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Serb Police Raid Newspaper

October 26, 1998

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Police raided the office of a prominent independent daily late Sunday, confiscating equipment to collect a fine against its publisher and editor for alleged anti-state activity.

Police also surrounded the apartment building of Slavko Curuvija, editor of the daily Dnevni Telegraf, and prepared to seize his property and enforce a court ruling ordering him to pay $41,000 for ``trying to undermine the constitutional order″ of Yugoslavia.

It was the latest step in the government’s crackdown on independent media and opponents of Yugoslavia’s autocratic president, Slobodan Milosevic.

Serbia’s parliament, controlled by Milosevic’s Socialists and ultranationalists, recently passed a media law that bans Serbian-language programs by foreign media and empowers authorities to punish publishers and journalists for any articles or photos deemed damaging to the state.

Independent legal experts and journalists say the law reimposes the formal censorship that Serbia abandoned in the 1980′s and drags Serb-led Yugoslavia back toward single-party dictatorship.

On Friday, a Belgrade court ruled that Curuvija, another editor, a magazine manager and the DT Press company had violated the law by publishing an article accusing Milosevic of introducing ``dictatorship″ and leading the country into political and economic chaos.

The article appeared in the weekly Evropljanin (European), which is also published by DT Press and edited by Curuvija.

Under police supervision, dozens of desks, telephones and other equipment were loaded onto trucks and taken away, preventing the printing of Dnevni Telegraf’s 100,000-copy Monday print run.

The media law was passed amid anti-Western sentiment fueled by NATO threats to launch airstrikes to end the crisis in Kosovo. Ethnic Albanian secessionists have been battling Yugoslav troops in the southern province.

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