German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) has denied for European Western Balkans allegations by Serbia’s pro-government tabloids that it is involved in the ongoing anti-government protests. “DW does not represent any political opinion in Serbia and therefore takes a neutral stance on the post-election protests”, DW stated in a written response.
Protesters, including representatives of opposition parties and citizens, have been protesting for three days outside the headquarters of the Republic Electoral Commission, demanding the annulment of Belgrade elections and the organization of new ones. Another protest is scheduled for Thursday.
Citizens and opposition politicians claim that the victory of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in Belgrade resulted from electoral fraud. Numerous video recordings circulating on social media and in the media, providing evidence of various irregularities. Also, international observers assess that the ruling party had systemic advantages in Serbian elections.
Almost all pro-government tabloids had front-page articles discrediting the organizers of the protests, including the informal group “Students Against Violence,” composed of young people and students from the University of Belgrade.
Večernje novosti published an article titled “Berlin is Fueling Protests: German Fingers behind the Violence in Front of RIK”. This article was re-published by all pro-government media, including Belgrade’s oldest daily Politika.
The article states that the interest of Western services in elections in Serbia has not waned even after the closing of polling stations, and the Germans are particularly active in animating protests by the pro-Western opposition.
“According to information from Večernje novosti, it is their intelligence agents who, through their local connections, fuel the violence taking place in front of the Republic Electoral Commission headquarters, all under the pretext of alleged theft at the polling stations,” Novosti writes.
Citizens’ protests in front of the Republic Electoral Commission, in the familiar style of pro-Russian media, are compared to Maidan, adding that so far, attempts to “spark the seed of a new Maidan” have been futile, but the protests must be understood as “the last attempt to rearrange the political landscape in Belgrade through hybrid operations and propaganda warfare to bring to power an option that would implement the interests of Western power centers.”
To support the claim that Germany is behind the citizens’ protests, Večernje novosti cites the collaboration of Nikola Ristić, one of the prominent participants in the protests, with the German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW). As he himself stated, Ristić is the owner and director of the PR company “DP Media,” and as publicly stated on the company’s website, he collaborated on one of the projects with DW.
Regarding this, DW told European Western Balkans that the DW Academy supports young people in acquiring media competencies and learning to express themselves through the media so that they can be active members of society.
Almost no anti-government protest has been presented in pro-regime media without a similar narrative. The narratives are generally the same: someone from the West is trying to overthrow Serbia through protests.
In this regard, individuals and civil society organizations collaborating with Western non-governmental organizations are almost invariably targeted.
During massive anti-government protests over the opening of lithium mines, the Serbian government, together with media close to it, characterized the protest as a conspiracy by foreigners against Serbia.
At that time, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić accused Western governments and non-governmental organizations of organizing and financing roadblocks across the country. The embassies of those countries jointly denied the prime minister’s claims in a statement.