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RFE/RL Review April 30, 2007

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The Best of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Reporting
April 1-30, 2007

RADIO FREE IRAQ CORRESPONDENT SLAIN Khamail Muhsin Khalaf, a reporter for Radio Free Iraq, was abducted, tortured, and murdered in Baghdad in early April. She was found dead in western Baghdad on April 5, having been last seen two days earlier. After her disappearance, an unidentified caller contacted her family from her mobile phone and claimed that Khamail was with him; there was no further communication. A highly regarded former Iraqi television journalist and newscaster, Khamail had been reporting for RFE/RL since 2004 on social and cultural life in Iraq and had received threats before (an English transcript of an interview with RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Nabil Al-Haidari about Khamail's life can be found at She is survived by three daughters. She was 50 years old.
Khamail's last story, about the return of oil lamps into the everyday life of the Iraqi people, aired on April 4. (; an English translation of the story is available at

** 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

VISITING FARDA JOURNALIST BEING HELD IN IRAN Parnaz Azima, a reporter for Radio Farda, is being prevented from leaving Iran. When Azima entered Iran on January 25 to visit her ailing mother, officials at the airport in Tehran seized her Iranian passport, and she has been unable to reclaim it since. On April 23, one of her lawyers visited the Security Department of Tehran's Revolutionary Court and was told that the regime may keep her passport for "two or three" more years. Throughout April, Radio Farda broadcast telephone interviews with Azima and members of her legal team, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. On April 24, RFE/RL and the Broadcasting Board of Governors issued statements condemning the Iranian government's refusal to allow Azima to return to her family and her work in Prague (

** The Acting Director of Radio Farda/Prague, Mosaddegh Katouzian, 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; English-language news about events in Iran can be found at

BELARUSIAN TEENAGER ARRESTED FOR ADVERTISING RFE/RL FREQUENCIES On April 26, police in the northern Belarusian city of Smarhon detained 18-year-old Vladzimir Shulzhytski because he had advertised the frequencies of RFE/RL's Belarusian-language broadcasts. Shulzhytski produced and inserted into mailboxes homemade advertisements listing the Belarus Service's frequencies and times of broadcasts. He now faces charges of using obscene language in public--a common tactic of the Belarusian authorities for prosecuting opponents of the regime. In an interview with the Service, Shulzhytski said that he simply wanted to inform people in his hometown about an alternative and independent source of news (

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

RADIO FREE IRAQ CORRESPONDENT GIVES EYEWITNESS COVERAGE OF PARLIAMENT BOMBING Among other pressing issues related to the security situation in the country, RFE/RL's Iraqi Service (broadcasting as Radio Free Iraq) provided extensive coverage of the April 12 suicide bombing at the Iraqi Parliament. Radio Free Iraq correspondent Layla Ahmad was in the area where the suicide attack took place in the parliament's cafeteria just seconds prior to the explosion, and provided listeners eyewitness reports on the carnage, in addition to her regular reporting on political developments during the parliament session (;

** 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

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN FIRST TO REPORT EXECUTION-STYLE KILLING OF AFGHAN JOURNALIST On April 8, Radio Free Afghanistan broke the news that journalist Adjmal Naqshbandi had been murdered. Shahabuddin Attal, who claims to be a spokesman for Taliban Chief Commander Mullah Daddulah, told Radio Free Afghanistan that the Taliban had executed Naqshbandi after the Afghan government failed to meet their demands. Naqshbandi was kidnapped along with Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo on March 6 in southern Afghanistan (

** 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

AZERBAIJANI SERVICE BREAKS NEWS OF IMPRISONMENT OF EDITOR On April 20, the Azerbaijani Service was the first media outlet in Azerbaijan to report the incarceration of Eynulla Fatullayev, the editor of the independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani-language daily Gundalik Azerbaycan. Correspondent Shahnaz Beylerqizi reported live from the Baku courtroom after Fatullayev was sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of insulting refugees in an Internet posting that was attributed to him. In the aftermath of the conviction, the Service broadcast several roundtables on the recent deterioration of freedom of the press in Azerbaijan (;

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Kenan Aliyev, may be reached by email at <>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Azerbaijan can be found at

UKRAINIAN SERVICE INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO ON POLITICAL CRISIS As part of daily coverage of the growing political crisis in Ukraine sparked by the dissolution of Parliament, the Ukrainian Service broadcast an exclusive interview with President Viktor Yushchenko on April 11. In the interview, which was conducted by Kyiv Bureau Chief Viktor Yelensky, Yushchenko vowed that he would not back down from his decision to dissolve Parliament and call early elections (

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

KYRGYZ SERVICE AIRS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PRIME MINISTER On April 22, the Kyrgyz Service was granted an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Almaz Atambayev. In his conversation with Bishkek Bureau Chief Kubat Otorbayev, the Prime Minister declared his willingness to engage in dialogue with opposition leaders seeking changes to the Kyrgyz constitution, and announced that his own working group had submitted a draft law on constitutional amendments to President Kurmanbek Bakiev (

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <>. The Kyrgyz Service's website is at http://www.; English-language news about events in Kyrgyzstan can be found at

RUSSIAN SERVICE BROADCASTS LIVE COVERAGE OF OPPOSITION RALLY CRACKDOWN... The Russian Service offered live coverage of an April 14 opposition rally in Moscow that turned violent when police intervened and arrested more than 100 participants. Russian domestic media gave only limited coverage of these events. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was nearly arrested while talking to a Russian Service correspondent. Within hours of the violent crackdown, the Service aired interviews with human rights advocates to assess the potential importance of the day's events. The Service also spoke to independent Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov ( and former Presidential candidate Irina Khakamada ( about their experiences during the rally. In the days following the crackdown, the Service followed up on the stories of several activists who had been arrested (English reports on the rally and subsequent arrests can be found at and

...COVERS PERMITTED EXTREMISTS' RALLY IN MOSCOW... Just days after the violent crackdown on opposition rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, authorities allowed young extremists to organize a rally on April 21 on Moscow's Slavyanskiy Square, one day after Hitler's birthday. The RFE/RL Russian Service website published a special report under its "National Issue" rubric on the demonstration, which features photos of the demonstration (

...INTERVIEWS BEREZOVSKY TO CLARIFY CALL FOR REVOLUTION BY "FORCE"... In an April 14 telephone interview with the Russian Service, exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky clarified his recent call for the forceful overthrow of the Russian government. Berezovsky told RFE/RL that, in his controversial earlier statement, by "force" he merely meant massive protests similar to those that took place in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004. He reiterated, however, that he considers the Russian government a "criminal" regime that cannot be reformed via the electoral process (; English article at

...REPORTS ON PUTIN'S FINAL "STATE OF THE UNION" SPEECH... On April 26 and 27, the Russian Service provided comprehensive coverage and analysis of Russian President Vladimir Putin's final "State of the Union" speech, aired several interviews with political analysts, politicians, journalists, and military experts (;;;; Russian Service broadcaster Irina Lagunina also took an in-depth look at Putin's threat to withdraw Russia from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty during the April 27 edition of her analytical program "Time and World" (

...MONITORS UPROAR OVER SOVIET WAR MEMORIAL IN ESTONIA Throughout April, the Russian Service reported on escalating tensions between Estonia and Russia over the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from downtown Tallinn. One person died and more than 40 were injured during violent clashes that erupted on April 27, when the monument was finally moved to a military cemetery away from the center of the city. Rallies took place across Russia to protest the decision by the Estonian government, and members of pro-Kremlin youth organizations surrounded the Estonian Embassy in Moscow. In sharp contrast to Russian domestic media coverage, RFE/RL sought out and provided commentary by both Estonian and Russian officials and featured reporting from the capitals of both countries (;;;;;

** 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

RFE/RL REMEMBERS BORIS YELTSIN When former Russian President Boris Yeltsin died on April 23, RFE/RL's Russian Service and Central Newsroom provided comprehensive analysis of his life, career, and legacy. The newsroom ran features summarizing both Yeltsin's achievements and his failures, while the Russian Service conducted interviews with dozens of people who worked with or personally knew him. Yeltsin played a crucial role in RFE/RL's ability to operate in Russia, issuing a presidential decree in 1993 allowing RFE/RL to establish a bureau in Moscow (;;;;;;;;;;

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

BELARUS SERVICE ORGANIZES ONLINE DISCUSSION WITH YOUNG OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS... In the weeks leading up to March 25, when the Belarusian opposition traditionally organizes its "Freedom Day" demonstrations, Belarusian police and secret services launched an intense campaign of intimidation, harassment, interrogations, detentions and arrests of opposition youth activists throughout the country. RFE/RL's Belarus Service covered many of these cases throughout March, interviewing activists and detailing the harassment they endured. The campaign culminated in criminal charges being brought against 5 young activists of the underground "Young Front" organization that carry a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. All five activists--ranging in age from 16 to 22--participated in a Belarus Service on-line conference on April 4 (transcript at; photos at

...COVERS RELEASE OF ACTIVIST DETAINED, DRUGGED IN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL In a live interview on March 26, Kristina Shatsikava told listeners to the Belarus Service's morning show how she was forced into a car by men dressed in civilian clothes on March 24 and driven to a mental hospital in her home city of Mahilyow. There, according to Shatsikava, she was tied to a bed and injected with drugs that kept her unconscious for much of the next two days. The Belarus Service also interviewed police and hospital authorities linked with the case; the hospital officials confirmed that Shatsikava had been brought to the institution by plain- clothes policemen and detained there on the premise that she may have posed a danger to herself or others. Once the March 25 "Freedom Day" demonstrations had ended in Minsk, Shatsikava was released--after being certified by the hospital as mentally sound (

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

SSALS BREAKS NEWS OF VISIT BY MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO SYRIA... SSALS's Macedonian subunit was the first media outlet in Macedonia to announce on April 10 that Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milosovski was visiting Syria that day to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Office of the Foreign Minister had not announced the visit in advance, fearing that the political opposition there would criticize the visit as unwise at a time when Macedonia is negotiating admission to NATO. After RFE/RL aired the news, Foreign Minister Milosovski released a short statement about the visit (

...AIRS SERIES ON SECRET DETENTION CAMPS IN SERBIA... In the last week of March, South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) broadcast a three-part series on detention camps located in Serbia during the 1990's civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Hundreds of Croatian prisoners of war and civilians were imprisoned and tortured; more than 300 were killed, while another 500 detainees disappeared. Serbian authorities have never admitted to the existence of these camps.
Croatian-speaking SSALS correspondents interviewed several former detainees, who talked about their suffering while interned in the camps, while Serbian-speaking correspondents talked to inhabitants of the villages where the camps were located, who confirmed the existence of the camps. SSALS reporters also interviewed former investigators of military tribunals who themselves interrogated camp detainees. The former investigators confirmed the existence of the camps as well, but denied any suggestion of torture, insisting the detainees were treated in accordance with international law (;;

** 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, in Albanian at and in Macedonian at; English-language news about events in Bosnia- Herzegovina can be found at, in Macedonia at, in Serbia and Montenegro at and in Kosovo at

TATAR-BASHKIR SERVICE ASSESSES RUSSIAN HISTORY EDUCATION CONFERENCE... Radio Azatliq was the only Tatar-language media to cover an International Meeting in Kazan on April 18-19 looking into "Russian History and How it is Taught in Schools." Historians and history teachers from Germany, Italy, China and Turkey took part in the event. An agreement was also signed by Germany and Tatarstan to share each side's experience with writing history textbooks (
Russian history texts have long been a subject for discussion among historians, and many representatives of non-Russian nations in Russia assert these texts lack information about their experiences. On April 23, history professor Nadir Devlet, the Deputy Head of the Encyclopedia Institute at the Tatarstan Academy of Science Gomer Sabirjanov, and history teacher Rafael Iskhakov took part in a Tatar- Bashkir Service-organized roundtable discussion on the subject (

...COVERS OFFICIAL VISITS BY CHINA'S HU, CZECH REPUBLIC'S KLAUS After Moscow and St. Petersburg, Kazan is quickly becoming an unofficial "third capital" of Russia. The Tatar-Bashkir Service covered visits to the Tatarstan capital on March 28 by Chinese President Hu Jintao ( and on April 29 by Czech President Vaclav Klaus (;

** The Director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Rim Gilfanov, may be reached by email at <>. The Tatar-Bashkir Service's website is at; English-language news about events in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan can be found at

RFE/RL In The News

BELARUS SERVICE "LIBERTY LIBRARY" EXPANDS WITH VOLUME ON MARCH 2006 DEMONSTRATIONS RFE/RL Belarus Service Director Alexander Lukashuk presented the 12th volume in the Service's "Liberty Library" series in Minsk on April 14. Titles "Ploshcha," or "The Square," this latest book is a compilation of Belarus Service reports and photographs on the tumultuous events that took place in Minsk during and after the March 2006 presidential election. The book was also presented on April 16 in the capital of neighboring Lithuania, Vilnius, with Lukashuk in attendance. Audiences at both events were invited via e-mail and SMS messages, and could listen to live reports during broadcasts on April 14 and April 16, as well as see photos and hear audio on the service's website (;

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

ARMENIAN SERVICE LAUNCHES NEW TALK SHOW The Armenian Service launched a new political talk show in April. The program, entitled "Talking to the Leader," is broadcast every Sunday and features three Yerevan Bureau correspondents putting questions to prominent Armenian political figures. In preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia, "Talking to the Leader" has already hosted the leaders of three major political parties, with another four- -including current Prime Minister and Republican Party leader Serzh Sarkisian--due in prior to the vote on May 12.

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

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