Serbia: Demonstrators Attack Journalists in Belgrade

Starting with the night when Radovan Karadzic was arrested, nationalist group members and high-ranking officials of the Serbian Radical Party have been gathering in the streets of central Belgrade.

Obraz Fatherland Movement immediately issued a statement (SRP):

Belgrade, July 22, 2008

High Treason

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic is an act of high treason against the Serbian nationality and all that is sacred and true for our people. Celebration in the streets of the Muslim Sarajevo last night is the biggest proof in whose interest this treason has been committed. Every Serb knows who Radovan Karadzic is and what he symbolizes. If the enemies of the Serbian people, who have joined with their servants from Serbia, think that they have destroyed this myth, they are mistaken. Now it is absolutely clear that the struggle for survival of the Serbian nationality cannot be carried out from the comfortable armchairs of representatives, but rather exclusively with the help of heroism and eagerness to become martyrs. Obraz is ready! Every Serb is Radovan!

Obraz Fartherland Movement
Information service

Although there were police units nearby, on July 24 the protesters broke several store windows in Belgrade's downtown and brutally attacked journalists and cameramen of the “treacherous media,” such as B92. Demonstrators also shouted insults in front of president Boris Tadic's office.

On that occasion the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia sent an open letter (SRP) to Ivica Dacic, Minister of Internal Affairs:

Mr Dacic,

The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) most strongly condemns physical attacks on journalists, cameramen and photojournalists during the pro- Radovan Karadzic rally. Yesterday B92's cameraman and [FONET's] photoreporter were injured, however organizers have announced that street riots would continue. We are very worried about the escalation of violence and are asking you as Minister of Internal Affairs to provide public order and peace. We expect those who attacked journalists to be identified and punished. Hooligans target journalists again because they don't want to be caught on camera during their violence. Among demonstrators there were masked persons, which tells us about their bad intentions. Because of that, we are expecting a strong reaction from the authorities and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to prevent tragic consequences. We are shocked with the behavior of high-ranking officials of the Serbian Radical Party, especially some of their representatives, as well as members of the nationalist movement Obraz, who are issuing public calls to violence. Political discontent cannot justify violence. This is why organizers of the demonstrations who express their discontent illegally should be held responsible. […]

Expressing his own disappointment caused by the numerous attacks and unsolved murders of journalists in Serbia, as well as the newest “reaction” by the police, blogger Goran Miletic wrote this among other things:

[…] Let's see the truth. It is simple – there is no will. It is not important for [Bosko Brankovic], [Dejan Anastasijevic] or someone else whether this will is political or of some other kind. It is important that because of the absence of will there are no results of investigations. It is impossible that (among 300-500 thugs) the police cannot identify a boy who attacked Bosko Brankovic, or who planted explosives at the window of Dejan Anastasijevic's house, or who […] killed [Slavko Curuvija] and other journalists during the 90s.[…]

Police chief Milorad Veljovic visited injured B92 cameraman Boško Branković, who sustained serious leg injuries. According to B92, Veljovic said that his men had orders to protect journalists during yesterday's demonstrations. He also said that an inquiry would be conducted to find out why journalists failed to receive the necessary protection. He added:

This unseemly act has given the police a further important task, and that is to hunt down the perpetrators of this incident.

The police chief also conveyed to Branković the Interior Minister Ivica Dačić's wishes for a speedy recovery, adding that an intensive hunt was under way for the perpetrators, that they would be identified in the coming days, and that their names would be made public. He underlined that one of the police's priorities in the future would be protection of journalists.

According to this statement, Goran Miletic considers that nothing has changed in the functioning of the government in Serbia after the arrest of Radovan Karadzic. He mocked Veljovic's words:

Therefore, my dear citizens, the attack on journalists was not a crime, was not a serious attack (reading the web sites of organizers, I would say that they made an attempt at journalists’ lives). No, even not a serious incident it was. For police chief, it was only an unpleasant incident.

Finally, in a postscript to his post, Miletic concluded ironically:

Since Serbian nationalists strongly desire to set B92's building on fire, I have just imagined the policemen with riot gear who arrest several demonstrators, while the majority of them do what they decided. Probably, the police chief, [Democratic Party] and some media would say that it was only an unpleasant incident.

Here are some of the many comments to this post:

Spiridon writes:

First of all, the blockhead in orange shorts who kicked the journalist should be arrested. This stupid boy was caught on camera. What else do the police need? His DNA sample?

JJ Beba writes:

[…] In the past 15 years, there have been murders of journalists, attacks on them and destruction of their equipment. So far, no one has been sentenced. If only just one attacker had been punished, things would have been a little different…

Miladics comments:

The police has (not) done its work again, like in February [author's note: there were protests against Kosovo independence in Belgrade then]. Why? This is a question to the relevant minister. Although I don't like extreme solutions, starting yesterday, I now think they should ban all nationalist organizations, including the Serbian Radical Party. […]

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