Nikolle Lesi

Udgiver: Kultursociolog Bjørn Andersen


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Nikolle Lesi er Chefredaktør på avisen »Koha Jone«. Undervisningsminister Ben Blushi (Minister siden sommeren 2001) har været Redaktør på avisen. Avisens historie blev beskrevet således i 1999:

»Koha Jone« newspaper is the first independent Albanian newspaper. It was founded by the journalist Nikolle Lesi on 11 May 1991 as a local newspaper of Lezha town. Lezha is a coastal town in the north of Albania.

In the beginning »Koha Jone« was published once a week, with four pages and a weekly circulation of 2000 copies. On 21 August 1992 it started to be published twice a week and more precisely every Tuesday and Friday and it had again four pages; while on 21 October 1992 »Koha JOne« started its publication with 8 pages. From 11 May 1991 till the victory of Albanian Democratic Party in the elections of 22 March 1992 »Koha Jone« has supported the opposition, critisising quite severely the party of Labour of Albania( at that time Communist Party). But during this period the newspaper has been open to the intelectual opinion of the north area and to that of Tirana, as it was distributed in these two areas. With the coming into power of the democrats »Koha Jone« inspired a free media and a great support to the free opinion.

Since the newspaper started to attack some segments of the Democratic Party for their negligence and incapability in governing Albania, a part of the government set off its offensive to block »Koha Jone« and to make it illegal. This time coincided with the separation of a group of intelectuals from Democtaic Party, which latter created the Democratic Allience. »Koha Jone« showed itself open to their opinion, which had a great cost to the newspaper as it marked the setting of the attacks from Berisha government.

On 23 July 1992 the publisher Nikolle Lesi donated 40% of the newspaper ownership to the journalist and his friend Aleksandwr Frangaj, in way that they can work together and forever. The journalist Frangaj had been quite near Mr. Lesi in the difficult moments of the work till this period. The Lezha distict court has recognised the »Koha Jone« enterprise with two partners: Nikolle Lesi and Aleksandër Frangaj. Some months later, precisely on 18 november 1992 , in the Lezha district court it began the trial against the publisher of »Koha Jone« Nikolle Lesi, who was accused for an article that was published in the newspaper against the Chairman of the Control Commission of the State, Blerim Çela, who was even a member of the chairmanship of Democratic Party. The accusation made by Blerim Çela was not approved from the judging body. After that the newspaper has been under the target of the new government of the democrats. The relations were becoming tougher, even though the newspaper was open to the government. No official was allowed to write articles for »Koha Jone«. The journalistic staff was put under the surveyance of SHIK( Albanian Secret Service). With the passing of time the pressure began to grow towards the newspaper, which was the only independent newspaper in Albania. Meanwhile the partybased newpapers overwhelmed the press market. On 19 September 1992 the publishers made a reshuffling of the staff of »Koha Jone« as follows:

1- Director of the newspaper Nikolle Lesi
2- Editor in chief Aleksander Frangaj
3- Editor Ben Blushi
4- Editor Armand Shkullaku
5- Journalist Zef Shtjefni
6- Photoreporter Dritan Kaba

As the result of the state violence towards the newspaper the public Albanian interest was becoming to grow for the articles of »Koha Jone«. On 30 December 1992, one day before the New Year 1993 the General Prosecutor's Office blocked and after that sequestrated all the documentation of the »Koha Jone« newspaper. The New Year 1993 was expected freezing cold for the free media than the previous yaer. The idealisation of the staff of the journalists for a truly independent press was turning into an utopy. The government was showing itself cruel to the freedom of this newspaper which expressed the words openly and publicly.

With the beginning of the New Year 1993, the staff of the newspaper was enlarged and in »Koha Jone« arrived ex- Editor in Chief of »RD« newspaper, the organ of Democratic Party, Mr. Frrok Çupi. On that day another journalist, Martin Leka, who has been one of the colleages and friends of Mr. Lesi, was recruited to the staff. With the arrival of the journalist Çupi the government became much more fierce, as he had just critisised publicly the President Berisha in one of the interviews of the end of the year 1992. For these reasons Berisha considered »Koha Jone« as an enemy newspaper and to his fixed idea he was replied with repression against the journalists. On 16 March 1993 the director of the newspaper was taken as a charged person. On 26 March, 10 days after Lesi, the Editor in Chief, Frangaj, was accused and »home arrest« was imposed to him for an article that he had published in the newspaper, which was considered from the Ministry of Defence as » a state secret«. The trial was held on 30 April in Lezha. The court declared them innocent. One week later the judge body was dismissed by the President Berisha. Throughout the year the pressure of the state became greater, but the public looked forward to the words of »Koha Jone«. Taking into consideration this request on 4 January 1994 the newspaper began its publication with 8 pages. Now it was being sold throughout Albania. The staff of the journalists was extended and at the same time even the columns. The newspaper was becoming more and more a western newspaper. On 31 January 1994 the Editor in Chief Frangaj and vice editor in chief Martin Leka were arrested from the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana for an article. The charge was made from the Minister of Defence, Safet Zhulali. The editorial office of the newspaper was sorrounded from the policeman and officials of SHIK. All the public opinion protested , as well as the international organisations of jounalists. On 1 March the Editor in Chief, Frangaj, was released from the prison as innocent, while vice Editor in Chief Leka was convicted with 18 months imprisonment. He was released after three months, as the result of the international protests. The newspaper »Koha Jone« became the most prominent newspaper in Albania, taking into consideration not only the circulation, but even its power. Now it became the absolute in the Albanian media market. On 3 September 1995 »Koha Jone« started the publication of a supplementary newspaper named »Sport Ekspres«, which was later published as a seperate sport newspaper. The newspaper »Koha Jone« started to be distributed in Greece and Italy. At that time the newspaper published even another suppliment for culture named »AKS«, that later was issued as a separate newspaper. But the government does not forget. On 1 November 1995 the house of the newspaper director was blown up with explosives. On 29 January 1996 the Albanian Parliament, being dominated from the Berisha people with the decision number 272, decided that a contol group should be created to block the »Koha Jone« newspaper as »an antidemocratic« newspaper. The control started on 14 March and it blocked everything of the newspaper, while in February 1996 the police raided the editorial office of the newspaper, sending to the cells of Tirana prison its 33 journalist and employeesfor a night. The government was more fierce toward the leading Albanian newspaper. The police blocked all the vehicles with which the newspaper was delivered throughout the country. The purpose of the government: the financial bankruptcy of the newspaper, as the attacks with arrestments have not been successful. The newspaper after its vehicles were blocked, continued to be delivered by taxi, which resulted in a financial damage of over 110 thousand dollars, a huge sum for the weak finance of this newspaper, which survived only on the selling of the paper and advertisements. On 26 May were held the parliamentary elections. The offices of the newspaper were sorrounded every night by the police and SHIK forces. Some »Koha Jone« journalists were arrested and badly beaten. The elections concluded with the stealing of votes from Democrated Party. Several revolts of the people were organised in different squares, the circulation of the newspaper was the same as the circulation of all the other Albanian newspapers together. The newspaper was once more blocked from the police. The job became undurable for the journalists: beatings and insult from the government. At the end of July '96 the Mr. Lesi's friend, Mr. Aleksandwr Frangaj resulted against the director of the newspaper, so against Mr. Lesi. The other colleage, Frangaj, was leaving to start »Klan« magazine, which began to make its own way in the market. Anyway Mr. Frangaj had given and taken from the newspaer, which had given him the imprisonment, but even the glory, that was converted into some hundered thousand of dollars.

After his move the government became more represive towards Lesi and the newspaper. The house of the only publisher, Lesi, was raided again.

The beginning of the year 1997 found as above mentioned the relations between »Koha Jone« - Berisha government. Meanwhile the people's protests against Berisha set going. The newspaper reached its highest circulation of 72.500 copies a day in a country of only 3 million people. During February - March 1997 the government was fierce towards the staff of the journalists. On 3 March 1997 at 02.00, the editorial office of the newspaper was destroyed and burned down from the staff of the secret police of Berisha. Everything was burned and burgled: computers, desks, documentation, etc. The material damage reached over 300.000 dollars. Two journalist were arrested together with one employee, that was in the office, were sent to the police station Nr. 3, where they were badly beaten. The newspaper was closed down. The international press that was in Tirana portrayed everything from the burning down of the biggest newspaper in Albania.

The publication of the newspaper restarted on 17 April of the same year. The staff worked inj the house of the publisher. The police curfew forced the journalist to hand the newspaper to the printing house every day at 14.00. During May - June 1997 all the newspaper vehicles were stolen from gangs of bandits. The financial damage was over 150.000 dollars. The newspaper was in very bad financial situation and quite near its bankrupt.

On the elections of 29 June 1997 the publisher of the newspaer Nikolle Lesi was a candidate as an independent Member of Parliament and he won. On the same date, 29 June radio »Koha« began its trasmittion, as a branch of »Koha Jone« company, which transmetted as the firts private radio. The equipment of the radio were a gift from an Italian publisher, who has seen the burning down of »Koha Jone« newspaper on 3 March on RAI.

The newspaper after the elections was reorganised. It was made with 32 pages, with new columns, which pleased a wide range of readers. Six last months of 1997 were the gold period for the freedom of the Albanian press. But the newspaer started to critisise even the new socilaist government. The socialists responded: raise of tax on press. They were shown more foxy than the Berisha government; they do not arrest journalists, but they use bankruptcy. But the correct administration and the great income from the advertisements start to bring profits for the damaged finance of »Koha Jone«. Anyway the government does not like the newspaper, as it publishes some facts over its corruption. Anyway it remains being the biggest one, though in the beginning of the year 1998 some new newspapers being financed from suspicious bisnesmen started issuing. In April 1998 »Koha Jone« company started transmittion of the television station »TV KOHA«.

The media ompany »Koha Jone« consits of:

1- »Koha Jone« newspaper
2- Radio »KOHA«
3- TV »KOHA«
4- »Sport Ekspres« newspaper
5- »AKS« magazine
6- Agency of press transport

This is in a nut shell the story of »Koha Jone« up to 15 August 1999.«

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