SERBIA: SEEMO: Political Pressure on Serbian Weekly Vranjske

SERBIA, 22/01/2010

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute, is alarmed at the strong political pressure being exercised on the Serbian weekly Vranjske.

Since the weekly published some critical articles, certain members of a local political party are jeopardizing the right of theVranjske journalists to inform the public in a professional and objective way, by prohibiting all public institutions that are managed by the political party from advertising in the Vranjske weekly and by prohibiting the local officials of the political party from communicating with the journalists.

During the end of December 2009, based on an anonymous notification received at the prosecutor's office, an economic crime inspector came to the editorial office of Vranjske for a sudden inspection. Shortly thereafter, based on another anonymous notification, another inspector arrived looking for potentially clandestine employees at the editorial office. 

On Monday 4 January 2010, the first working day after holidays in Serbia, a tax inspector arrived at the editorial office ofVranjske, yet again after receiving an anonymous notification, to inspect the editorial office and to determine whether all taxes had truly been paid.

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: "It is remarkable that all of a sudden, within a short time frame, many inspections are being made at the editorial office of Vranjske, as the weekly is a renowned local Serbian weekly which is known for its professional and critical reporting on matters of public interest."

He added: "SEEMO calls upon the local officials of the political parties to express any dissatisfaction towards journalists in another, democratic way instead of blocking communication. They must keep in mind that in order to have a democratic society, investigative journalism and critical reporting are needed within the country."

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