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Basayevs Nightline Interview Irks Russia

Published: August 2, 2005 (Issue # 1092)


MOSCOW The Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. Embassys top official and politicians expressed outrage after a U.S. television network broadcast an interview with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who has a $10 million bounty on his head and has claimed responsibility for the Beslan school hostage-taking and other terrorist attacks.

Basayev acknowledged in the interview that he was a terrorist and repeated his earlier statements that he might order more Beslan-style attacks. But he softened his rhetoric by noticeably avoiding loaded words such as jihad and infidels.

The taped interview was broadcast on ABC televisions Nightline late Thursday night and was conducted by Andrei Babitsky, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist who has complained about Russian harassment over previous reports about Chechnya.

Moscow is very sensitive to domestic and foreign media giving a voice to Chechen rebels, whom it equates with international terrorists, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday that he was barring military personnel from contact with ABC.

The Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the U.S. Embassys deputy chief of mission, Daniel Russell, to convey our views over the broadcast of an interview with a terrorist, ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov said.

The network has shown outrageous neglect of the standards of responsible journalism and general human values, he said in a statement on the ministrys web site.

The embassy confirmed that Russell had been summoned but declined further comment. Russell is the top U.S. official in Russia after Ambassador Alexander Vershbow left in mid-July. The next ambassador has yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, stood by its decision to air the interview on Sunday. ABC News will continue to report fully on news from Russia and that important region, it said in an e-mailed statement.

ABC also said it had offered the Russian government an opportunity to participate in Nightline or a future broadcast and the offer was declined.

Host Ted Koppel said on Nightline that viewers had the right to hear the viewpoint of any newsmaker. Then we can reject or accept it, condemn it or embrace it, he said, according to a transcript of the program. No one should have the authority to make that decision for us. Not our own government, and certainly not somebody elses.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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