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RFE/RL Review for September 2008


Georgian, Russian Services Monitor Cease Fire in Contested Territories

Throughout September, both the Georgian and Russian services closely followed political and military developments in the conflict between Georgia and Russia, with daily broadcasts of news, analysis, and interviews. The Georgian Service hosted several high-profile visitors to its Tbilisi studios, including former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze and former Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili. The Georgian Service also broadcast interviews with the European Union's special envoy to the South Caucasus and with the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights. Meanwhile, the Russian Service assigned special correspondent Oleg Panfilov, who also serves as the Director of the Center of Extreme Journalism, to file reports and to blog from Tbilisi, Gori, and Batumi. The Russian Service also broadcast analysis from such well-known guests as Vladimir Ryzhkov, Grigory Yavlinsky, and Garry Kasparov.

** 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/section/Georgia/155.html. The Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Maria Klein, may be reached by email at <kleinm@rferl.org>; the Russian Service's website is at http://www.svobodanews.ru; English-language news about events in Russia can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/Russia/161.html

Georgian Service Journalist Publishes Blog from City Threatened by Russian Troops

In early September, Georgian Service reporter Tea Absaridze blogged daily from her hometown of Poti, a vital Black Sea port that suffered Russian bombardment and occupation. Her blog, "Behind the Poti Lines," offered readers a unique glimpse of the café debates, neighborhood gossip, and the public mood as Russian troops dug in on the outskirts of town. The blog continued until the last Russian soldier left the Poti area.

** 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/section/Georgia/155.html

Former Spy Accuses Uzbek Government of Massacres

In an exclusive interview, a former Uzbek intelligence officer told RFE/RL on September 2 that President Islam Karimov personally ordered troops to fire on protesters during the 2005 Andijon massacre. The officer also accused the Uzbek government of organizing several killings, including a 2004 plane crash that killed a UN official. Ikrom Yakubov, a 27 year-old former major in the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB), has been sharing his story with RFE/RL for the past two months from an undisclosed location. His credibility rests on nearly a decade as an SNB officer, including two years as a member of the president's National Security Council.

** The 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/section/Uzbekistan/165.html

Kazakh Service Sole Source of Information on Attempted Abduction of Defector

In September the Kazakh Service broke a story on an abduction attempt in Austria against Alnur Musaev, the former head of the Kazakh National Security Agency who fled to Austria in 2007 along with then presidential son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev. After his defection, Musaev accused the government of widespread corruption and of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from western oil companies. The government of Kazakhstan has convicted Musaev of crimes in absentia as a result of his defection. In an exclusive interview with the Kazakh Service on September 26, Musaev described how he and his translator were attacked by four men carrying pistols and how they managed to escape with minor injuries. The Austrian government is investigating the incident. The Kazakh Service is the only source of information for audiences in Kazakhstan on this story.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Yedige Magauin, may be reached by email at <magauine@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/section/Kazakhstan/158.html

After Historic Visit to Armenia, Turkish President Speaks to Azerbaijani Service

On September 8, Turkish President Abdullah Gul told the Azerbaijani Service that Turkey is "making a move" in the Caucasus and that his recent trip to Armenia will "serve stability in the region." On September 6, Gul made a historic trip to Armenia at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. The two leaders watched a soccer match between their national teams and held an extended closed-door meeting. Armenia and Turkey are at odds over whether the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and immediately after World War I constituted genocide, and over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that Turkey accuses Armenia of occupying.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Kenan Aliyev, may be reached by email at <aliyevk@rferl.org>. The Azerbaijani Service's website is at http://www.azadses.org/; English-language news about events in Azerbaijan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/Azerbaijan/151.html

Belarus Service Covers Parliamentary Elections
The Belarus Service provided comprehensive all-day coverage of the September 28 parliamentary elections in Belarus, from the opening of the polls at 8:00 am to the announcement of the winners at 12:30 am the following day. The Service had 17 reporters providing radio reports from within Belarus, while seven journalists—five in Minsk and two in Prague—kept the Service's website updated with the latest results. The Service's team covered this important story from a host of locations and perspectives—polling stations, candidates' headquarters, election observers, and the streets. In the end, the elections did not meet OSCE standards (though minor improvements were noted), and no representatives of the political opposition won any seats.

** 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/section/Belarus/152.html

North Caucasus Service Covers Murder of Journalist in Daghestan

On September 3, the North Caucasus Service reported that television journalist Telman (Abdulla) Alishayev had been shot and killed in the southern Russian republic of Daghestan. Alishayev was a journalist with GTRK Daghestan, a state television company, and TV-Chirkei, a small, private channel that broadcasts mostly Islam-related programs. Local investigators believe that Alishayev was killed because of his professional activities. He hosted programs on both channels that were severely critical of "nontraditional" denominations in Daghestan, primarily Salafism, an austere form of Islam often associated with Islamic militancy in the North Caucasus.

** The Director of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Aslan Doukaev, may be reached by email at <doukaeva@rferl.org>. English-language news about events in the North Caucasus region can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/North+Caucasus/167.html

Moldovan Prime Minister Visits RFE/RL

Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanji visited RFE/RL's Prague headquarters on September 3, becoming the first Moldovan head of state to do so. During her visit she met with RFE/RL journalists to answer questions about Moldova's "frozen conflict" in Transdniester, the Russia-Georgia crisis, and a potential future bid by Moldova for NATO membership.

** The Director of RFE/RL's Moldova Service, Oana Serafim, may be reached by email at <serafimo@rferl.org>. The 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/section/Romania+Moldovo/160.html

United Nations Mission Thanks Radio Free Afghanistan

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan thanked Radio Free Afghanistan for its efforts to promote World Peace Day, which has been celebrated on September 21 since a UN resolution created the holiday in 1981. World Peace Day carries special importance in Afghanistan, because the cessation of hostilities enables the UN mission to carry out vital humanitarian work. After Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that Afghan troops would honor World Peace Day by not taking part in any offensive operations, Radio Free Afghanistan promoted the holiday on its airwaves and even made contact with a Taliban spokesman, who identified himself as Yousef Ahmadi, to ask if the Taliban would likewise observe the holiday. Ahmadi hinted that the Taliban would indeed cease operations on September 21. NATO and U.S.-led coalition forces also observed the peace day.

** 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/section/Afghanistan/149.html

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