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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK


Serbia limits news of bomb damage

Coverage of a rally against "the lie industries of CNN and Sky"

Serbian television, radio and news agency coverage of the damage inflicted and casualties caused by the Nato air strikes is becoming increasingly restricted.

Authorities in Belgrade have even ordered citizens not to discuss by mobile phone "details connected to the aggression against our country, the consequences of the aggression, the effects of enemy activities or the positions of the defence forces", Belgrade RTS TV said.

Kosovo: Special Report
Similarly, earlier in the week Montenegrin TV journalists were taken into custody by the Yugoslav army and warned against revealing the impact of Nato strikes on military targets

On Wednesday, however, the independent B92 Radio quoted the head of the Belgrade Military Hospital, Lieutenant General Aco Jovicic, as saying that eight people had died in air strikes on the capital.

"Most of them were brought to the hospital already dead, for identification purposes. Among the dead are both the members of security forces and civilians . . . So far 22 soldiers, policemen and civilians have been admitted for treatment to this hospital," the report said.


[ image: Montenegrin journalists were warned against reporting the impact of bombing]
Montenegrin journalists were warned against reporting the impact of bombing
The radio station also reported that Nato air strikes targeted military installations around Belgrade and nearby Pancevo, as well as Pristina.

"So far there are no reports of possible victims or damage caused," it said, adding that air raid sirens were sounded on Tuesday night in Nis, Podgorica and Novi Sad. But there were no reports of air strikes on these towns.

The state-run news agency Tanjug said Nato attacked Urosevac in Kosovo. It said Nato aircraft hit targets around Pec, in western Kosovo, on Wednesday morning, but there were no reports of casualties.

"Six aggressor planes dropped cluster bombs, banned under international laws of war. Soon afterwards, two missiles fell near the village of Gracanica," the agency said.

Upbeat reports emphasised

More media emphasis is being placed on upbeat reports, with Tanjug quoting Internal Trade Minister Slobodan Nenadovic as saying that food shops were well supplied and no shortages were expected.

In a similar vein, Economy Minister Rade Filipovic declared that the economy was functioning at a satisfactory level despite the continuing attacks.


[ image: Serb TV:
Serb TV: "Far more journalists than refugees" at the border
Tanjung reported that Serbia's Information Ministry has urged all journalists across the world "to speak the language of truth . . . and to put an end to the campaign of lies on an alleged humanitarian disaster in Serbia's Kosovo-Metohija province".

Politicians have ordered state media in Montenegro, meanwhile, to be "more selective and more careful in carrying foreign media reports on the current events in the FRY", the Belgrade news agency BETA said.

On Wednesday, TV Montenegro reduced its direct transmission of CNN and Sky News to a minimum.

Little coverage of refugees

Little coverage has been given to the issue of refugees, but an English-language bulletin on Serbian TV showed footage of the Serbian-Macedonian border with commentary saying that "there were far more journalists than refugees".

The station interviewed Kosovo Albanians who spoke of fleeing Nato bombing. "We had to go away with our small children . . . Everything is burning from bombs," one said.

Serbian TV has supplemented its short English-language broadcasts with a summary of the main news in Albanian.

Russian mediation efforts, including Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's visit to Belgrade and Bonn, continued to dominate the channel's news bulletins on Wednesday.

As on previous days, the TV news bulletins also continued to be interspersed with entertainment shows, footage of the Yugoslav armed forces, clips from old anti-Nazi films and documentaries on Serbian cultural heritage in an effort to boost morale.

Serbian TV has continued to give extensive coverage to anti-Nato protests both in Yugoslavia and abroad, including a rally in Belgrade on Tuesday under the motto "Truth versus aggression" in support of the "fight for truth and against Western media fabrications being spread above all by the lie industries of CNN and Sky".

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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