human rights, women's rights, the role of Islam, and the role of Sunnis and minorities in the drafting of the constitution, and what democracy means in the new Iraq. For a summary of RFI programming on this issue from 29 May-3 June, please read the latest issue of "RFE/RL Iraq Report," at http://www.rferl.org/reports/iraq-report/2005/06/18-030605.asp

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


POLAND-BELARUS ROW OPENS WAY FOR RARE BELARUSIAN SERVICE INTERVIEW WITH SENIOR BELARUS GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL RFE/RL's Belarusian Service spotlighted a diplomatic row between Poland and Belarus that led to the expulsion of each country's respective diplomatic representatives and Poland barring certain Belarusians from entering the country. The new leadership of the Union of Belarusian Poles (UBP) welcomed the list of banned Belarusians, calling it "fair" in an RFE/RL interview. The list included four former UBP leaders, as well as several KGB officers, officials with the Council of Minister's Committee on Religious and National Affairs and Justice Minister Viktar Halavanaw.
The Belarusian Service got a rare interview with Halavanaw, aired May 23 in which he said his ministry will review a ruling that invalidated a UBP election, the cause of the dispute between Poland and Belarus (transcript in Belarusian available at http://www.svaboda.org/articlesfeatures/politics/2005/05/ed7336c8-cd6f-4d8e-a534-2c2e3bd168df.html). The Belarusian service also interviewed UBP members and held a roundtable discussion on the issue.

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Bohdan Andrusyshyn, may be reached by email at <andrusyshynb@rferl.org>.


KHODORKOVSKY VERDICT DOMINATES RUSSIAN SERVICE NEWS RFE/RL's Russian Service has been airing programs daily for several weeks on latest developments in the trial of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the 12 days of reading 1,000 pages of the verdict and finally May 31 announcement of the verdict -- sentencing Khodorkovsky to nine years in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement. Correspondents of the Russian Service in Moscow followed the legal proceedings, the government-orchestrated demonstrations in support of the trial, and spoke to pro-Khodorkovsky supporters, who for the most part were not allowed to hold protests close to the courthouse. But the main focus of RFE/RL's coverage was reaction and analysis of the trial process, the verdict and its consequences.
An RFE/RL interview on May 31 with Russian oligarch-in-exile Boris Berezovsky (http://www.svoboda.org/programs/vg/2005/vg.053105.asp), quoted also in Russian media, gave one explanation of why Khodorkovsky received a stiff prison term. Berezovsky said "Khodorkovsky poses a danger to Putin and Putin's regime, for one simple reason -- he attempted to be an independent person and any independent person is dangerous for the Putin regime, especially a wealthy independent person." He said the Yukos trial accomplished three goals for the Kremlin: "to destroy any and all financial sources not dependent on the Kremlin: in other words, the private sector; destroying any and all political opponents not dependent on the Kremlin. That's because everyone in Russia is now well aware that any form of political activity requires funding...And the third goal, the strategic goal: "instilling fear, intimidating people - independent people - thus destroying their independence."
On May 31, the day of the verdict, the Russian Service aired an interview with Constitutional Court Judge Tatiana Morshakova on timetables and other technicalities required for the expected appeals to be filed by Khodorkovsky's team of lawyers. In another interview that day, former Russian Minister of Economics and the dean of Moscow's School of Economics, Evgeny Yasin gave background and perspective to the business ethics of Russia in the 1990s, when Khodorkovsky made his fortune. Several current charges go to practices that were legal at the time. Yasin said he does not regard Khodorkovsky as guilty. Yasin and political analyst Mark Urnov also spoke about popular reaction to the verdict with polls suggesting more than a third of Russians believe Khodorkovsky got what was coming to him. Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation said he did not expect such a long prison sentence and blamed the defense for mishandling the case.
Human rights activist and Democratic Union leader Valeria Novodvorskaya called the verdict "Stalinist" and said "Putin and his regime are a boot stepping on humanity's face." In addition to exclusive interviews, RFE/RL's Russian Service aired excerpts of statements by Khodorkovsky's lawyers, various officials and politicians, including President George Bush, who made this statement at a Washington press conference May 31: "I expressed my concerns about the case to President Putin because, as I explained to him, here (in the United States) you're innocent until proven guilty. And it appeared to us -- at least (to) people in my administration -- that it looked like he (Khodorkovsky) had been adjudged guilty prior to having a fair trial. In other words, he was put in prison and then was tried... so we're watching the ongoing case."

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


NEW CHECHEN LEADER TELLS RFE/RL: NO TERRORISM, NO HOSTAGE-TAKING New Chechen resistance leader Abdul-Khalim Sadullaev told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service June 3 that he strongly condemns terrorism and that Chechen independence fighters will not attack peaceful civilians, women and children, and will not take them hostage. Sadullaev emphasized that the resistance will continue to attempt to inflict maximum damage on Russian armed forces and Russian military targets, but would try to avoid injuring civilians.
Sadullaev's statement was made in response to email questions submitted by RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, which broadcasts in the Chechen, Avar and Circassian languages to the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.
An article, featuring translations into English of many of Sadullaev's responses to the questions posed by the North Caucasus Service, can be found on the RFE/RL website at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/06/c9ed22dd-6bb9-464b-85bf-37fbcb02140b.html
Sadullaev, a young man in his 30s, was virtually unknown until he was named Chechen president three months ago, following the killing of his predecessor Aslan Maskhadov. It is not known what role Sadullaev may have played in the Moscow theater hostage-taking in October 2002 or last September's hostage-taking in Beslan. Russian officials blamed both Maskhadov and radical field commander Shamil Basaev for those terrorist acts, although Maskhadov also spoke publicly against the use of terrorist tactics.
Asked about his relations with Basaev, Sadullaev hinted at disagreements among the Chechen resistance leadership, but did not mention Basaev by name. Sadullaev said he is trying to maintain unity within the resistance and channel its efforts in a single direction, and for that reason he will neither sever relations with anyone or try to force anyone to cooperate against his will. "Our nation is very small," he pointed out, and so unity is of paramount importance." Chechnya has not been recognized internationally as a sovereign state.
Sadullaev said Maskhadov's death has not resulted in any "hasty" changes in tactics and that Chechens will not give up their goal of independence. "Our forces are not becoming weaker, and we are prepared to go on fighting." Sadullaev said, adding that "freedom is impossible in an unfree country, and in an unfree country human rights are worthless and cannot be protected. Russia has shown us this yesterday and continues to do so today."
In response to a question about the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sadullaev said, "It was Putin who began this war and he has no way to end it. The war cannot end with us being forced to our knees and capitulating, and Putin has left himself without an alternative."

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


RUSSIAN BASE AGREEMENT TOP STORY FOR GEORGIAN SERVICE May 30 culminated weeks of reporting on negotiations between Russian and Georgia to close two Soviet-era military bases in the country culminated on May 30, when the foreign ministers of both countries signed a joint declaration in which Russia pledged a three-year phased withdrawal to be completed by 2008. RFE/RL's Russian and Georgian services worked in close cooperation to provide up-to-the minute information and live audio for their respective audiences.
The Georgian Service aired a range of exclusive interviews, including Parliament Majority leader Maia Nadiradze, opposition leader David Gamkrelidze, Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee Givi Targamadze, and Deputy Foreign Minister Merab Antadze, who led the Georgian delegation at the last round of talks with Moscow. Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili also contributed comments to the broadcast. After the document was signed, the Moscow correspondent of the Georgian Service secured brief remarks also from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On June 1, the Georgian Service aired a roundtable discussion with military experts Professor Kakha Katsitadze, the Prorector of Georgia's Military Academy and David Aprasidze, who heads the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation office in Tbilisi (http://www.tavisupleba.org/programs/roundtable/2005/06/20050601181306.asp).
Exclusive interviews with Russian analysts and politicians gave the Russian perspective on the withdrawal for RFE/RL's Georgian listeners. Alexei Malashenko from Carnegie Moscow Centre, leading military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, and Andrei Piontkovsky, director of the Center for Strategic Research in Moscow were among the guests on RFE/RL's Georgian Service.
One of the two Russian bases is located in the Black Sea city port of Batumi, while the other is located at Akhalkalaki, in the predominantly Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. The Akhalkalaki base is to be vacated first. The general elation was muted among the experts, some of whom speculated that Russia would withdraw troops only to the border with Georgia and may simply relocate supplies and materiel to neighboring Armenia.
On June 2, the service broadcast a wide-ranging exclusive interview with U.S. historian Richard Pipes, who was interviewed in RFE/RL's Tbilisi studio (http://www.tavisupleba.org/special/politics/2005/06/20050602135504.asp). According to Pipes: "If Russia stops meddling in Transcaucasia, as we call it, then I think these (regional and separatist) problems can be solved. But if it is in the interest of Russia to have people quarrel here, so they can have more influence, then these problems will not be solved." Pipes said the pullout is more symbolic than substantive: "these bases -- I mean, what are they, 3,000 soldiers? -- it is not an important base for Russian power, but symbolically, it is very important, because you don't keep your troops in a sovereign foreign country."

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, David Kakabadze, may be reached by email at <kakabadzed@rferl.org>.


FILM OF SERB KILLER ON RFE/RL WEBSITE Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty obtained a video clip showing a Serb paramilitary police commander giving instructions to kill Bosnian captives in western Bosnia in 1995. The one-minute video was made by the Serb unit as a record of its atrocities, and is the property of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center, which has given RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Language Service (SSALS) exclusive rights to place the film on the RFE/RL website and use it in programming. The video clip is available at RFE/RL's website, at http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/article/2005/06/03/8d77c4b2-5274-44e3-b29d-0570ac306fdd.html
In a June 2 broadcast, SSALS aired audio of the video clip, showing members of the infamous Serb "Scorpion" special unit discussing over a radio phone what to do with five captured Bosnian soldiers. The unit's commander, Milorad "Legija" Ulemek, is currently standing trial on charges of masterminding the 2003 assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindic. In the video clip, a man appearing to be Ulemek is giving orders to keep alive one captive and kill the other four, saying: "We need only one. Do it in a way to look as if they were trying to escape."
The RFE/RL program was a second shock to Serb audiences, coming a day after a film on Serb television showed a Scorpion unit at Srebrenica in July 1995 loading six tortured Bosnian captives onto a truck and driving them to a place of execution. The film showed the captives being shot, as well as the faces of their killers. It was part of the evidence at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague and was brought to Belgrade by Hague tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. RFE/RL broadcast audio of the tape, as well as the news that Serb authorities had arrested ten of the alleged killers depicted in the film within 24 hours of its viewing there and a report on the passionate public debate that has now broken out in Serbia about responsibility for the war crimes of the 1990s.
RFE/RL Coordinator of Balkan Analysis Patrick Moore said "the film constitutes a smoking gun, showing irrefutably that Serbian paramilitary police, taking orders from the Serbian Interior Ministry, were engaged in the massacre on Bosnian territory." He said it removes all deniability from Serb authorities who had claimed that Bosnian warlords were responsible for the Srebrenica massacre and other atrocities, in which thousands of Bosnians were killed.

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


RADIO FREE IRAQ GIVES MICROPHONE TO YOUNG IRAQIS... RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) sent a correspondent to a youth conference in Baghdad May 31, on the theme of political engagement and participation in the drafting of the new constitution. The conference was co-sponsored by the Iraqi Youth Association (IYA) and the Iraqi General Council of Tribal Leaders.
RFI's report on the conference aired excerpts of the speeches and discussion, as well as RFE/RL interviews with participants. IYA spokesman Kazim al-Zubaydi said that with constant war and violence for 35 years, "the elders are tired people, so we as the youth must before all challenge the will of terrorism and be a supportive hand to this government." He added that one of the things young people hope to overcome is what he called "sectarian allegiances."
IYA member Hadi al-Jaza'iri, referring to the daily bombings, said "We do not want young Iraqis to perpetuate a culture of explosions. We want explosions from youth's inner energy." He also rejected western secular culture, saying "neither do we want to adopt Western secularism... with its moral disintegration. We have confirmed our determination to insist on morals, politics, and religion."

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


...FOLLOWS BOMBINGS, SECURITY SITUATION... Radio Free Iraq continues to closely monitor the security situation in Iraq, covering latest developments in newscasts, reports and a daily program called "Iraqi Security File" (http://www.iraqhurr.org/iraqfile/iraqifile/). The seven-minute segment gives a summary of that day's security, military and related events combined with accounts of the most important issues from different parts of the country. The program has a large audience and its popularity is growing, according to recent research. Its strong point is offering listeners a capsule review of security in different towns and regions.
On May 25th, in addition to the short security news summary, the program continued with four reports (transcript available, in Arabic, on the service's website at http://www.iraqhurr.org/iraqfile/iraqifile/2005/05/20050525152725.asp; audio at http://www.iraqhurr.org/realaudio/iraqifile/2005/05/20050525152725.ram). The first provided details of a double bombing in the center of Dohuk city where one person was killed and five wounded; followed by a report from Basra about a former member of Saddam's security detachment being assassinated by gunmen and the arrest of a person accused of financing insurgents; a story from Mosul, where security forces freed some hostages; and a report from Baqouba, where a senior Iraqi Army official was killed by gunmen and the good news of a Baladrooz district police chief surviving an assassination attempt.

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


...MISTAKEN ARREST OF SUNNI POLITICIAN Radio Free Iraq provided comprehensive coverage this week of the mistaken arrest and brief detention of the leader of the (Sunni-based) Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, who was taken by multinational forces that stormed his house in Baghdad early on May 30. The incident happened during a large security sweep in Baghdad, involving thousands of Iraqi and coalition forces. RFI reported on Sunni statements of outrage, eyewitness accounts, the apology of the occupying forces and the Iraqi government's reaction.
An RFI Baghdad correspondent was at an IIP press conference held a few hours after the incident, where angry statements were made by party officials demanding al-Hamid's immediate release and compensation for damage to his house. IIP Assistant-Secretary General Tariq al-Hashimi called for "an official apology from the occupation forces for the material and moral damage that has been inflicted on one of the biggest and most reputable Iraqi patriotic political parties." A spokesman for the Sunni Congress, Adnan Muhammad Salman (al-Dulaymi) complained that the wrongful arrest had set back efforts to reduce sectarian violence in Iraq, "unify political discourse, unite Iraqi ranks and draw Sunnis into a strong bloc that would participate in the political process in its various forms."
One of al-Hamid's sons, Suhayb Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, gave this account of the operation in an RFE/RL interview broadcast the same day, May 30: "At four o'clock this morning, dear friend, the U.S. forces stormed the house. All of us -- my sisters, Abu Anas, our brother Yasir who is general director in Sunni al-Waqf, Mr. Miqdad Abu Taha who is first secretary in the foreign ministry, and my younger brother who studies the faculty of technology -- live in the house. There was a guest in my father's room. They entered at four o'clock. When my father left [the room to see what was going on], they immediately pulled a bag over his head and handcuffed him with his hands [behind his] back. Then they turned the house upside down, maybe you can enter to see its shape now. They mentioned some names, saying: 'Definitely al-Zarqawi is here! Al-Zarqawi is here!' The important thing is that I am not upset with the occupiers of my country, the Americans. I am upset with the Iraqi who came with them and who violated all norms of behavior, in a manner completely contradictory to his position of interpreter, or I do not know in what position he came here. My mother said that he had spoken rudely with father, saying: 'What is this Islamic Party for and who is this doctor Muhsin? Why did not you enter the elections?' -- in this mocking way."
Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kubba told RFE/RL, in a telephone interview, that this was the fourth such case to occur in the past month and that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has ordered an investigation into the rash of mistaken arrests. Kubba also welcomed al-Hamid's release and said that, to avoid such incidents in the future, the Iraqi government needs to fully control the security apparatus.

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


"BLOODY FRIDAY" CONTINUES AS UZBEK SERVICE'S TOP STORY RFE/RL's Uzbek Service continued all week to air stories from eyewitnesses and survivors of the May 13 bloodshed in Andijan (an article in English compiling many of the testimonies can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/5/2B641483-6108-4A62-B1BA-EF99A945662F.html). One woman who was in the crowd in front of the government building that day told RFE/RL that it was Uzbek soldiers who killed the prosecutor and tax inspector in Andijon, who had been taken hostage by the protesters occupying the building. She said, after negotiations with the authorities ended and the protesters vacated the building and were moving away, they pushed the hostages to the front of the crowd, hoping soldiers would not fire on the officials. But the military opened fire, and the hostages were the first to die.

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


UZBEK SERVICE COVERS CRACKDOWN ON HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS RFE/RL's Uzbek Service aired several reports from correspondents in Tashkent and the Ferghana Valley about human rights activists who say they are under virtual house arrest, not allowed to leave their homes and threatened by police patrolling the areas around their house. Some said they also have trouble on the telephone, experiencing cuts and disturbances on the line. RFE/RL reported the disappearance of one human rights advocate in Samarkand, an incident of a beating in Tashkent, the arrest of the city chairman of Tashkent who remains in detention, other arrests of known human rights activists in Andijan and several others who had their passports confiscated to prevent them from traveling. RFE/RL correspondents are trying to locate the whereabouts of 15 members of the Esgulik human rights group, who were arrested and taken away to an unknown destination.
An English-language compilation of many of these reports can be found on the RFE/RL website, at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/6/CCDBB96C-BD1B-43FF-84A5-24A056A02AA4.html

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


RUSSIAN SERVICE ON HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS... RFE/RL's Russian Service devoted a segment of its May 23 flagship program "Time of Liberty" to the continuing persecution and harassment of independent journalists in Russia (http://www.svoboda.org/ll/soc/0505/ll.052305-8.asp).
One of the people interviewed on the program was Alex Lupis of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which recommended that the well-known human rights organization "Human Rights Watch" award Russian Service North Caucasus correspondent Yuri Bagrov its annual Hellman/Hammett Grant for writers worldwide who have been victims of political persecution. Lupis spoke about the problems Russian authorities make for journalists trying to cover events in Chechnya and the North Caucasus.
Hellman/Hammett Grant winner Yuri Bagrov was also interviewed on the same show and described how his recordings and notes are routinely confiscated, he is barred from attending press conferences, and even openly threatened by Interior Ministry police. Bagrov reports on Chechnya and the North Caucasus region for RFE/RL from his hometown Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia. His passport was taken from him in December and he is now appealing through the judicial system, hoping to get his passport back later this year, so he may travel and resume working as a reporter.

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


...THE MOSCOW BLACKOUT Within one hour of the electricity blackout in Moscow May 25, RFE/RL's Russian Service was on the air, reporting live from the streets of Moscow -- from motionless Metro trains, jammed intersections and bewildered passengers and motorists. The service also aired statements by President Vladimir Putin, electricity tsar Anatoly Chubais, opposition leader Grigoriy Yavlinsky and a series of other experts.

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


ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER REAFFIRMS PRO-WESTERN TILT IN RFE/RL INTERVIEW Aram Sarkisian, the leader of Armenia's most radical opposition party, the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) Party confirmed in an exclusive RFE/RL interview, aired May 26, that he has changed his perspective on foreign policy, In the interview, He now praises the United States and questions his country's close military ties with Russia (a report in English is available on the service's website, at http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2005/05/F6246C0C-CED1-413C-AD6E-8E4B217D004E.asp).
"We have a lot to learn from the United States and other Western democracies," Sarkisian told RFE/RL, adding that "Russia is offering us nothing, while the West is urging us not to rig elections and to form legitimate judicial, legislative and executive bodies." Sarkisian went on to question Armenia's participation in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and implied that its long-term security requires membership of NATO. "How long will the Collective Security Treaty last?" Sarkisian said. "Five years at most. What will we do after five years? Will we be able to ensure our security?"
Sarkisian is scheduled to travel to the U.S. on June 7, at the invitation of a small diaspora-based political group called the Social Democratic Hnchakian Party. Sarkisian told the RFE/RL Armenian Service he will meet its leaders as well as members of the U.S. Congress during a week-long trip to Washington. Sarkisian, who briefly served as Armenia's prime minister in 1999-2000, would not say if meetings with officials from the White House or the State Department are also planned.

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


ARMENIANS ELATED AT LYCOS EUROPE MOVE RFE/RL's Armenian Service broke the news in Armenia May 24 that leading European Internet firm Lycos Europe reportedly plans to relocate dozens of its French computer programmers to Armenia, locating its new headquarters there in an effort to cut costs (a report in English about the Lycos Europe decision can be found at http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2005/05/958668A4-A10B-495B-AB36-86ADC83390B3.ASP).
Information technology is seen as one of the most promising sectors of the Armenian economy. Foreign and mostly U.S. IT companies, attracted by the country's relatively cheap and skilled labor, have been the main driving force behind the industry's rapid growth over the past decade. At least a dozen of them now have branches in Armenia.

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


RFE/RL REPORTS ON CLASH AT KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT BUILDING... An RFE/RL correspondent of the Kyrgyz Service was at the Supreme Court in Bishkek early June 1 when a crowd of more than 200 people stormed the building and forcefully ejected a group of some 50 protesters who had occupied the building since April (the Kyrgyz Service's report can be found at http://www.azattyk.org/rubrics/politics/ky/2005/06/7925149E-9DC2-462C-A3D2-38EC181469F9.asp; a report in English on the clash can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/6/FA1526D4-7B1C-45F5-8522-123937B6EE46.html).
RFE/RL spoke to one of the protesters who had been inside the building for several weeks -- Kalychan Umaraliyeva. She told RFE/RL her group was protesting against judges appointed during the regime of ousted President Askar Akaev who continue to hold office, including Supreme Court Chairman Kurmanbek Osmonov. "We are for justice, we want to have a judicial system that satisfies the needs of the people, not the desires of the rich," she said.
Umaraliyeva alleged that some of those in the crowd who evicted her and the others from the Supreme Court today are relatives of Osmonov and that today's eviction had the support of top officials in the new government that replaced Akaev and is headed by acting President and Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev. She said in the RFE/RL interview: "It's clear that Kurmanbek Ergeshavich [Osmonov] is not alone here, that there are certain forces backing him who are in the government, who are sitting in the [Kyrgyz] White House, and it's obvious that they organized [today's storming of the building]."

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


...ANNULMENT OF EX-PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER'S ELECTION TO PARLIAMENT RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service continued to closely follow the ongoing efforts of government institutions to weed out the legacy of corruption of the decades of Akayev's regime. An important development for Bishkek citizens was the annulment of the election of Akayev's daughter Bermet to the Kyrgyz parliament in mid-May.
The service carried the statement of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announcing the polling results of the No 1 University constituency were null and void (http://www.azattyk.org/news/domestic/ky/2005/05/20050516.asp; http://www.azattyk.org/rubrics/politics/ky/2005/05/66188432-2F08-4616-B587-26422CAE6F75.asp). The CEC said it agreed with new findings of the Prosecutor General's office that fraud was committed by officials during the election campaign to favor Bermet Akayeva.

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


"THE HAGUE CHRONICLES:" SSALS COVERS WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) keeps listeners informed of the prosecution of war crimes in The Hague in its weekly program "The Hague Chronicles" (http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/archive-programs/259.html). Launched in 1999, the weekly 15-minute broadcast is produced and moderated from Prague by senior broadcaster Mensur Camo, a specialist on legal issues. Camo summarizes the main recent legal developments and, in interviews with experts, gives background and explanation of key issues as well as reaction from the region.
In a recent broadcast, he relayed the highlights of Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's address to the weekly session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna May 19 (http://www.danas.org/article/2005/05/19/ec004596-d27b-47a2-95a8-c83d66b85bf6.html). In her remarks, Del Ponte criticized a lack of cooperation with the international tribunal by Balkan governments, singling out the epublika Srpska entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia as the main offenders. Camo included in the program initial reaction from Zagreb, including exclusive interviews with a lawyer and an opposition politician who both said the Croatian government's role in helping suspected war criminals may delay negotiations to join the European Union.
In other broadcasts, Camo regularly broadcasts exclusive interviews with legal experts from the region -- Serbia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia, even the Albanian-speaking province of Kosova. To get a western perspective on issues of responsibility and retribution, especially around the time of the 9/11 attacks, Camo interviewed Benjamin Ferencz, the Chief Prosecutor for the U.S. at the 1945-46 Nuremberg tribunal (http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/programi/haaska/2000/04/20000407060649.asp; http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/programi/aktuelno/2001/09/20010918140243.asp; http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/programi/haaska/2001/09/20010921144228.asp).
During a broadcast of "The Hague Chronicles" earlier this year, the topic was the work of the NGO "Research and Documentation Center" in Sarajevo to compile a definitive database of those killed in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia (http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/article/2005/02/10/c7ff71db-b838-4d53-99f1-4c740a1595f0.html). The figures have varied hugely, manipulated for self-serving political purposes by various politicians in the region. The director of the center, Mirsad Tokaca told "The Hague Chronicles" that the final results will be released in June, but he gave an idea of where the results of the research may well lead -- disclosing that the total number of casualties during the war in Bosnia will turn out to be closer to 100,000 than the 200 000-300,000 figure often cited.
In another program, "The Hague Chronicles" reported on the efforts to transfer the case of the so-called "Vukovar Troika" (three Yugoslav Army officers indicted by the Hague tribunal for the killing of more than 200 civilians at Vukovar) to either Croatia or Serbia (http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/article/2005/05/12/df8ccf41-e834-48c6-bee8-4b9a27a060bc.html).
In addition to the weekly "The Hague Chronicles" programs, SSALS covers tribunal news and related issues as developments merit in its daily regular regional news and analysis broadcasting. Visitors can also link to the live daily RealVideo feed of court proceedings before the tribunal in The Hague from the SSALS website, http://www.slobodnaevropa.org

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

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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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