Geert Lovink on Mon, 12 Apr 1999 18:45:07 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> NYT story

Gunmen Kill Opposition Publisher in Belgrade

              By STEVEN ERLANGER

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- In a vicious message to the few remaining
independent news outlets in Yugoslavia, gunmen on Sunday shot and killed a
well-known opposition publisher outside his apartment building in central

Slavko Curuvija, the owner of the Dnevni Telegraf, or The Daily Telegraph,
and the news biweekly Evropljanin, was shot as he returned home from an
Easter lunch with his wife, historian Branka Prpa. 

Ms. Prpa told police and friends that two gunmen dressed in black,
including black leather jackets, fired several bullets into Curuvija's
back. They then pistol-whipped her, opening a large cut on her head, she
said, before firing more shots into Curuvija's head. 

"I can't believe that they're killing journalists," Ms. Prpa said
afterward in her apartment, clearly stunned. "Was he so dangerous for the
state? He was just doing his job." 

In the widespread crackdown by President Slobodan Milosevic against the
independent news media, Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin were heavily fined
last year for breaching Serbia's restrictive information law, passed only
in October, and then the publications were banned. 

Curuvija reregistered them in Montenegro, Yugoslavia's second, more
liberal republic. They were printed in Croatia, but their distribution in
Serbia had been widely curtailed. 

In recent weeks, the Yugoslav government has moved to shut down all
independent media here, closing radio station B-92 in Belgrade and
reopening it under more compliant leadership, as well as closing Radio 021
in Novi Sad. All independent Albanian-language media in Kosovo have also
been shut down or destroyed. 

Curuvija and two reporters were fined last month for linking last year's
killing of a Belgrade doctor to the Serbian vice prime minister, Milovan
Bojic. Later, a police investigation concluded that it was not linked to
Bojic. Curuvija, who refused to pay the fine, was sentenced to five months
in jail, and was awaiting the results of his appeal. 

Last Monday, state television read an open attack on Curuvija, accusing
him of supporting NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. The commentary said:
"Today when these bombs that were desired so much are killing Serbia, the
traitors are silent. If they expect Serbs and Serbia to be enslaved,
they're waiting in vain. And if they hoped their treason would be
forgotten they hoped in vain." 

The next day, in the newspaper Politika Ekspres, a headline read:
"Curuvija has finally got his bombs." The article quoted Milosevic's
powerful wife, Mira Markovic, as saying: "The owner of a Belgrade daily
newspaper said he supports the United States in its desire to bomb
Serbia." The writer of the article then continues: "This is of course
Slavko Curuvija." 

Curuvija denied making any such comment. 

The official Yugoslav news agency, Tanjug, reported on Sunday night that
Curuvija had been killed "by unknown perpetrators," and added, "The police
are intensively searching for the perpetrators." 

Curujiva, who was about 50, was a tall, elegant man with a small gray
beard. He and Ms. Prpa recently gave an interview for a story that was
published in The New York Times. 

"He will go to jail for five months, and after this bombing, who will
care?" Ms. Prpa asked. "The West can't help him, that's another effect of
this bombing. Milosevic can act like a dictator and lock us all up, and
who will care for us? I agree the West should care for the human rights of
ethnic Albanians, but do they also care for mine?" 

Curuvija, said that it is impossible now for democrats or dissidents to
raise up their heads in this war fever. "The Serbs feel under a collective
guilty verdict, and the democratic forces are pushed into their mouse
holes because of this permanent state of emergency," he said. "In this
moment, you cannot say you want to change something, or bring Serbia
closer to the West, which is bombing your country -- it makes you a

"All this helps Milosevic," he added. "Everything Western is terrible
right now." 

Ms. Prpa said softly: "The worst of all is to feel you have no future.
What kind of future do we have?" 

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