After financial and political pressures caused the closure of local weekly publication Vranjske, from the city of Vranje in southern Serbia, after 23 years of operations, the publication’s founder, Vukasin Obradovic, launched a hunger strike, while journalists protested in front of the Serbian Government headquarters.
Obradovic, who is also a former president of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), said that he went on strike “to draw attention to the nonsensical fight for media freedom”, but he suspended the strike after being hospitalised that same evening.
At the same time, around a hundred journalists and citizens protested in front of the Serbian Government in Belgrade with the message “I Stand by Vranjske”, indicating that it was the failure of the state to implement the so-called “media laws” that brought about closure of this publication and the poor situation on the local media scene.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced how much money Vranjske had received from the state via funding contests, alongside the message “Enough with hypocrisy!”, which was widely condemned by the professional media public.
Vranjske, which was renowned for its critical reporting of the activities of the local authorities, was subjected to unusually high number of inspections in recent weeks. Obradovic considers that a form of pressure, stating that he suspects the inspections were in violation of the law and that their actual mission was to ensure the closure of this weekly.
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