Several attacks on journalists during President Vucic’s inauguration

Inauguration of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic did not pass without incidents. His supporters attacked journalists from Insajder (Insider) Production, Vice, Radio Belgrade, and daily newspapers Today (Danas).

Screenshot from the scene

Insajder and Vice journalists were verbally attacked and insulted on Wednesday when they tried to photograph an incident in front of the Serbian Parliament, in which a group of unidentified men torn a banner of protesters against President Vucic.

The group then surrounded journalists and threatened them with physical violence if they continued their work.

“None of this can go public,” shouted one of members of the group to Insajder and Vice journalists.

During inauguration of the new Serbian President, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party organized the rally of support for the Serbian President and party leader Aleksandar Vucic. However, the protesters against President Vucic were removed from the rally or even prevented to come.
One of the protesters told Insajder journalist that “a group of large men” prevented them to even come near the Parliament were the rally was taking place. Other protesters also testified that civilians asked for their identification cards and prevented them to come in front of the Parliament.

When the journalists replied that they are doing their job and that they will seek the protection of police, another member of the group said: “the police will not help you.”

Members of the police, who were close to the scene, just stood and watched the incident.

After the journalists complained to the police and expressed concerns for their safety, an officer instructed members of the press to use different route to return in front of the Parliament where President Vucic was about to address the people.

Also, police asked the documents from protestors and journalists but not from the people who were threatening with violence.

Attack on a Today journalist

Journalist of Today Lidija Valtner was attacked in front of the Parliament while she was taking the statement from a protester against President Vucic.

“While I was talking with the protester, two big fellows in black T-shirts appeared and started draging him away from the Parliament.

He resisted and tried to shout that he was being strangled as they were holding him by the neck. When I tried to film the incident, an activist of the Serbian Progressive Party approached me and tried to take my mobile phone away,” told Valtner to Belgrade based Beta news agency.

Journalist unions, Independent Journalist Association of Serbia and Journalist Association of Serbia, condemned the attacks on journalists during the rally of support for President Vucic.
They also protested not only the police’s lack of will to protect members of the press but also the indications that members of the police were involved in the incidents.

She claims that both her and the protester were removed from the area in front of the Parliament and dragged to a park nearby where they were approached by a policeman in civilian clothes.

“I was freed then and the policeman asked the two men in black T-shirts what happened,” said Valtner and added that she did not know whether the men in black T-shirts were policemen, party activists or private security.

Valtner is not hurt but, as she said, she is distressed.

Later on, the editorial staff of Today stated that they have obtained the footage of people involved in the incident and that they are willing to give them to the police.

It was also stated by Today that if police identifies the bullies, they will raise criminal charges against the organizer of the ceremony in front of the Parliament – President Aleksandar Vucic.

Milivoje Pantovic

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