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Neo-Nazi vandalism ‘unacceptable’ says OSCE

The Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Friday that neo-Nazi vandalism and threats against a local newspaper in eastern Germany were "unacceptable and must be stopped", according to Agence France-Presse.

Neo-Nazi vandalism 'unacceptable' says OSCE
OSCE's Headquarters in Vienna at the Hofburg. Photo: Wikimedia

This week vandals sprayed the words "Jews" and the Nazi slogan "Sieg Heil" on the office windows of the Lausitzer Rundschau, a newspaper known for its coverage of far-right groups.

The week before four swastikas were daubed on other offices of the paper as well as "Jews, kill them" and "We'll get you all". There were similar incidents against the daily in 2012.

"These threats and acts of vandalism must be stopped and I am confident that the authorities will take the necessary precautions to ensure journalists' safety," the OSCE's media representative Dunja Mijatovic said.

"I welcome the condemnation of these attacks from the highest level of the German authorities in Brandenburg state and trust that these incidents will be swiftly and thoroughly investigated," she said in a statement.

The chief editor of the newspaper, Johannes Fischer, told the Berliner Zeitung daily that it would fight back with words, "the most powerful weapons against spray cans and baseball bats".

Chancellor Angela Merkel will speak at a rally at the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin against anti-Semitism on Sunday coinciding with a World Jewish Congress (WJC) meeting in the German capital.

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BULGARIA

Bulgarian media fines worry OSCE

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressed alarm Wednesday over fines levied on newspapers in Bulgaria for reporting on companies' financial activities and on the banking sector.

Bulgarian media fines worry OSCE
1 lev banknote. Photo: Bulgarian Mint

Two publications were also penalised for refusing to reveal the sources of their financial reporting, provoking the OSCE to voice concern about media liberty in former-communist Bulgaria.

"Large fines imposed on media outlets may lead to censorship in reporting on issues of public interest," said Dunja Mijatovic, media freedom representative at the OSCE.
"My office has been calling for laws protecting media from displaying their sources as a means to guarantee the public's access to information," Mijatovic said in a statement.
 
In January the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) fined the Economedia group 150,000 leva (75,000 euros, $90,000) for stories printed last year in its Capital and Dnevnik publications. A smaller publisher was also fined 100,000 leva.
 
The FSC said that the penalties were inflicted for market manipulation offenses.
 
Capital and Dnevnik were also both fined smaller amounts for refusing to reveal their reporting sources.
 
The OSCE criticism comes came after Bulgaria slipped to 100th place out of 180 nations ranked in rights group Reporters Without Borders' latest Press Freedom Index —  the lowest position among European Union nations.

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