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RFE/RL Review for January 2009


Radio Free Iraq Adds Special Coverage for Provincial Elections

To cover the first widely contested vote in Iraq since American troops arrived in 2003, Radio Free Iraq added five live segments devoted to the January 31 provincial elections. The five segments were broadcast in the morning and noon hours, supplementing RFI's regular programming from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. RFI broadcast reports from all over the country, including analysis of all the major issues, comments from voters, and interviews with election officials and monitors. RFI listeners also heard from Iraqi expatriates in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and even Saudi Arabia, where Iraqis being detailed by Saudi authorities sent text messages to the radio station.

** The Director of RFE/RL's 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/section/Iraq/157.html

RFE/RL Services Cover Obama Inauguration

All of RFE/RL's broadcast services covered the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20. The Uzbek Service, for example, devoted extensive coverage to the story, since domestic media outlets for the most part ignored it. The Ukrainian Service prepared a special website for the inauguration, utilizing video clips prepared by the Central Newsroom. Radio Free Afghanistan interviewed Afghan journalists and diplomats who where present at the inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C. The Kyrgyz Service ran a report on the group of Americans living in Kyrgyzstan who watched the ceremony live on television at a Bishkek restaurant. Young Kazakhs sent in scores of comments to the Kazakh Service's website, expressing their hopes for the new administration and what it could mean for their own aspirations. Many Tatar listeners told the Tatar-Bashkir Service that Obama's election has strengthened their own hopes for democracy and autonomy.

** The Executive Editor of RFE/RL, John O'Sullivan, may be reached by email at <osullivanj@rferl.org>; RFE/RL English-language news reports can be found at http://www.rferl.org

Russian, Ukrainian Services Cover "Gas War"

The Russian and Ukrainian service delivered daily coverage of the "gas war" between the two countries in January. The services reviewed and analyzed developments from Kyiv, Moscow, Brussels, and Washington. Reports addressed the effects of the gas battle not only on Ukraine but on the rest of Europe. The Russian Service broadcast a special program on the murky role of intermediaries in Russian energy deals with Europe.

** 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. The Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Irena Chalupa, may be reached by email at <chalupai@rferl.org>; the Ukrainian Service's website is at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/; English-language news about events in Ukraine can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/Ukraine/164.html

Russian Service Covers Murder of Prominent Lawyer, Opposition Journalist

The Russian Service devoted extensive coverage in January to the shocking daytime murder of a prominent lawyer and a journalist on a Moscow street on January 19. The lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, was representing the family of a Chechen girl killed by a Russian Army officer—a well-known case in Russia. Freelance journalist Anastasia Baburova, who often worked with opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was also shot to death when she tried to help Markelov. The Russian Service interviewed editors at Novaya Gazeta, the father of the murdered Chechen girl at the heart of the case, and representatives of Russian journalism groups.

** 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

Afghan Foreign Minister Visits RFE/RL, Gives Interview to Radio Free Afghanistan

On January 28, Radio Free Afghanistan broadcast a wide-ranging interview with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, who visited RFE/RL headquarters during his visit to Prague for meetings with European Union leaders. In the interview, Spanta insisted that relations with the new U.S. administration are not strained. He also discussed what Kabul expects from U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, answered questions on military cooperation with the United States, and assessed the political future of the Karzai government. During his tour of RFE/RL, Spanta told Radio Free Afghanistan journalists that "People trust you and rely on your news and information. You have more listeners in Afghanistan than any other radio station."

** 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

Tajik Officials Reach Out to RFE/RL to Publicize Plight of Migrants in Russia

The Tajik Service broadcast a series of reports in January about the plight of Tajik citizens living in Russia. The Russian city of Ekaterinburg has seen a wave of attacks on Tajik migrants, and 12 Tajiks were recently kidnapped in the Russian city of Astrakhan while en route to Tajikistan. In the wake of these events, the Tajik Ambassador to Russia and the Consul General of Tajikistan to Ekaterinburg contacted the Tajik Service and asked to give interviews in order to raise awareness of this issue.

** The Acting Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Sojida Djakhfarova, may be reached by email at <djakhfarovas@rferl.org>. The Tajik Service's website is at http://www.ozodi.tj/; English-language news about events in Tajikistan can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/Tajikistan/162.html

Kazakh Service Covers Petraeus Visit

The Kazakh Service used the January visit of General David Petraeus to Kazakhstan as a springboard for broader discussion of U.S.-Kazakh cooperation in military matters. Petraeus, chief of the U.S. military's Central Command, was in Kazakhstan to announce an agreement on the transit of non-military goods through Kazakhstan to Afghanistan. The Service also reported that the U.S. would be buying large quantities of such non-military goods in Kazakhstan.

** 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

Kyrgyz Service First to Report Detention of Opposition Leader

On January 17, the Kyrgyz Service scooped the competition by reporting on radio and the web that Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of the opposition Fatherland Socialist Party, had been detained by police. Tekebayev was visiting the Talas region to coordinate his party's district conferences there when police arrested him on charges of organizing an illegal rally and carrying an illegal weapon. In an exclusive interview with the Kyrgyz Service, Tekebayev denied all the charges and said that they were politically motivated.

** 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/section/Kyrgyzstan/159.html

Azerbaijani Service Investigates Plans for "Eternal Presidency"

In January, the Azerbaijani Service closely followed the persecution of opposition activists trying to collect signatures to protest a constitutional amendment that revokes the two-term limit for the presidency. The activists believe that the amendment will pave the way for incumbent president Ilham Aliyev to become president for life.

** 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

Georgian Service Discusses Human Rights Watch Report on War with Russia

The Georgian Service devoted significant attention in January to the release a report by Human Rights Watch on the August war between Russian and Georgia. The report concluded that both countries committed "numerous violations of the laws of war." The Service interviewed one of the authors of the report, Anna Neistat, who is a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and a specialist in humanitarian crises. The Service also broadcast reactions to the report from Georgian government officials and local NGOs.

** 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

South Slavic Service Covers Brussels Billboard Brouhaha

The South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported in January on a controversial billboard sponsored by Republika Srpska, the "Serb Republic" component of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The billboard, which has gone up in downtown Brussels, depicts a road from Europe leading to Republika Srpska. The Muslim member of the Bosnian Presidency, Haris Silajdzic, complained that the Serb Republic is violating the Bosnian Constitution by independently conducting foreign policy. But Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said, "We have a right to our economic and cultural representation abroad and that is what the Brussels campaign is about."

** The Director of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS), Gordana Knezevic, may be reached by email at <knezevicg@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 the Balkans can be found at http://www.rferl.org/section/South+Slavic+Language+Services/168.html

Kazakh Service Journalist Attacked

In the fourth attack on an RFE/RL journalist in Central Asia this year, on January 19 the editor of the Kazakh Service's website was attacked by a group of men outside his Almaty home. Ermek Boltay, a young journalist whose most recent reporting focused on social unrest in Almaty, was hit with a glass bottle and kicked by unidentified assailants until he lost consciousness. The perpetrators left without taking his wallet or any personal possessions. The attack is the second on an independent journalist in Kazakhstan in the past month.

** 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

Moldova Service Reporters Honored

Two Chisinau-based reporters for the Moldova Service received awards in January from the Moldovan government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs honored Valentina Ursu for "best coverage of European issues," in particular the work she has done to disseminate accurate information about the European Union in Moldova. The Prosecutor's Office of Moldova honored Alina Moldoveanu for her efforts to promote transparency in public institutions through her reporting.

** 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

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