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INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS

in Russia, One of Country's Top Investigative Journalists Murdered; More Doubts About Apparent North Korean Nuclear Test

Aired October 13, 2006 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The headlines this hour. Britain's army chief is playing down controversial remarks he made about the war in Iraq. General Richard Danna told "The Daily Mail Newspaper" his troops should leave Iraq soon. But now he says his comment must be put into context, adding he favors a gradual, not an immediate withdrawal.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he supports the general's statements.

It was in March 2003 that ITN journalist Terry Lloyd was killed in Iraq. A British coroner's ruling today calls it an unlawful death. Lloyd was traveling in a clearly marked ITN vehicle when American forces opened fire on Iraqi forces. Lloyd and his interpreter were killed in the crossfire. A cameraman is still missing.

A visionary economist, Muhammad Yunus and the Gramene bank he founded have been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Guinness pioneered the use of tiny loans or micro credits that help lift millions of people out of poverty, many of them women in Bangladesh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUHAMMAD YUNUS, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: Being in poverty means that we're not contributing your talents, your energy, your (INAUDIBLE) into the market place with everybody else.

We should be removing poverty not for the person himself or herself. It's for us, too, because denying ourselves the brilliant ideas and productivity and (INAUDIBLE) all those 1.5 billion people is a terrible loss.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VASSILEVA: More doubts about the apparent North Korean nuclear test. U.S. officials say high altitude tests have found no evidence of nuclear radiation in the air around the test area.

Meanwhile, the leaders of China and South Korea have reached what China's official news agency is calling "an important consensus on the North Korean nuclear issue." They agree the U.N. Security Council should take "necessary and appropriate measures."

Rock star and activist Bono is launching the Red Campaign in the U.S. to help the campaign against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Participating companies pay a percentage of sales on certain items. The money is then donated to the Global Fund, a similar program launched six months ago in Britain.

That is a check of the headlines. I'm Ralitsa Vassileva. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS is straight ahead.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fionnuala Sweeney. Welcome to CNN's INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS. This week, coming to you from London's Frontline Media Club.

Ahead on the show, the color, the controversy, the consequences. An exhibition of four decades of British tabloid headlines.

But first, though, we begin in Russia, where one of the country's top investigative journalists has been murdered. Anya Politkovskaya made her name reporting from Chechnya for the liberal newspaper "Novaya Gazetta". She was openly critical of President Vladmir Putin and his regime.

CNN's Matthew Chance went to her funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was one of Russia's most outspoken journalists, a fierce critic of the Kremlin and a tireless campaigner for human rights.

Through her reporter, Anya Politkovskaya touched the hearts of many. Hundreds gathered to pay their respects.

For years, Anya risked her life, covering Russia's war in Chechnya. She was killed in her Moscow apartment building, shot four times at close range.

Security cameras recorded a few glimpses of the man police say may have been the killer. But few believe he was anything more than a hired gun. This had all the hallmarks of a contract killing.

She's hardly the first Russian journalist murdered for her work. The country has an appalling record of protecting its reporters. Advocates for a free press say those who expose corruption, or like Anya, investigate abuses of power, are most at risk.

PAVEL FELGENHAUER, JOURNALIST (through translator): Since 1994, not one murder of a journalist killed for their profession has been solved. I think it's because most of those crimes were initiated by members of the ruling establishment. I doubt we'll ever find out who ordered the murders of any of them.

CHANCE: At the offices of Novaya Gazetta, the Russian language newspaper where Anya worked, staff are regrouping after her murder. The paper's editor says Anya is the third reporter he's lost to assassins in six years.

"Russia has a shrinking democracy," he told me. And that poses a real danger to people's lives, especially those involved in investigative reporting. If only Russia had independent courts, or a law enforcement system that wasn't so corrupt, it could make all the difference," he says.

But Russia today has neither. And now it has one less voice of conscience as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SWEENEY: CNN's Matthew Chance reporting there.

Well, Russia is often accused of curbing press freedoms, Anya Politkovskaya is just the latest in a long list of journalists killed for speaking out.

To discuss the situation there, I'm joined by the BBC's Oleixiy Solohubenko. How dangerous was Anya Politkovskaya to the political establishment?

OLEXIY SOLOHUBENKO, BBC World Service: She was dangerous in a sense, but she was one of the very few who picked up one of the most painful stories that run in Russia. And that was Chechnya.

The official (INAUDIBLE) says that the Chechen crisis is over, the war is over, and everything is peaceful and hunky-dory. She said no, abuse of human rights is going on. There are people being killed. There's a very dangerous man - has been - that has been put in charge of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadirup (ph), the prime minister, who is probably going to become the president of the Chechen Republic.

She was very, very bold in attacking the really nerve centers of what is one of the most painful and unreserved conflicts. And because of that, I think she was very dangerous.

SWEENEY: Were her writings in Chechnya having an impact on Russian society in general?

SOLOHUBENKO: Short term, no. Long term, yes, because I think short term, she was basically deprived of oxygen. She didn't appeal on television in Russia. She was better known abroad than in Russia. She didn't have her newspaper that she worked for. Had a very small circulation and was published only twice a week.

But if you compare it to the Soviet days, it's like Ikanamision (ph) Sokarav, who was a very powerful personality, a very influential personality. Yet he never appeared in Soviet television.

SWEENEY: Will there be mass protests on the part of the journalist block? I'm thinking of, you know, the Russian Union of Journalists and the Media Union, likely you know, because of her death, her murder?

SOLOHUBENKO: I don't think so. I think the climate is such that there's a lot of individual effort by the remaining intellectuals, by the liberal intellectual elite in Russia to raise the awareness of why this death was so dangerous.

For instance, there was a letter written by leading writers of Russia, demanding that the authorities at least express condolences. And President Putin himself express some kind of compassion. And that letter was not broadcast on national television on the commercial channels. It was published on the Internet, which is the last domain where such liberal moves are possible.

SWEENEY: Well, it's interesting you bring up the Internet, because in some of her writings, she wrote, "We are hurtling back into a Soviet abyss, into an information vacuum that spells death from our own ignorance. All we have left is the Internet.

In this stand-off between journalists and their political establishment, who's winning? Who's going to win?

SOLOHUBENKO: I don't think there are winners and losers. I think perhaps the loser is the society and Russian citizens at large.

But the tragedy is that very often, they do not realize themselves, they're actually in the losing side. There's a kind of a degree of complacency that a pluralism is not necessarily a good thing, that it's good to have a good leader who controls everything, and controls the media as well.

And I think this is a major shift in the Russian society, which is not necessarily perceived in the West. It's not the self censorship. It's not the official censorship, but it's the mechanisms that are put in place that create a climate in which censorship is not necessary because the whole process goes ahead as a kind of a managed media scene.

SWEENEY: Briefly, are there many like Anya Politkovskaya left in Russia?

SOLOHUBENKO: I don't think there are many like her. I think she was one of the few characters who really didn't give up. She had a cause. She felt that it was her civic duty and journalistic view to pursue that cause.

There are quite a few people who openly admit that because of the threats to their life, they decide not to write on topics like Chechnya, like human rights, like democracy in Russia. And that number, I think, is much greater than the number of people who are prepared to stand up for their principles.

SWEENEY: Olexiy Solohubenko, thank you very much indeed.

And now to a story we've been following in recent weeks. A coroner in Britain has reached a verdict in the inquest into the death of the British journalist Terry Lloyd in Iraq in 2003.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SWEENEY (voice-over): As this program was being completed, a British coroner ruled Lloyd was unlawfully killed in Basra by American forces. The British journalist was killed on March 22nd, 2003, while traveling independently during the invasion, and was not embedded with coalition forces.

The report said he was shot by U.S. forces as he was being carried away in a mini bus. It's a verdict Lloyd's family has long been waiting for.

CHELSEY LLOYD, TERRY LLOYD'S DAUGHTER: The killing of my father, which seem to amount to murder, which is deeply shocking. We call on the attorney general and the DPP to commence proceedings to bring the soldiers, including their commanding officers, to justice.

They did not come to this inquest to explain their actions. Let them now do so in our criminal courts, where they are going to get a fair trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SWEENEY: And up next on INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS, the changing face of foreign news reporting after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SWEENEY: Welcome back. A foreign correspondent's job is vital. They travel afar to bring you the stories that they feel you need to know. Within media circles, it's a coveted role, almost an elite club. And one former war correspondent says that is changing.

Maggie O'Kane is the head of Guardian Films, which is training local reporters from places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia to cover what's happening in their own country. She joins me now, along with the Iraqi journalist Ahmad al Rikaby.

Maggie, what is it exactly that Guardian Films when it comes to training foreign journalists?

MAGGIE O'KANE, GUARDIAN FILMS: Well, we felt that because things are becoming so dangerous for Western correspondents because of the jihad and various things, that we had to find another way of really trying to cover situations.

So what we've done is we've piloted in Iraq. We have found the best local journalists. And we have brought them to London. We train them quite along an intensive television training program. And then they go back to make films in Iraq. And then they come back to actually edit in London.

So there's a constant relationship of building them up as filmmakers, who bring a unique view of their own country.

SWEENEY: And how does it work for the - not just Guardian Films, but also the Guardian newspaper? I mean, I know that you're the view - the traditional view of the war correspondent is over. What do you mean by that?

O'KANE: Well, I mean, for example, Gay Fakwar is an Iraqi journalist who covered Lebanon for us, southern Lebanon, the war there during the summer.

His access to his ball of fighters and so forth in Lebanon was extraordinary. He was an Iraqi. He was a Muslim. He spent a week with them, talking about why they were fighting Israelis, what was happening, and actually getting into the hearts and minds of Hezbollah.

And at one point, he was at the window looking down at a kind of guided tour of local - of international journalists, foreign correspondents being taken on the tour of the area.

And for me, that sums up everything. You know, he can spend a week there, get a real sense of what it's about, speak to fighters who are about to die, and watch foreign correspondents being on a sort of dog and pony show.

SWEENEY: Is that because the nature of the war stories have changed that? For example, 10 years ago, you could have gone into Bosnia. But that now, it's way too dangerous for a white Western person often to go into these kind of situations?

O'KANE: Yes, I think it is. I think we've - are now fair game really. And I think it's partly because of the jihad perception that in Iraq you're a Westerner. Everybody's been terrified since Ken Bigley. And I think that image totally transformed the way we cover the war.

I think it is more dangerous as we've seen. There's been 86 journalists, not all of them Westerners, actually -- most of them Iraqis, killed since - in the last three years in Iraq. So it's extraordinary.

I mean, when we were in Bosnia, it was the beginning of things going bad. And particularly since the war crimes tribunals. And our journalists have seen as pretty dangerous creatures who can incriminate people.

So it's - I think it's become too dangerous to work effectively.

SWEENEY: Ahmad, let me ask you. Where are the role models for Iraqi journalists if they don't get training elsewhere?

AHMAD AL RIKABY, IRAQI JOURNALIST: Well, I don't see any models available now for the Iraqi journalists. And for 35 years, or even before that, the Iraqi journalist didn't have any proper model which we will present the proper journalism as it should be or as we know it, or as it's now in most of the world.

Now the model for the Iraqi journalist is the Arabic satellite channels. They watch al Jazeera. They watch channels like al Arabya. Or those who could speak English may be capable of watching CNN or BBC. So they are learning something from those stations.

At the same time, they have now the privilege of working or dealing with the foreign press presented in Iraq, such as The Guardian, for example. But those who work with The Guardian, or those who get (INAUDIBLE) working with another foreign or western.

(AUDIO GAP)

.they need to speak English. This is one thing which they need to know.

And many of those people who were involved in assisting the foreign correspondents, and who are nowadays trained by organizations like The Guardian are not of a journalistic background. Many of them are - they just happen to speak very good English.

And with the time, they started to play the role of a journalist, that they started to become journalists. This is one source of learning journalism in Iraq today.

Unfortunately, the schools of journalism in Iraq are not - we need to do big changes there.

SWEENEY: And can The Guardian and other organizations be there on the ground in Iraq with people from overseas? Or do - could they be local people? Or should they be local people?

RIKABY: Well, The Guardian was doing a very good job, but I don't want to use The Guardian now. I want to speak more generally.

SWEENEY: Just generally speaking, yes.

RIKABY: .on the foreign press or the foreign media in Iraq, the first year, the job was done properly. I mean, the foreign correspondents were able to move freely inside Iraq. No problems.

And from that time, they had their Iraqi assistants and interpreters. But in the last two years, the situation became very, very difficult for the foreign correspondents. Most of them spent their time in their hotels, or in their bureaus. They can't leave the place. So they rely up to 95 percent in some cases on their Iraqi assistants.

SWEENEY: So is there a case to be made for local journalists, as Magee's making the case, to do the kind of work that Western white journalists can no longer do there?

RIKABY: Well, if we could get those people, I mean the assistants, to become very good journalists, that's very good. And of course, that will provide us with much better reporting and much more professional coverage of the situation in Iraq, and help us to ask the right questions, and maybe see the right people. And at the end, get a very good story.

But what I fear is that the role of this local correspondents - all the - it could be very useful many times. But I'm afraid in cases where we are covering an issue like the sectarian tension, which we have today in Iraq, I fear that if I as a Shi'ite or as a Sunni go and cover that event or that incident, that my religious background or my ethnic background will influence that reporting.

SWEENEY: But I mean, in northern Ireland, there were Catholic and Protestant journalists.

O'KANE: It's very patronizing in a way of your own people. I mean, I come from Belfast. And there was Catholic and Protestant journalism. By that logic, you would say, none of us should have been capable of reporting on our country.

And Bosnia was the same.

So do you say to Bosnian journalists that they should be excluded because they were Serbs? Or should you be running a session because you're assuming (INAUDIBLE).

RIKABY: I'm just saying that I fear because I've seen examples in the British press where - when you read the name of the co-writer, and if it's a Shi'ite co-writer, you would see a Shi'ite influence in that report. And if it's a Shi'ite co-writer, you would see Sunni influence in that report.

SWEENEY: But is that to do with the level of journalism, perhaps, or - and the training of journalism, as much as it is to do with, you know, Sunni influence of Shi'ia.

RIKABY: Well, the sectarian tension is so strong in Iraq today. And I think this guy who's name is Omar, it's clearly that this is a Sunni guy, when he goes and tries to cover an incident in a Shi'ite area, he feels like one of the victims. He doesn't go and feel like a neutral person covering this.

And so is the case for the Shi'ite Ali, who goes to that Sunni area and trying to cover. You also feel the fear. He feels that those people standing there, they might kill him as well.

So that probably also affects him somehow. I mean, whether he is very objective or whether he is very normal or neutral or unbiased, but he can't help it that he's got a certain name. And that name might get him killed. And that will influence his way of thinking or approaching the subject.

O'KANE: Yes, but where we all come with our bias, you know, if you come from FOX TV and you're on an embed with the 101st Marines, then you know, where's perspective then?

You know, I think the thing about good answers and good organs and good organizations is that it's up to us to try and, you know, get this mix and try and get the most honest picture we can. And we need help for that now in Iraq from good Iraqis, professional Iraqis. And I think we're getting it.

RIKABY: Well, definitely an Iraqi understands more about Iraq than any person, whoever this person is. But sometimes we do need this foreign correspondent, because I would like to give this example.

I mean, you live in a street somewhere for 20 years. And after a while, you don't see the changes around you. You don't see the special things around you, that someone who's coming and visiting you for the first time would notice many things, which you wouldn't notice because you live there. You're used to those things.

So sometimes we do need this foreign correspondent coming and visiting us. And maybe helping us to see certain things which we are not seeing ourselves.

SWEENEY: Thank you both very much.

Well up next on INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS, the front page splash. We speak to a former tabloid editor here in Britain, responsible for some of the country's most infamous headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SWEENEY: Welcome back. He's been described as a brutal editor with a particular form of dangerous genius. He is Kevin McKenzie, former editor of the tabloid British newspaper "The Sun," which turned 40 this year.

And to mark the milestone, an exhibition is being held in London, showcasing the tabloid sensational history of headlines. Kevin showed me around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SWEENEY: What makes a good headline?

KEVIN MCKENZIE, FORMER EDITOR, THE SUN: Well, it should have a pun in it. It should make you smile, but there should be a serious content in it as well. That's why people who do crossword puzzles probably would be good "Sun" headline writers.

SWEENEY: "The Sun" not particularly pro EU?

MCKENZIE: No, very hostile to Europe, ahead of the curve on that because at the time when this was written, there was a sense that Britain was going to become caught up in no boundaries. We were going to go with the Euro. Everything would be measured in some rather curious Romanian metric system.

And this created the sense that we were fighting back. And of course today, there's no sense that there's going to be integration in Europe. They can't get it through.

So this was a real signal to the rest of Europe, by the way, the Brussels absolutely detest "The Sun."

SWEENEY: I'm not surprised.

MCKENZIE: And actually, because it says that it derails the politics of debate. Brussels, Europe, Germany generally, they don't have this sort of vibrant populism, which "The Sun" embraces. And they hate us because every time they try and push something through, the old "Sun" gives it them wrapped in the eyes.

SWEENEY: In the `70s, you know, "The Sun" was known for mainly its page three goals. And as the years went by, it's taken on an increasingly political tone. And of course, it's now the paper that every prime minister or man who wants - woman who wants to be prime minister has to court.

MCKENZIE: That's true.

SWEENEY: How did it make that transition?

MCKENZIE: Well, it mainly - remember, you mainly get power out of the barrel of a gun. So literally, the reason why "The Guardian" has got no power is it sells 350,000 a day. Well, more people live in Liverpool. You know, it hasn't got what "The Sun's" got 3.5 million or 10 million every day.

So when - and "The Sun" is quite political, but it also moves with its readership as well. So for instance, when I was running the ship, it was conservative because we had a right wing revolutionary running it.

Then along comes Blair, and Rupert recognizes that this guy is a revolutionary again, coming from the left of the center. Great things are happening. And on that basis, "The Sun" votes a different way.

"The Sun's" views are not like "The Telegraph." We aren't set in cement. We move with the times.

SWEENEY: This is one of the more infamous headlines from "The Sun."

MCKENZIE: It was, yes. It was written at a time when the journalists were on strike and I was the only person allowed by the clapped tribunians who operated the printing presses to produce the paper. They agreed that I, as the editor, was allowed to do it because there was a fresh (INAUDIBLE) of journalists. So I was doing the whole bloody lot myself.

One of the senior executives that shouldn't have been there, when she heard, it was a lady called Wendy Henry, who now trains dogs by the way, (INAUDIBLE) dog hounds, incredible story in there in her own right. Well, directly she heard that we'd sunk the Belgrado, which was entirely the correct thing to do. They were trying to kill us. We killed them. That was war. Right? We'd gone 6,000 miles of this, right?

But immediately, then she said, "Gotcha." And I said, "Good idea." Bang. And then about half an hour later, Rupert Murdoch turns up. And he basically says blarney good headline. I didn't need any other encouragement, so I stayed with it.

That's all for this edition of INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS. Tune in again next time for another look at how the media are handling the big issues.

I'm Fionnuala Sweeney. Thanks for joining us.

END

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