Balkans’ Independent Journalists Must Unite, or Fall Together

The most frequent messages in my own experience in Kosovo are: "You are a Russian puppet", "Your head is in Serbia", "You despise freedom", or "You are "the enemy of the freedom fighters". Depending on their choice, I belong at one time to one group and then to the other.

In fact, I have not heard the accusation that I am a "Russian puppet" only in the online media. I heard it in person one evening last autumn, with a warning that everyone would soon know "the truth" about me, "who pretends to be independent".

This person was clearly affiliated with one of the ruling parties in Kosovo and has a web portal close to the structures in power.

On television, where power over the media is most influential, he was a columnist. This person told me he had collected "enough things" about me. A few months later, after my black car had twice been painted with a red colour, it was difficult to decide in the police station whether I should link this person and his warning with what was happening to me.

What followed later, however, was a reminder of the need to pay attention to warning signals - a reminder that, in the current situation of suppression of free media across the Balkans, journalists cannot rely much on justice. This is because the justice system is controlled by politics and is pretty much in its service.

What did "follow later" was that nothing at all happened with the investigation into the attack on my car, while I felt even more pressure and discrimination directly and indirectly at my work place.

Serbeze Haxhiaj. Photo: BIRN

Indeed, my trust in the police and the prosecutors had been shattered years earlier, when, in the case of a threat that I had reported to the police, one of police investigators changed the...

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