Journalists in the state of emergency: arrests, threats and attacks

March 31, 2020

A journalist and cameraman of KTV television from Zrenjanin spent a night in custody after being detained by police for allegedly violating protective measures against the Corona virus when entering the building of the Zrenjanin city administration.

They were released from custody after giving statements to the prosecutor. The arrested journalist, who is also a member of the opposition Serbian Radical Party in the Assembly of Vojvodina, believes that the real reason for his arrest is KTV’s critical reporting. Footage shot by this television company shows that both the journalist and the cameraman were wearing protective masks and gloves. Their detention was condemned by journalists’ associations.

A Facebook page was created on 12th March under the title ‘COVID 19 Serbia’, which is used by an unknown person (or persons) not to inform users of that social network about the current Corona virus pandemic, but rather incites a showdown with “other Serbian scumbags”, while a campaign has also been launched to label journalists who allegedly “maliciously and untruthfully inform Serbian citizens”.

The first journalist targeted is editor-in-chief of agency Beta, Dragan Janjić, who has already been targeted anonymously by the inflammatory FB page. Janjić assessed for Cenzolovka that “it is clear that the whole story can also be interpreted as an attempt to ‘discipline’ editors and exert pressure on the media.

Slavomir Kostić, a journalist of local portal ‘Info Vranjskih’, was called in for a discussion with police in Vranje. Kostić called his newsroom the instant he entered the police station and said that he had been called in relation to the clarification of some misconceptions from one of his articles.

A cameraman on assignment for portal was attacked by a public executor, as shown by footage of that portal.

Violeta Popović, editor-in-chief of local portal ‘GM info’ from Gornji Milanovac, was approached for no apparent reason by an unknown man in a shop in the town and told in a threatening tone that she “would be better off doing her job”, after which the man gave her instructions on the topics that should be addressed by her portal.