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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 64, 00-03-30

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 64, 30 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SUPPORTERS URGE COMEBACK BY FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT
  • [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON KARABAKH SETTLEMENT...
  • [03] ...SUGGESTS FORMAT FOR REGIONAL SECURITY PACT
  • [04] KARABAKH JOURNALIST DETAINED
  • [05] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS BRITISH PRESS ALLEGATIONS
  • [06] AZERBAIJAN JAIL INSURGENCY PARTICIPANTS SENTENCED
  • [07] RUSSIA PROPOSES STARTING TALKS WITH GEORGIA ON CLOSURE OF
  • [08] GEORGIA, ABKHAZIA EXCHANGE HOSTAGES
  • [09] 'SHANGHAI FIVE' DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET
  • [10] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY CONVENES DEMONSTRATION
  • [11] KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURES' APARTMENTS VANDALIZED
  • [12] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION OUTLINES FUTURE TACTICS
  • [13] PROTEST PICKET IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL CONTINUES
  • [14] CIA DIRECTOR VISITS UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] NATO WARNS BELGRADE OVER VIOLATION OF BUFFER ZONE
  • [16] SERBIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST REVEALS COURT SCAM
  • [17] BELGRADE SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON MONTENEGRO...
  • [18] ...WHILE WEST MAINTAINS 'DELIBERATE AMBIGUITY'
  • [19] ARTEMIJE SAYS YUGOSLAV ARMY WILL NEVER RETURN TO KOSOVA
  • [20] MILOSEVIC HAS NO MONEY FOR PIROT
  • [21] EU PLAYS COY WITH SLOVENIA
  • [22] EARLY ELECTIONS FOR SLOVENIA?
  • [23] MESIC SAYS GOVERNMENT WRONGFOOTING HIM
  • [24] ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE SAID 'HOT LINE' TO MOSCOW WAS
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REJECTS PROPOSAL TO LEAVE CIS
  • [26] BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] RECOVERY STILL A LONG WAY OFF IN WESTERN CORNER OF KOSOVA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SUPPORTERS URGE COMEBACK BY FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT

    Some

    20-30 people gathered outside the Yerevan home of former

    President Levon Ter-Petrossian on 26 March to urge him to

    return to active politics and try to reconcile rival

    factions within the present leadership, Snark reported on

    29 March. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON KARABAKH SETTLEMENT...

    Robert Kocharian said in Tbilisi on 29 March that his

    ongoing direct talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart,

    Heidar Aliev, on approaches to resolving the Karabakh

    conflict will resume "soon," according to Armenpress, as

    cited by Groong. The previous day, Kocharian had told

    Georgian State Television that he is "optimistic" at the

    prospects for reaching a settlement of the conflict. But he

    declined to specify any timeframe for doing so, saying that

    "we must try to be patient and carry on with this process

    in a positive and constructive manner." Georgian President

    Eduard Shevardnadze affirmed his readiness to promote an

    Armenian-Azerbaijani dialogue in order to resolve all

    issues related to the Karabakh conflict. LF

    [03] ...SUGGESTS FORMAT FOR REGIONAL SECURITY PACT

    Addressing

    the Georgian parliament on 29 March, Kocharian said that

    the proposed security pact for the Caucasus can be

    effective only if all regional states are involved, Russian

    agencies and AFP reported. Kocharian said that the pact

    should not only address security issues and conflict

    resolution but provide a basis for economic cooperation and

    democratic reforms. He suggested the formula 3 + 3 + 2,

    meaning the pact would constitute an agreement between

    Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, with Russia, Iran, and

    Turkey as guarantors and the U.S. and the EU as sponsors.

    Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili expressed

    approval of that formula, Caucasus Press reported. He said

    Tbilisi "supports all initiatives aimed at stabilizing the

    situation in the Caucasus." LF

    [04] KARABAKH JOURNALIST DETAINED

    Vahram Aghajanian, a

    journalist with the Karabakh newspaper "Tasnerord nahang"

    who was detained on 28 March, may be charged with

    slandering the authorities of the unrecognized Nagorno-

    Karabakh Republic, local law enforcement officials told

    RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent on 29 March. Aghajanian

    had claimed in a Western e-mail publication last week that

    the Karabakh authorities had embarked on "a witch-hunt"

    following the 22 March attack on the enclave's president,

    Arkadii Ghukasian. "Tasnerord nahang" is critical of the

    Karabakh leadership, and some observers believe it is

    financed by Ghukasian's most prominent political foe,

    former Karabakh Defense Minister and army commander General

    Samvel Babayan. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS BRITISH PRESS ALLEGATIONS

    Azerbaijan's

    National Security Minister Namik Abbasov has dismissed as

    inaccurate and slanderous an article published in the

    "Sunday Times" on 26 March claiming that Western oil

    companies were behind the June 1993 insurrection that

    resulted in President Abulfaz Elchibey's ouster, Turan

    reported on 29 March. Abbasov also rejected the newspaper's

    assertion that its findings were based on Turkish

    intelligence materials. He said that assertion is intended

    to undermine Azerbaijani-Turkish relations. At a session in

    Baku on 29 March, the Democratic Congress, which unites 10

    Azerbaijani opposition parties, similarly dismissed the

    British newspaper's claims as unfounded. LF

    [06] AZERBAIJAN JAIL INSURGENCY PARTICIPANTS SENTENCED

    Following a two-month trial, sentences of between six

    months and 15 years have been handed down to 23 persons

    accused of attempting to break out of the Gobustan jail,

    near Baku, in January 1999, Turan reported on 29 March (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999 and 26 January 2000). A

    prison employee accused of abetting the insurgents was

    sentenced to five years' imprisonment but immediately

    amnestied. LF

    [07] RUSSIA PROPOSES STARTING TALKS WITH GEORGIA ON CLOSURE OF

    BASES

    A Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister

    Ilya Klebanov will travel to Tbilisi shortly to begin talks

    with the Georgian government on implementation of last

    November's agreement on the closure of Russia's four

    military bases in Georgia, a Russian Foreign Ministry

    spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 29 March. He added that Moscow

    is ready to discuss with Georgia "all military aspects of

    bilateral relations." Georgian Foreign Minister

    Menagharishvili told Interfax the same day that talks with

    Russia on military and other bilateral issues could begin

    immediately after the 9 April Georgian presidential

    elections. LF

    [08] GEORGIA, ABKHAZIA EXCHANGE HOSTAGES

    Four Abkhaz, two of

    them police officers taken hostage in western Georgia

    earlier this year, were released on 29 March under UN

    auspices, Reuters reported. Eight Georgians who had been

    held in detention in Abkhazia were released the same day.

    Meeting with Abkhaz leaders earlier this week, UN Special

    Representative Dieter Boden had deplored the failure of

    both sides to implement an agreement signed in Sukhum in

    early February on the release of all prisoners and hostages

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2000). LF

    [09] 'SHANGHAI FIVE' DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET

    Meeting in Astana

    on 30 March, the defense ministers of Kazakhstan,

    Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, and Russia assessed progress

    in implementing those countries' 1996 agreement on

    confidence-building measures, including troop reductions,

    on their borders, ITAR-TASS reported. They also addressed

    the issues of separatism and international terrorism, which

    Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev termed "a headache"

    for all five states, and pledged to continue cooperation in

    the field of regional nuclear security, RFE/RL's Kazakh

    Service reported. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan

    Nazarbaev told a press conference after the meeting that

    the foreign ministers of the five states will meet next

    month, as will the interior ministers and intelligence

    chiefs. LF

    [10] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY CONVENES DEMONSTRATION

    Several

    hundred people attended an officially sanctioned

    demonstration in Almaty on 30 March organized by the

    Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan. RFE/RL's

    correspondent in the former capital reported. The

    participants called on the Kazakh authorities to embark on

    a dialogue with the opposition and to amend the country's

    election law. They also expressed opposition to the

    proposed privatization of land. LF

    [11] KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURES' APARTMENTS VANDALIZED

    The doors

    of the Almaty apartments of leading members of the Orleu

    movement and the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan

    were daubed with insults and obscenities during the night

    of 29-20 March, and telephone lines to those apartments

    ripped out, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital

    reported. Orleu leader Seidakhmet Quttyqadam said he is

    convinced the vandalism was politically motivated. LF

    [12] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION OUTLINES FUTURE TACTICS

    Opposition El

    (Bei Bechara) party chairman Daniyar Usenov told a press

    conference in Bishkek on 29 March that he has no intention

    of quitting politics, despite the ban on his and his

    party's participation in the recent parliamentary

    elections, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported.

    Usenov said the party will hold a congress in May at which

    its statutes will be amended to state that one of the

    party's aims is participation in elections. Usenov also

    said that he intends to begin publication of a Russian-

    language version of the newspaper "Asaba." Published twice-

    weekly, "Asaba" is the most popular Kyrgyz-language

    opposition publication. LF

    [13] PROTEST PICKET IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL CONTINUES

    Despite police

    harassment and the destruction of the shelters in which

    they spend the night, some 100 demonstrators continued

    their picket in central Bishkek on 29 March to protest the

    arrest of opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov.

    Also on 29 March, Kyrgyz Human Rights Movement chairman

    Tursunbek Akunov told RFE/RL that he has quit the public

    commission set up under the chairmanship of secretary of

    the Security Council, General Bolot Djanuzakov, to discuss

    the protesters' grievances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March

    2000). Akunov said he will not participate in the work of

    that body as it does not include any of the protesters. LF

    [14] CIA DIRECTOR VISITS UZBEKISTAN

    George Tenet arrived in

    Tashkent on 29 March and held "top secret" talks with Uzbek

    leaders, Reuters reported. The U.S. embassy in Uzbekistan

    declined to comment on those talks. Earlier, Tenet met with

    the presidents of Georgia and Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 28 and 29 March 2000). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] NATO WARNS BELGRADE OVER VIOLATION OF BUFFER ZONE

    Yugoslav

    forces illegally entered the demilitarized buffer zone

    between Kosova and Serbia on 25 March with a tank and an

    armored personnel carrier, the "Washington Post" reported

    on 30 March. NATO officials said that the move was

    "serious" and a deliberate attempt to test the Atlantic

    alliance's reaction. A Pentagon spokesman added that

    Milosevic has long tested others' intentions by "throwing

    something out and seeing what happens. He starts at the low

    end of the threshold and builds up." To ensure that

    Milosevic does not persist, NATO officials met with

    Yugoslav officers on 28 March to warn them against further

    incursions into the zone. To reinforce the point, two

    senior British officers and some 24 peacekeepers entered

    the zone to look for tank tracks and other evidence of

    illegal military activity in the area. PM

    [16] SERBIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST REVEALS COURT SCAM

    Natasa Kandic,

    who is perhaps Serbia's best-known human rights activist,

    said in Belgrade on 29 March that Serbian courts work

    together with Serbian lawyers from Kosova to pressure

    families of ethnic Albanian prisoners to buy their

    relatives' freedom. The lawyers approach the respective

    families, promising liberty for the prisoners in return for

    the payment to the lawyer of at least $5,000, AP reported.

    Once the family agrees, the court gives the Albanians

    sentences equal to the time they have already served while

    waiting for their trial, thereby enabling the prisoners to

    go free, Kandic added. She noted that even poor families

    turn down human rights lawyers' offers of free services

    because the Kosova Serb lawyers promise that they can

    secure their clients' freedom in return for a payment (see

    "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 30 March 2000). PM

    [17] BELGRADE SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON MONTENEGRO...

    The state-run

    Tanjug news agency on 28 March quoted Defense Ministry

    Secretary Milovan Coguric as calling on "Montenegrins

    living in Serbia to decisively and voluntarily stand up

    against separatists and traitors of all kinds." He added

    that "despite attempts at separatism and treachery by

    Montenegrin leaders [under President Milo Djukanovic], most

    Montenegrins have a right frame of mind." He did not

    elaborate. Coguric is a Montenegrin and a member of the

    Socialist People's Party (SNP) of Yugoslav Prime Minister

    Momir Bulatovic, which backs Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic. But Bulatovic himself said that Montenegro has

    the right to secede from Yugoslavia if its people so

    decide, "Vesti" reported on 30 March. He added that the

    "army will never attack Montenegro" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    27 March 2000). Bulatovic noted that he regrets that

    Montenegro has a leadership that is sometimes involved in

    "criminal activities." PM

    [18] ...WHILE WEST MAINTAINS 'DELIBERATE AMBIGUITY'

    An unnamed

    official of the Clinton administration told Reuters in

    Washington on 29 March that the U.S. is weighing its

    options should Milosevic use force against the government

    of Montenegro. The official stressed, however, that "we

    haven't stated privately or publicly whether we would

    intervene militarily." Both Secretary of State Madeleine

    Albright and her press spokesman James Foley maintain a

    "deliberate ambiguity" regarding possible Western responses

    to a military crackdown in Montenegro, the news agency

    added. In Riga, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said

    that he is concerned about Milosevic's attempts to

    "interfere or make trouble" in Montenegro, "but we're not

    saying what we would do about it or what the implications

    of our thinking are." NATO Supreme Commander Europe General

    Wesley Clark noted in Lisbon that "we've observed over the

    last six months how Milosevic has...tightened the noose

    around Mr. Djukanovic.... Mr. Milosevic should well

    understand what NATO's capabilities are." PM

    [19] ARTEMIJE SAYS YUGOSLAV ARMY WILL NEVER RETURN TO KOSOVA

    Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is Kosova's

    senior Serbian cleric and a key leader of the anti-

    Milosevic Serbian opposition there, said in Vienna on 29

    March that there will be no solution to the Kosova problem

    as long as Milosevic and the "regime" remain in power.

    Artemije added that the Yugoslav army will never return to

    the province because the local Serbs do not recognize it as

    their army, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He

    urged his fellow Serbs to admit the mistakes they have made

    in the past and to stop blaming others for their problems.

    "The world has nothing against the Serbs," he added.

    Elsewhere, Father Sava, who is Artemije's spokesman, said

    that pro-Milosevic Serbs staged "provocations" against him

    during his recent visit to London, "Vesti" reported on 30

    March. Sava added that the Kosova Serbs might join the UN's

    provisional advisory council in the province once Serbian

    refugees come home and KFOR ensures their security. PM

    [20] MILOSEVIC HAS NO MONEY FOR PIROT

    City Council President

    Boban Tolic said in Pirot that the new federal budget does

    not include "even a single dinar" for his city, "Danas"

    reported on 30 March. He said that the council will take

    unspecified "emergency measures" but warned that the city

    administration could collapse without money from Belgrade.

    Pirot is controlled by the opposition and, together with

    Nis, was one of the beneficiaries of the EU's Energy for

    Democracy program in recent months. PM

    [21] EU PLAYS COY WITH SLOVENIA

    Portuguese Foreign Minister

    Jaime Gama said on 29 March in Lisbon that Slovenia is a

    "true case of success." He declined, however, to suggest a

    date for the Alpine republic's admission to the EU, saying

    that he would not make "false promises," AP reported. Gama

    added that "our relations with the candidate countries are

    too solid, so we speak a language of authenticity."

    Portugal holds the rotating EU chair. Gama made his remarks

    after meeting with Slovenia's President Milan Kucan and

    Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel. PM

    [22] EARLY ELECTIONS FOR SLOVENIA?

    Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek

    said in Ljubljana on 28 March that he may call

    parliamentary elections soon if the legislature passes a

    new election law. Elections are due at some point during

    the last three months of 2000, but the future of the

    government was called into question recently, when nine

    ministers of the People's Party said they will resign on 15

    April to form a new election coalition with the Christian

    Democrats. The parliament is the center of political power

    in Slovenia. PM

    [23] MESIC SAYS GOVERNMENT WRONGFOOTING HIM

    Croatian President

    Stipe Mesic told "Jutarnji list" of 30 March that the

    government is trying to prevent him from carrying out his

    duties by withholding information from him (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 29 March 2000). "I am the least well informed

    person in the Croatian state," Mesic added. He stressed

    that the large two-party coalition has never truly accepted

    his election because he comes from the smaller four-party

    coalition. The Zagreb daily noted that Mesic is willing to

    share with the government the sweeping powers that

    currently belong to the president. Mesic insists, however,

    that he will not give up the power to name the head of the

    intelligence services or to make other key appointments. PM

    [24] ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE SAID 'HOT LINE' TO MOSCOW WAS

    ONLY DISCUSSED

    General Constantin Degeratu, the Romanian

    presidential adviser on defense issues, testified before a

    Senate Defense Commission on 29 March that discussions were

    held between Bucharest and Moscow on the establishment of a

    "hot line" between 1993 and 1996 but no agreement was ever

    signed, Romanian radio reported. Senator Alexandru Nicolae,

    who chairs the commission, said the negotiations were held

    with the written approval of then Romanian President Ion

    Iliescu. VG

    [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REJECTS PROPOSAL TO LEAVE CIS

    President

    Petru Lucinschi rejected a suggestion by Christian

    Democratic Popular Party leader Iurie Rosca that the

    country quit the CIS, Infotag and ITAR-TASS reported. Rosca

    said Moldova should immediately quit the CIS and focus its

    efforts on joining the EU. Lucinschi said he does not

    consider Moldova's membership in the CIS to be an

    impediment to the country's integration into European

    structures. Moldovan parliamentary speaker Dimitru Diakov

    dismissed the proposal as the "beginning of electoral

    canvassing," Infotag reported. VG

    [26] BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET

    Bulgarian

    Defense Minister Boyko Noev and his Romanian counterpart,

    Sorin Frunzaverde, agreed in Sofia on 29 March to explore

    the possibilities for military cooperation with the Dutch

    contingent in NATO's KFOR mission in Kosova, BTA reported.

    Bulgaria already has a 35-man engineering unit serving in

    the Dutch contingent of KFOR. Frunzaverde confirmed that

    Romania will explore the prospects for sending a Romanian

    unit to join the Dutch troops in Kosova. The two ministers

    are scheduled to meet again in mid-April, when Bulgaria and

    Romania will take part in joint naval exercises near Varna

    and Constanta. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [27] RECOVERY STILL A LONG WAY OFF IN WESTERN CORNER OF KOSOVA

    By Jolyon Naegele

    The detritus of war is still visible at every turn in

    the village of Brovina one year after Serbian forces sent

    all 600 residents fleeing over the nearby snow-covered

    mountains to Albania.

    Most residents were quick to return after Serbian

    forces withdrew last June. But little has changed in the

    village since then. In marked contrast to most other war-

    damaged parts of Kosova, where homeowners have largely

    finished reroofing their shelled or gutted houses, this

    westernmost corner of Kosova, known as Rreka, still looks

    as if the war just ended. Most houses remain in ruins.

    As is the case in neighboring villages, most of

    Brovina's 14 fortress-like residential stone towers, known

    as kullas, are empty shells, having been bombed or burned

    out by the Serbian forces. Elsewhere are blown-up cars, a

    burned-out bus on which the initials of NATO and the Kosova

    Liberation Army (UCK) have been scrawled, and a roadside

    mass grave of Albanians executed by the Serbs, covered with

    wreaths of plastic flowers.

    In the center of the village a newly built playground,

    a donation from abroad, keeps the children out of the

    wrecks and ruins and away from the surrounding fields,

    still full of mines and unexploded ordnance.

    In the next village, Nivokaz, only two out of the 24

    centuries-old kullas survived the Serbian assault intact.

    Many have nothing left but one or two walls and a stone

    staircase. The owner of one war-damaged kulla is a two-

    year-old war orphan.

    International humanitarian assistance has arrived in

    Brovina, Nivokaz, and surrounding communities. But besides

    the health-care, food, and educational aid and the

    donations of livestock and assistance to rebuild

    infrastructure, little has been done yet for the area's

    war-damaged architectural heritage.

    A U.S. foundation has donated some 10,000 square

    meters of plastic sheeting to cover exposed kulla walls in

    western Kosova. But the head of the Institute for the

    Protection of Kosova's Monuments, Fejaz Drancolli, told

    RFE/RL that this sufficed to protect just 60 damaged kullas

    out of a total of nearly 500 across western Kosova.

    Some donated plastic sheeting appears to have found

    other uses. In Junik, where about half of all Kosova's

    kullas are to be found, the co-owner of a gutted kulla,

    Esat Shehu, has used donated plastic sheeting and timber to

    build a barn for his war-decimated herd of three dozen

    sheep.

    "No they didn't give this [sheeting] to us for

    kullas," he told RFE/RL. "The Serbs burned all the farm

    buildings. I didn't have anywhere to put the sheep, so I

    built this shelter. But we will save these kullas. A

    professor from the Institute [for the Preservation of

    Kosova's Monuments] was here and told us that there are

    some Americans who are trying to help us. We'll see, but

    there is no way that we will let these kullas be further

    destroyed."

    As in other villages, residents say visiting foreign

    aid workers urged them not to tear down the burned out

    kullas but to try to save them. However, many kulla owners,

    though proud of their heritage, have no idea where to

    begin.

    One local businessman in Decani who grew up in a

    kulla, Sali Caca-Drini, hopes to change that. He is working

    to establish a local non-governmental organization to

    represent the interests of kulla owners and educate them in

    what needs to be done to save their heritage.

    Caca-Drini, who owns several photo shops, documented

    the kullas in some 12,000 photographs over the last 20

    years but has recovered only about a quarter of his photo

    archives. The Serbs burned down his home and shops, but he

    says what caused him to weep for days was the destruction

    of Decani's kullas.

    Virtually the only hope of saving the kullas in the

    foreseeable future is through local efforts, as the

    international community treats them as low priority.

    European Commissioner Chris Patten made that clear on

    a visit to Prishtina earlier this month. "Doubtless other

    donors will want to help rebuild the cultural heritage and

    in due course that may be something we (the EU) look at

    first," Patten said. "But I think what people require first

    of all is a roof over their heads, the assurance that the

    power supply will be more regular next year, better roads

    so they can get their goods to market or their exports to

    regional markets."

    In the meantime, foreign aid organizations continue to

    put up their plaques on the kulla ruins, taking credit for

    postwar recovery. But tangible recovery in this corner of

    Kosova is still a long way off.

    The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent based in

    Prague.

    30-03-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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