Activist from ‘Let’s Not Drown Belgrade’ attacked, anti-construction protests staged

Activist from ‘Let’s Not Drown Belgrade’ attacked, anti-construction protests staged
Taken at an earlier protest on environmental rights (REUTERS/Marko Djurica via Gallo Images).

Association

  • An activist of the “Let’s Not Drown Belgrade” Initiative was verbally attacked by an unknown man while organising a public conversation with citizens in Belgrade. During the incident, an unidentified man approached the stand where the activists of the Initiative were located and insulted the activist with messages of hatred and then stole the group’s printed material. After other activists intervened, the man fled the scene. The incident has been reported to the police and the perpetrator has not yet been identified.
  • Partners Serbia announced that a photomontage which alleged that the Ministry of Justice had ordered an analysis from the organisation was shared on social networks. The photo was also shared to a Viber group of over 2,000 lawyers by lawyer Čedomir Kokanović. The case was reported to the authorities, demanding an investigation to clarify who is behind the false image creation.

Peaceful Assembly

  • President Aleksandar Vučić’s security guards temporarily confiscated banners of two activists which were used during a protest against the arrival of the President in Kragujevac. One of the banners read "Girl means courage", referencing a recent incident in which President Vučić, during a sharp verbal discussion with representatives of an opposition party, called his opponents girls, while the other banner read "You are not welcome".
  • After the continuation of construction work in New Belgrade, despite an unofficial mutual agreement, citizens started a spontaneous gathering near the construction site and announced a continuation of protests. According to one of the residents of the settlement, on that occasion members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs asked the gathered citizens for their IDs, which did not happen previously. The protesters were not given an explanation as to why the police asked for identification and thus collect their personal data. They viewed this as an attempt to put pressure on them and deter them from future gatherings.
  • Activists from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) commemorating the Srebrenica genocide victims in front of the Presidency Palace were verbally attacked by 30 supporters of nationalist organisations gathered nearby, who insulted them and shouted slogans praising the convicted criminal Ratko Mladic. Natasa Kandic, an activist of the Humanitarian Law Center, was exposed to the largest number of insults during the lighting of candles. Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin stated that "Natasa Kandic deserves the contempt of the Serbian people."

Expression

  • MP Biljana Pantić Pilja verbally attacked Nova S media house and their journalists, calling them “domestic traitors and foreign mercenaries” after the news that in future the newly established daily newspaper "Nova" will be printing their newspapers in Croatia due to the impossibility of doing so in Serbia.
  • Gojko Vlaović, a journalist at the daily "Danas", filed a criminal complaint due to threats sent to the newspaper’s editorial office. During a discussion with an unknown man on Facebook, threats of violence were sent to him and his colleagues, with accusations that they were foreign mercenaries who would end up in prison. Despite warnings on Vlaović’s part, the threats and insults continued, forcing the journalist to seek protection from state authorities.
  • The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS/IJAS) condemned the insults directed at Mirjana Stevanović, a journalist of the independent newspaper Danas, by the owner of the transport company "Bora Kečić". The motive for this attack comes after the company was mentioned in an article the journalist wrote, detailing the issue of illegal transport operations and noncompliance with antitrust/competition regulations.
  • The founders and legal representatives of the company "Millennium Team", Ivan Bošnjak and Stojan Vujko, filed another lawsuit against Sasa Stojković, the editor-in-chief of the Info Vranjske portal and CSO Integration Team, which is the publisher of the portal. The lawsuit seeks compensation for non-pecuniary damages in the amount of 2,000,000 dinars (17,017 Euros). This forms part of a series of SLAPP lawsuits filed by the Millennium team and related persons against the media and journalists in Serbia.
  • Marko Vidojković, a writer and one of the authors of a podcast broadcast on Nova S television, received death threats after he stated in one of the show’s episodes that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica in 1995. The television's parent company has initiated criminal proceedings and numerous domestic and international organisations have also issued statements. The Government's Working Group for the Safety of Journalists condemned the threats against the journalist. According to them, during the meeting of the Working Group, the Deputy Public Prosecutor Branko Stamenković informed the attendees of the details of the case and the steps taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office. A few days after the threats were sent, it was determined through IP checks that the threats were sent from Austria. As a result, Interpol will be included in the investigation of this case.
  • Civic activist Zoran Čičak was brought in for questioning by police for a satirical tweet that described the current situation regarding the local elections in Novi Sad.
  • The director of the Institute for European Affairs, Naim Leo Beširi, was attacked by unknown authors who, through the Facebook page "Ustanak.rs", accused him of being an "Albanian lobbyist", alluding to his last name. This sparked a series of insults and threats which were directed at Beširi in the days after the publication of the post.