Yugoslavia: CPJ protests police attacks on nine journalists covering anti-Milosevic demonstrations in Belgrade

October 1, 1999

His Excellency Goran Matic
Federal Minister of Information
Palace of Federation, 2 Lenin Boulevard
Belgrade, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Sent by FAX: 011-381-11-600-446

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply alarmed by recent police attacks against journalists covering this week’s political demonstrations in Belgrade, and by police attempts to close down the opposition newspaper Glas Javnosti.

According to CPJ’s sources, Belgrade police attacked at least four reporters on the evening of September 30. Slavisa Lekic from the Banja Luca newspaper Reporterand Julijana Mojsilovic of Reuters were clubbed by police while covering protests led by the Alliance for Change, a coalition united in opposition to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosovic.

An eyewitness from the Beta news agency in Belgrade also reported seeing police break the lens of a camera belonging to Imre Sabo, a photographer with the local daily Danas,while Belgrade’s independent TV Studio B announced that police smashed the TV camera of Studio B cameraman Zoran Vujovic and confiscated equipment belonging to a local radio station.

On Wednesday, September 29, at least five journalists were among a group of over 45 people attacked by riot police during a protest march that apparently attracted over 20,000 anti-Milosevic demonstrators. Aleksandra Rankovic, a Beta News Agency reporter, and Milos Radivojisa, a cameraman with Belgrade’s Video Nedeljnik, were clubbed by police as they attempted to follow protesters to Dedinje, a Belgrade suburb where Serbian President Slobodan Milosovich resides.

Two other journalists, an unnamed CNN and SKY TV cameraman and Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic, were also attacked. Police destroyed their equipment and confiscated their footage of the demonstration.

Shortly after midnight on the morning of Friday, October 1, police sealed the office of the opposition newspaper Glas Javnostiand shut down its printing press, which sources say was used to print leaflets and flyers for opposition parties, including the Alliance of Change.

Danas quoted Serbian information minister Alexander Vucic to the effect that while the Interior Ministry is technically responsible for protecting journalists, the latter should in fact expect to “take care of their own safety.”

As an independent organization of journalists devoted to defending the universally recognized rights of our colleagues around the globe, CPJ is deeply troubled by your government’s blatant disregard for the safety of journalists in Yugoslavia. We urge you to condemn these brutal assaults, and to ensure that journalists in your country may practice their profession without fear of violent retribution from the state.

Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters. We await your reply.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director

Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in Yugoslavia

Send a letter to:

His Excellency Goran Matic
Federal Minister of Information
Palace of Federation, 2 Lenin Boulevard
Belgrade, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Sent by FAX: 011-38311-600-446