The hooligans said - we are back again and we can do whatever we want

After a 13-year break, all the stands of the hall at the basketball game between Partizan and Buducnost chanted insultingly and threatened Brankica Stanković, journalist and editor-in-chief of TV Insider. In an interview for "Nova", she states that no one from the prosecutor's office or the police contacted her, and that the loud chanting of the spectators in the stands was not heard only by those who did not want to hear it. "It is interesting that many politicians, including the state leadership, have a higher degree of sensitivity when someone threatens them," she said.

Brankica Stankovic. Foto: Nebojsa Babic

Brankica Stanković for Nova states that only the Permanent Working Group for the Security of Journalists and the Prime Minister of Serbia reacted to the new threats.

“They have condemned the threats in a statement. Also, ANEM, NUNS, UNS and the Slavko Ćuruvija Fund issued a statement. The actual support that I have, as before, is from the people closest to me.  

How is it possible that the authorities did not hear about you being threatened again?

Only those who did not want to hear actually did not hear it. The chanting of the spectators in the blanchers, very loud, lasted about three minutes. It happened in a full sports hall, at an event that was broadcast on television. Everyone present heard, including the members of the Ministry of the Interior who were securing the match, but also the sports journalists who covered the event, as well as all those who watched the broadcast. After that, the video was published by Insider Television.

The only thing that Ostoja Mijailović, the president of BC Partizan, had to say on that occasion was that "there is no place for insults at sporting events" and that "we are witnesses that some actions from the past sometimes provoke a reaction that may not be appropriate". How do you comment such a statement?

It is clear to everyone that this is not an insult, but a threatening message aimed at intimidation. Someone did not send me a message in the Inbox that said "Brankica the whore", which would be an "insult". When such and other qualifications are chanted by the spectators on the stands led by hooligans, it is a threat and cannot be interpreted in any other way.

Why is the state, as well as the management of the clubs, still retreating before the hooligans?

Insider journalists have been asking that question for years and pointing out the problem that exists, but there is no reply. This tells us that the state gave up that fight despite the fact that everyone swore that the state was stronger than hooligans. When those who lead the state and institutions wish to show their strength by applying the law, then they will do it. This is the only way to prove that no one is stronger than the system and the state, not even hooligans who are a threat to both the state and society. We are all witnesses to the fact that the stands are often a recruiting center for those who become members of organized criminal groups. Veljko Belivuk, together with his group, is now accused of several murders, and he inherited the position of leader in the Partizan stands after Aleksandar Stanković, who was killed in a mafia showdown.

As we know, Stanković was first a Zvezda (the Red Star) fan, then he became the leader of Partizan fans. Now we have entered a phase in which, after the arrest of Belivuk and the initiation of other trials, we have a situation in which criminal groups are fighting for supremacy. This is also transferred to the stands where we see convicted criminals again. Of course, as Insider journalists, we follow this continuously, but we hope that the state will do its job as well. The failure to respond to threats - unfortunately arouses suspicion.

The interesting thing is that many politicians, even the state leadership, have a higher degree of sensitivity when someone threatens them. They should know that security threats are threats, no matter who they concern.

Are hooligans encouraged to make riots and make threats? By what?

They are encouraged by the fact that for years there have been no timely or adequate reactions, and no legal sanctions.

Will you do something about the new threats?

What exactly can I do? To file a report and wage a personal war and litigation? It did not even cross my mind. Nothing is personal here, this is a problem of the state to which we have been pointing out for years. Insider has been around for 18 years, and we have been intensively dealing with that topic for 13 years. The solution to the problem is up to the competent authorities.

After 13 years, you have found yourself practically in the same situation. How do you explain that?

The fact that hooligans chose the same scan content as 13 years ago is a clear message - "We are back again and we can do whatever we want." No one is naive to think that because they chant and scan "B92 police show", they do not know that the B92 no longer exists, that the TV show is no longer broadcasted, that is broadcasted on B92 but now is Insider television. Just because they know all this, it is clear that they wanted to say that they are indestructible and, despite the prison sentences to which they have been convicted, they have occupied the stands again. These are the same people about whom we have worked on the series (Ne)moć države(Im)potent state in 2009. Let us not be fooled here, everything is clear to everyone, everyone is silent but silence is the reply.

Are you intimidated for your safety?

I could be the one to ask you if you are intimidated. But not even your nor my reply to that question in this case is not important. The ones who should be concerned regarding the incidents that happened should be the institutions of the system and all those who contribute to the atmosphere of lynch, the ones who do not react and who create a situation where it is just a matter of days when something will happen to someone.


“There is no journalistic solidarity”

From various European organizations, they still warn that freedom of media and security of journalists are endangered in Serbia. What is your opinion?  

For me this also is pure hypocrisy. One can talk about endangerment of freedom of media, only when there is freedom. Unfortunately, the real freedom of media has never existed. A variety of media owners, numerous editors, also contribute to this due to the fact that they often retreat to precipitate those who are in power. On the other hand, there are those who work primarily in their own interest, not in the public interest. For such a situation, the manufacture of media that provides insufficient number of quality journalists is wrong, but what is much more detrimental is that there is no journalistic solidarity. It is not there even when it comes to the defense of the profession, and even when journalists are endangered.

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