64 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 77,474 sq. km.
Head of state: Boric Tadic, since 2008 + Mirko Cvetkovic, since May 2008
Death threats, physical or verbal assaults, harassment and corruption are unfortunately still the daily lot of the press in Serbia. The independence of Kosovo and the arrest of nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic have exacerbated pan-Serbian nationalism which uses the press as an outlet for frustrations born out of a series of political and financial setbacks. The recent signing of a pre-membership accord to join the European Union has provided some hope for the people but joining the 27 EU member states remains dependent on institutional reform, including in the media sector.
Radio-television B92 is plagued by regular threats to its staff. A video was posted on youtube.com on 22 February 2008, using real footage from its TV news bulletin, showing a gun pointed at the B92 logo and the faces of the two presenters, along with a caption accusing it of being responsible for Serbia’s problems. The channel also received threats after it broadcast investigative reports on the country’s political difficulties, which forced President Boris Tadic to call early legislative elections.
Photographers, cameramen and journalists covering demonstrations against Kosovo’s independence in February 2008 suffered regular incidents of broken cameras, vandalised cars and physical assaults. The press was also targeted during solidarity demonstrations that followed the arrest of the ultranationalist Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Militant nationalists made several raids on the Beta News agency in September 2008 demanding publication of their press statements and taking photos of all the editorial staff. Police failed to intervene to protect the journalists on most occasions and some police officers even attacked Beta News photographer Milos Djorelijeski.
In a new and regular phenomenon since national independence, journalists have been the victims of reprisals for investigating the country’s criminal underworld and its growing influence in political and financial circles. The editor of the weekly Nedeljni Telegraf, Momcilo Djorgovic and his assistant Daniela Milinkovic received death threats in a letter in March 2008 signed the “red berets”, a former special unit of the interior ministry. The regional press is also getting more threats than ever. In November 2008, Vukasin Obradovic, owner and editor of the regional weekly Novine Vranjske, was put under police protection after receiving new death threats.