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Organisations show solidarity with broadcaster under threat

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 11 March 2011 - The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and fourteen ambassadors accredited in Serbia expressed their public solidarity with the employees of B92 radio and television by visiting the premises on 8 March 2011. SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic joined the visit and spoke to the journalists who have faced serious threats.

Brankica Stankovic, producer of the B92 TV programme "Insajder", and known for her reporting on sensitive topics, has been under police protection since December 2009, after she revealed alleged connections between organised crime, football fans and politics.

Stankovic, the recipient of the 2008 Dr. Erhard Busek and SEEMO Award for Better Understanding and the 2010 OSCE Mission to Serbia "Person of the Year Award", this year undertook another important investigation revealing the alleged misuse of public funds in the state-owned mine company Kulubara. After the show was broadcast on 14 February 2011, the whole team received death threats in the form of obituaries displayed in public places in the town of Lazarevac.

Radical nationalist groups began staging protests in front of the B92 building and a political party announced a B92 boycott. One prominent member of the party was the director of the Kulubara mine company during the period investigated by "Insajder". As a result of the mounting political pressure and new threats, Serbian police decided to provide 24-hour police protection to B92 Chief Executive Officer and Editor in Chief Veran Matic, and increased the number of policemen responsible for protecting Stankovic.

SEEMO applauds the decision of the Ministry of Interior to provide the journalists with police protection. However, political and criminal pressure exerted on B92 remains of great concern.

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