Macedonian party activists seize Albanian paper

SKOPJE, Jun 27, 2000 -- (Reuters) Activists from the Democratic Party of Albanians, part of Macedonia's ruling coalition, confiscated all copies of the Albanian daily Bota Sot in the western towns of Tetovo and Gostivar on Monday, the newspaper said.

"At 0700 a.m. (0500 GMT) a group of people approached the distributor of the daily Bota Sot and took copies of the paper by force," the paper said in a statement.

"They told distributor Rahim Shaqiri they had orders to confiscate the newspaper Bota Sot."

Shaqiri told Reuters by telephone that after dealing with him the activists went to other distributors in Tetovo and Gostivar, mainly ethnic Albanian populated towns, and confiscated the remaining copies of the paper.

No party officials were immediately available for comment.

Bota Sot, which is published in the Albanian capital Tirana, has been critical of what the party had done to help Macedonia's substantial Albanian minority since it helped get Boris Trajkovski elected Macedonian president late last year.

In an article published last week it said the party's leader Arben Dzaferi had done nothing to get Tetovo's Albanian-language University legalized. The paper's Monday issue branded him the co-author of a project to destroy the university.

Shaqiri said former DPA Tetovo branch president Zecirija Redzepi told him: "This newspaper will never again be sold in Macedonia." But in the capital Skopje the newspaper was available early on Monday morning.

Bota Sot's correspondent in Macedonia, Hasan Salihu, said he had talked to Macedonian Information Minister Vehbi Bedzeti, also a member of the DPA, who condemned the confiscation.

"Minister Bedzeti said he spoke with Dzaferi, who has no information about this decision and added that these are not party orders," Salihu told Reuters.

Macedonia has a restive ethnic Albanian minority, making up almost one third of its two million population.

Although some share similar separatist ambitions to their kin across the border in Kosovo, Macedonia managed to stay out of the wars that ravaged former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Original article