The Coalition for Media Freedom strongly condemns the statements of the government representatives, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Serbian Progressive Party MP Nebojsa Bakarec, who in the Serbian Parliament directly accused the media operating within the United Media (UM) company of propagating hatred and violence and creating an atmosphere in society that leads to the tragedies.
Bakarec pointed out that the media operating within UM, especially television N1 and Nova S, are to blame for the “sick atmosphere in society that favors the occurrence of tragedies, such as those in Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school and those in Mladenovac and Smederevo”. He also stated that these media are targeting President Vucic and members of his family, as well as members of the Government and especially the Prime Minister.
After that, the Prime Minister accused the “tycoon media” of, as she stated, poisoning the nation, sowing hatred minute by minute, hour by hour.”
The Coalition believes that such statements in the most direct way threaten the safety of the journalists of these media companies and that such statements actually target the journalists of these media companies. It is especially dangerous that this kind of atmosphere towards journalists and the media is transferred to citizens, who, most often, also send threats, harass and insult journalists on social networks. An incident of this kind occurred yesterday when a participant of the Church led procession in Belgrade put three fingers on the forehead of journalist Jelena Kikic while she was reporting live for TV Nova.
According to the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) database of attacks and pressures on journalists in 2023, by mid-May, out of a total of 44 recorded pressures, 27 were done by public officials, and those by the highest officials, especially the Prime Minister, dominate.
The Coalition believes that in this difficult moment for our society, the state authorities should do everything to calm the tensions, and not further inflame them.
The Coalition for Media Freedom consists of the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation.