Radio B2-92, April 18 2000

Rocket Attack on the Building Housing Official Residence of Radio Kontakt

On Monday night, a rocket attack on a building in the center of Pristina was
carried out. The official residence of the independent, multiethnic radio
station Kontakt is located in that building, reports for B2-92 journalist of
this station Nikola Tomic.

On Monday night at about 11:30pm a rocket attack on a building in the center of Pristina was carried out. The official residence of radio Kontakt is located in that building. The rocket hit the balcony of the apartment next to Kontakt's residence, two persons suffered light injuries and KFOR immediately evacuated Kontakt staff from the building. The staff was having a meeting at the time of the attack. The Police hasn't yet issued an official statement regarding the target of the attack, but it is very likely that the staff and premises of Radio Kontakt or, as the tenants in the building stated - the only Serbs in that part of Pristina, were the target.

The official residence of Radio Kontakt was sealed and the editorial staff has
been moved to a secure spot under strong protection by KFOR.

Kontakt-network, which includes Radio Kontakt, called in its statement on all responsible persons in the missions of UN, OSCE, and the Police and KFOR to provide security for journalists and the staff of the station, ethnic Serbs, Bosniaks and Turks. Kontakt-network called on the media in Kosovo to condemn this, as was stated, terrorist act. It also called on the international organizations of journalists to condemn persecution of journalists in Kosovo.


Radio B2-92 April 10 2000
www.freeb92.net

First Independent Radio of the Serb Ethnic Community in Kosovo

First independent radio station of the Serb ethnic community in Kosovo "Kontakt Radio Plus", started with broadcasting on Monday, reports B2-92 correspondent from Pristina Nikola Tomic, a journalist of Radio Kontakt. "Kontakt Plus" is located in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica and covers with its signal the area 20km around the city. "Kontakt Plus" produces news programs in Serbian. The first week of broadcasting will be treated as an experimental phase in which the programming will include music, jingles and BBC and Deutsche Welle news in Serbian. The station will also carry Radio B2-92 morning and evening news programs. "Kontakt Plus" is a member of the regional independent network Kontakt together with stations in Novi Sad, Banja Luka and Pristina and cooperates with the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM). The owner of "Kontakt Plus", Zvonko Tarle, stated for B2-92 that the mission of the
station is to "objectively and timely inform the Serb community in the territory covered by its signal and break the media darkness imposed by the regime in Belgrade ten years ago".

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IWPR

BETTER 'CONTACT' THAN CONFLICT

Long the target of Serb radials, Kosovo's only mult-ethnic radio station
is now falling victim to Albanian extremists.

By Zvonko Tarle in Pristina

On the night of April 17 we had a narrow escape. An explosive device
fired from a grenade launcher detonated as it hit the balcony of the
next-door apartment, close to where me and some fellow journalists were
chatting.
We - editors and journalists from Kosovo's only multi-ethnic radio
station, Radio Contact - were in our Pristina flat, the only
non-Albanian flat in the block. The glass shattered and we dropped to
the floor. United Nations police came rushing in, panicking in their
haste to evacuate us.
Had the bomb exploded any closer, our entire editorial and
management team would have been killed. In the group were one Croatian
man, two Serbian women, one Bosniak Muslim woman and two Albanian men.
We were discussing once again the issue of security. We have been
working in Pristina now for eight months and nearly all our discussions
come back to the same problem - the protection of our staff.
Radio Contact employs 36 people and produces broadcasts in
Albanian, Turkish and Serbian. All the employees have had to adapt to
the dangers of life in Pristina. They have existed for a decade to a
greater or lesser extent. But over the last 12 months, the situation has
deteriorated dramatically.
Now all non-Albanians in Kosovo, with the exception of foreigners,
live like fugitives. They cannot move freely; they dare not use their
mother tongue in every day conversations; they shop silently or have
Albanian-speaking or foreign friends do their shopping for them; they
receive threatening and offensive phone calls; they have no newspapers
in their own language and have no schools to send their children to.
The situation for us journalists is unbearable. Only three places
are safe for us to visit - the offices of the United Nations Mission in
Kosovo, the OSCE and the KFOR Press centre. And even at KFOR only one
question has been asked in Serbian in the last 12 months.
Two days after the grenade attack on our apartment building, Vesna
Bojicic, editor of Radio Contact's Serbian language programme, was
stopped in the street by three Albanians. The men insulted her and
threatened to kill her if they heard her on the radio again.
Vesna fled into the Media House building, home to various media
outlets, and asked the security men there for help. One guard said, "you
should not only be warned, but killed." The guard was a member of the
Kosovo Protection Force, created out of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation
Army, UCK.
Killings, kidnappings, threats and intimidation are a daily
occurrence. And victims are not restricted to members of minority
groups. Albanians are on the receiving end too. On the same day as our
grenade incident, a prominent member of the former UCK was killed in
downtown Pristina.
And what of us independent journalists? After battling Milosevic's
extremists, Radio Contact now faces a similar struggle against Albanian
ones.
Right from the start, the Milosevic regime tried to shut us down.
On the night of June 1 1998, inspectors from Belgrade, accompanied by 30
heavily armed Serbian police officers sealed off our studio and
confiscated our transmitter. We were handed a written notice banning us
from further broadcasting. But Radio Contact persevered, continuing to
produce a 15-minute bulletin each day, broadcast via a BBC satellite.
When the NATO bombing raids began in March last year, staff from
Radio Contact had to leave Pristina under pressure from the Serbian
authorities - or more specifically, from the then chief of police. The
eight young journalists, Albanian and Serbian, have yet to return to
their home town.
Most went to Belgrade and then abroad via Skopje and Sarajevo. We
hid our other Albanian colleagues and friends from the Serbian forces.
They have now left Kosovo too in the face of intimidated from Albanian
extremists.
All the studio equipment was stolen during the NATO bombardment.
What few things remained - a fax machine, a computer and our archives -
disappeared shortly after the arrival of KFOR troops. Even now, our
radio antenna sits out of reach on the roof of our one-time office in
the "Eskimos" export company building. Former UCK leader, Hashim Thaci,
set up his 'government' there. We dare not try to reclaim it.
In August last year, after the arrival of international troops, we
assembled a new team and obtained new equipment. Then, in November,
unknown criminals stole our clearly marked official car. The next month
our broadcasting equipment, including a brand new transmitter, went
missing.
We set up our operation on the 14th floor of a Pristina apartment
block, which is also home to Radio 21, Kosovo sot, Rilindja, and AATV.
The building has no working lift or water. Rats roam freely around the
offices. For those who have had everything stolen, who receive
threatening phone-calls or are bullied and intimidated in the street,
who trudge up and down 28 flights of stairs several times a day, who
have no toilet or running water in their workplace, what else is there
left to lose - except one's life. And is our work worth so much?
Radio Contact is the only local multi-ethnic media organisation in
Kosovo. Under Milosevic's regime and to this day, the station promotes a
sustainable multi-ethnic community and supports the social
reconstruction of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic democracy. Radio Contact is
testament to the fact that these aims are not impossible in Kosovo. Such
aims are in fact not only achievable, but normal, desirable and
beneficial.
And it is perhaps for that very reason that Radio Contact has
become a target. As the station's ratings and influence grows, it
becomes an ever more painful thorn in the side of radical factions among
Albanians and Serbs alike.
The grenade missed our office this time. But the attack begs the
question: what should UNMIK be doing to protect journalists in the
multi-ethnic media. We request 24-hour protection, secure transport,
safe movement and a guarantee that we can work freely. We hope for the
support from the OSCE and professional journalist associations.
One encouraging sign in recent days has been the joint declaration
from Albanian and Serbian leaders condemning terrorism and violence. At
least one good thing has come out of our narrow escape.

Zvonko Tarle Editor-in-chief of Radio 'Contact'


Associated Press

Serb Defies Odds To Stay in Kosovo

By Alison Mutler
Associated Press Writer
Friday, April 28, 2000; 3:48 a.m. EDT

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- When a rocket slammed into the building
where she worked, Sonja Nikolic knew her enemies were sending her a
message.

Sonja Nikolic
Sonja Nikolic from Radio Contact - walking in the streets of Pristina
with UNMIK Police escort

But the Serb journalist and fledgling politician has been too busy to listen
just now.

One of an estimated 200 Serbs who have remained in the capital of ethnic
Albanian-dominated Kosovo, Nikolic has work to do - broadcasting
news reports and commentary in Pristina and representing Serbs as a
member of the U.N.-led interim government.

Radio Contact, the station she works for, broadcasts in Albanian,
Serbian, Turkish and English with the goal of promoting dialogue among
different ethnic groups, especially targeting Kosovo's youth. The station's
benefactors include the United States, Great Britain, Austria and
Germany, as well as private foundations.

"The young are in danger. Without security, without a job, they are caught
like a fish on dry land," Nikolic said while relaxing over dinner in the
capital.

"We want to change minds, not to be radical, (but) to cooperate," she
said.

Unlike the tens of thousands of Serbs who fled Pristina after the arrival of
NATO-led peacekeepers, Nikolic, 48, refused to budge.

She joined the U.N.-led government when even some moderate Serbs
refused and lives as she always did, going out to dinner and to the grocery
store - a schedule most other Serbs in Pristina dare not undertake.

Her experiences before the war contributed to her decision to work for a
multiethnic Kosovo. Nikolic had ethnic Albanian colleagues at the Bank of
Kosovo, where she worked as a computer programer. As an Orthodox
Christian who married a Muslim, she knew people of different faiths.

Those contacts make her unusual in Kosovo, where the Serb and ethnic
Albanian communities lived largely separate lives before Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic cracked down on ethnic Albanian militants
last year with such vigor that NATO launched a 78-day air war to end his
repression.

About 10,000 ethnic Albanians died in the crackdown. Since then, many
Serbs have fled Kosovo, fearing revenge attacks.

"You can't deny what happened (to the ethnic Albanians)," Nikolic said.
"But we have to stop the violence - the ethnic cleansing that is now
happening here."

Nikolic dines with the United Nations' top official in Kosovo, Bernard
Kouchner, and meets with ethnic Albanian political leader Hashim Thaci -
an example for the province's Western authorities, whose success hinges
on promises to create a multiethnic society.

Nadia Younes, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Kosovo, praised
Nikolic's courage in joining Kosovo's transitional government when other
Serbs were boycotting it.

"Sonja is outspoken and not afraid to say what she thinks," Younes said.

But Nikolic has paid a price for her actions.

She has separated from her husband and confesses that she has almost no
friends. She is disliked by Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike for her
uncompromising ways. And she has refused to heed calls from her family
to get out of the province.

Earlier this month, assailants shot a rocket at her office and missed. Two
ethnic Albanians next door were slightly wounded.

"I don't want to think about the rocket attack," she said.

Partly due to the attack, Serb and ethnic Albanian leaders signed a
statement condemning the recent rash of violence. The attack, however,
forced Nikolic to keep a lower profile.

She can no longer shop, go to the hairdresser or even visit the dentist
without U.N. bodyguards.

"When I was ill," she joked, "they were looking all over Kosovo for a
Serbian doctor."

But she is determined not to cower.

"I've been fighting all my life," she said. "When you believe in yourself, you
find your own way. Without that, how can you survive?"