Srbin Info Media
Media and personal freedom in Serbia have hit a new low over the last several days.
On February 15, a large citizens’ protest rally took place in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, around the statue of Czar Nicholas II. The assembled citizens were protesting against the ultimatum recently presented to the Serbian government by France and Germany to officially recognize and legally accept the secession of the NATO occupied southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija. They were using their constitutional right to voice their views and were urging the government to reject the ultimatum. The Serbian public believes that the ultimatum was conceived and written by the Biden Administration and that Britain and France were merely used as delivery boys.
A collateral issue is Serbia joining anti-Russia sanctions, which Western government have been pressuring and cajoling its government to do since the start of the Special Military Operation in the Ukraine a year ago. The Serbian government has been delaying compliance with these demands, but there are increasing signs that it is preparing to give in to US and EU pressure in the near future. On both issues, opinion polls show that the Serbian public are opposed to both recognizing Kosovo and joining anti-Russia sanctions by overwhelming majorities of between 85 to 90%.
The February 15 protest was covered by our media service, Srbin Info. Our editor, Dejan Petar Zlatanović also spoke at the rally to express his personal opposition to both the Kosovo ultimatum and the plan to introduce sanctions against Russia. In his remarks he stated that “whoever signs off on giving up Kosovo is a dead man.” The police, which monitored the rally, interpreted his remarks as a direct threat to assassinate Serbia’s President Alexander Vučić and promptly arrested Zlatanović. The violent arrest of our editor, who is 60 and also happens to be a person with a congenital disability, has been filmed and posted on Twitter. Take a listen to his screams as the regime police are taking him away:
Serbian law provides for detention of no more than 48 hours, unless the prosecutor’s office can satisfy a judge that the detained person constitutes a danger to society, in which case the court can order a longer detention. As the 48 hour period was expiring and the authorities were facing a legal obligation to release Mr. Zlatanović, the prosecutor charged him with planning to violently overthrow the “constitutional order” and requested that the court approve detention of at least 30 days, pending an investigation. Our editor Zlatanović announced that he would begin a hunger strike if the prosecutor’s extended detention request were granted.
Along with Zlatanović the police also arrested human rights activist Damnjan Knežević. During the arrest, Knežević was beaten so badly that he had to be transferred from prison to a hospital to receive medical treatment.
The Serbian regime has managed to deceive a part of the Western public with the narrative that it would never knuckle under to Western pressure to recognize NATO occupied Kosovo as an independent state separate from Serbia and would not impose sanctions on Russia. It was lying on both counts. Now that the farce is falling apart and under Western threats and blackmail it is preparing to do both, it is trying to silence all truth tellers, as evidenced by the repression of opposition media and illegal detention of our editor, Dejan Petar Zlatanović. We ask all who believe in freedom of expression to write to the office of Serbia’s President Alexander Vučić to demand the immediate release of Mr. Zlatanović and Mr. Knežević and the dropping of all charges for legal and non-threatening speech that is protected by Serbia’s constitution and the European Declarations on Human Rights.
Please direct your appeal to:
President of Serbia