After months of scrutiny and accusations of corruption, all eight members of the Radio and Television Kosovo (RTK) board have been fired by the Assembly of Kosovo.

On Thursday (8 July), the Assembly of Kosovo voted to dismiss all members of the RTK board – Chairman Sali Bashota and members Agron Gashi, Lirim Geci, Ilir Bytyci, Albinot Maloku, Bajram Mjeku, Petrit Musolli, and Fadil Miftari – separately.

The firings were based on the recommendation of the Committee for Public Administration, Local Government, Media and Regional Development, who voted in June to initiate the board’s dismissal. Head of the Committee, Doarsa Kica, had outlined several issues with the board, including refusals from RTK’s management to be audited and its failure to comply with procurement procedures and compile a mandated long-term strategy. Other issues have plagued the board, including allegations of nepotism, such as service contracts awarded to close family members of the RTK Chairman and the hiring of family members of former Kosovar President Hashim. The RTK Board was also criticised for its 2020 annual report which covered its work and expenditure. The report was subsequently rejected by the Committee on Budget, Labour and Transfers, who also recommended the board’s dismissal.

Kica emphasised that RTK has a responsibility to the public as a public media organisation that receives €12-13million of taxpayer money each year. According to Valon Ramadani, a committee member, the board’s dismissal was “just the beginning”.

“There was so much [financial] misuse and abuse that sacking is the minimum. Some of the leading [figures] should not just be sacked but also should go to jail! RTK should be reformed, but as we have said in the past – it first needs to be freed,” Prishtina Insight reported Ramadani as saying.

However, the decision to dismiss RTK’s board was not unanimous; representatives from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) either objected or abstained in the debate. One PDK representative, Mergim Lushtaku, stated the budget committee’s findings were insufficient to initiate the firing of RTK’s board. While he admitted the board needed to operate better, he maintained that its members should not be dismissed on what he deemed as political grounds. Similarly, LDK representative, Agim Veliu, claimed the board’s dismissal was political in nature and an attempt to capture the public broadcaster.

The fallout

RTK’s management had long maintained that any dismissal of its members would be a violation of the law on RTK. Shortly after the dismissals were finalised, RTK’s General Director, Ngadhnjim Kastrati, denounced the firings, saying they set a dangerous precedent for RTK and its future.

“Armend Muja [Chairman of The Committee on Budget, Labor and Transfers] and Doarsa Kica know that their arguments presented before the deputies for the dismissal of the Board do not stand, but they have an obligation to carry out the mission, and this is scary for democracy! Tomorrow, who knows what decision they will make”, Kastrati said.

The dismissals were also denounced by Bekim Haxhiu, Deputy of PDK, who deemed the move “the biggest procedural and legal violation” and one that would be addressed legally. He said, “The proposal was for the dismissal of the RTK Board and not for the individual dismissal with special reasons.”

Furthermore, shortly after his dismissal, fired member Bajram Mjeku stated that while he had requested the formation of a parliamentary inquiry commission to investigate the RTK board, his request was ignored. This request was made to Doarsa Kica. “My request [to] the Chairwoman of the Commission has not even been discussed in front of other members of the Commission and this fact constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights and freedoms,” he said.

In response to those criticising the Assembly’s decision, Speaker of the Assembly, Glauk Konjufca, said anyone who believed the procedure was “violated or irregular” was free to pursue legal options.

For those in support of the Assembly’s decision, such as media lawyer Flutura Kusari, the board’s dismissal presents an opportunity for RTK to have independent management. In a report by Balkan Insight, Kusari explained that misuses have occurred in RTK for decades and said that “those responsible for destruction or allowing the regress of RTK to be held accountable”. She emphasised that the government’s handling of the Board’s dismissal going forward will be important.

“What should happen next is that Vetevendosje [majority ruling party] and other government coalition partners must immediately start the process of selecting new members and that those elected must not be political figures. They should not elect anyone who has supported Vetevendosje, as it is very important that the election of a new board is not questioned by anyone,” Kusari said.

Meanwhile, the Committee on Public Administration, Local Government, Media and Regional Development has asked the Presidency of the Assembly to have the recruitment for RTK’s board to be monitored by the British Embassy.

In its 2020 Progress Report on Kosovo, the European Commission stated that the public broadcaster “remains vulnerable to political pressure and influence.” The report further stated that RTK’s directly state-funded mechanism and its Assembly-determined annual budget “undermines its independence, weakens its long-term sustainability, and leaves it prone to political influence.”

Header Image: Pristina, Kosovo – May, 2019: Entrance to National Assembly of Kosovo in Pristina’s main street. Credit: T.B. photo/