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RFE/RL Review June 15, 2006

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
June 1-15, 2006

U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE HUGHES LISTS STRATEGIC GOALS U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes visited RFE/RL's Prague broadcast center June 11 and had a wide-ranging discussion with several RFE/RL correspondents about public diplomacy's role in combating terrorism. Hughes said her job is to focus on "America's conversation with the world," and that she has three strategic goals. Hughes said "America should continue to offer the world a positive vision of hope and opportunity that's rooted in our values, our belief in freedom, our commitment to human rights, our belief in the worth and dignity, and equality and value, of every single person in the world." A second strategic imperative, she said "is to isolate and marginalize the violent extremists and to undermine their efforts to impose their vision of ideology and tyranny on the rest of us. And so we work very hard to encourage interfaith dialogue... we think people of all faiths share certain beliefs -- in the value of human life, for example... we, as a world community, as an international community, draw a very clear contrast between our vision -- which is for education and openness and tolerance and inclusiveness -- and the extremist vision, which is a very narrow, rigid ideology." Hughes listed as the final strategic imperative that "America foster a climate of common interests and common values between Americans and people of different countries and cultures and faiths across the world." She said that in mid-June the U.S. will launch a new public diplomacy program, "sending Muslim-Americans to different regions of the world to meet with Muslim communities and begin a dialogue" (a transcript of the interview can be found at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at

RADIO FREE IRAQ TALKS TO VILLAGERS AT ZARQAWI HIDEOUT One day after the June 8 announcement that the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi had been killed, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq went to the village of Arab Shogah in Hibhib county of the Diyala governorate, al-Zarqawi's last hideout. The correspondent recorded conversations with residents, aired by RFI on June 9, who described what they saw and how they felt about al- Zarqawi's death.
One man said "the leader has died but his people have remained. I don't suppose that the situation will improve or get calmer because the man's gang has remained." Another man told RFI that: "there is now a very large hollow in the place of the house. Although bulldozers arrived to even it out, the hollow is still very big. There are many things in it. Some stuff looks as if an office was there. There are items on learning to work on computer, things on how to connect it with printer or USB, catalogues, and things like that. There were journals, some international journals on politics, things on the Iranian program and the like. There were also religious books, explaining the teachings of the [Islamic] religion. But I didn't see any fanaticism in them. I have gone through them and didn't find any kind of extremism."
Others told RFI how they heard the explosion and hurried to the site, "Because a family of civilians lived there -- a man, a woman and two children." They said they pulled a man from the rubble, not knowing who he was: "We pulled a man with long beard and hair who was near to breathing his last. We carried him to the river because he wanted us to pour some water on him and wash him, to wash his face. There were still signs of life in him. None of us noticed that the Americans came. When the Americans came, they saw him and called: 'Zarqawi! Zarqawi!' These were his last moments [of life]."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq, Sergey Danilochkin, may be reached by email at <>. Radio Free Iraq's website is at; English-language news about events in Iraq can be found at

RFE/RL LOOKS AT IMPACT OF ZARQAWI DEATH The death of Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi was a major story for all RFE/RL language services in the second week of June. In addition to reports on statements by U.S., Iraqi and world leaders, several RFE/RL broadcasts ran interviews and discussions to assess the impact of the event on the insurgency in Iraq.
In an early reaction piece, RFE/RL's Central News provided an interview June 8 with terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp of the National Defense College of Sweden. He said al-Zarqawi's death dealt a major blow to the Iraqi insurgency and was also demoralizing for the Islamist militant movement worldwide. But Ranstorp cautioned that "al-Zarqawi's removal may have a temporary effect, in terms of the technical sophistication [of insurgent operations] and therefore it is a blow for the insurgency, but, on the other hand, he has now become a martyr for the cause, so there will be others perhaps who are propelled by his loss to travel to Iraq to try to follow in his footsteps, so I think [his death] is a double-edged sword," and that "over the long term it won't make very much difference because there are always individuals lurking in the background that will replace him" (a transcript of the Magnus Ranstorp interview can be read at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at

RUSSIAN SERVICE FOCUSES ON PRESS FREEDOM... Moscow correspondents for RFE/RL's Russian Service filed extensive reports on the 59th annual Congress of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and related World Editors Forum. Some 1,700 editors, publishers and media leaders from more than 100 countries were in Moscow for the event, and many were critical of the media environment in Russia. At the opening session June 5, WAN president Gavin Reilly lamented the fact that financial groups controlled by the Kremlin are buying up Russian media, leading to "appallingly low public trust in the Russian media." President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the delegates, dismissed the statement, saying "the state's share in the Russian press market is decreasing steadily."

...FREEDOM HOUSE REPORT... Freedom House released in Moscow in mid-June its semi-annual human rights report, finding that the situation in Russia has worsened by all criteria since December 2005, when Russia was moved from the list of "partially free" countries to that of "not free." The group's executive director, Jennifer Windsor gave an exclusive interview to Russian Service correspondent Danila Galperovich, who noted that Russia received worse marks for national democratic governance and the electoral process, as well as for civil society and corruption. She said the indicators are inappropriate for a G-8 member (

...TAJIK STUDENTS AND RACISM RFE/RL's Tajik and Russian Services pooled resources June 8 to cover a violent incident at a Moscow University hostel. An official in the office of Moscow prosecutor Sergei Marchenko told a Moscow correspondent for RFE/RL's Russian Service that six Tajik students were attacked and beaten in their room by unknown assailants "using a tire wrench, belts and their feet." Marchenko later told RFE/RL that a policeman is in custody over the incident and that an "active investigation is under way now in order to locate and apprehend his accomplices."

** The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>. The Russian Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at

ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN SERVICES AT NKAO TALKS IN BUCHAREST Senior correspondents from RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani Services were in Bucharest during the first week of June, to cover an OSCE- sponsored meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents intended to give a fresh start to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. They filed daily reports on the talks and gained several exclusive interviews, including with U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group Steven Mann, who said the presidents spoke for two and half hours on June 4 and that "there was a good atmosphere and detailed discussion."
Swedish diplomat Peter Semneby, the new EU Special Representative for the region, expressed optimism in a separate RFE/RL interview June 4, saying: "this is a very good moment for the region. It's a time when there are no major domestic considerations in the countries. It's also a time when the European Union is taking a much stronger interest in the region," and that "what happens in the southern Caucasus is no longer something abstract and distant, it is becoming an area of direct concern to the EU." Semneby said that if there is agreement between the parties, the EU can place considerable funds at the disposal of the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments "to repair what has been broken by the conflict" (the full interview can be accessed at

** The Director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Hrair Tamrazian, may be reached by email at <>; the Armenian Service's website is at, while English-language news about events in Armenia can be found at The Director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Abbas Djavadi, may be reached by email at <>; te Azerbaijani Service's website is at, while English-language news about events in Azerbaijan can be found at

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TELLS RFE/RL THAT GEORGIA IS AT A CROSSROADS RFE/RL's Central News correspondent in Brussels gained an exclusive interview June 7 with former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar, who is currently serving as a special adviser to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Laar was hired for a one-year tour to coordinate economic reforms and offer wider transition advice.
In the RFE/RL interview, Laar said Georgia has arrived at a decisive juncture -- current Russian pressure could lead to massive economic collapse, or the country could emerge as another post-Soviet success story. He said there are many similarities between today's Georgia and Estonia in the early 1990s: "The economy has all but collapsed, the entire strategy of producing low- quality, energy- intensive goods for Eastern markets must be replaced in extremely short order with an approach oriented at producing relatively higher quality goods for Western markets. And on the other hand, there's the same very intense pressure from Russia seeking to thwart this turn towards the West."
Asked whether Georgia could emulate Estonia's success, Laar said it would be difficult because Russia is stronger now than it was in the early 1990s and Georgia's economy now is worse off than Estonia's at the time. He said "optimists say Georgia will do very well while the pessimists say Georgia will do very badly. One of the two camps has got it right... there'll be no halfway house," and that "Georgia will need in the course of the next two years the unambiguous support of Europe and the whole Western world -- and not just in words, but in very clear deeds" (a transcript of the interview can be found at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN AIRS DEBATE ON COMMUNITY POLICE... RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan aired several programs during the second week of June dealing with the Afghan government's controversial announcement June 11 of plans to establish a community police force to fight a resurgent Taliban. The idea met with severe criticism from tribal leaders, as well as international human rights groups concerned that this would empower petty warlords and former commanders. Some analysts told Radio Free Afghanistan listeners that, while the U.S. and its allies spend money to disarm militias, the Afghan government would be rearming the same groups.
Radio Free Afghanistan aired separate interviews with Defense Minister Rahim Wardak and the speaker of the Afghan Senate and also devoted its weekly two-hour call-in show to the topic. Participants in Radio Free Afghanistan's Kabul studio included a member of parliament, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry and the head of the International Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan, who fielded questions on June 15 from concerned listeners and explained that the plan is for the Afghan Interior Ministry to recruit, train and pay for the establishment of these disciplined local units, that would operate under Interior Ministry control.

...COVERS PHASE II OF OPERATION 'MOUNTAIN THRUST'... Radio Free Afghanistan reporters in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces went out with Afghan and coalition forces in southern Afghanistan June 15, to report on the launching of the second phase of Operation Mountain Thrust -- the biggest counterinsurgency operation in the country since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001. Radio Free Afghanistan reported the advance of some 11,000 coalition troops against Taliban strongholds in four provinces in southern Afghanistan, and interviewed senior officials of the Afghan Defense Ministry about the operation.

...KEEPS WATCH ON SECURITY... RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan was quick to report on a bomb explosion on a bus June 15 that killed 10 people and wounded 15 -- all laborers for coalition forces. Police said the bomb was hidden on a bus carrying Afghan laborers from Kandahar Airfield, the coalition headquarters in southern Afghanistan. Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for Kandahar Province Governor Assadullah Khaled confirmed to Radio Free Afghanistan that "all the passengers who were killed or injured were civilians who worked at Kandahar Airfield."

...FOLLOWS FOREIGN TRAVEL OF PRESIDENT KARZAI Afghan President Hamid Karzai travelled to China in mid-June, to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit and to Kazakhstan to participate in a regional security conference and met on the margins with Russian President Vladimir Putin. To find out about the trip, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan interviewed Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfer Spanta, who accompanied Karzai on the trip. After visiting Kazakhstan, Karzai returned to China for top-level bilateral talks and to sign 13 cooperation agreements. Karzai's Chief of Staff Jawad Ludin, who was also in the delegation, told Radio Free Afghanistan that China is interested in investing in Afghanistan's natural resources and helping to strengthen the Afghan national army.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Akbar Ayazi, may be reached by email at <>. Radio Free Afghanistan's website is located at; English-language news about events in Afghanistan can be found at

KAZAKH SERVICE COVERS SARSENBAYEV MURDER TRIAL... A major story for RFE/RL's Kazakh Service in mid-June was the murder trial of suspects in the slaying of Kazakhstan's leading opposition politician and his two associates earlier this year. Altynbek Sarsenbayev, co-chairman of the Naghyz Aq Zhol (True Bright Path) Party, his bodyguard and driver were found dead, shot execution-style, in an Almaty suburb on February 13.
Coverage of the trial was made difficult by the decision of the authorities to hold the proceedings on June 14 in the city of Taldy- Qorgan, some 250 kilometers north of Almaty. RFE/RL's Kazakh Service was able to assign two correspondents in the region to monitor the trial and provide detailed, daily updates. The Kazakh Service also interviewed Sarsenbayev supporters, relatives of the suspects, and canvassed popular views for reaction to the case.
Kazakh opposition leaders and activists, as well as relatives of the slain politician told the Kazakh Service that the murder was a political act -- not personal, as alleged by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. They objected to the trial venue, saying it was chosen to make it difficult for international monitors and human rights groups to attend the court sessions.
The administrative chief of the Kazakh Senate, Erzhan Utembayev is officially accused of ordering and organizing the killing, while nine co-defendants from the Kazakh National Security Committee's elite "Arystan" (Lion) military unit stand accused of abduction and manslaughter (coverage of the trial, in Kazakh, Russian and English can be found at;;;;

...AT OPPOSITION POLITICAL RALLY A correspondent for RFE/RL's Kazakh Service in Astana was outside the Justice Ministry building June 6, when police forcibly dispersed a political rally of some 200 people demanding that their opposition political party, Alga (Onward) be allowed to register. The RFE/RL correspondent on the scene reported that police made dozens of arrests.
The Alga Party's application for registration has been repeatedly rejected by the Kazakh government -- first by the Justice Ministry, then by the Astana City Court and then, on the day of the rally, by Kazakhstan's Supreme Court. RFE/RL interviewed Alga leader Asylbek Kozhakmetov, who confirmed the rejection: "there is no registration for us... the Supreme Court... has supported the previous decision of the City Court."
At the rally, RFE/RL spoke to several participants who said they had been detained briefly and questioned by police. Some said they were fined up to 20,000 tenges ($167). Maulen Omarov, head of Alga operations in Astana, said police detained him as he was driving toward the city's center, took his car and kept him five hours at the police station. "They gave no explanations -- nothing," he said. Olga Zaluchonova, an ethnic Russian from Almaty, told the Kazakh Service that she arrived in Astana by train early: "At 9 in the morning, I was standing with a friend in front of the train station," Zaluchonova said. "We were chatting when a couple of policemen approached us and demanded that we show them our identity papers. We showed them. Then they said they would drive us to the city branch of the Interior Ministry for further identity checks. They roughly pushed us into a [police] car, [and] they drove us to the city branch of the Interior Ministry. They kept us there for more than six hours without a single word of explanation. All they did is check our identities once more." The Alga Party emerged from the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) party after it was banned in early 2005 (

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Merhat Sharipzhan, may be reached by email at <>. The Kazakh Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Kazakhstan can be found at

RFE/RL GETS UNIQUE VIEW OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING RFE/RL's South Slavic & Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) broadcast on June 11 the shocking, personal story of Marina, a Croatian victim of human trafficking. Her story was recorded by SSALS Croatian correspondent Ankica Barbir-Mladinovic with the help of a Croatian women's network, which protect victims of human trafficking and tries to rehabilitate them back into normal life (Barbir-Mladinovic's story can be read at
Marina said that, when she was nineteen, a young man offered her a job as a cook in a restaurant in Italy. When she came to Rome, Marina said, she was told she must work as a prostitute. When she refused, Marina said she was locked in a room, beaten, tortured and raped for more than two months: "As soon as I arrived and as soon as he brought me to his apartment, everything changed. He told me there was no work; that I had crossed the border in order to work as a prostitute, that he will come to take me in three days, and that I should be ready by then. I told him to get his mother ready instead, and he hit my head with his fist. We were in the kitchen so I turned around and hit him with a pot. But he was a bodyguard and much stronger than me. He hit me several times. Then he beat and raped me constantly for three days. I was lying in blood and urine while tied to a bed. He brought two of his friends who raped me, put out cigarette butts on me, and cut me with razors," remembers Marina. Then she was sold for 3,000 EU to a pimp who forced her to go on the street. She worked as a prostitute for more than six years. Eventually, one of her clients helped her to escape and return to Croatia.
Today, Martina is 29 years old and lives in Zagreb with her seven year old son. She is still in therapy. Marina told RFE/RL that the general public in Croatia is not aware of the extent of women trafficking: "This business has been developed in Croatia precisely and efficiently. A woman with a university degree can end up in a miniskirt on the street just like a woman from the country."

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), Omer Karabeg, may be reached by email at <>. The SSALS website in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is located at, while English-language news about events in Croatia can be found at

RFE/RL HOSTS IRANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER Mehrangiz Kar, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, writer and recipient of numerous international awards, spoke to RFE/RL broadcasters in Prague June 12 about the legal obstacles to gender equality in Iran and the violent suppression of a women's rights protest in Tehran that day. Kar said, "This gathering was not in any way violating Iran's constitution. One of the principles of the Islamic Republic's constitution is related to the right to hold gatherings -- which is free unless people carry weapons or it is correctly assessed that a gathering is against Islamic principles. Of course, there is a general belief that seeking justice is not violating Islamic principles. The women [who attended the gathering] were not carrying guns; the gathering was calm and peaceful, and they were just protesting against some laws. And in fact they were demanding justice. Justice according to all Islamic scholars and religious experts is the essence of Islam. So it is not clear why there was such a violent reaction to the gathering." Kar, who currently lives in the U.S., has been persecuted and imprisoned by Iranian authorities because of her work (a English-language transcript of the interview can be found at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at

NORTH CAUCASUS BROADCAST DOCUMENTS EXISTENCE OF SECRET PRISON IN CHECHNYA On June 8, RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service provided extensive coverage of a report by the Russian human rights group Memorial that describes the existence of an illegal prison in the Chechen capital Grozny, where prisoners allegedly were unlawfully held in custody and tortured. Activists from Memorial said the detention center was in Grozny's southern Oktyabrsky district. They took photographs and video footage of the prison cell walls, where inmates had left various notes, including names and detention dates. (

** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <>. English-language news about events in the North Caucasus region can be found at

RFE/RL COVERS WORLD CUP ACTION Several RFE/RL correspondents are in Germany covering the World Cup games for Central News and the broadcast services, including Radio Farda and the Russian Service.
Special correspondent Oleg Vinokurov covered important matches and related events daily for RFE/RL's Russian Service, providing news reports as well as in-depth coverage for the service's sports programs and Russian language website, At a Russian restaurant in Dortmund on June 9, he interviewed a Ukrainian-born German soccer fan and a fan from Kyrgyzstan who said he is supporting Brazil. The Kyrgyz said he couldn't get a ticket, but is watching the games on television. The Ukrainian German said he is rooting for Ukraine: "the fact that Ukraine is represented at the World Cup is a big victory. I am proud that I can hang out the [Ukrainian] flag, put on a [Ukrainian soccer] jersey and say, 'Yes, I'm Ukrainian. I'm from that country too" ( RFE/RL Central News correspondent Jeffrey Donovan was also in Germany for the start of the tournament, where he filed a series of reports on the soccer matches, politics, security and ambience (one of Donovan's reports, "World Cup: Officials Strive To Prevent Terrorism, Racist Attacks," can be read on the RFE/RL website at
In addition, Central News issued a two-part series June 15 on international efforts to fight trafficking of women during the World Cup through awareness-raising campaigns. RFE/RL correspondent Eugen Tomiuc interviewed Jean Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) about his group's efforts to warn women against traffickers. Chauzy said: "We know from experience that it's unfortunately always the case that when you've got a big global sporting event, or a big global event, there is an increase in demand for sexual services, and we believe that the traffickers are going to make the most of the World Cup to make money." He said the IOM had joined forces with the MTV Europe Foundation [a charity registered jointly in Britain with the MTV Europe music channel] and the Swedish [government's International] Development Agency to put out a public service announcement alerting the general public and some three million foreign football fans in Germany to the problem (a transcript of the interview can be read at; Tomiuc's report, " World: Traffickers Cast A Greedy Eye On The World Cup" can be found at

** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Deborah Seward, may be reached by email at <>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <>; the Russian Service's website is at, while English-language news about events in Russia can be found at The Director of Radio Farda/Prague, Kaveh Basmenji, may be reached by email at <>; the Director of Radio Farda/Washington, Behruz Nikzat, may be reached by email at <>; Radio Farda's website is at, while English-language news about events in Iran can be found at

RFE/RL in the News

U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE HUGHES AT RFE/RL IN PRAGUE U.S. Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes toured RFE/RL's broadcast center in Prague on June 11, where she gave a lengthy interview to Central News that was aired in 28 languages to RFE/RL's broadcast region (see above) and met with a group of RFE/RL language service directors.
Hughes said that RFE/RL's focus on broadcasting to Muslim populations makes it "a very important voice for our values going into those countries. Your mission here is to provide the truth and to provide audiences in those countries with information that is accurate." Hughes said "broadcasting helps provide a credible source of news and information, often in countries whose governments control the news or control information about what is happening within their own borders, and that RFE/RL "provides open information and an opportunity for young people to decide for themselves." She said "U.S-funded broadcasting is committed to telling the truth and to portraying truthful, accurate information without bias, without propaganda, without slant." Hughes added that Radio Farda broadcasting to Iran has established an important dialogue with its listeners -- Radio Farda receives more than 100 telephone calls a week from all parts of Iran on a designated line and airs a regular program responding to messages from listeners.

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN SPORTS REPORTER ON LOAN TO AFGHAN TV A Kabul-based reporter for RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Omid Marzban, is on loan to Afghan National Radio and Television for the duration of the World Cup. The Afghan TV station has exclusive rights to air World Cup games in Afghanistan and asked RFE/RL if Marzban could help provide commentary during the World Cup game broadcasts.

RFE/RL IRAN EXPERT QUOTED IN "THE WASHINGTON TIMES"... RFE/RL Iran Regional Analyst Bill Samii was quoted in the June 1 edition of "The Washington Times," in an article by David Sands entitled "Iranian Hard-Liners in Fix as U.S. Offers to Join Talks." Samii said the U.S. policy shift "will be seen as a victory for the tough line of the government" in Iran, but it has to weigh its response carefully. He said ordinary Iranians are increasingly weary of confrontation with the West over the government's nuclear program, but have been told repeatedly by the country's conservative Islamic leaders that developing a nuclear capability is a matter of national honor and security (

...INTERVIEWED ON CNN RFE/RL Iran Regional Analyst Bill Samii appeared on CNN International June 1, to comment on Iran's reaction to the U.S. conditional offer to meet directly with Iran if it halts its large-scale nuclear enrichment program.

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