Yugoslavia: Government official threatens the press

New York, Feb. 11, 2000 — Serbian deputy prime minister Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, accused journalists of being pro-Western “traitors,” and blamed them for the murder of defense minister Pavel Bulatovic, according to Agence France-Presse.

Addressing independent reporters at a press conference in Belgrade on February 10, Seselj told independent reporters, “You are working against the state . . . You are paid by Americans to wreck the state. You are traitors, you are the worst, there is nothing worse than you. Those who work for Americans will suffer consequences.”

Seselj went on to say that journalists were the “accomplices” of the U.S., Britain and France, whom he accused of being behind the murder of Bulatovic, who was killed Monday. “You are accomplices in the murder.” Seselj said. “You are the same as those who did it . . . There is no more hiding here, and everything is crystal-clear: those who live by the sword die by the sword. You all have that in mind.”

In December, Seselj initiated a defamation suit against several independent media outlets that resulted in crushing fines. Independent journalists report that a crackdown is under way; the company that prints most of the independent newspapers in Belgrade was shut down by the government in January.