Government takes over independent Yugoslav radio station
April 2, 1999
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BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Yugoslav authorities took over the country's leading independent radio station Friday, raising fears of a crackdown on democratic institutions during NATO airstrikes.
Sasa Mirkovic, director of radio station B92, said he showed up for work Friday only to be told by police and commercial court officials that he was being replaced.
Mirkovic said his replacement will be Aleksandar Nikacevic, a government loyalist and a member of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party. There was no immediate comment from authorities.
The station's transmitter was disabled last week, but it has continued to broadcast via satellite and the Web (http://www.b92.net/). Mirkovic and his colleagues have vowed to get B92 back on the air soon.
"Government officials have shut down radio B92 -- silencing the last independent voice in Serbia," the station told visitors to its Web site Friday.
"Struggle continues. We shall never surrender," the station's announcement concludes.
While he doesn't blame NATO for the move, Mirkovic said the past 10 days of allied bombardment are complicating an already complicated situation within Serbia, the dominant republic in the Yugoslav federation.
"These NATO airstrikes are putting democratic forces in our society and independent media in a very difficult position," he said. "We are very doubtful that bombs could solve any type of political crisis that we are now carrying here in Serbia."
B92 is the most influential of a group of 35 independent radio and 18 television stations in Yugoslavia. Veran Matic, the station's editor-in-chief, said three other independent broadcasters had been closed down, while others have stuck to music to avoid the government's scrutiny.
"Democracy is one of the victims of bombardment, and what has happened to B92 is just another proof of that," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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Independent Yugoslav radio station B92
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