Plus, Slovenian media gang up in paywall scheme and a favorite Azeri novel will get the Hollywood treatment.by Ky Krauthamer, Joshua Boissevain, Varvara.Lokteva, and Kelly Klein 11 January 2012
1. Bulgaria tipped off NATO on Milosevic’s “Operation Horseshoe”
The Bulgarian government gave military intelligence to Germany and NATO regarding “Operation Horseshoe” in 1999, the alleged plan by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic for the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, according to Novinite. The revelation of this leak was made by former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Neynski, formerly Mihaylova, during a television documentary about the operation.
NATO justified its three-month bombing campaign in spring 1999, which seriously damaged Serbia’s military capacity and struck civilian targets, by citing what it said was Belgrade’s aim of driving hundreds of thousands of Albanian Kosovans out of the country. Milosevic and other Serbian officials denied the existence of a plan for ethnic cleansing and claimed the allegations were fabricated.
In the documentary, Neynski rejects those claims, as quoted by Novinite, saying Bulgarian military intelligence came across specific plans that were “carefully prepared by the intelligence services of Serbia and then-state leader Milosevic that set two goals. First – to destroy the Kosovo Liberation Army, and second – to ‘cleanse’ Kosovo of ethnic Albanians.”
Neynski also defended her country’s decision not to accept ethnic Albanian refugees fleeing from Kosovo despite international pressure, saying the refugees could easily have acquired weapons and staged attacks on Serbia from across the border, thus drawing other countries in the region into the conflict.
2. Slovenian online media join forces in paid content scheme
Nine months after Slovakia’s major online media outlets put much of their content behind a paywall, Piano Media, the system operator, will launch the scheme in Slovenia.
Twelve Slovenia media sites will launch a trial version of the system on 16 January. Users will pay just under 5 euros per month for full access to all the sites, 2 euros more than in Slovakia.
Market researchers determined that was the most Slovenes would pay for the new product, Piano Media chief executive Tomas Bella told Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab.
Slovenia is one of Europe’s smallest online media markets, with about 1.3 million Internet users, according to Kusi.sk. Most of the country’s major newspapers will join Piano, including the Delo and Dnevnik dailies.
The pricing model will be the same as in Slovakia, Bella said. Forty percent of the proceeds goes to the outlet where a subscriber first joined the system, 30 percent is distributed among all the partners, and 30 percent goes to Piano. Bella said the initial goal is to sign up 1 percent of the Slovenian population, or about 20,000 subscribers.
3. Russian inflation falls to lowest level since 1991
Consumer prices in Russia rose by 6.1 percent in 2011, the lowest inflation figure recorded since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Rosstat state statistical office reported last month.
The inflation rate was 8.8 percent in 2009 and 2010 and 13.3 percent in 2008.
President Dmitry Medvedev trumpeted the news on 27 December, saying it was “the first time in the history of modern Russia that we have reached such an unprecedented level of inflation.”
Igor Polyakov of the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-term Forecasting said low food prices helped by bountiful harvests of grain, vegetables, and fruit helped keep inflation down, Kommersant reported. However, prices remain high for industrial goods and services, especially utilities, he said.
Another factor, according to Kommersant, was the huge net outflow of foreign capital, which reached about $80 billion in 2011.
4. Dangerous Liaisons writer Hampton to adapt beloved Azeri novel
Hollywood production company PeaPie has acquired the rights to Azerbaijan’s most famous novel and hired playwright Christopher Hampton, screenwriter for Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement, to adapt the sweeping historical drama for the screen.
Leyla Alieva, the daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev, will act as executive producer, according to Radio Free Europe.
5. Dormant Tallinn-St. Petersburg train service stirs to life
Two Estonian private rail operators hope to launch competing Tallinn to St. Petersburg services this spring, The Baltic Times reports.
Skinest Reisiveod, owned by Russian businessman Oleg Ossinovski, plans to begin running trains along the route in May, in time to catch the spring holidays when many Russians travel abroad. Ossinovski said the service would partner with an as-yet-unnamed Russian company.
The second company, GoRail, operates a Tallinn to Moscow train. A member of the company’s board of directors, Alar Pinsel, said it, too, might hook up with an outside partner, the Baltic Times said.
Rail service between the Estonian capital and Russia’s second city has been erratic in recent years. Direct service was canceled in 2004 because the line was losing money, renewed in 2007, and stopped again in 2008 as relations cooled between the two countries. Regular bus, ferry, and air lines operate on the route. Compared with seven or eight hours by bus, the Skinest Reisiveod train will initially cover the distance in 6 hours, 20 minutes, company director Lauri Reinhold said, according to dp.ru.