Three Freedoms Under the Magnifying Glass: October 6 – October 19, 2023

Belgrade, October 19, 2023

Violations of basic freedoms in Serbia

October 6 – October 19, 2023

The past two weeks have been marked by numerous cases of violations of the three freedoms: expression, assembly and association.

Violation of freedom of expression is most obvious in the examples of targeting the media and journalists. Lawyer Zvezdan Knežević threatened to set fire to the building of the editorial office of the Regional Information Agency JUGpress and journalist Ivan Spirič because of an interview published on their portal. Former State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who is on trial for abuse of office, Dijana Hrkalović directed insults and accusations against the Crime and Corruption Research Network (KRIK) and their editor Stevan Dojčinović. On platform X, Hrkalović, in reaction to KRIK’s article about the connections of gendarme Nenad Vučković Vučko with criminal groups, accused KRIK of being “part of a criminal gang” and “serving the political goals of the CIA, for which they are paid”.

Freedom of expression was also questioned by the censorship of a documentary film by Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov. The Cultural Center in Lazarevac decided to withdraw the film “20 days in Mariupol” from its repertoire, just one day after the Serbian Radical Party published a statement on its website calling on the leadership of the city municipality of Lazarevac and the Cultural Center to cancel the promotion of Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov appeals to the competent authorities not to allow the promotion of this film anywhere in Serbia”.

For the ninth time this year, the “Black ram” cafe in Novi Sad, which is a frequent target of attacks by members of neo-fascist groups, was vandalized. Masked men physically attacked and insulted activists who gathered at the invitation of the “Roof over your head” group to prevent the forced eviction of an elderly fellow citizen in Belgrade.

You can find more details about these cases in the full report below.