Yugoslavia: Journalist shot in Kosovo

New York, June 22, 2000 — Unknown gunmen shot an editor from Kosovo’s only multi-ethnic radio station in Pristina on Tuesday night, June 20, according to local and international news reports.

Valentina Cukic, the editor of Serbian-language programming on Pristina’s Radio Kontakt, was shot at approximately 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening, according to local news reports. At the time of the attack, Cukic was wearing Kosovo Stabilization Force (KFOR) press credentials, which clearly identified her as a journalist.

Cukic was hit in the chest, and her companion Ljubomir Topalovic, a bank employee, was shot in the leg. KFOR and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representatives who happened to be on the scene administered first aid, and the victims were then rushed to a British military hospital. Both are currently listed in stable condition.

Radio Kontakt had previously sought protection from UN police, KFOR, and the OSCE in response to escalating threats and violence against the station, which has controversially championed the idea that Kosovo should be a multi-ethnic community. The station, which broadcasts in Serbian, Bosniak, Albanian, Turkish, and Romany, was the target of a rocket-propelled grenade attack on April 17.

The perpetrators of the latest attack reportedly fled after the shooting. In a statement issued today, Radio Kontakt condemned the shooting as an attack on press freedom in Kosovo. UN police have launched an investigation into the attack, which comes at a time of extreme tension between ethnic Albanians and the Serb minority.

“CPJ deplores this brutal attack on the press in Kosovo,” said Europe program coordinator Emma Gray. “Journalists should be protected and free to practice their profession, regardless of their ethnicity or political views.