Journalists and editors of Novosti and Vida TV, the Croatian media of the Serbian national minority in Croatia, have been the target of an incitement campaign for more than a month.
In April 2023, the newspaper Hrvatski tjednik published an article signed by Ivica Marijacic in which it was written “Croatia pays almost 80 instigators in two of Pupovc’s media nests for a special war against Croatia”. In the text, the names of all journalists and editors of Novosti and Vida TV weekly were published. This extremely dangerous text was preceded by a cover: “Plenković is paying 600,000 euros for this! 80 of Pupovec’s media Chetniks from the two nests of Novosti and Vida TV are paid by Plenkovic with our money for the special war against Croatia”.
The attacks continued in the Parliament. At the last few parliamentary sessions, shameful, dangerous and unacceptable statements were made by parliamentarians such as Zeljko Sacic (Croatian sovereignists), who accused Novosti of spreading anti-Croatian propaganda, and Croatian Serbs of inciting terrorism and the spread of Chetnikism. Sačić was supported by MP Nikola Grmoja (Most), claiming that Novosti does not deal with issues that are of interest to the Serbian national minority, while presenting the dangerous thesis that they should only deal with those issues. The leader of the parliamentary session did not react to these statements.
Even after this, the campaign against the mentioned media and their editors and journalists did not stop, but intensified. Parliamentary representative Ruzica Vukovac (For a just Croatia) continued her attack on Novosti and called on the Minister of the Interior to initiate, based on the amendments to the Law on Misdemeanors, proceedings against the editor-in-chief of Novosti, Andreja Radak, for, as she said, inciting intolerance. The President of the Croatian Parliament, Gordan Jandrokovic (HDZ), reacted to such an extremely dangerous accusation, asserting that it is unacceptable to call for persecution because of what some newspapers write.
The campaign of incitement did not stop even after this, so MP Marijan Pavlicek (Sovereignists) stated that Novosti is spitting on the foundations of the state and that it is financed by the HDZ Government. Then representative Miro Bulj (Most) said that by financing Novosti, the government is “throwing money at people who hate Croatia”. Also, representative Danijel Spajic (Domovinski pokret) asked to start the procedure to return the funds that Novosti receives from the Council for National Minorities. In his show “Bujica”, Velimir Bujanec also spread hatred towards Novosti from show to show.
Hrvoje Zovko, president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), said “The rhetoric that has moved from an obscure weekly to the parliamentary benches is extremely dangerous and represents a target for journalists and their editors. I’m interested in who will take responsibility if something happens to journalists and all employees at Novosti and TV Vida?”.
Goran Borkovic, editor of the Novosti portal, said that the weekly Novosti, a newspaper published by the Serbian National Council, has been exposed to systematic harassment and media lynching from the right side of the political spectrum for more than a month. “On the one hand, obscure but widely read media in Croatia, such as the Hrvatski tjednik, publish on their pages the names of journalists and contributors to Novosti with the qualification that they are “Great Serbs”, “Chetniks” and “Yugoslavs”, thus putting them directly on target, and with on the other side of the parliament, a dozen representatives of radical right-wing parties persistently repeat their claims with the addition that Novosti should be shut down”. “The question is when – not if – such an atmosphere will lead to physical attacks on our journalists”, said Brkovic.
This is not the first attack on the media of the Serbian national minority, but it is perhaps the most dangerous so far, as it includes a direct attack on the media by members of Parliament. Also, this is not the first time that Hrvatski tjednik and Velimir Bujanec run a dangerous campaign in such a heinous way.
The SafeJournalists network, which represents more than 8.200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member CJA in condemning this dangerous campaign. We call on institutions in Croatia to stand up for the protection of journalists and editors of Novosti and Vida TV, and officials to publicly condemn this kind of behavior that threatens not only journalists and editors, but also the entire national community in Croatia.
SafeJournalists Network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Tirana, 25.05.2023
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