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Bosnia: International Community Demands Serb TV Restructuring

Sarajevo, 2 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - International officials are urging Bosnian Serb hardliners loyal to indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic to impose changes in broadcasting or stay off the air.

A spokesman for the office of the International High Representative (OHR), Dun Bullivant, told a news conference today that a formal plan to revamp Serb broadcasting from the half of Republika Srpska (RS) led by Karadzic allies would be presented tomorrow. Bullivant offered no details beyond suggesting the plan would ask for the firing of some Serb hardliners responsible for recent broadcasts deemed inflammatory and destructive of western peace efforts in Bosnia.

Bullivant said Bosnia's peace was not strong enough to endure what he called the constant barrage of "lies, misinformation and incitements of ethnic hatred."

Broadcasts from studios in Pale, Karadzic's stronghold, were stopped yesterday after troops of the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) seized four key transmitters in Bosnia's Serb Republic. SFOR said Russian troops were part of the operations, but Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev later downplayed their role.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin today criticized NATO troops for using what he called "excessive and inappropriate force." He said similar actions could threaten a recent agreement designed to overcome a power struggle in the Bosnian Serb entity. That agreement calls for programming to alternate each day between Pale TV, loyal to Karadzic, and Banja Luka TV, in President Biljana Plavsic's stronghold.