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Emperor's Clothes Interviews Radio B292
On May 17th, the Yugoslav government closed Studio B, controlled by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Party in Belgrade. The charge: that Studio B Television "has been calling for armed terrorist and criminal actions against the Republic of Serbia and its citizens." Since the controversial Radio B292 used space at Studio B, B292 was effectively closed as well.
Some said that the charges were fabricated, that this was a terrible attack on free speech. Were they right? Did the station represent an attempt at free journalism, stifled by heavy-handed bureacrats?
Emperor's Clothes published two articles by geopolitical analyst Paul Treanor which argued, with documentation, that Radio B292 was in fact controlled by powerful Western interests which aimed to bring Yugoslavia down.
Shortly after Studio B was closed, Emperor's Clothes editor Jared Israel tracked down B292 staff members at a temporary office in Belgrade. He interviewed two people, Gordan Paunovic, who ran B292's web page, and Sanda Savic, the news editor. The interviews were an attempt to shed light on the charges raised by Mr.. Treanor. They relate directly to the question: Is the Serbian opposition in fact independent of US control? This has direct bearing on the present Yugoslav elections.
Interview with Gordan Paunovicm webmaster for B292.
Conducted by Jared Israel, editor www.tenc.net
Jared: Why did the government shut down Studio B?
Gordan Paunovic: The main accusation was that they called for an armed response to overthrow the government
Jared: Is that true?
Paunovic: No, of course not. On the 13th of May you had a rally on a mountain over there and you had these people who shouted "Uprising! Uprising!" And they had coverage of both rallies. So if you think that's a call for uprising -
[Note: Subsequently I learned from a Montengran student whose family has been involved in "upriings" for 200 years, that while the term "uprising" might be taken as radical chic in English, in Serbia it is associated with a bloody history of anti-Turkish rebellions, a history with which every Serbian child is familiar. It is therefore not a term likely to be used casually.]
Jared: Well the news report I read in the West said that guns were fired in the air and Vuk Draskovic said, "Save your bullets, we're going to need them." Doesn't that sound like a call for civil war and -
Paunovic: These are folklore events without any political weight which are happening every year. It is the anniversary of the Chetniks' uprising against the Nazi's in the Second World War, on this mountain. It's a completely folklore gathering. They always have guns.
Jared: But his comment? "Save your bullets we'll need them later?"
Paunovic: Well then let them arrest Draskovic.
Jared: Well, they closed his Studio B...Tell me, is radio B292 funded by George Soros?
Paunovic: Funded or founded?
Jared: Funded. Given money -
Paunovic: I think it happens quite often since 1992 but it's not the only source of money. But I'm not the right person to talk about this.
Jared: Do you know anything about -
Paunovic: There is a list of international foundations, not only Soros who -
Jared: Like what else?
Paunovic: Press Now, from Holland, Royal Swedish Foundation or something, Royal Netherlands Foundation.
Jared: Any in the US?
Paunovic: I guess so. I don't know the details. Those things I know by chance. But Soros Foundation, yes, definitely, but much, these days in last year or two years much less than before.
Jared: Any money coming from foundations in the US?
Paunovic: Probably, but I don't know which Foundations. I am pretty much pissed off in putting this kind of argumentation, like Soros equals B92. That really comes from people who are not in a position to see what we are doing. We will take money from anyone. To make a good production on many levels, from radio, to TV and video productions to Internet, Books, music. You need money.
Jared: I'll read you a statement from Gelbard. You know who Gelbard is?
Paunovic: US Special Envoy to the Balkans.
Jared: Exactly. [Jared's note: actually prior to this interview Gelbard had been moved to a new position, Ambassador to Indonesia...] Do you know who Biden is? Sen. Biden? This an exchange from the July 29th  hearings on supporting the so-called independent forces in Serbia. The hearings took place the day after the Senate voted to give 100,000,000 dollars to the 'independent' opposition. This is Sen. Biden. He's been talking about the Ring Sanitaire. [NATO has had a strategy of preventing Serbia from interacting with European talking:
"SEN. BIDEN: "What can we do about inside Serbia? For example Draskovic continues to deny access to Studio B, which is supposedly, as I understand it -- he's not?
"MR. GELBARD: No, he's actually given access to Studio B -- excuse me; given access of Studio B to Radio B-92. And my understanding is that Radio B-92, one of the independent voices, has just reopened as Radio B-292. We want Draskovic to open up Studio B to the rest of the opposition, and that's a message that he'll be getting from us in the next few days."
Jared resumes: That's how they talked about you. Any comment?
Paunovic: Can you read it to me again?
Jared: I'll read it slowly. [Reads again]
Paunovic: Hmmm. I think it's, I mean I'm not getting clear what do you want to point? What do you want to ask me? If you want to think B92 is the voice of Gelbard or the American administration, that has nothing to do with reality.
Jared: Well let me ask you, does it sound like an extraordinary situation for the government of a hostile country to be discussing in detail the use of studio facilities in the target country. And discussing it in detail -
Paunovic: Well, to make such a conclusion that would mean that you have a perfectly normal situation here. What you have here is the most abnormal situation in the world which has nothing to do with the US government.
Jared: You think the situation has nothing to do with the US -
Paunovic: And another thing I don't like the way we are - Like Robin Cook and Jamie Shea they made a huge damage to our image when Robin Cooke said in a Press Conference which was directly broadcast on CNN "You know we helped B92 to get satellite access" and things like that. But you know I think they will obviously help anyone who is spreading serious criticism of the government. So what are we going to do about it? If they want to do it they will.
Jared: Do you feel uncomfortable with that statement [by Gelbard and Biden]?
Paunovic: I absolutely feel uncomfortable with anyone patronizing -
Jared: You said before that the United States had nothing do with the situation in Yugoslavia. You don't think the United States is any part of the problem that you face in Yugoslavia?
Paunovic: Well I don't say they are not part of the problem They are a very big part of the problem because for nine years they saw Milosevich as a guarantor of peace and then completely changed their policy declaring him a war criminal. If they needed the year 1999 to realize he is a war criminal I think they are very wrong. He is a war criminal and a person who is seriously violating for many years. He came to power in a completely illegal way. He had a coup in the [former communist] party congress.
Jared: You think he's a war criminal? They charge him with war crimes because they say the Serbian police and the Yugoslav Army committed war crimes. Do you think the Yugoslav Army committed war crimes in Kosovo?
Paunovic: Well that's a collective guilt issue. They should specifiy the names of people who committed war crimes in Kosovo.
Jared: Do you think the Serbian Army committed war crimes in Kosovo?
Paunovic: I don't know. How can I know this? I don't work for the Hague Tribunal.
Jared: Do you think the Hague Tribunal is a legitimate orgnaizxation>?
Paunovic: I don't know.
Jared: You said the US has been responsible for problems because of its policy of backing Milosevich. So that's the only thing the United States has done?
Paunovic: Are you referring to the bombing? I mean we can talk about these things for 24 hours.
Jared: Well, it did happen. But anyway, you take money from the US government?
Paunovic: [Laughs] I don't know about it. I didn't say that. Did I say it?
Jared: They say it.
Jared: In these hearings they say it explicitly; they say, we've been giving large sums of money to the 'independent' media. Now the main, the only name of 'independent' media they mention is yours. They say, we had to stop when the bombing started. Since the bombing ended we've been able to start again and we're immediately going to get 10 million dollars in there. And we have voted 100 million. That's what they say.
Paunovic: You know, I don't know. That help was not only for B92. I mean you have a list, practically everyone, all media that exists in Serbia that is not controlled by the Serbian government is on that list.
Jared: Getting money from the US?
Jared: So they're all getting it, not just B92?
Paunovic: You know it's not a question of morality or something like that because we're in an open war with the government. We realized much before Washington realized we had to overthrow Milosevich
Jared: Let me ask you, I understand you're broadcasting on satellite. What satellite is that?
Paunovic: I don't know.
Jared: Is that Eurosat?
Paunovic: I am not a technical expert on the satellite. I can tell you about the Internet.
Jared: Is there somebody who handles the radio I can talk to?
Paunovic: You can talk to me about it.
Jared; So do you know what satellite it is?
Paunovic: Yes but I don't know. I don't have anybody here who can help you about this.
Jared: Is there anybody I can call to find that out?
Paunovic: Before, the way satellite operation was done I think in cooperation with BBC.
Jared: Ahh, so you do know. And so now?
Paunovic: Probably the same.
Jared: Have you protested the Serbian government's exclusion from Eurosat [the European Satellite TV link]
Paunovic: We protest all those things. Everything.
[At this point Paunovic instructed Jared to check on their website to see about the protest against Yugoslav exclusion from Eursat. He checked but found no such protest against Yugoslav exclusion. Pauvonic promised to send Emperor's Clothes the URL for the description of that protest; he sent an email in which he stated his regrets that the URL for the protest against Yugoslav exclusion from the Eurosat was "unavailable".]
End of interview with Gordan Pauvonic
Inerview with Sanda Savic, News editor of Radio B292
Conducted by Jared Israel, May 23, 2000.
Jared: Are you in an office there or somebody's house?
Sanda: So-called office. We are just trying to gather computers, telephones and etc., etc.
Jared: But I understand you're still able to transmit by satellite? What satellite to you use?
Sanda: It's a BBC satellite.
Jared: You have an arrangement with them where you can -
Sanda: It's old arrangement. They give us more time on satellite now. Every day we are broadcasting two hours in the morning, two afternoon and two at the evening. Six hours a day.
Jared: The BBC contributes this?
Sanda: I don't know the details about that agreement. But we used their satellite before. But it was just three hours before. We made a new agreement. They just wanted to help us now.
Jared: That's a lot of time. What does that reach?
Sanda: We cover all the protests. That can be heard by everyone but Belgrade because local stations rebroadcast our programs, between 20 and 30 local stations. Unfortunately BBC cannot be heard in Belgrade.
Jared: I understand some people are very mad at you and some support you. Are you getting strong support?
Sanda: Many of us are very disappointed. We expect nothing special from opposition [parties.] That's why we prepared earlier offices and other ways to continue our work. That's why we able to work now. Because we didn't expect anything from the others, especially not from the opposition parties.
Jared: So you prepared a whole alternative set of offices before this happened? Sounds expensive.
Sanda: And we are doing some things to cover Belgrade. We are trying to do that.
Jared: How are you doing that?
Sanda: I can't tell you more
Jared: What do you mean though, you say you're trying to cover Belgrade?
Sanda: We are trying to make some agreement with other radio stations, not in Serbia.
Jared: You mean like Bulgaria or something?
Sanda: I can't tell you now. You're going to find out in the next ten or 15 days. Yes this is expensive but you know the European Union and every organization from the outside helped us for years and they are going to help [now].
Jared: Like what organizations?
Sanda: Like, I don't know; [George] Soros, you know? There are so many organizations from abroad. They all help us.
Jared: Who owns the station?
Sanda: No one.
Jared: That can't be.
Sanda: We are not private. We are not a city organization. We are just, I don't know. It's private owner
Jared: Who is the private owner?
Sanda: No one. It's just a part of Association of Independent Electronic Media in Serbia.
Jared: You say no one is it but I'm unclear. You said no one owns it, but you said "we prepared other offices." Somebody has to write checks. You've got phones; you have relations with a satellite, etc. Soros gives money; the money must go to something, some entity. Does Soros own it?
Sanda: No no no no no no no. We don't have a legal status. We are just part of an Association. You know what happened during the bombing?
Jared: But somebody pays you a paycheck every week? Someone writes a check and signs it?
Sanda: Yes but you have to ask my Director.
Jared: In other words you don't know who writes the -
Sanda: I don't know much about - it's so confused -
Jared: Specifically though you get a check you can cash at the bank? Yes?
Jared: How much pay would a person get there? Is it a very good job?
Sanda: It's a good job.
Jared: Well somebody owns it because they write a check. Means ownership, control.
Sanda: It's like a non-government organization. We have an Editor, Director, it's just their job to get money.
Jared: Let me read you something that's on the net now from a guy named Paul Treanor. He says the website that was set up when radio B292 came around is owned by KPB Telecom through its subsidiary XS4ALL NederlandBV. (2)
Sanda: Uh -huh.
Jared: Is that correct?
Sanda: Really, I really don't know. I'm not sure. I can't tell you anything about that. I can just give you the number of Sasa Milkovic. He's the Editor in Chief.
[Jared's note: I called Mr. Milkovic numerous times but he was always too busy to talk.]
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