European Western Balkans

Fake bomb threats in Serbia, authorities link it to sanctions on Russia

Belgrade; Photo: Pixabay

BELGRADE – A large number of bomb threats arrived at various addresses in Serbia on Monday, disrupting everyday life. More than 100 schools in Belgrade received an email warning them of a bomb at their premises. Later during the day, emails about the bombs set at Belgrade bridges and various public institutions, as well as shopping malls, were received as well. None of the threats turned out to be real. The authorities have interpreted the threats as a form of pressure on Serbia to join the sanctions on Russia.

According to the Government, the emails were sent from several European countries. Meanwhile, the daily Danas reported that more than 100 elementary schools received threatening emails early on Monday from an address “sb1465Žyandex.ru”, a Russian provider. Bojan Perkov, an expert from Share Foundation, told Danas that it is possible that the address is fake, but that this is not likely.

The classes were suspended until the police confirmed that there were no bombs in schools.

Later on Monday, additional bomb threats arrived, claiming that the explosives had been set on Belgrade bridges, Beograđanka building, the biggest shopping malls, the locations such as the Belgrade Zoo, the main bus station, as well as the airport in the city of Niš. The email addresses for these threats have not been revealed.

Blic daily also reported that all the threats had been sent from a foreign email server, though it did not specify which one.

“According to our source, it is a form of pressure on Serbia for not imposing sanctions on Russia”, Blic article reads.

In the meantime, the authorities have offered the same interpretation.

“It is a form of pressure for not imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation, coming from abroad. It is not naive at all, it is not accidental, it is something that has been well prepared and carefully planned”, said Prime Minister Ana Brnabić during her appearance on the pro-government Pink television on Tuesday.

She added that it is a form of hybrid warfare aimed at the psychology of the people and the safety of the children. It is also a financial pressure, due to the costs incurred.

Brnabić also said that not imposing sanctions on Russia is expensive, because it prevents Serbia from entering the capital markets, and there are also investors who regularly ask why sanctions are not imposed.

Yesterday, the Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin stated that the aim of the attacks is for Serbia to stop pursuing an independent foreign policy.

Vulin described the bomb threats are a form of “a special war is being waged against Serbia” and that “threats are coming from various addresses from several European countries to institutions, newspapers, and companies”, FoNet news agency reported.

“Attacks on our country have not been initiated or carried out by any individual, they are mass, organized, and very expensive hacker attacks, led from various centers for hybrid warfare,” Vulin said in a written statement.

According to Vulin, the reports are aiming at “causing unrest, spreading panic and causing damage to the Serbian economy”, and “the essential goal of all attacks” is for Serbia to stop pursuing “independent policy and make decisions under pressure”.

This is not the first time that fake bomb threats have been used in Serbia since the war in Ukraine began, but it was by far the most widespread action. Previously, numerous Air Serbia flights from Belgrade to Moscow were forced to land due to fake bomb alerts.

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