Belgrade rejects registration of US-funded radio

BELGRADE, Jul 21, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Yugoslav information ministry on Thursday rejected a request by U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe to register its Belgrade office, accusing it of airing "dirty propaganda".

Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic was quoted by the official Tanjug news agency as saying any possible activities of the office would be considered "illegal and unlawful".

"The office of Radio Free Europe, as a mouthpiece of American official policy, promotes its colonial aims using means unsuited to principles of objective reporting," Matic said in a letter to the radio station.

He said Radio Free Europe tried to "influence the Yugoslav public by using dirty propaganda with the aim of realizing these aims."

The letter was addressed to director Nenad Pejic of the radio station's programme for South Slav languages, based in Prague, which had filed the registration request.

Yugoslav officials have accused NATO states of plotting to destabilize the country, and have denounced opposition leaders and independent media as their lackeys.

The West and the Serbian opposition have in turn accused the Belgrade authorities of clamping down on non-government media in a bid to stifle dissent.

The Belgrade office of Radio Free Europe said it had not received any official notification about the decision and declined to comment.

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