April 2,1999 — The Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-partisan organizations dedicated to protecting its colleagues throughout the world, has documented several alarming new developments in Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s assault on independent journalists.
- On April 2, at 9:00 a.m. (Belgrade time), police officers arrived at Radio B92’s office and ordered the staff to immediately cease work and leave the premises. They then proceeded to seal the premises. The police were accompanied by a court official who delivered a decision from the government-controlled Youth Council, the radio station’s founder, that Sasa Mirkovic, Radio B92’s station manager since 1993, was dismissed. According to the decision, he was replaced by Aleksandar Nikacevic, a member of Milosevic’s ruling Socialist Party of Serbia.
On March 30, Serbian officials visited Radio B92’s office and wrote down the names and addresses of the radio station’s staff.
Since March 24, when police seized Radio B92’s transmitter, the radio station had been limited to the Internet and satellite to disseminate its broadcasts. However, this latest attempt to suffocate Radio B92 has essentially forced them to cease all activity. The closure of Radio B92 will have a devastating effect on the independent media in Yugoslavia, since it will affect many of the more than 30 affiliates of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) who formerly rebroadcast B92’s programs.
- On April 1 at 4:00 p.m. (Belgrade time), Mark Milstein, a free-lance photographer working for theKnight Ridder Tribune Syndicate, was detained by police in Novi Sad. Milstein had left Belgrade earlier that same day and was driving to Budapest when he was stopped and taken into custody and detained overnight. His belongings were searched. The authorities gave no explanation for his detention.
While in Belgrade, Milstein had obtained the necessary visa credentials from the Yugoslav military, which just days before had taken the responsibility from the Ministry of the Interior for issuing visas. On March 31, CPJ reported on a case of three foreign journalists who were deported from the country with the explanation that their visas had been issued by the Ministry of the Interior rather than by the military. Nonetheless, Milstein was not released after showing his military visa; rather he was told that he was supposed to have left the visa behind with the authorities in Belgrade.
On April 2 at 2 p.m. (Belgrade time), he was released.