The President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik verbally attacked N1 television journalist Snezana Mitrovic at a press conference on Thursday, and later that day he called the same journalist on the phone, insulting and cursing her.
After Snezana Mitrovic asked Milorad Dodik why people from the “criminal milieu” who were arrested a few days ago due to their involvement in drug trafficking in the police operation “Code” are close to him, Dodik once again accused N1 television of being “part of the policy that destroys Republika Srpska”, that they “lie and cheat”, and that they have an “anti-Serbian narrative”. Although he repeated that his accusations did not directly refer to the N1 journalist Snezana Mitrovic, Dodik took the microphone from the journalist’s hands in a completely unacceptable manner, commenting that he was doing it so that “the N1 journalist would not feel bad”. Dodik also asked the team of N1 television: “Do you think we don’t have a service that follows what you are doing?”.
After the conference, Milorad Dodik called the journalist Snezana Mitrovic on the phone, yelled at her, insulted and cursed her, as reported by this television. As Mitrovic herself says, although she thought that Dodik wanted to apologize for the performance earlier that day, cursing and uproar followed, as well as shouting because of the text published on the N1 website.
“BH journalists will take all legal and institutional measures to protect colleague Snezana MItrovic, which includes the possible filing a criminal report for harassment at the journalist’s workplace, as well as insulting and endangering safety through inappropriate verbal attacks during the press conference. Also, we will request an investigation by the police of Republika Srpska, as well as state security agencies after Milorad Dodik’s statement that he has services that monitor what the journalists of N1 are doing. It is a very dangerous statement, which must be investigated in detail and determined whether there is illegal interference not only by Mr. Dodik, but also by the police and security structures in the work of N1 TV and its employees”, says the general secretary of BH journalists, Borka Rudic. She notes that for more than 15 years, Milorad Dodik’s verbal and political violence against the media and journalists, especially female journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has continued with undiminished intensity, and not a single case has been investigated or prosecuted. “BH journalists, in agreement with the injured journalist Mitrovic, will consider all legal options for her protection and adequate sanctioning of the violent actions of the president of Republika Srpska”, concludes Rudic.
The delegation of the European Union in BH reacted to Dodik’s behavior, and the US Embassy in BH also condemned the verbal attack of the president of Republika Srpska and indicated that it was “another example of his campaign to silence and intimidate the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The SafeJournalists network, which represents more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, has repeatedly reacted to the way in which Milorad Dodik communicates with journalists. This time too, the Network condemns Dodik’s behavior towards the journalist, appeals to all public office holders to refrain from targeting journalists and the media, and calls on Dodik to publicly apologize to the journalist. Also, the network provides support to its member BH Journalists Association in condemning this behavior and in its intentions to address the institutions regarding Dodik’s claim of “monitoring” the work of N1 and its journalists.
The SafeJournalists network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and the rights of all citizens.
Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 20.11.2023
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro