Pristina Nightlife 'Threatened by Raids'| 04 September 2010 | Belinda Vrapi
Club and bar owners in Pristina claim raids by police and tax inspectors are threatening to destroy the Kosovo capital's nightlife.
Pistina's nightclubs are being forced to close at midnight
Late-night bars and nightclubs have been raided every night since August 27 in a bid to close unlicensed premises which are deemed to be flouting the law.
Kosovo Police, tax administrators and officials from the Municipal of Pristina say they found that almost all bars and night clubs did not have a licence to operate after 11pm, and many did not pay taxes or declare their income.
Agron Borovci, a spokesman for the police in Pristina, said: “The purpose was not to arrest people, but to prevent the disturbing of the public order.
“The operation started over citizens' complaints about noise.
"However, after the first operation, we realised that there were other irregularities going on with businesses related to their documents, so the Kosovo Tax Administration and municipal inspectorate joined the mission.”
He added: “The operation is still ongoing and we are seeing results.
"However, now we are looking for new places that have opened or are opening in Pristina which haven’t been part of the operation until now.
“What we aim to do is discipline these clubs and bar owners to fulfil the criteria for licences, taxes etcetera."
Since the start of the raids, many bars have been seen shutting on time while some owners have been fined and other venues closed.
Kushtrim Hoxha, the owner of Duplex, one of the biggest and most frequented clubs in Pristina, said the operation had wiped out 90 per cent of his profits and was destroying the city’s nightlife.
He said: “Nightlife in Pristina is dead. There has definitely been a great change from last month to this one.
“The police come every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and close all nightclubs after midnight.
“The town is paralysed after midnight,” he said.
“The working licence we currently have allows us to work until midnight ... we have been trying to get the licence for late hours but it has been a Kafkaesque process between the municipality and the police, although according to the law it’s the municipality that should grant the permits.
“Of course, the youth don’t want to get all ready and dressed up for only 20 minutes, since they have to leave at midnight.”
The operation was launched following complaints from neighbours over the city’s many bars and clubs, some of which are located within residential areas.