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RFE/RL Review January 27, 2006


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

RFE/RL REVIEW
The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
-----------------
January 14-27, 2006

RADIO FREE IRAQ TALKS TO JUDGE BEFORE RESIGNATION... RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq is following closely the personas, dramas and delays in the trial of Saddam Hussein and other defendants.
After rumors that presiding Judge Rizgar Muhammad Amin may resign, RFI broadcaster Diar Bamrni contacted him to ask about the role of the panel of judges and the rules and procedures in the courtroom (text and link to audio of the interview available at http://www.iraqhurr.org/programs/humanr/2006/01/20060116.asp#131). In the interview aired January 16, Amin declined to discuss his pending resignation, but spoke about the complex court arrangements and responsibilities of separate panels and councils of judges and special investigative judges involved in the trial. He said that the High Criminal Court relies heavily on laws used by international tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as the Iraqi Criminal Code of 1971.
Asked about the latitude he gave defendants in attacking witnesses and the court itself, Amin said this is not unusual in Iraqi courts. "If people could only see and hear what really happens inside the courtroom -- the exchange of insults, the swearing, the arguments," Amin said, adding that emotions usually run high at a trial and he is surprised at the way "these issues have been blown up and exaggerated in Saddam Hussein's trial.
Amin noted that "the trial is proceeding in a neutral and fair way," and there is no need to transfer to another venue. He also rejected the suggestion of government pressure, emphasizing that he experienced no direct interference. "I believe I have been conducting my work impartially and independently," Amin told RFE/RL.

...REPORTS AGREEMENT ON KURDISTAN GOVERNMENT... Kurdish leaders signed a long-awaited agreement on January 21 to jointly administer the Kurdistan regional government, with the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) each taking 11 ministerial posts.
RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq interviewed Kurdistan National Assembly speaker Adnan Mufti and Iraqi Minister of Planning and Reconstruction Barham Salih (both PUK members) in Irbil about the agreement and what it means for the future of Kurdistan. In the interview, broadcast January 22, Mufti said the most important thing is that the government unification provides for new ministries. He said "an extraordinary meeting of the parliament will be called to appoint the prime minister and the deputy prime minister of the unified government. Thereafter, we will ask the president of the region to entrust them both with setting up the cabinet. They will have to announce and present the [cabinet] to the parliament within a definite period."
Salih made a plea for genuine national unity, saying "in the present conditions, we need to gather and unite on a nationwide democratic project that will preserve our basic demands for this period. These basic demands consist in building a federal democratic Iraq that will be friendly to its own people and to its neighbors."

...INTERVIEWS MINORITY PARTY LEADERS... RFI's correspondent in Irbil interviewed Kurdish parliamentarians representing minority parties in that city to ask their views on the government unification agreement. A program broadcast January 24 included interviews with half a dozen party leaders, several of whom were critical and skeptical about power-sharing.
Kurdistan Islamic Group representative Huzan Sa'id said this is a transitional period and that he expected his party to get some ministerial posts. Kurdistan Islamic Union representative Muhammad Rashid Mawati said the agreement favors the two dominant parties, the KDP and PUK: "Look at the distribution of ministerial posts -- as if they were divided only between the two parties. It is nothing more that the 50-50 sharing in the previous [unified Kurdish government that existed until 1994]."

...FOLLOWS KURDISH DEFAMATION CASE Radio Free Iraq correspondent Shamal Ramadan reported on January 27 from Irbil that Kurdish intellectual and Austrian citizen Kamal Sayyid Qadir would be retried because of procedural issues in his first trial. Qadir was convicted in December of defaming the Kurdish cause and the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in articles that he wrote while in Austria. He was sentenced to two 15- year prison terms on separate indictments.
In the RFI broadcast, Ramadan asked a member of the Irbil Court of Cassation, Muhammad Umar to explain why Qadir must face a second trial on the charges. Umar said the Penal Board at the Court of Cassation reviewed the case and found Qadir's offenses were misdemeanors, not criminal in nature. Umar told RFI that "based on this, the [Court of Cassation] has abolished the sentences issued by the Criminal Court in Irbil and returned the case to the Court of Investigations, which should pass the case on to another court." Umar said the sentence could be a fine or imprisonment from three months to five years.
In the same broadcast, RFI heard another legal point of view from lawyer Jamal Qasim, a KDP representative in the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly. Qasim said: "No one will object to the Court of Cassation decision -- neither those who called for the punishment of Dr. Kamal [Qadir], nor those who have been mentioned in the [allegedly defamatory] texts and publications by him. There is no need to issue an amnesty, because there is absolutely no intention to call Dr. Kamal [Qadir] to responsibility. In my opinion, he will be released within a week or, at most, a few days [more than that]. I think there is no justification for keeping him imprisoned, as he has been in jail now for some three months."

** The Director of Radio Free Iraq, Sergey Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <danilochkins@rferl.org>. Radio Free Iraq's website is at http://www.iraqhurr.org/; English-language news about events in Iraq can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iraq.html


RUSSIAN SERVICE FOLLOWS NGO ESPIONAGE SCANDAL... RFE/RL's Russian Service followed the espionage story that broke on January 22, when a scheduled TV documentary was replaced with an unscheduled program about spies in Moscow working for the British, allegedly channeling funds through NGOs (http://www.svobodanews.ru/special/specials/spy.html). The TV film showed documents of payments made to NGOs by the British embassy and shadowy, indeterminate figures, handling a rock in a park that concealed communications technology for receiving and passing information.
The two main groups accused were the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Washington-based Eurasia Foundation. A Moscow correspondent for the Russian Service interviewed both Ludmila Alexeeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a longtime RFE/RL contributor, and the Eurasia Foundation's Moscow Project Coordinator for Independent Media Maria Eismont (http://www.svobodanews.ru/Article/2006/01/23/20060123162314920.html). In continuing coverage, the service also aired an exclusive interview with former KGB master spy Oleg Gordievsky, now living in London, who told RFE/RL there were several suspicious aspects to the story and that it could have been staged (http://www.svobodanews.ru/Article/2006/01/24/20060124094130197.html). Other experts pointed out that the incident appears to be an attempt by Russian authorities to justify new legislation aimed at more closely controlling NGOs.

...BREAKS NEWS OF HORRIFYING HAZING INCIDENT RFE/RL's Russian Service was the first media to broadcast nationwide news of an incident of hazing at a military academy in Chelyabinsk in western Siberia (http://www.svobodanews.ru/special/specials/hrarmy.html). Andrei Sychev, a 19-year-old conscript, was brutally bound, beaten and tortured by senior servicemen at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy during a December 31 New Year's Eve celebration. By the time Sychev was transferred to a local hospital on January 4, gangrene had developed in both legs and, in order to save the young man's life, doctors were forced to amputate both of his legs and his genitals. Sychev remains hospitalized, weeks after the incident, in critical condition.
RFE/RL first broadcast news of the incident on January 13, with a report by Chelyabinsk correspondent Alexander Valiev (http://www.svobodanews.ru/SpecialsNews/102216.html?zone=ru_spec_hrarmy_news). For weeks, the story had been confined to the local press and, despite an ongoing investigation, no arrests have been made. Since that first report, RFE/RL's Russian Service has provided daily updates on the Sychev case, as well as reports adding a broader perspective on the story. The service has aired interviews with Sychev's doctors, members of his family and representatives of the Soldiers' Mothers' organization, as well as legal and military experts. Sychev's story reached the attention of national media more than three weeks after the incident took place, at which time top levels of government took note as well.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <kleinm@rferl.org>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at http://www.svoboda.org; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/russia.html


GAS, ENERGY CRISIS TOP STORY FOR GEORGIAN SERVICE The explosions on the Mozdok-Tbilisi gas pipeline in the Russian republic of North Ossetia on January 22 effectively shut down the flow of Russian gas to Georgia; that same day, electricity supplies to Georgia were interrupted following an explosion at a transmission tower on Russian territory (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/1/16CE1731-2372-4657-A9FF-B7B31EBAAB5E.html). The gas and energy crisis caused by the blasts and worsened by persistent, unusually cold weather, dominated broadcasting of RFE/RL's Georgian Service in late January. The service aired numerous reports on the energy situation, interviews with experts and officials as well as ordinary Georgians and their experiences. The service also spoke to political analysts to look at the angry rhetoric between Tbilisi and Moscow, assess Georgia's deteriorating relations with Russia and follow negotiations to get alternative energy supplies from Iran and Central Asia.
Energy expert Gia Khukhashvili was RFE/RL's studio guest on the "Dghes Dilit" morning show January 25, moderated by broadcaster Nino Gelashvili in RFE/RL's Tbilisi bureau. Khukhashvili criticized the Georgian government for being, as he said, completely unprepared for the crisis and for not having built a system of gas reservoirs (http://www.tavisupleba.org/special/economics/2006/01/20060125205019.asp). In another interview, broadcast live January 26, RFE/RL spoke to the mayor of Stepantsminda, the town in the Caucasus Mountains closest to the scene of explosions. Mayor Gogo Kirikashvili described the scene at the blast and the current hardships of the townspeople living without heat or light in subfreezing weather with the temperature dropping to minus 25 centigrade (http://www.tavisupleba.org/special/social/2006/01/20060126204825.asp). A reporter for the Georgian Service in the western town of Poti filed a story aired January 26 from the local school where classes were suspended because freezing temperatures inside the building endangered both children and teachers (http://www.tavisupleba.org/special/social/2006/01/20060126211126.asp).

** The Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, David Kakabadze, may be reached by email at <kakabadzed@rferl.org>. The Georgian Service's website is at http://www.tavisupleba.org/; English-language news about events in Georgia can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/georgia.html


ROMANIA-MOLDOVA SERVICE MONITORS TRANSDNIESTER TALKS... A major story for RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service was the new round of international talks on Transdniester January 26-27, to break the decade-long deadlocked feud over Moldova's Russian-speaking breakaway territory. There were hopes the so called "Five Plus Two" talks (representatives of Chisinau and Tiraspol, mediators from Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, and observers from the U.S. and European Union) could end the impasse. But the talks, held evenhandedly one day in Tiraspol and one day in Chisinau, ended with little progress.
RFE/RL's Chisinau correspondent covered the meeting and spoke to members of participating delegations (http://www.europalibera.org/moldova/ro/2006/01/21CD93ED-B26F-4B24-B079-37A099632EB4_1953911.RAM; http://www.europalibera.org/moldova/ro/2006/01/853C10E3-CE68-44ED-A396-3A01F806923B_1956297.RAM). Later, he interviewed government officials on both sides to get their reaction. Ievgheni Shevchiuk, recently elected speaker of the Tiraspol Supreme Soviet, told RFE/RL that in addition to demilitarization, much of the discussion was about border crossings of goods and people and Ukraine's delay in deploying Ukrainian border guards along the disputed line, as agreed last year. The service also broadcast January 30 an interview with Moldovan reintegration minister Vasile Shova, who noted that in addition to the multi-party talks, Moldova is patiently seeking the withdrawal of Russian troops and munitions from Transdniester, in direct bilateral negotiations with Moscow (http://www.europalibera.org/moldova/ro/2006/01/6AB5F161-728A-4EBE-8D07-AEF8E2E32602_1965160.RAM).

...INVESTIGATES PASAT CASE... RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service looked into the murky case of former Moldovan defense minister Valeriu Pasat, who was recently sentenced to ten years hard labor by a Moldovan secret court for his role in selling 21 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter planes to the U.S. Defense Department in 1997. In a telephone interview from Prague, the service spoke to E. Wayne Merry, a former Pentagon official who managed the deal on the U.S. side and had prepared a deposition in Pasat's defense that was cleared by the Defense Department (http://www.europalibera.org/moldova/ro/2006/01/234F6998-1242-48BB-9D94-2D4752286F72_1969118.RAM). However the court refused to consider it as evidence in the case. Merry gave a briefing about the issue for journalists and policymakers at RFE/RL offices in Washington on January 31, as well as an exclusive interview to the service that was broadcast to Moldova. He said the transaction has been used as a pretext by the current Communist Party government of Moldova and that Pasat's imprisonment must be seen in the broader context of tensions between Moldova and Russia over energy policies. Pasat's most recent position was representative of the Russian Unified Energy Systems company. Merry noted in the interview that, at the time, the only other country interested in buying the MiGs was Iran -- an "illegal" player on the arms market. He said that had Moldova sold the aircraft to Iran, the US would have imposed sanctions against Chisinau. A report on the briefing can be read at http://www.rferl.org/releases/2006/02/383-080206.asp

...INTERVIEWS ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu gave an interview on January 24 to RFE/RL's Romanian Service about his country's preparations to join the European Union (http://www.europalibera.org/rubrics/ro/2006/01/BAA6029B-8DDD-4CA7-8011-E6289FFBDB0C_1949550.RAM). Ungureanu said a new "flexible" visa system for Moldovan citizens has been designed and is ready to be implemented as soon as Romania becomes an EU member. Romania has fulfilled its obligation, but not so Moldova, Ungureanu told the Romania/Moldova Service. He said Moldova has not done enough to secure its border with Romania and that it remains an easy crossing for drug smuggling and other illicit trafficking. Romania signed the EU Accession Treaty last April and is slated to become a member of the European Union in 2007.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Romania/Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <serafimo@rferl.org>. The Romania/Moldova Service's website is at http://www.europalibera.org/; English-language news about events in Moldova can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/moldova.html and in Romania at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/romania.html


RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN PREVIEWS LONDON CONFERENCE... A major story for RFE/RL's Afghan Service was the international conference in London on aid to Afghanistan at the end of January.
A week in advance, Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Sultan Sarwar in Kabul interviewed visiting author and Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin, who is Director of Studies at New York University's Center on International Cooperation (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/01/515a6f03-fa6e-4269-89c6-565e6b5968de.html). Rubin was in Kabul to assess Afghan government policy goals and planned later to attend the London conference as an observer.
He told Radio Free Afghanistan that the so-called "Afghanistan Compact" to be discussed at the London Conference is a plan that will guide international efforts in Afghanistan now that the "Bonn Process" -- outlined in the Bonn accords of December 2001 -- has been completed. "It takes up where the Bonn agreement left off," he said, adding that this agreement will go on for the next five years to help make those institutions really effective and launch a development program in Afghanistan." Rubin noted that "this is the first time the international community has had this kind of formally organized engagement for a total of nine years with a country that was trying to emerge from conflict." In a preview of the conference agenda, he said the Afghanistan Compact "is really about all dimensions of building a state. It's about security. It's about building up better [governance], the rule of law, and protection of human rights. And it's about economic and social development. And this compact recognizes that these are all interrelated and not one of them can succeed without the other...The police are going to be completely reorganized and made more effective so that they protect people rather than abusing them. It has very concrete targets for building roads [and] irrigation works so that farmers have more water. And it supports the Afghan National Development Strategy -- which has a plan for economic development and the reduction of poverty in Afghanistan."

...INTERVIEWS FOREIGN MINISTER... Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah was interviewed on January 21 by RFE/RL Afghan Service correspondent Zarif Nazar. During the interview, Abdullah discussed the most recent videotaped message from Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the current state of the Taliban, terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, and the upcoming London conference on the Afghanistan Compact. He said the Afghan proposal to be discussed at the conference calls for Afghanistan to play a steadily growing role in allocating, distributing and administering international aid, noting said that all aid was initially implemented through NGOs -- a situation that is now changing. Abdullah said that the document that is to be presented to the conference includes a section about ways of ensuring the effectiveness of the aid: "If supported by the participants, there will be commitment in moving in this direction."

...GOVERNOR OF KANDAHAR A series of suicide bombings in the southern province of Kandahar in mid-January dominated news on Radio Free Afghanistan. The service interviewed Kandahar provincial Governor Asadullah Khalid in a program that aired on January 16 (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/1/F6CB0586-C79D-4C8D-A33D-8BE126E28EE4.html). Khalid spoke about the worst attack -- a bombing at a wrestling match at a fair in Spin Boldak, a town near Pakistan which killed some two dozen people. Hours earlier, a suicide bomber hurled himself in front of an Afghan army vehicle, killing three soldiers and two civilians, and wounding 16 others. In the interview, Khalid rejected the idea that Afghan nationals carried out any of the recent suicide attacks in his province. He said it is more likely that suicide attacks are being coordinated from within Pakistan. "It is clear that this area has a long border with Pakistan," Khalid said, "and it is also clear that all enemies of Afghanistan live inside Pakistan. They have centers for training suicide bombers. They can easily infiltrate Kandahar. Afghans don't have the history of suicide bombing. These are all foreigners."
An expert interviewed January 17 by RFE/RL's Central News correspondent Ron Synovitz was of the same view. Abdul Ahrar Romizpour, professor of law, politics, and human rights at Kabul University, told RFE/RL that he believes the current wave of suicide bombings is the result of influence from foreign militants of Arab origin, as well as recruits from some Pakistani madrassahs that have educated young Afghan refugees (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/1/71DE933C-EB38-4C16-A7AA-A42F46A74250.html). "Most of these suicide attacks are coordinated and organized from abroad in places where these fundamentalist religious circles advocate such ideas," Romizpour said. "But it can't be ruled out that Afghans are involved -- especially those in traditional fundamentalist areas."

** The Director of Radio Free Afghanistan, Akbar Ayazi, may be reached by email at <ayazia@rferl.org>. Radio Free Afghanistan's website is located at http://www.azadiradio.org/; English-language news about events in Afghanistan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/afghanistan.html


KAZAKH SERVICE INTERVIEWS RELEASED OPPOSITION LEADER Kazakh opposition leader Galymzhan Zhakiyanov spoke to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service and Central News correspondent a day after his release from prison on January 14 (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/1/F898BF0F-1E6A-414B-938F-BFDDB59A6473.html). In the interview, aired on January 15, Zhakiyanov expressed joy at his new-found freedom and the welcome he got from family and friends.
An RFE/RL correspondent from the Almaty bureau was present as hundreds of supporters greeted Zhakiyanov on arrival at Almaty train station on January 15. Forty-two year-old Zhakiyanov had been held in a remote, low security prison zone in northern Kazakhstan since 2002 on charges of abusing his power as a former governor of the industrial Pavlodar region in the country's north. International human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have said his imprisonment was politically motivated. In 2001, Zhakiyanov founded the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan party, which was outlawed three years later. He was freed under a provision allowing detainees to be paroled after serving half their sentence.
Zhakiyanova's wife Karlygach shared her feelings with RFE/RL, saying: "It is a very happy day. We have waited for this for such a long time. We look forward to the future with hope. We hope tomorrow will bring positive changes."
Sergei Duvanov, an independent journalist and himself a former political prisoner himself, spoke to RFE/RL in Almaty where he also welcomed the release of Zhakiyanov on Sunday: "He should have been released long ago. But authorities delayed it because they feared the consequences of Zhakiyanov's appearance on the political scene."
Opposition members say authorities waited until after President Nursultan Nazarbayev's inauguration January 11 to free the president's political opponents. Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, head of the For a Just Kazakhstan group and an unsuccessful candidate in last month's presidential election, said Zhakiyanov's release will help the opposition "continue its work more efficiently and actively." Altynbek Sarsenbayev, co-chairman of the opposition Naghyz Ak Zhol (True Bright Path) party said "the next step is to unify the democratic forces."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merhat Sharipzhan, may be reached by email at <sharipzhanm@rferl.org>. The Kazakh Service's website is at http://www.azattyq.org/; English-language news about events in Kazakhstan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/kazakhstan.html


IBRAHIM RUGOVA AND RFE/RL Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova's death January 21 ended an association with RFE/RL that spanned more than a decade.
RFE/RL correspondents interviewed him at least twice in the 1990s when he made low profile visits to Washington to try and persuade the U.S. political establishment to support independence for Kosovo. Rugova was always willing to speak to RFE/RL and in 1998 he visited RFE/RL headquarters in Prague, in order to highlight the oppression of Albanian-language media in Kosovo by the government of then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
The last exclusive interview Rugova gave to RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) was on December 24, 2004 in Prishtina. At the end of the interview he expressed appreciation for the work of RFE/RL, saying: "My regards to your respected and honored radio in Kosovo."
RFE/RL has a bureau in Prishtina and broadcasts 90 minutes daily in Albanian to Kosovo. An RFE/RL correspondent was present earlier that year in October when Rugova spoke to the press after voting in Kosovo's parliamentary election. He said: "this is a great day, important for Kosovo independence, for Kosovo which is integrated within E.U., NATO and anchored in friendship with the United States of America". An RFE/RL correspondent was also present to record Rugova's words in Prishtina September 5, 2005, when he told his people of his ill health: "Doctors say that I suffer from localized lung cancer, and they have prescribed intensive therapy... I am convinced that I will, with the help of God, win this battle so we can proceed together with even more energy toward our goal -- recognition of our state Kosovo as an independent state, as soon as possible by our American and European friends..."
When he died at age 61 on January 21, SSALS pre-empted regular programming to dedicate all broadcasting that day to highlights of Rugova's life and achievements, official and popular reaction to his death, interviews with Rugova's friends and associates and look at the impact this would have on international negotiations for independence.
On the same day, RFE/RL also aired a dialogue between Momcilo Trajkovic, a veteran Serbian political leader who heads the Serbian Resistance Movement of Kosovo, and Basri Qaprici, president of Kosovo's PEN Club and a longtime Rugova associate (http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/article/2006/01/21/6f389d39-9bf0-4270-a617-ed03d818511b.html). Trajkovic said that Rugova was the first ethnic Albanian politician to openly call for independence, while Qaprici pointed out that Rugova was "a symbol of peace in the Balkans who sought a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo question." Local media reported the interviews and quoted extensively from RFE/RL programming.
On the day of the funeral, January 27, Albanian language KOHA Television named RFE/RL's SSALS as one of the best sources of news and general reporting on the death of President Rugova and the aftermath. It showed on screen RFE/RL's Albanian language website which posted transcripts and audio of interviews and broadcasts on president Rugova.

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <karabego@rferl.org>. The SSALS website in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is located at http://www.slobodnaevropa.org, in Albanian at http://www.europaelire.org and in Macedonian at http://www.makdenes.org; English-language news about events in Kosovo can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/subregion/kosovo.html


RFE/RL in the News

RFE/RL EXPERT COMMENTS ON KOSOVO ON "KOJO NNAMDI SHOW"... RFE/RL Regional Analyst Patrick Moore participated on Washington, DC National Public Radio affiliate WAMU's "Kojo Nnamdi Show" January 26, participating in a discussion about the future of Kosovo after the death of its leader Ibrahim Rugova (http://www.wamu.org/programs/kn/06/01/26.php; for more on Rugova's passing, see above). Moore, an expert on the Balkans and Russia who publishes daily reports and weekly analyses on the region for RFE/RL's English language website, noted in the program that the ethnic Albanians' demand for independence is based on the principles of self- determination and majority rule. Moore also pointed out that the main reason for their animosity towards the Serbian minority is the role that many local Serbs played in keeping former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in power and in the expulsion of 850,000 Albanians from their homes in 1999. Other guests on the hour-long program were Paul Williams, Assistant Professor of Law and International Relations in the American University School of International Service and Igor Radonjic, American Refugee Committee Director for Serbia-Montenegro.

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <sewardd@rferl.org>.


MORE THAN 1 MILLION VISITORS AT RFE/RL WEBSITES IN JANUARY RFE/RL's Internet websites began the New Year on a high note, reaching an all-time monthly record in January with more than one million visitors and 12.3 million page views. A redesigned Russian language website, launched in mid-January, attracted tens of thousands of new visitors and boosted statistics over the one million mark. The new website, www.svobodanews.ru, registered a 50 percent jump in visitors when compared to December (to over 451,000), making it the company's most visited website. In addition to its main page in English, RFE/RL publishes content on the Internet in 24 languages, featuring news and analytical articles and live and on-demand streaming audio programs. RFE/RL's second most-popular site, with more than 291,000 visitors, is the Internet home of Radio Farda, the Persian-language http://www.radiofarda.com . Radio Farda, operated jointly by RFE/RL and VOA broadcasts 24 hours daily to Iran. RFE/RL's website was established in 1996.

** The Media Relations Coordinator in Prague, Anna Rausova, may be reached by email at <rausovaa@rferl.org>.


RFE/RL PROGRAM ON MACEDONIAN TELEVISION NATIONWIDE The RFE/RL South Slavic and Albanian Service's (SSALS) radio program "Sunday Interview" is now being broadcast by the Kanal 5 television network in Macedonia. Kanal 5, an independent station seen nationwide, introduced the show January 22. The weekly program, featuring interviews with top politicians, has included conversations with Macedonia's president, prime minister, speaker of parliament and leaders of major parties. Prepared by SSALS, the program was an instant hit when it launched on radio last September and is carried also by 7 local TV stations. Kanal 5 is the first national TV network in Macedonia to feature "Sunday Interview." The show airs simultaneously on RFE/RL radio; transcripts of the interviews are posted to the SSALS Macedonian language website (http://www.makdenes.org/programs/intervju/ma/) and are often published and quoted in local newspapers. SSALS programs also air twice weekly on public television in Bosnia.

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <karabego@rferl.org>. The SSALS website in Macedonian is located at http://www.makdenes.org; English-language news about events in Macedonia can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/macedonia.html


RFE/RL UZBEK BROADCASTER GETS AWARD Alisher Sidikov, a broadcaster with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Uzbek Service was selected by the Swedish branch of Reporters Without Borders as recipient of the Press Freedom Award Sweden 2005, for his coverage of the Andijan massacre last May and its repressive aftermath in Uzbekistan. Sidikov was forced to leave Uzbekistan in the wake of the massacre, but continued to tell the story of Andijan in Sweden, helping Swedish journalists cover Uzbek issues and contributing articles and reports to Swedish television and major newspapers. Sidikov also worked with Swedish politicians and international organizations to increase understanding of Uzbek developments and press freedom issues in Uzbekistan.
Sidikov, a longtime contributor to RFE/RL Uzbek language broadcasts, joined the Uzbek Service full-time in December and moved to Prague. His regular RFE/RL program "The Fourth Power," deals with freedom of the press issues in Uzbekistan. Sidikov will receive the award from Reporters Without Borders at a ceremony in Stockholm on February 9, 2006.

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Sojida Djakhfarova, may be reached by email at <djakhfarovas@rferl.org>. The Uzbek Service's website is at http://www.ozodlik.org/; English-language news about events in Uzbekistan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/uzbekistan.html

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http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx

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Copyright (c) 2006. 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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