Kosovo Remains Vulnerable to Disinformation, BIRN Report Concludes

In the absence of sustainable funding, limited human resources, unclear editorial policies and external influences, in some instances, the media became creators and amplifiers of disinformation, a BIRN Kosova report on disinformation concludes.

The report “Story of our lies” which was published on Monday in Pristina has noted that Kosovo remains vulnerable to different to inside and outside disinformation as institutions and other stakeholders have not been able to establish mechanisms that monitor the dissemination of disinformation, whereas judicial institutions have been unable to handle these types of cases.

“The Disinformation Report has mapped various forms of disinformation in Kosovo, whose main aim is to change the course of Kosovo towards the Euro-Atlantic Integration and to deepen further the existing barriers between communities in Kosovo,” Jeta Xharra, the Executive Director of BIRN Kosova said.

Report shows that social media and internet platforms which specialize in fictitious news remain the key disseminators of disinformation, however, in some cases, even traditional, professional media have been guilty. This report also lists a lack of media literacy programmes and the capacity of the education system to deliver media education as the key challenges for the future.

“At times, unprofessional media outlets can contribute to the disinformation, this is why the citizens should make the distinction between fake and verified news while the Institutions should contribute to this by incorporating media education in school curricula,” Imer Mushkolaj, head of self-regulatory body Kosovo Press Council, said.

The report emphasized the presence of Russian influence and propaganda as evident especially since the war in Ukraine started.

“The risks of disinformation have become even clearer in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine. Therefore, we must work tirelessly to safeguard professional journalism and promote the values of transparency, accountability, and truth,” the Head of the European Union Office in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, said in the launching ceremony.

Russian propaganda was notably present in Kosovo and this led to the banning of the media who were influenced by it. It is IMC responsibility to ban media which are a risk to national security,” Head of Board of Independent Media Commission, IMC, Jeton Mehmeti said.

The report focuses also on the narratives and misinformation that undermine security, undermine trust in the West and worsen inter-ethnic relations.

“The most vulnerable community on the sphere of the misinformation  in Kosovo continues to be the Serbian community in Kosovo, this due to the fact that disinformation in Serbian language is being widely spread across the Balkan,” Pajtim Gashi, Program Director at National Democratic Institute, said.

“It is important that Kosovo media editors know how to make the difference between the regime in Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs, since them are fellow citizens of the people living in Kosovo and thus prejudices need to be avoided,” Branislav Krstic, a journalist based in Mitrovica North, said.

“Disinformation regarding the Inter-ethnic relations can lead to inter-ethnic tensions, or in the worst case: inter-ethnic conflict… Propaganda is part of the political fight. Media in Kosovo have learned the lesson on what happened in 2004,” Lulzim Peci, the Executive Director of KIPRED, said.

The report offers recommendations to Kosovo authorities and other stakeholders, including media regulatory and self-regulatory bodies on how to work in order to build the necessary capacities to identify sources of disinformation and adequately address them.

This conference was attended by 75 participants, including 40 women representatives of civil society, institutions, journalists and others.

To download a copy of the report in English, click here.

To download a copy of the report in Albanian, click here.

To download a copy of the report in Serbian, click here.

BIRN publishes Report on Labour Rights in Kosovo’s Private Sector

On November 24, BIRN held a conference for the launch of the report titled “Management of Workers without Procedures”.

Working conditions and violation of labour rights continues to be a challenge for the labour market in Kosovo. The number of accidents in the workplace in Kosovo is high and the level of implementation of labour rights is poor.

From the beginning of 2023, BIRN Kosovo collected data from businesses and workers in Kosovo in order to analyze implementation of the Labour law, including compliance with the requirements on contractual agreements, employment regulations, employment of persons with disabilities and knowledge of safety rules at work, among others.

Findings from the report show that, from 2016 until June 2023, there were 1,072 accidents in the workplace; 102 employees died as a result.

In the first six months of 2023, Kosovo’s Trade Inspectorate inspected over 23, 524 employees. Findings of this inspection showed that about 20 per cent of these employees were working without health certificates and 5 per cent were working without employment contracts.  This report also found that a high percentage of businesses do not fulfill the minimum standards for the legal guarantee and implementation of safety and insurance rights in the workplace.

The findings of the report were discussed by a panel including different actors from public institutions.

The panel was moderated by Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor of KALLXO.com. Panelists included: Avni Zogiani, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers;

Mimoza Kusari Lila, Head of the Vetevendosje Parliamentary Group; Naim Hajra, Deputy Chief Inspector in the Trade Inspectorate; Brahim Selimaj, Chairman of the Association of Builders of Prishtina; and Nalan Malësia, of the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo.

Kreshnik Gashi stated that findings show businesses need to improve regulations and procedures to create a better and safer working environment. Advancing regulations that emphasize security and safety within the structure of businesses will improve the fight against people dying of accidents at workplaces, he said.

The report is published as part of the project “Protection and Promotion of the Labour Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Labour Market” financed by the European Union in Kosovo. It aims to improve the working conditions for vulnerable categories of workers, especially within the private sector, including health and safety in the workplace for women and men, through the promotion of social dialogue between workers and duty bearers.

The overall report can be found at these links:




BIRN Kosovo Holds Investigative Journalism and Fact-Checking Course

BIRN Kosovo held a three-day training course on investigative journalism and fact-checking with regional and international experts in Skopje, North Macedonia from October 13 to 15.

A total of 18 journalists from around the region, 11 of whom were women, attended the course.

Over three days, the participants became familiar with fact-checking and verification tools and studied in-depth investigations from the region.

The first day’s training was conducted by Stephane M. Grueso, deputy coordinator of Spanish fact-checking media outlet Maldita.es, who talked about the current global problem with disinformation.

Grueso also discussed disinformation in democratic states, the pandemic, infodemia and disinformation on social networks and messaging apps.

During the day’s second session, he talked about the various disinformation narratives that emerged during the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine war, the importance of Osint, and what he called the largest disinformation crisis in modern history.

Grueso also talked about fact-checking organisations, their methodologies and how they work, giving examples from Maldita.es, which part of the International Fact-Checking Network and European Fact-Checking Standards.

The course continued with a session held by Marjana Planojevic, a data protection expert who spoke about data protection and privacy in the media. She discussed data protection principles, rules for media publication of personal data and private information, digital service providers, video surveillance, the right to privacy, and highlighted examples from case studies.

The last session of the day was held by Ivana Nikolic, a programme manager at BIRN, who presented BIRN’s innovative interactive platform BIRD, created for journalists who want to keep up-to-date with the fast-changing world of technology.

The second day continued with Grueso from Maldita, who talked about verification tools and techniques to debunk disinformation, giving practical examples. The examples included tool repositories and how to observe photos and video debunking while using reverse search and metadata. He also spoke about geolicalisation and maps, advanced internet searches and how to archive internet materials.

The next session was conducted by Meri Jordanovska, a journalist and deputy editor-in-chief of Metamorphosis in North Macedonia.

Jordanovska spoke about in-depth investigations conducted in North Macedonia and examples of fact-checking and fighting disinformation from BIRN Macedonia’s ‘Skopje 2014 Uncovered’ database, which investigated the government-sponsored revamp of the capital called ‘Skopje 2014’ and could lead to a criminal investigation.

Jordanovska also held a session on the most common types of disinformation in the Balkans, such as fake commercials, conspiracy theories and the selling of various kinds of medicine while using disinformation.

The last day of the training course was conducted by Kreshnik Gashi, the managing editor of BIRN Kosovo’s KALLXO.com. Gashi spoke about the misinformation and propaganda spread by Russia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Balkans, citing findings from investigations in Kosovo.

He also talked about the use of whistleblowers while reporting on organised crime in the Balkans, how to protect whistleblowers, and how organised crime functions in the Balkans.

Gashi and the participant journalists from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia practiced the verification of news reports and shared ideas for future stories using fact-checking and investigative journalism techniques, which could become part of a fellowship programme that BIRN Kosovo will run.

This training course was held as part of the EU-funded project ‘Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey II’.

EU Awards for Best Investigative Journalism in Kosovo Announced

On September 20 in Prishtina’s Kino Armata, the winners of the EU Awards for Investigative Awards for Investigative Journalism were announced.

Journalists Kreshnik Gashi, Dafina Halili and Saranda Ramaj were selected from many colleagues as this year’s winners for their stories published in 2022 about corruption, mismanagement, and discrimination.

The jury consisted of Lutfi Dervishi, investigative journalist who founded ACQJ’s Journalism Investigative Lab and worked as editor of 31 Minutes and as a journalist trainer; Arbana Xharra, awarded investigative journalist and expert on religious radicalization; and Agon Maliqi, political analyst and media writer, co-founder of Sbunker, an analytical platform in Prishtina.

The first prize went to Kreshnik Gashi, from Kallxo.com, for his series, Blerja e Kryeprokurorit I dhe II (Purchase of the Chief Prosecutor). This two-year investigation blew the lid off a high-profile corruption scandal involving a businessman and a prosecutor in  Kosovo.

Second prize went to Dafina Halili, a journalist from KOSOVO 2.0, for her story, Ghost Schools, Ghetto Schools and Segregated Shifts, which exposed discrimination against Roma and Ashkali children in the Serbian education system in Kosovo.

Saranda Ramaj, from Koha.net, earned third prize for her series, Abuzimet me Fondin per Trajtim Jashte Institucioneve Publike (Abuses of the Outpatient Treatment Fund). These articles delved into corruption and mismanagement within Kosovo’s healthcare sector.

The awards were handed by the EU Ambassador in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog who greeted the participants. Davor Marko from Thomson Media, in his capacity as project’s partners’ representative, introduced the project and the importance of the award for journalism. Agon Maliqi, representing the jury, provided a detailed explanation of the award selection process and announced the recipients of each awarded position.

More information can be found here.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism 2023 is part of the project “Strengthening Quality Journalism in Western Balkans and Türkiye II”. This aims to recognise and promote outstanding achievements in investigative journalism as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Türkiye.

The project is funded by the European Union, and it is implemented by a consortium composed of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Hub, Central European University (CEU) – Hungary, the Association of Journalists (AJ) – Türkiye, Thomson Media (TM) – Germany, University Goce Delcev Stip (UGD) – North Macedonia, The Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) – North Macedonia, Media Association of South-East Europe (MASE) – Montenegro, and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo (BIRN Kosovo).



Call for Applications for a Two-Day Training Course on Investigative Reporting and Fact-Checking

BIRN Kosovo has opened a new call for applications for its first two-day training course on investigative reporting and fact-checking, as part of the EU-funded project ‘Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey II’.

BIRN Kosovo has opened a new call for applications for its first two-day training course on investigative reporting and fact-checking, as part of the EU-funded project ‘Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey II’.

​​In recent years, fake news and orchestrated disinformation campaigns have had a geopolitical influence, affecting elections in established and nascent democracies and undermining the response to global challenges including the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine. The endemic worldwide phenomena of fake news and disinformation have plagued Western Balkan countries in recent years as well.

The war in Ukraine has increased the volume of fake news circulating on social networks as various countries seek to extend their influence in the region. The Ukraine war aside, local media outlets in the region have seized opportunities to spread misinformation, particularly in the context of relations between the Western Balkan countries.

Both fact-checking and the framing of information in the correct social context are rarely applied in the region, while journalism degrees do not offer courses in this field. As a result, journalists are not aware of the latest standards in fact-checking or new methods that platforms such as Facebook or others use in the fight against fake news.

As one of the only media organisations in Kosovo that is part of the International Fact-Checking Network, the mission of BIRN Kosovo is to extend its fact-checking policies and knowledge to other national and regional media outlets.

This training course will help tackle fake news and unverified reporting by helping journalists learn how to spot fake news and provide verified information that adheres to journalistic standards. The knowledge delivered will be of a practical nature and will draw on the unique experiences of journalists who have successfully developed such skills in similar environments.

BIRN will invite different regional and international media professionals to administer the training course and share their knowledge and experience with the participants. 


Following the training, participants will have the opportunity to be part of a fellowship for writing articles on cross-border investigations and fact-checking.

 Who can apply?

Final-year journalism students, recent graduates, and young and professional journalists from the Western Balkan countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia may apply for the course.

Candidates from across the region are encouraged to apply. However, the number of participants is limited and we will give priority to younger journalists with less experience in the described field.

How to apply?

All applications should be submitted in English before September 15, 2023, at midnight Central European Time to aritasuhodolli@jetanekosove.com along with the following documents:

  • Applicant’s CV
  • Work Sample
  • Motivation Letter

Applicants who do not have any published work can submit their student assignments from practical courses in journalism. The motivation letter should provide information regarding the applicants’ opinion and knowledge on the topic and should not exceed 400 words.


The training will be held in English.


The training will take place in North Macedonia. Details regarding the specific location, agenda and accommodation will only be provided to selected participants.

Deadline for applications: 12:00, Central European Time, on September 15, 2023

Date of the training course: October 2023


Travel costs and accommodation will be covered by BIRN.



BIRN Wins Solar Power Investigation Case Against Kosovo Media Regulator

A Pristina court annulled the national media regulator’s decision to issue a warning to BIRN Kosovo over its award-winning investigation into a businessman who violated anti-monopoly rules in the solar energy market.

Pristina Basic Court on Friday annulled a decision made by the Independent Media Commission, IMC in January 2021, which issued a warning to BIRN Kosovo’s television programme ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ over its investigation into a businessman’s monopolistic practices.

The investigation, entitled ‘Unclean Energy: The Kosovar Who Would Own the Sun’, showed how businessman Blerim Devolli was behind six companies reaping millions of euros from the sale of solar energy in violation of anti-monopoly rules.

It was aired by public broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo, RTK, which was screening BIRN Kosovo’s ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ programme.

This prompted Devolli’s complain to the IMC, the institution responsible for the regulation, management and oversight of broadcasters in Kosovo. Devolli claimed that the programme used hate speech and violated the IMC’s code of ethics for audiovisual media providers.

The investigation carried out by Visar Prebreza and Jeta Xharra revealed a scheme in which shell companies owned by Devolli registered in Malta would have benefited from incentive tariffs for the production of solar energy, breaking anti-monopoly rules by hiding the real owner of the companies.

In the Pristina court verdict, judge Anita Nikqi-Morina concluded that the programme show was “fully in line with the code of ethics”.

The court also found that IMC’s decision “was not properly justified” and it “did not correctly establish the factual situation”.

The verdict said that the language used in the programme “does not seem to constitute an insult because the language used is sarcastic”.

The court also found that IMC’s decision to reprimand RTK and ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ contradicts guarantees of freedom of expression in Kosovo’s constitution and the practices of the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2021, BIRN filed a lawsuit at Pristina Basic Court against IMC’s decision, describing it as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation or SLAPP and requested its annulment.

The case was taken to the court only after the IMC’s Board of Complaints rejected BIRN’s complaint and upheld the main points in the IMC board’s initial decision.

The IMC’s reprimand was one of the reasons behind RTK’s management decision to stop airing the ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ programme, ending its 15-year run on RTK.

For more details on the legal battle, read Prishtina Insight’s article here.

NGOs Fear EU Measures Against Kosovo Could Hit Civil Society Funds

Civil society organisations are concerned that the EU’s decision to suspend some funding for Kosovo until it complies with Brussels’ prescriptions for defusing tensions in the Serb-majority north could affect NGOs that depend on international grants.

Civil society organisations in Kosovo have expressed concern that their future sustainability might be affected by Brussels’ decision to temporarily suspend funds provided under the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, IPA until Pristina complies with the EU’s prescriptions for restoring stability in the country’s Serb-majority north.

Taulant Hoxha, executive director of the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, KCSF NGO, which supports civil society development, told BIRN that such organisations’ funding could be affected “if these [EU] measures continue for months, and especially beyond 2023”.

Hoxha explained that “the natural cycle of IPA funds management is such that at least one to two years pass from programming to the practical implementation of funds”.

He said that the suspension of IPA 2024 funds, which the EU is threatening, would not affect already-funded civil society projects for this year and next year, but could affect NGOs’ work in 2025.

Kosovo has many civil society organisations – parliament’s website lists 84 – and they are highly dependent on EU, US and Swiss funds.

Zana Hoxha, the executive director of Artpolis, a human rights and arts NGO, told BIRN that the suspension of IPA funds by the EU might cause her organisation to reduce jobs or cut salaries by 30 to 40 per cent.

“We have been supported by IPA funds since 2008, for the promotion of women’s rights, youth engagement and art and culture, which is our mission,” she said.

She explained that financial resources for 2023 have been secured but the NGO planned to apply for IPA 2024 and if the funds were not available, it would make the organisation’s future uncertain.

She added that she believes that the suspension of IPA funds will cause “a general weakening of civil society organisations and civic engagement… The consequences will be difficult to repair.”

However, the director of BIRN Kosovo, Jeta Xharra, said she had received assurances on Tuesday that NGOs will not suffer as a result of the EU measures.

“I was in an online meeting today that the EU organised from Brussels on consultations on the IPA 2024 Multi-Country Programming Consultation with Civil Society in the Western Balkans and thankfully I was not the only one raising the concern that precisely because of the current tensions, there need to be more projects that encourage cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo, not less. This proposal came from a civil society activist in Serbia,” Xharra said.

“I also aired my thoughts on the matter, saying that punishing independent media and civil society for the actions of any government seems completely counterproductive as, in Kosovo especially media and civil society provide a regular critical counterpart to the government, scrutinising its actions, so weakening that resilience and criticism that the government faces every day from civil society and media would in fact have an opposite effect, it would make the life of the government much easier,” she added.

Xharra said that she asked if current and future funding for the civil society in Kosovo would be affected by EU measures against the Kosovo government, and was assured by the EU representatives that “no current or future multi-country projects for media and civil society would exclude Kosovo organisations. This is the situation as it stands.”

The EU is imposing measures to encourage Pristina to accept its prescriptions for defusing the tensions that flared up into violence recently in Serb-majority northern Kosovo.

Brussels is asking Pristina to immediately suspend police operations near municipal buildings in the north which have been the focus of unrest after police helped ethnic Albanian mayors elected in polls boycotted by Serbs to take office.

The EU wants the mayors to perform their duties in premises other than the municipal buildings, and for new elections to be held with the full participation of the Serbs.

“We cannot afford instability, tensions and violence. We have condemned the violence and continue calls for immediate de-escalation by both parties [Kosovo and Serbia],” an EU spokesperson told BIRN.

“Kosovo has regrettably not yet taken necessary steps,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that the Kosovo authorities were informed on June 28 that measures including the suspension of the IPA funds were being imposed until the EU’s requests are fulfilled.

“These measures are temporary and fully reversible depending on the developments on the ground and decisions to de-escalate taken by the Prime Minister [Albin] Kurti,” the spokesperson added.

The EU spokesperson also said that in another measure imposed, proposals for funding submitted by Kosovo under the Western Balkans Investment Framework were not submitted for consideration by the WBIF board at the end of June.

From 2009 to 2021, the WBIF supported 30 infrastructure projects in Kosovo with a total cost of 1.8 billion euros.

Prime Minister Kurti has described the EU measures as “unjust”.

Kurti said that “we hope that these temporary measures will be very short” so that EU financial support can continue “and maybe even increase”.

BIRN Kosovo Holds Training Camp on Legally Safe and Crisis Reporting

As part of the project “Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey II” BIRN Kosovo held a training camp in Durres, Albania, on legally safe and crisis reporting for journalists from the region.

The three-day training took place in Durres between 16-18 June, gathering 14 journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Turkey, of which 10 were women.

The main aim was to provide journalists with specialized knowledge that will help them protect themselves and their newsrooms from different kinds of attacks, including physical attacks, legal actions such as Strategic Litigations Against Public Participation – SLAPPs, as well as to preserve their digital security.

A wide range of trainers and guest speakers held the sessions, including BIRN managing editors and other external guest speakers.

The first day of the training started with a session by Kreshnik Gashi, Managing Editor of KALLXO.com, who spoke about organizing and planning the desk and teams during field reporting in crisis situations, including undercover filming, handling risks, safety and security of the media, and threats against journalists’ sources.

The second session, focused on cyber security and data protection of journalists, was held by Dion Mulaj, a Security Researcher at FindBug, an NGO that helps journalists deal with cyber-attacks.

The third session was held by Ana Petruseva, BIRN Macedonia Executive Director and investigative reporter, who spoke about wiretapping in North Macedonia and its impact on the media.

Day two started with a session by Arber Beka, spokesperson of the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo who spoke about the lessons that journalists can learn from security institutions in managing crowds, protests, and tensions.

The next session was held by a special guest, Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline Club in London, who has long experience working with BBC News and Channel 4 and most of whose work was focused on the wars in the western Balkans. Specifically, he covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Vaughan Smith talked about crisis situations and conflict zones, giving examples from his rich experience as a video reporter in different conflict zones. He spoke about the protection of journalists in protests, how to deal with a mob, identifying weapons, managing tear gas, negotiations between journalists and violent men, and getting interviews with them.

He took examples from recent events in Kosovo, where journalists from different media outlets of Kosovo were attacked by masked protesters in northern Kosovo, as local Serbs were protesting against newly elected mayors in elections that they boycotted en masse. The session was facilitated by Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo Executive Director who also covered the Kosovo war together with Vaughan Smith.

The third session covered fake news and disinformation during crisis reporting, which was given by Faik Ispahiu, Executive Director of Internews Kosova and third-party fact-checker of Facebook. The fourth session covered the First Aid Course, given by the instructors of the Red Cross in Kosovo.

On day three, Vaughan Smith and Jeta Xharra talked about the mindset of journalists when reporting during a crisis, creating contacts with armed forces, protecting equipment and other valuables, but also about PTSD and mental health as a reporter.

The final session was held by Labinot Leposhtica, head of the legal office at BIRN Kosovo, who talked about safe reporting and protection from SLAPP lawsuits and complaints. Specifically, Leposhtica talked about journalism ethics and standards, legal checks or filtering of sensitive journalistic reporting and hiding sensitive data that expose journalists to lawsuits.

He presented successful cases in Kosovo, such as the case of an investigation by BIRN Kosovo, which found that a single businessman in Kosovo stands behind six companies earning millions of euros from the sale of solar energy, in violation of anti-monopoly rules.

The overall objective of the project is to provide systemic support to improve the quality and professionalism of journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey. In the coming months, more activities will take place as part of the project, which will be announced and published soon.


BIRN Kosovo Holds Hostile Environment Awareness Training for Journalists

On June 19, BIRN Kosovo held a HEAT – Hostile Environment Awareness Training – Safety and the Integrity of Information in Crisis Reporting for Kosovo journalists.

The main was to provide journalists with specialized knowledge that helps them protect themselves and their newsrooms from different kinds of attacks, including physical attacks, during crisis reporting and protests.

Kreshnik Gashi, Managing Editor of KALLXO.com, spoke about safe and ethical reporting in emergency and crisis reporting and how to organise the planning desk and teams in the field, how to cover specific regions where the local language is not spoken, undercover filming, and creating protocols for safety and security of media outlets.

The second session was held by a special guest, Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club in London, who has a long experience working with BBC News and Channel 4, and whose work was focused mostly on the wars in the western Balkans. Specifically, he covered the wars both in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Vaughan Smith talked about crisis situations, giving examples of his rich experience as a video reporter in different conflict zones. He spoke about the protection of journalists in protests, how to deal with a mob, identifying weapons, managing tear gas, negotiations between journalists and violent men, and how to get interviews with them.

He took examples from recent events in Kosovo, where journalists from different media outlets in Kosovo were attacked by masked protesters in the north as local Serbs protested against newly elected mayors in elections that they had boycotted en masse.

The session was facilitated by Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo Executive Director who also covered the Kosovo war together with Vaughan Smith. They also spoke about the mindset of journalists when reporting during a crisis, creating contacts with armed forces, protecting equipment and other valuables, but also about PTSD and the mental health of reporters.

Xharra also talked about the management of crisis situations, how safe it is to take risks during tensions, damage coverage from insurance companies in Kosovo, how to mobilise to protect oneself and other colleagues from attacks but also sexual harassment.

The final session was led by Bane Krstic, a Kosovo Serbian freelance journalist, and by Valdet Salihu, a producer of the “Kallxo Pernime” TV Program. This session covered the topic of “Telling the other side of the story” and finding sources from the other community, as Kosovo Albanian journalists report from the north where the majority of citizens are Serbian, and vice versa. The trainers talked also on how to behave when reporters are stuck in the middle of a protest, and where to get help when covering difficult events.


BIRN Kosovo Holds Financial Fraud Reporting Course

The Balkan Network for Investigative Journalism in Kosovo held a training course entitled ‘Illicit Financial Flow and Money Laundering’ on June 1 in Pristina.

The one-day programme brought together nine aspiring journalists and journalism students and provided them with invaluable insights into this complex subject.

The training commenced with a session led by Visar Prebreza, editor at BIRN Kosovo and a certified expert in financial forensics.

Prebreza shared his expertise, guiding the participants through a deep exploration of illegal money flows and the identification of sectors engaged in illicit activities.

The journalists and students gained crucial knowledge about illegal businesses and crucial skills for tracing illegally obtained funds.

The training continued with an opportunity to listen to Murat Mehmeti, the head of investigations in the Tax Administration of Kosovo.

Mehmeti, hailed as one of the first whistleblowers in Kosovo, played an instrumental role in uncovering a significant case of organised tax evasion.

The investigation, which exposed the wrongdoing in a series published by BIRN, exemplified the impact investigative journalism can have on society.

In the final part of the course, participants were tasked with identifying potential research topics related to the illegal flow of money in Kosovo. This exercise fostered critical thinking and helped the attendees to consider how they could contribute to shedding light on hidden financial activities and their consequences for the region.

The training course was part of the project ‘Uncovering Illicit Financial Flows in the Western Balkans’, supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The project aims to equip aspiring journalists and journalism students with the necessary tools and knowledge to tackle the pressing issue of illicit financial flows as part of attempts to create more transparent and accountable societies in the Western Balkans.