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RFE/RL Review for April 2008


Global Cyberattack Against RFE/RL
A two-day attack was launched against the Internet sites of the Belarus Service and several other RFE/RL websites on April 26. The attack was of a type known as "Denial of Service," which slows web traffic to a standstill by bombarding a system with bogus requests it has to consider and then deny. April 26 was an important day in Belarus because it was the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, which had a substantial impact on the Belarusian population. The Belarus Service was preparing its live coverage of a large rally to commemorate the anniversary when the cyberattack struck.
** The Director of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Alexander Lukashuk, may be reached by email at <lukashuka@rferl.org>. The Belarus Service's website is at http://www.svaboda.org/; English-language news about events in Belarus can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/belarus.html
RFE/RL Covers NATO Summit
RFE/RL language services provided extensive coverage of the NATO summit in Bucharest, which took place on April 2-4. The Russian, Georgian and Ukrainian services had correspondents reporting live from the site of the meetings, and the Central Newsroom published a special "NATO Diary." The Russian Service spoke with Dmitry Peskov, the deputy press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service landed an exclusive interview with the U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro, who assessed the importance of the invitations of Croatia and Albania to join the alliance.
** The Executive Producer of RFE/RL's Central Newsroom, Ulrich Speck, may be reached by email at <specku@rferl.org>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at http://www.rferl.org/features/
Radio Free Afghanistan Spotlights Media Freedom, Government Censorship...
In the wake of the Afghan government's demand that two private television stations cease broadcasting Indian soap operas, Radio Free Afghanistan explored the issue of government censorship and media freedom throughout April. After religious groups complained about the soap operas, the government called upon the TOLO and Ariana television networks to stop airing them. On April 3, Radio Free Afghanistan's On the Waves of Freedom program featured a roundtable discussion about freedom of speech and the right of the citizens to have free access to television and radio. The guests in the Kabul studio were the head of The Independent Journalists Association in Afghanistan, a member of Parliament, the head of an Afghan news agency, and the Deputy Minister of Education and Culture. Most of the listeners criticized the government's attempts at censorship, and they complained about the dearth of cultural programming on local television.
...Focuses on Capital Punishment
For one week in April, Radio Free Afghanistan focused on the issue of capital punishment and whether or not it should be used in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai recently said that, for the sake of national security, Afghanistan is "committed" to the death penalty in accordance with Islamic law, while Human Rights Watch called on Karzai to declare a moratorium on the death penalty. In addition to discussing capital punishment with listeners on the air, Radio Free Afghanistan interviewed several government officials and university professors about the issue. Most of the listeners who called in supported the use of capital punishment for certain crimes but strongly criticized the Afghan judicial system and corrupt police forces.
** The Director of RFE/RL's 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
Almaty Residents Protest Municipal Development
The Kazakh Service told listeners about a group of roughly 2,000 Almaty residents who rallied on April 26 to protest the city's municipal development plan. The demonstrators accused the Kazakh government of "failing to protect its citizens" after a number of private homes were demolished by city authorities to make room for new development. Real estate prices in Almaty have risen sharply, which has led some local officials to attempt to force many middle- and lower-class residents from their homes in order to make way for the construction of high-end building projects.
** 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
Kyrgyz Service Reports on Former President's Arrest
On April 25, the Kyrgyz Service reported that Ishenbai Kadyrbekov, the former Speaker of the lower house of Parliament who briefly held the Kyrgyz presidency in March 2005, had been arrested in Bishkek. Kadyrbekov was charged with abuse of office, financial mismanagement, and other corruption-related crimes. A former close ally of President Kurmanbek Bakiev, Kadyrbekov previously served in the Bakiev government as the head of the state agency for construction and architecture.
** The Director of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev, may be reached by email at <tchoroevt@rferl.org>. The Kyrgyz Service's website is at http://www.azattyk.org/; English-language news about events in Kyrgyzstan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/kyrgyzstan.html
Newseum Honors Slain RFE/RL Journalists
The Newseum, which opened in Washington on April 11, features a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty that includes four RFE/RL journalists: Ogulsapar Muradova, former correspondent in Turkmenistan, whose death remains shrouded in mystery; Khamail Muhsin Khalaf, a well-known former TV anchor in Iraq who was abducted and killed in April 2007; Nazar Abdulwahid Al-Radhi, shot in the southern Iraqi town of Al-Amarah in May 2007; and Alisher Saipov, a former RFE/RL correspondent for Uzbek-language programs who was gunned down near his office in southern Kyrgyzstan on October 27, 2007.
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