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Editor Vladimir Vjestic threatened by entrepeneur

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is a 24 February 2009 ANEM press release:


Belgrade, February 24, 2009 - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) and the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS) condemn the threats and attack against Vladimir Vjestic, the editor-in-chief of Radio "BUS" in Kovin.

Radio "BUS" announced on Monday that their editor-in-chief, Vladimir Vjestic, was threatened on Saturday, February 21, by Predrag Milovanovic, a private entrepreneur from Kovin, because of alleged "biased reporting by Radio 'BUS'". After Vjestic warned Milovanovic that he was going to report the threats to the police, Milovanovic tried to assault him but was stopped by the owner and one of the guests of the restaurant in Kovin where the incident took place. Radio "BUS" said the threats and assault were probably in reaction to a Radio "BUS" broadcast of a statement made by the director of a local public company, who was responding to accusations made by a citizens' association called Preporod. Milovanovic has close ties to this association, which will likely participate in the Kovin municipal election on 5 April.

ANEM and NUNS point out that the election process in Serbia has too often been accompanied by increased pressure on media outlets that carry out campaign reporting. ANEM and NUNS believe that it is of utmost importance that participants in the political process refrain from behaviour that limits freedom of expression and information, and consider any kind of pressure, be it physical or otherwise, on the media or media employees to be completely unacceptable.

The behaviour of broadcasters with respect to elections and election campaigns is regulated in detail by law, as well as by the general mandatory guidelines and recommendations of the Republic Broadcasting Agency, which clearly emphasize equality and non-discriminatory behaviour with regard to all participants in an election process, while including guarantees for editorial freedom and independence in the style and amount of election coverage. The Republic Broadcasting Agency monitors the broadcasters, especially with respect to their adherence to the rules of reporting on election campaigns and elections, and it is authorized to sanction the violation of those rules. Any attempt by electoral candidates or persons close to them to issue threats or exert pressure with the aim of interfering with editorial freedom or influencing coverage of participants in the election process is completely unacceptable.

ANEM and NUNS declare their solidarity with the editor-in-chief of Radio "BUS" in Kovin and appeal to the authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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