Berlin, March 29, 2022 — Serbian authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate threats made to journalist Miljko Stojanovic and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On March 8, Stojanovic, a reporter for the Serbian daily Danas based in the eastern town of Zaječar, published an article profiling a Ukrainian refugee who had fled to Serbia.
He subsequently received dozens of threatening messages to his Facebook page by people who wrote supportively of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and insulted Stojanovic and the refugee, the journalist told CPJ in an email. Some of the messages, which CPJ reviewed, threatened physical violence, including to “disfigure” him. Stojanovic said they seemed to be sent from a mix of real and fake Facebook accounts.
On March 14, police detained one person who allegedly sent some of the threatening messages, according to the Stojanovic and Safe Journalists, a regional news outlet that tracks violence against the press. Police have not disclosed any charges against the suspect, but have issued a restraining order barring them from contact with Stojanovic, according to news reports and the journalist.
“It is a welcome sign that Serbian law enforcement responded quickly to the threats made to journalist Miljko Stojanovic and identified a suspected perpetrator. Authorities must take such threats seriously, and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Threatening a journalist because of his coverage is completely unacceptable, and Serbian authorities must ensure the safety of Stojanovic and his family.”
Stojanovic regularly shares reporting and commentary on his personal Facebook account, where he has about 250 followers. He told CPJ that he has lived “in fear” over the threats, and was prescribed medication for stress.
“I feel I now need protection not only for me, but also for my wife and her brother – who are both from Ukraine and we all live together,” he said. “I am afraid somebody might bring them to danger.”
CPJ emailed the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the police, but did not receive any reply.