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Swiss distributor pulls Albanian newspaper from shelves

Naville has yanked Bota Sot from its distribution lists Keystone

A major media distributor in French-speaking Switzerland has refused to sell a Kosovo Albanian newspaper, "Bota Sot", over concerns that it is publishing racist and inflammatory material about Macedonians.

This content was published on April 10, 2001 - 10:18

The distributor, Naville, said it would be pulling 7,000 copies of Bota Sot from its shelves, and would no longer distribute the publication, which is printed in Zurich.

The company said it was concerned that the paper's content violated Switzerland's anti-racism laws. The Federal Office for Police is currently investigating claims to that effect.

Naville's move comes after the paper was accused of inciting hatred and helping to precipitate the ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia.

The accusations were made by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Its acting media commissioner in Kosovo, Simon Haselock, told swissinfo last month that the newspaper had used "racist" and "inflammatory" language when referring to the "enemies" of ethnic Albanians - Serbs in Kosovo or Macedonians in Macedonia.

Haselock accused Bota Sot of fomenting the war in Macedonia and of knowingly endangering the lives of innocent civilians. "In the context of these societies, if you call people 'traitors' and 'collaborators' as Bota Sot does, it is likely that will be killed."

"We are convinced that [Bota Sot's] rhetoric has contributed to the support the [ethnic Albanian] rebels in Macedonia received in financial contributions from the [Albanian] Diaspora", he added.

Bota Sot has already been fined twice by the OSCE for making unsubstantiated accusations and using inflammatory language.

Bota Sot's publisher, Xhevdet Mazrekaj, denied the OSCE accusations. The weekly, which began publication in Zurich in the early 1990s and was aimed at the Albanian Diaspora in western Europe, has seen its circulation grow to 120,000 and is the largest Albanian language publication available in Kosovo.

swissinfo with agencies

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