Serbia: Authorities must address threats to journalists

Serbia: Authorities must address threats to journalists - Protection

The host of the ‘Good, Bad, Evil’ podcast, Nenad Kulacin, has again been the target of threats. The last threat to the presenter was sent via social networks from an anonymous account. The SafeJournalists Network (SJN) and the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), as organisations dedicated to protecting media freedom and the rights of journalists, are concerned about the rising threats targeting the presenter, and note that the competent institutions in Serbia have not yet determined the identity of any perpetrator in the cases that have been reported since the beginning of the year.

We emphasise that threats to journalists and media workers in Serbia are an almost daily occurrence that endangers their safety. Accordingly, we call on the authorities in Serbia and the international community to condemn these threats, and the institutions in Serbia to protect journalists and sanction the perpetrators of such threats.

Nenad Kulacin reported eight threats to the prosecutor’s office this year, and to this day only one decision has been made to dismiss the criminal complaint, while the other cases are still before the prosecutor’s office. Some of the threats also referred to his colleague Marko Vidojkovic and Kulacin’s family members. For example, the last threat Nenad Kulacin received via social media came from the anonymous ‘Sacha Pariss’ account; the message insulted Kulacin and mentioned his hometown and his brother.

In October 2021, Kulacin’s mother was verbally attacked in Bor, with the perpetrator telling her: ‘Your son should be hanged.’

Prior to this, pro-government tabloids ran a campaign against Kulacin, in which he was characterised as a ‘leading ideologue of the opposition’, ‘Dragan Solak’s favourite editor’ and ‘Dragan Djilas’s poodle’, a reference to a powerful media owner. Unknown persons also put up posters that included Kulacin’s address in Belgrade.

Nenad Kulacin and Marko Vidojkovic, the hosts of the satirical podcast ‘Good, Bad, Evil’, have been receiving threats for years because of their work. In addition to anonymous threats, the outgoing mayor of Belgrade, Aleksandar Sapic, also threatened the presenters a few years ago. He said that he would ‘rip out the heart’ of Kulacin and Vidojkovic when he met them on the street, but Serbian institutions did not recognise these words as a threat and decided to dismiss the criminal charges.

As a result of the repeated threats, Vidojkovic was relocated from his home through a scheme provided by international organisations, although Kulacin refused to move.

Inaction by state institutions, tabloid smear campaigns and public threats by government officials create a hostile atmosphere in which attacks on those critical of the government are normalised and even encouraged, which has a serious chilling effect on free speech and independent reporting.

Due to all of the above, SafeJournalists Network and Media Freedom Rapid Response call on the authorities in Serbia and the international community to condemn these threats, and on institutions in Serbia to process all reports raised by journalists and to act urgently in such cases in accordance with the mandatory instructions of the Supreme Public prosecutor’s offices, and in this way send a message that they stand up for the protection of journalists and media workers, but above all, respect democratic values and international commitments, such as the protection of freedom of speech.

Signed by:

SafeJournalists Network

  • Association of Journalists of Kosovo
  • Association of Journalists of Macedonia
  • BH Journalists Association
  • Croatian Journalists’ Association
  • Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
  • Trade Union of Media of Montenegro

Media Freedom Rapid Response 

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • OBC Transeuropa
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)