Serbs mourn 'death of independent media' and call for solidarity from press freedom community

by Jane Whyatt

Marking the closure of the independent newspaper Vranjske novine, twenty eight Serbian campaign groups are making 28th September a day of “official mourning“ with a temporary media blackout.

Serbian media in blackout protest The message says "This is how it looks when there are no media"

The newspaper had been investigated for tax reasons by the government, and closed “due to unbearable economic and political pressure“, according to the Slavko Curavija Foundation. The editor-in-chief and owner of Vranjske, Vukasin Obradovic, started a hunger strike in protest. He is a former leader of the NUNS Serbian journalists’ trade union and in 2009 won the OSCE Media Personality of the Year Award.

 Journalists’ trades unions and media freedom campaigns have joined in condemning the closure. They say it is just one of a number of recent events that add to an atmosphere of intimidation against independent journalism.

 “This worrying news occurred along with other alarming events targeting in particular some investigative journalists. The Serbian government should make it clear that laws are being implemented consistently and all media and journalists treated equally. We call on the Serbian officials to condemn publicly the recent threats to media freedom and the attacks against the journalists’ integrity”, said ECPMF Board Member Mogens Blicher Bjerregard who is the president of the European Federation of Journalists.

A notice is appearing in black in Serbian newspapers and on supporters’ websites. It says “ this is how it looks when there are no media outlets“ against the black background. 

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