Inauguration day attacks bode badly for journalists in Serbia

Inauguration day attacks bode badly for journalists in Serbia
Protesters on the day of Aleksandar Vučić‘s inauguration as President of Serbia. Image: Insajder / Facebook

2 June 2017

Media unions are fearing the worst for the future safety of journalists in Serbia, after a number of reporters were attacked during the presidential inauguration of Aleksandar Vučić on Wednesday.

Yesterday the head of the Independent Serbian Journalists’ Association, Slaviša Lekić, sent a letter to the Ministry of Information titled “Stop being silent!”, decrying the ministry’s failure to condemn the attacks.

In an interview with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Mr Lekić voiced concern that Mr Vučić condoned the attacks.

“If not, this morning ... he would have apologised to them, and given his assurances that in his mandate as President of Serbia, it would never happen again,” Mr Lekić stated.

Wednesday’s incidents included a journalist from the daily newspaper Danas, Lidija Valtner, being attacked during filming, while a Radio Belgrade reporter was pushed and had her audio recorder broken when attempting to speak to a group of men during a scuffle near parliament. In addition, police insisted on verifying the IDs of of reporters from BIRN, Insajder and VICE after they filmed a group of supporters of Mr Vučić ripping up a banner carried by protesters.

“I’m afraid that all of this from yesterday … sent a message about what we can expect,” Predrag Blagojević, head of the Online Media Association, told BIRN.

Such attacks form part of a trend present across the Balkan region. A recent report published by watchdog Freedom House suggests that media freedom is in decline in the Balkans, in part due to a rise in violence against journalists.

Source: Balkan Insight