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Outspoken radio station owner victim of assassination attempt

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is an ANEM statement:

ASSAILANTS OF STIP BASED KANAL 77 OWNER TO BE FOUND IMMEDIATELY

BELGRADE, January 29, 2008 ? The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) condemns and most strenuously protests against the attempted murder of Goran Gavrilov, owner of a radio station with national coverage in Macedonia, Stip based Kanal 77, one of the founders and a member of the Managing Board of the Association of Private Electronic Media in Macedonia (APEMM) and a member of the Managing Board of the SouthEast European Network of Associations of Private Broadcasters (SEENAPB).

Gavrilov, who has been one of the most prominent figures in the battle for media reforms, professionalization and independence of electronic media in Macedonia and Southeast Europe for nearly two decades, was attacked by two masked persons in the night between 25th and 26th of January. Goran had parked his car in his own yard, and while his wife walked up the driveway, he went back to lock the gate when the armed assailants shot at him and missed, and then began hitting him with metal rods. Gavrilov suffered severe injuries and received medical treatment in the local hospital in Stip. Macedonian police conducted a crime scene investigation and found the metal rods that had been used in the attack, but the assailants have not been arrested. Goran Gavrilov's wife Emilija said that Gavrilov had no enemies and that he didn't participate in any contentious business relations or deals that might have been the cause for this attack.

ANEM welcomes the strong protests against this attack expressed by the Macedonian government, and insists that a decisive investigation be conducted in order to establish all the facts, find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of every democratic society and a necessary precondition for its development and progress. Macedonian officials have to pay special attention to all the harmful consequences that such an attack may bring about, not only for Kanal 77, owned by Gavrilov, and for media organizations in Macedonia, but also for media freedoms in the region as a whole.

By reminding the general public of numerous cases of threats and assaults against journalists in this region that have not been solved, ANEM points out to the necessity to carry out an inclusive and decisive action on the regional level which will ensure that journalists and media outlets inform the general public on all the issues they are entitled to be informed about, free from pressures and any threats for their own safety.

ANEM calls on all the media organizations and professional associations, as well as on the democratic public to express their strongest protests and disapproval of the attack on Goran Gavrilov and to express their solidarity with him.

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