For two days in a row, the front pages of Informer
have showcased Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj’s
allegations that three female civil rights activists have been
conducting espionage on behalf of Croatia and other countries’
foreign intelligence services.
On Tuesday, hardline nationalist Seselj claimed
that Sonja Biserko, the head of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
in Serbia, Natasa Kandic, the founder of the Humanitarian Law Centre
NGO, and Jelena Milic, the director of the Belgrade Centre for
Euro-Atlantic Studies were “the biggest spies” in Serbia.
“Natasa Kandic collects files and confidential
data which she delivers to the Croats, on the basis of which they
are creating their war crime charges,” Seselj told Informer.
“Milic and Biserko are in charge of subversive
activities such as the presenting and spreading of false news and
unsettling the public. They are getting serious money from the West,
from NATO,” he said.
On Wednesday, under the front-page headline “Total
War”, Informer quoted Kandic saying that she has been collecting
evidence about war crimes in the former Yugoslavia for years.
But it also quoted Seselj again, this time
describing Kandic as “ugly” and “sick”.
Biserko told BIRN that the activists have become
the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to accusations of treason,
claiming that the government is using the tabloids as propaganda
mouthpieces in an attempt to cover up its own failings.
“These papers are close to the prime minister, and
these words were said by a person who was tried for hate speech
[Seselj],” Biserko said, also arguing that former Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic used Seselj as a tool to attack his enemies in
the same way.
Nationalist media in Serbia have often accused
Kandic, Biserko and Milic of being “traitors” and “foreign
On August 16, Informer published a five-page list
of NGOs funded by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations from 2011
until 2014, with a front page headline claiming: “Soros paid
391,940,146 dinars [3.2 million euros] for chaos in Serbia.”
Milic was named on Informer’s list of what it
called “Soros’s mercenaries”, after which she was subjected to a
series of threats, including death threats.
Pro-government tabloids have published a series of
articles this summer claiming that Washington and US-based
organisations have been deliberately raising tensions in Serbia in
an attempt to destabilise the country and alienate Belgrade from
There have also been inflammatory articles about
potential threats from Croatia as the relationship between Belgrade
and Zagreb has soured.
On August 30, Informer published a front page
headline alleging that “Croatia is preparing Storm 2” - a reference
to the Croatian Army’s Operation Storm in 1995, which caused a mass
exodus of tens of thousands of Serbs from the country.