Reporters Without Borders is outraged by attempts to intimidate and smear Veton Surroi, a politician and journalist who founded the Koha Ditore daily and Koha Vision TV, and his sister Flaka Surroi, who heads the Koha media group.
On the night of 22 May, the walls of the Pristina street where Surroi and his family live were covered with posters saying “UDBA Street – Veton and Falaka Surroi,” in reference to the former Serbian secret police, known as the UDBA, which was responsible for extremely violent abuses against Albanian-speaking Kosovars during the 1990s.
“We are shocked by this appalling act, which is tantamount to a death threat,” Reporters Without Borders said. “In Kosovo’s still troubled political context, insulting someone in this manner is the same as saying they should be killed. It sends a signal to the nationalist movements that exposes the Surroi family to the possibility of terrible reprisals. This attempt to defame the family must be properly investigated and both the perpetrators and instigators must be identified and brought to justice. The family’s safety must also be guaranteed.
“The Kosovar government and the international community, which is widely represented in Pristina, must publicly and firmly condemn this smear. It is time for Kosovo to make a clean break with this tendency to accuse people of spying or belonging to the Serbian secret services when they dare to criticise or just analyse the way Kosovo functions.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The work of Koha Ditore’s journalists is much more beneficial for the Kosovar people that the activities of these nationalists. The protection of the founders and staff of the Koha group is more than ever in the public interest.”
The Koha group owns Kosovo’s most respected and independent media. Koha Ditore is renowned for the professionalism and the quality of its coverage, which often includes investigative reporting on government corruption.