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Kosovo broadcasting chief should receive protection after attack

RTK via Wikimedia Commons

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 30 August 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a bomb attack on the home of Mentor Shala, the head of public radio and TV broadcaster RTK – the second attack of this kind targeting RTK in less than a week – and calls on the Kosovar authorities to protect Shala, who has also been threatened.

The bomb was set off outside Shala's home on the evening of 28 August, just six days after a grenade was thrown into the courtyard of RTK headquarters in downtown Pristina. Neither explosion caused any injuries.

The attack was claimed in a short message to the media by a hitherto unknown group calling itself “Rugovasit,” which accused Shala of supporting the Kosovar government's proposal to cede 80 square kilometres of territory to Montenegro in a proposed redrawing of the border between the two countries.

Kosovo's parliament is due to vote on 1 September on the proposal, which was drafted after months of tension with Montenegro since the autumn of 2015. “Rugovasit” gets its name from the Rugovo Mountains along the border. In its communiqué, the group called for the proposal's withdrawal, described the bombing as a warning and said Shala's life would be in danger he did not stand down as RTK's director-general.

“We firmly condemn the use of threats against a media executive,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF's Europe-Balkans desk. “Opposition to this proposal and the way the state-owned broadcaster has covered the negotiations cannot constitute grounds for acts of violence and physical threats against journalists. We urge the authorities to conduct an investigation and to protect Shala.” Kosovo is ranked 90th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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