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Tuesday, March 10, 1998 Published at 19:42 GMT

World: Monitoring

Belgrade's independent media face grilling over Kosovo coverage
image: [ Bodies of ethnic Albanians killed in recent police operations lie in full view of the public ]
Bodies of ethnic Albanians killed in recent police operations lie in full view of the public

The official media in Belgrade - including state-controlled TV and radio - have been unanimous in their justification of recent operations in Kosovo by the Serbian police as necessary actions against "terrorists". But several independent media sources in the Serbian capital have sought to portray the events in Kosovo in a less partisan light, and have run into trouble with the authorities for their efforts, according to the following reports from Beta news agency and B92 radio:

Serbian police call independent media editors in for questioning

Text of report by the independent Belgrade-based news agency Beta

Belgrade, 9th March: Slavko Curuvija, the editor in chief of the Belgrade `Dnevni telegraf' daily, has been called in for questioning by the police at 1000 [0900 gmt] tomorrow, `Dnevni telegraf' reports in its 10th March issue.

[ image: Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milantijevic says ethnic Albanian leaders must reject
Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milantijevic says ethnic Albanian leaders must reject "terrorism"
The daily claims that Curuvija received a telephone call from inspectors in the Serbian Interior Ministry, who requested that he come in for questioning on Tuesday.

`Dnevni Telegraf' has learned that `Nasa Borba' editor in chief Ivan Mrdjen has also received a similar summons.

Miodrag Tmusic, public prosecutor in Belgrade, told `Nasa Borba' on 7th March that he had "ordered the police to collect information about how several independent newspapers and television stations were reporting on the Kosovo events".

Source: Beta news agency, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 2244 gmt 9 Mar 98

Independent newspapers accuse authorities of witch-hunt

Text of report by the Belgrade-based independent Radio B92 on 9th March

[Presenter] The editors of five independent [Belgrade] newspapers held a joint meeting today.

According to the state media, the [Belgrade] district attorney announced he was taking measures against the papers because of the manner in which they had been reporting events in Kosovo.

It was confirmed that of the five newspapers, `Blic', `Nasa borba', `Demokratija', `Danas' and `Dnevni telegraf', only the `Dnevni telegraf' editor in chief, Slavko Curuvija, had received a summons to the Interior Ministry [police headquarters] on 29th November Street for tomorrow [10th March 1998].

[ image: A victim of the violence is buried]
A victim of the violence is buried
The editors of the other papers had received no such summons. They concluded at today's meeting that: none of us have yet received any summons, material or facts on the basis of which the district attorney is accusing us of supporting terrorism in Kosovo, `Blic' editor in chief Manojlo Vukotic told radio B92, and added:

[Vukotic] We cannot therefore defend ourselves with new arguments against this publicly launched smear-campaign.

We shall defend ourselves as thoroughly as we did last week, through our stories, objectivity, documentation and our approach [to the subject of Kosovo], which differ in principle from the thoughts, ideas or positions, not of the district attorney himself, but of those who gave him the order for such a pointless and shameful witch-hunt against five independent Belgrade newspapers.

Source: Radio B92, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 2030 gmt 9 Mar 98

International media watchdog condemns attacks on independent media

The International Federation of Journalists [IFJ] has denounced attacks by the Serbian authorities on independent media sources over coverage of Kosovo, the French news agency AFP reported.

"They have learned nothing from the censorship and the insane propaganda during the war in Bosnia," Secretary General Aidan White said in a statement from the federation's Brussels headquarters.

"Attacks on media only create ignorance, fear and intolerance. This encourages more violence, not the opposite," he added.

According to the IFJ, Serbian authorities have threatened reprisals against media which have reported on police actions in Kosovo.

The International Federation of Journalists represents more than 450,000 journalists in 96 countries, including in Kosovo and Serbia, AFP said.

BBC Monitoring (, 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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