Vienna, 4 December 2016 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) called on authorities in Serbia to react, following several days of media workers experiencing extreme levels of discrimination, oppression and censorship.
Blic daily correspondent Gvozden Zdravic was prohibited from accessing the building of the City Assembly in the town of Aleksandrovac on 29 November. The decision handed to him was signed by the Assembly president and claimed that Zdravic had allegedly not applied for attendance at that day’s plenary session, despite the journalist claiming otherwise. It was revealed following this event that the correspondent has not been able to attend sessions for almost three years now, despite regularly applying for them.
On 30 November, Miroslav Cuckovic, the Assembly president for the city of Obrenovac published a tweet on his personal account, saying that journalist of the investigative website Istinomer Jelena Prodanovic is a “voyeur and psychopath” who carries a “secret camera” in her purse and “provokes” during assembly meetings. Following this incident, Prodanovic said that this was not the first time Cuckovic had spoken about her and Istinomer in this derogatory manner, and that he used similar accusations during previous two encounters when she was in attendance at a plenary session.
On 3 December, journalists from media outlets B92, N1, Prva and Insajder were not allowed on the premises of the Russian House in Belgrade where an event with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Serbian Foreign Ministry Ivica Dacic was taking place. When asked why journalists from these outlets could not attend, the press attaché stated that the “capacities of the plae were limited”, and that only journalists who have previously reported on the topic of mention could be allowed in.
SEEMO reminds institutions and political figures in Serbia that discrimination against journalists is highly dangerous for the already problematic media scene in the country. Journalists and media workers must all be treated equally, regardless of their outlet and position.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.