August 2, 2021
Following investigative journalism portal KRIK’s publishing of parts of the testimony of Veljko Belivuk – a supporters’ club leader accused of monstrous crimes – regarding his criminal gang’s connection with President Aleksandar Vučić and other politicians from the state leadership, pro-government media outlets launched a campaign against the portal. Unburdened by any need to present evidence, these media outlets criminalised KRIK journalists in their articles and bombastic frontpage headlines, accusing them of conspiring, and thus endangering their safety.
On the frontpages of the pro-government tabloids, KRIK is dubbed as a “mafia slaughter portal” that “fired the first bullet at the president and the state”.
Decidedly pro-government television channel TV Pink continued the campaign in a special broadcast in which it cited Belivuk’s allegedly wiretapped conversation with his lawyer, in an attempt to discredit KRIK. If the cited remarks are indeed authentic, broadcasting them represents a violation of the law protecting lawyer-client confidentiality.
KRIK Editor Stevan Dojčinović noted that the portal had started reporting on Belivuk during a time when the state remained silent about him and no tabloid dared report on him.
The European Union condemned the attacks and threats against journalists via European Commission spokesperson Ana Pisonero Hernandez. The Coalition for Freedom of the Media called on institutions to urgently put a halt to the pro-government media campaign against KRIK, which it said “creates a lynch mob atmosphere”.
Also calling for an immediate end to the campaign linking KRIK to mobsters are the Committee to Protect Journalists and organisation Reporters Without Borders.