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Saturday, April 10, 1999 Published at 19:32 GMT 20:32 UK

World: Europe

Montenegro rejects censorship

Montenegrins have organised several anti-war demonstrations

By Jackie Rowland in Podgorica

The government in the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro has rejected an attempt by the federal army to introduce censorship in the Montenegrin media.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Montenegrin Government statement follows the move of the army on Friday to prevent private radio stations from rebroadcasting programmes made by foreign radio companies.

The Montenegrin Government has welcomed in foreign journalists, seeing them as allies in its efforts to resist direct rule from Belgrade.

The army, however, sees foreign reporters as spies, and has accused Montenegrin Government of lack of patriotism.

In recent days, the army has detained a number of foreign journalists, including a team from the BBC which was later released.

Demands to limit re-broadcasting

The military authorities have also made attempts to influence the local media.

The latest was a demand to limit the rights of private radio stations to rebroadcast material made by foreign news organisations. The government flatly rejected this demand.

In a statement, the information ministry stressed that freedom of the press was guaranteed by the constitution.

However, it warned radio stations that they would be held responsible for the contents of any foreign programmes they aired.

Opposition loyal to Belgrade

The row over the media has been exacerbated by the broadcast earlier this week by Montenegrin state television of an interview with the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The main opposition party in Montenegro has condemned the television, and other local media, for carrying comments by politicians from Nato countries.

The party voiced support for military censorship and said it planned to take steps in parliament to reverse Montenegro's decision to remain neutral in the conflict.

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