Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the violence by government supporters against journalists in central Belgrade yesterday as the police looked on without intervening. The journalists were there to cover the swearing-in of Serbia’s new president, Aleksandar Vucic.
The attacks occurred as opposition activists began clashing with the thousands of Vucic supporters who had gathered outside parliament for the ceremony.
Lidija Valtner, a reporter for the newspaper Danas, was filming an altercation between supporters of Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and a Vucic opponent when she was attacked by two activists.
One tried to grab her phone in order to prevent her from filming and, when she tried to defend herself, the two men seized hold of her and forcibly took her away to a neighbouring park.
In an interview with RSF, Valtner expressed dismay that two plainclothes police officers watched this attack without coming to her help.
Force was also used to prevent journalists with Vice, Radio Belgrade and the Cenzovska and Insajder websites from reporting or filming the demonstrations.
“We condemn the attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists by members of President Vucic’s SNS party,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “The use of such methods against the media is not worthy of a country that aspires to join the European Union.”
Serbia is ranked 66th of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by RSF.