Tabloids accuse KRIK portal of having mafia links without any evidence

March 16, 2021

Investigative journalism portal KRIK, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, has found itself on the front pages of all tabloids in Serbia, following accusations that the KRIK newsroom is collaborating with the recently arrested Veljko Belivuk, who is accused by the Serbian authorities of murder and other crimes.

Interestingly, KRIK has for years been the only outlet to report on Belivuk and his “team”, as well as writing about their relations with people in power. Tabloid newspapers and other pro-government media outlets only started reporting on this issue recently, following the spectacular arrest of Belivuk.

Although KRIK’s journalists have often been targetted by dirty campaigns in response to their reporting, these most recent threats are particularly concerning for KRIK, because the claim that this portal has a close relationship with criminals places KRIK directly on one side of the bloody war between two mafia clans that has left dozens dead across the entire region. To make matters even worse, apart from pro-government media outlets and various analysts on national television stations, such unfounded claims are also by reiterated by MPs of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party in the National Assembly of Serbia.

The campaign against KRIK has been condemned by almost all relevant domestic journalist and media associations, as well as the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation and the Open Society Foundation, but also by international organisations including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Commission, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and others. It was only two days after the launch of this dirty campaign that the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information called on “all media and actors in public life” to refrain from presenting stipulations and insinuations that certain media outlets and journalists are connected with the criminal activities of organised criminal groups. President Aleksandar Vučić also appealed for an end to the campaign against KRIK, but that has had no effect as yet.