Unrelenting Threats and Smearing Campaign Against CEAS Director Ms. Jelena Milic

Dear Colleagues,

The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade, Serbia (CEAS) would like to bring to your attention the latest examples of threats and a smearing campaign against CEAS and in particular its director Ms. Jelena Milić brought by Vojislav Šešelj, convicted war criminal and Jugoslav Petrušić, a mercenary from the Milosevic era and currently on trial for assassination of two Kosovo Albanians in 1999, among other obscure things he has been involved in. Both of these characters are vehemently denying genocide in Srebrenica and relativizing Serbian armed forces’ crimes during the war in Kosovo.

Ms. Milić is recently under constant attacks by Vojislav Šešelj, the convicted war criminal, head of the Serbian Radical Party and member of the Serbian Parliament. Šešelj claimed, during a recent appearance at Happy TV, among others, that “Jelena contracted crabs in her contacts with NATO personnel”. Previously he said, speaking to Pink TV. that she was  “probably dying from syphilis based on the photos” he saw “on social media and elsewhere”. During the current Belgrade Book Fair (running from October 21 to 28, 2018) where Šešelj is signing and promoting his books, he stated that his  best-selling book at the moment is There Was No Genocide In Srebrenica and announced that he plans to publish a book titled NATO Crab Jelena Milić.[1] Vojislav Šešelj is massively represented in Serbian media, mostly in relation to his denial of the findings of the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and especially those related to the genocide in Srebrenica.

The same television channel, Happy TV recently hosted Jugoslav Petrušić, a controversial Serbian mercenary and a major of the Yugoslav Army during the war in Kosovo of 1999, currently on trial for the killing of two Albanians during this conflict. He was preset in Srebrenica at the time when the genocide was committed, under unclear circumstances, allegedly as a liaison officer for French intelligence structures. In his recent television appearance, Petrušić stated nasty allegations against Ms. Milić like those that “her findings represent a threat to the Republic of Serbia and to all of its relevant institutions”. He also highlighted her attitudes towards NATO and her work within CEAS in cooperation with NATO or related to the Alliance.  CEAS suspects that his attack has been triggered by CEAS’ and Milić’s constant reporting on the tainted war track record of the recently retired Serbian Army Chief of Staff, general Ljubiša Diković, and requests for his removal from office. Diković has recently been retired. Atrocities against Kosovo civilians committed in the area where units under Diković’s command where operating during the war in Kosovo in 1998-99 are documented by a prominent non-governmental organization, the Humanitarian Law Center in its Dossier Diković .[2] HLC also reported about Diković’s involvement in the events during the genocide in Srebrenica.[3]  We suspect that these things are connected since CEAS has never mentioned Jugoslav Petrušić or dealt with his activities. Over the past few years, Petrušić got involved in active denial of the genocide in Srebrenica, along with, among others, the controversial Swiss journalist Alexander Dorin,[4] who is also actively denying the genocide in Srebrenica. Bearing in mind these dire circumstances concerning Petrušić and Diković, CEAS considers that his statement that “Ms. Milić’s findings represent a threat to the Republic of Serbia and to all of its relevant institutions,” and his insisting on Ms. Milić’s links with NATO, should not go unnoticed and unaddressed. Petrušić is also quite present in Serbian media, though not as much as Šešelj. He uses these opportunities to spread the theory that “Srebrenica is the biggest conspiracy against Serbian people”.[5]  

Unfortunately, women’s rights organizations, NGOs,  progressive media outlets, outlets exposing  #FakeNews and #DisInfo, as well as state institutions in charge of protecting equality and human rights, media regulatory bodies, or judiciary structures, all failed to even comment on the latest sexist statements, smears and threats  against  Ms. Milić. The comments, allegations and threats, without a proper response by the presenting hosts, were made on a television show aired by Happy TV[6] and Pink TV, channels with national coverage, whose frequencies are public property.

The tide of smears and intimidation started after CEAS published its flagship report Eyes Wide Shut[7] about the increased Russian soft power in Serbia and Western Balkans region, which coincided with the campaign for Montenegro’s membership in NATO that CEAS supported. The threats to Ms. Milic’s life and the accompanying campaign have been going on, as CEAS already reported in its report entitled Vilify and amplify,[8] continuously for more than  three years, with obvious support from Serbian media that are both pro-government and pro-Kremlin, and without any institutional response despite numerous charges that CEAS and Jelena Milić have been filing against known perpetrators. CEAS previously debunked the links of pro-Kremlin structures and wrote extensively about these trends, as well as about compromised media characters in its reports: Vencislav The Virgin-From Fake CEAS Through pro-Kremlin Mercenaries in Ukraine and Accused of Attempted Terrorism in Montenegro to the Movement Do not Drown Belgrade - Hostile Operation by Vencislav Bujić, SEAS Foundation and Its Network of Collaborators [9]; Basic Instinct: The Case for More NATO in The Western Balkans[10]; West Side Story[11]; and Kosovo First[12].

Charges were brought, among others, against Nemanja Ristić, a person sought by Interpol on a warrant issued by the Government of Montenegro for his role in the 2016 attempted coup in that country. Ristić threatened Ms. Milić that she would be tried for grave offences (such as treason, heroin distribution), though not in regular court proceedings but under summary justice. These cases have been pending for several years to no avail, as judiciary institutions are not acting upon them. CEAS’ legal representatives consider that on several occasions, State judiciary, human rights and anti-discrimination institutions where obliged to act even without the charges filed by Ms. Milić and CEAS seeking legal protection. Cases against media do get processed, but when convicted (only one so far), sanctions are usually minor – financial – and do not serve the purpose of deterring such actions from happening again.

We note that Ms. Milić was offered police protection a few years ago, though inefficient one that put her in a position similar to home imprisonment. In a reaction to the police failing to respond to the calls of citizens who reported the illegal demolishing of their property in Belgrade’s neighborhood of Savamala in 2016, she declined further police protection. Savamala case is explicitly mentioned in the Resolution of the European Parliament of June 14, 2017 related to the Commission’s Report on Serbia for 2016. It was also referred in the call to Serbia’s authorities to respect the rule of law and address cases of excessive use of force by police against citizens. The investigation of the case of Savamala has not advanced from the preliminary phase.

The fact that CEAS is engaged in the most sensitive issues in Serbia, issues that cause Serbian media’s significant “post-production” in terms of attacks, smears, fallacies and bold threats in the comments – such as war crimes and their impunity, security, Serbia’s relationship with NATO, advocacy for Serbia’s full membership, debate on the reason for NATO’s bombing, the number of its victims, countering the fake narrative about the effects of the use of depleted uranium, the issue of Kosovo and the malign Russian influence – should not be an excuse for the lack of a genuine response.

According to our insights, the U.S. Department of State (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor) Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Serbia for 2016 is the only one referring to the case of threats against Jelena Milić and CEAS.

We would like to highlight that the systematic campaign to “vilify and amplify” – including severe threats to Ms. Milić’s life by known perpetrators with very compromised backgrounds, and by the army of internet trolls that happens each time Ms. Milić appears or is mentioned in certain  media outlets, as well as the “post-production” in certain printed media with heavy smearing – affects our day-to-day work, as its documenting is time-consuming and the legal fees are high and mostly not covered by our projects’ budgets. Last but not the least, it affects the reputation of our work and our ability to realize the projects as planned by the proposals, and to apply for future grants.

 

Thank you for your attention.

We are available for any further clarifications.

Sincerely,

CEAS team

 

[1] From the books for one hundred dinars to the "Pearls of Serbia" from 13,200. Republika. October 2018. Available at: https://www.republika.rs/vesti/drustvo/94915/lektire-sto-dinara-kapitalca-biseri-srbije

[2] File: Ljubisa Dikovic. Humanitarian Law Center. January 2012. Available at: http://www.hlc-rdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Ljubisa-Dikovic-File-and-Annex.pdf

[3] File: Ljubisa Dikovic. Humanitarian Law Center. January 2012. Page 20. Available at: http://www.hlc-rdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Ljubisa-Dikovic-File-and-Annex.pdf

[4] Exclusive confession by Alexander Dorin. Vesti online. October 2015. Available at: https://vesti-online.com/Vesti/Svet/527350/Ekskluzivna-ispovest-Aleksandera-Dorina-11-Enigma-Jugoslava-Petrusica

[5] Interview: Jugoslav Petrušić - Srebrenica is the biggest conspiracy against the Serbian people. Balkan Info. July 2016. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTXWn-NqnU

[6] Jugoslav Petrusic about Jelena Milic, her threats and connection with the terrorists. TV Happy. October 2010. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSmCkTzgFW8&t=4s

[7] Eyes Wide Shut – Strengthening of the Russian Soft Power in Serbia – goals, instruments and effects. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. July 2016. Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/en/ceas-publications/study-eyes-wide-shut

[8] Vilify and Amplify- From Serbian and Russian trolls factories to pro Serbian and Russian governments mainstream media - Defamation and intimidation campaign against CEAS and it’s director Jelena Milic. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies.December 2017.  Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/images/2016/vilify-and-amplify/CEAS_Vilify_and_Amplify.pdf

[9] Vencislav The Virgin-From fake CEAS through pro-Kremlin mercenaries in Ukraine and accused of attempted terrorism in Montenegro to the movement Do not drown Belgrade - hostile operation by Vencislav Bujić, SEAS Foundation and its network of collaborators. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. March 2018. Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/en/ceas-publications/6977-vencislav-the-virgin-from-fake-ceas-through-pro-kremlin-mercenaries-in-ukraine-and-accused-of-attempted-terrorism-in-montenegro-to-the-movement-do-not-drown-belgrade-hostile-operation-by-vencislav-bujic-seas-foundation-and-its-network-of-collaborators

[10] Basic Instinct: The Case for More NATO in the Western Balkans. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. September 2017. Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/images/publikacije/CEAS_Basic_Instict_WEB.pdf

[11] West Side Story. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. June 2018. Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/en/ceas-publications/west-side-story

[12] Kosovo First. Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. September 2018. Available at: https://www.ceas-serbia.org/images/publikacije/Kosovo_First_WEB.pdf

 

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