Reporters on the job

SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION: It used to be that Arie Farnam's amiable ethnic-Albanian interpreter would talk to anyone. He holds an Australian passport and likes to talk about the times he spent as a driver for foreign journalists in Kosovo, where he talked to everyone, Albanians, Serbs, Roma, various ethnic groups.

"But the conflict in Macedonia has struck him where it hurts most - at home," Arie says. "The conflict has soured him on talking to Macedonian Slavs to the extent that it is a struggle to get a simple phone call out of him, even though he has no accent in Macedonian."

When she visited the village of Stajkovci near Aracinovo to investigate claims that the Macedonian Slav villagers there had been armed by police, there was no question of taking Iljaz along. He waited in a nearby ethnic-Albanian village, while Arie and a photographer walked to Stajkovci and scouted for villagers who happened to speak English, German, or Russian.

"Many Macedonians speak excellent English, and I understand some of their Slavic language, but not all of it," Arie says. "So after Stajkovci, I decided that a second Macedonian interpreter is necessary." She found a young man with the right qualifications, but now it is a tricky dance to keep the two from running into each other and getting in an argument in the course of a day's work.


NO MORE SMOKING: Yesterday's Moscow Times reported that Aeroflot will ban smoking on flights with a duration of fewer than four hours, beginning Sunday. "The ban will cover a list of 23 cities, among them the Bulgarian city Varna, Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague, London, Athens, Paris, Rome, Nice, Venice, and Antalya," the paper said.

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