Live Blog 09 Mar 17

LIVE: Serbia Presidential Elections 2017

Stay tuned for all the latest developments as Serbia goes to the polls to elect a new president on April 2.

BIRN Team
BIRN
Belgrade

April 3, 2017

The Serbian State Electoral Commission, RIK, published updated results of the presidential elections based on 91.23 per cent of total votes counted, but the results remain mostly the same with Aleksandar Vucic having won 55.1 per cent of the vote.

Sasa Jankovic is in second place with 16.27 per cent, followed by Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli with 9.44 per cent, Vuk Jeremic with 5.64 per cent and Vojislav Seselj with 4.47 per cent.
Other candidates are all below 1.5 per cent.

Voter turnout for Sunday’s election was 54.6 per cent, or 3.349.756 voters.

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April 1,2017

About 1,955 local and 126 foreign observers will be monitoring Serbian presidential elections scheduled for April 2.  Read more: Few Foreign Observers to Monitor Serbian Elections

March 31,2017

Rasa Nedeljkov from Serbian NGO, the Center for Transparency, Research and Accountability, CRTA, stated that the organisation has been receiving reports from both citizens and its own election observers, about alleged pressures on voters to support the ruling Serbian Progressive Party and abuse of public resources for its leader, Aleksandar Vucic’s campaign.

“Different cases are being reported … whether through lists of ‘safe votes’ or by asking public servants or even workers in private companies that cooperate with the state to support party rallies or give financial support to the party,” Nedeljkov told BIRN. Read more: Fraud Fears Grow Ahead of Serbian Election

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The Serbian presidential elections aren’t important because of the ceremonial role of the president, but because if Aleksandar Vucic does not win outright, the weak and fragmented opposition could stage a revival. Read more: Why Do Serbia’s Presidential Elections Mean So Much?

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The final number of voters in Serbian presidential elections will be 6.724.949, meaning there is about 15,000 voters less then in general elections last year.

The total number of polling stations will be 8,396, the Republic Electoral Commission stated.

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OSCE Mission in Kosovo announced it “will conduct a collection of votes operation, opening four collection centres with associated branches throughout Kosovo, with OSCE staff presence” for Serbian presidential elections on Sunday.

“The OSCE will be the custodian of the process in Kosovo, including safeguarding sensitive materials and integrity of the process. The procedures will be the same as in previous years.

“The OSCE has made arrangements for an appropriate geographic distribution of these centres and branches, which ensures a sufficient coverage of areas with eligible voters,” OSCE said.

The decision came on a request from Belgrade and the approval of the Kosovo government. The OSCE Mission’s field presence has made information available on the locations to be used for the operation.

After the polling stations are closed, the OSCE will transport the ballots to Serbian towns of Raska and Vranje where they will be handed to the Republican Election Commission.

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Serbian Twitter users have been mocking Thursday night’s TV appearance of Serbian Prime Minister and ruling Progressives presidential candidate, Aleksandar Vucic, sharing photos that reveal that two people in the studio audience also appeared in one of his promotional campaign videos.

The duo – a young man and a woman - were set behind Vucic’s back in the camera shot after a man who was initially in that spot fainted during the show.

Vucic, along with his parents, was a guest on private TV Happy, which has a national frequency.

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According to Ispos Strategic Marketing between 56.2 and 60.4 of electoral is expected to vote on Sunday’s presidential elections.

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Serbian voters in UK, Canada and US will vote for the next Serbian president on Saturday, April 1.

Results of votes from abroad will not be published until the polls are closed in Serbia.

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World famous model Adriana Lima, actor Steven Seagal and US basketball player Charles Jenkins – who plays for Belgrade’s Red Star (Crvena zvezda) club - are among the famous faces on a list made by Belgrade daily Blic of foreigners who are eligible to vote in the Serbian presidential election on Sunday.

DeMarcus Nelson, also a basketball player, Brasilian footballers Cleverson Gabriel Ccrdova, aka Cleo, and Evandro Goebel, as well as Russian judo star Aleksej Nefedov are also on the list.

Among those listed to have Serbian citizenship and who are expected to vote for certain are Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, and French humanitarian worker Arnaud Gouillon.

 

March 30,2017

Spoof character Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli that is running in Serbian presidential elections hold a last campaign rally before a pre-election period of 'silence' in his home town of Mladenovac.

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Instinomer reported that a woman that died in 1993 and that would be 117 if still alive - is still regularly receiving an invitation to vote.

Her grandson told Instinomer that the family was trying for years to delete her from the electoral list.

The ministry of public administration said the local self-government was responsible for the mistake. NGOs that monitor the elections said there are more cases like this ne and it was up to the ministry to control the work of self-governments.

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Civic initiative” Let’s not Drown Belgrade [“Ne davimo Beograd”] issued a statement on Thursday that letters bearing their signature that have been shared in some parts of Belgrade telling people not to vote in Sunday’s elections are fraudulent.

The initiative, which backed the candidacy of Sasa Jankovic, have instead urged voters to come to the polls on Sunday.

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A huge poster bearing just one word, "Victory", and the letters AV and the number six - symbols of Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic’s election campaign - appeared on the walls of Petrovaradin Fortress, near the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad on Thursday.

The fortress is well known among music lovers as the location of the annual Exit Festival, one of the biggest in Europe.

Photo: BIRN

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News agency Anadolu reported that while the leaders of Serbia’s Bosniaks in town of Novi Pazar, rasim Ljajic and Muamer Zukorlic, have pledged their support to the candidacy of Aleksndar Vucic, citizens interviewed by the agency said they would support former ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.

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Transparency Serbia, a local branch of international watchdog organisation, stated that the mayor of Serbian north town of Sombor was a “drastic example” of abuse of official state position to campaign purposes and a breach of Serbian Law on Anti-Corruption Agency.

Dusanka Golubovic, the mayor of Sombor, issued a statement urging people to vote for ruling Progressives’ candidate Aleksandar Vucic.

“That is a day when we, citizens of Sombor, should show a spirit of unity and give our support to a candidate that according to statistics has a biggest chance of winning – Aleksandar Vucic,” Golubovic wrote.

She added that if Vucic would win backed by the whole town, “Sombor would have a huge stake that would bind state officials” to repay the favour and help Sombor's development.

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About 56 per cent of the Serbian electoral will be heading to the polls this Sunday, while 43 per cent of people have opted to abstain from voting.

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In their final edition before Serbia goes into a pre-election 'silence', Serbian daily Blic published a front page interview with a 13 year old daughter od Serbian Prime Minister and the presidential candidate of the ruling Progressive, Aleksandar Vucic.

“It is hard for me when people are saying ugly things about daddy,” the girl said adding she does not get to see her father as much as she would want to.

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Irregularities have accompanied this election since it began in early March. They start from the fact that the majority of members of the state election commission, REC, belong to parties that back Vucic, which is not in line with the law.

They also include the REC’s unconstitutional decision that votes from Kosovo will be transferred to Serbia for counting.

Finally, there is the lack of effective monitoring. Serbia’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media, REM, has already announced it will not be monitoring the media coverage of the campaign despite being obliged by law to do so. Read more: Serbia’s Presidential Race Was Loaded From the Start

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Almost all major daily newspapers in Serbia, including Blic, Novosti, Politika and Kurir, were published on Thursday with an advert for ruling Progressives’ candidate Aleksandar Vucic on its front page.


March 29,2017

Spoof character Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli that is running at Serbian presidential elections, published a video on his Facebook page to present his presidential programme. Beli’s short video simply states that his programme would be Serbian constitution.

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Professors and employees of Belgrade University’s Faculty of Philosophy sent a press statement distancing the institution and themselves from the signature the faculty’s dean, Vojislav Jelic, on published lists of supporters of Aleksandar Vucic's campaign to become president.

The press statement, signed by 88 people, dismissed that Jelic has pledged his support to Vucic “in his capacity of a dean” adding that the “faculty is an institution with a long history” and integrity, “that has always fought for freedom of though and autonomy.”

“We emphasise that the support is a personal act of Professor Jelic and that in no way represents the opinions and attitudes of teachers, employees, nor the Faculty of Philosophy as an institution,” the statement reads.

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TV N1 reported that about 10,000 people gathered at Sasa Jankovic’s election rally at the centre of Belgrade.

Professor Srbijanka Turajlic, retired army general Sreto Malinovic, basketball coach Dusan Ivkovic, musician Vlado Georigijev and actors Nikola Kojo, Nikola Djuricko and Sergej Trifunovic addressed the audience urging them to vote for Jankovic.

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Vuk Jeremic’s team put up a banner in Novi Sad with the image of a mural symbolizing freedom that was repainted earlier in March.

The mural was suddenly painted over on March 16. The move sparked protests.

Photo: Beta

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Vuk Jeremic is holding an election rally on Serbian second city of Novi Sad, with thousands of supporters.

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Serbian presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic stated today that one of his supporters was beaten.

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Thousands of people gathered in central Belgrade at Sasa Jankovic’s election rally.

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The dominant feature of the presidential election campaign in Serbia is coverage of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is the presidential candidate for the ruling Serbian Progressive Party in the upcoming elections on April 2, Transparency Serbia said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Zlatko Minic from Transparency Serbia said that as Prime Minister, Vucic receives extensive media coverage, but that he also “got an imposing space in [media] blocks dedicated to pre-election activities, thanks to a number of grandiose promotional meetings with a large number of supporters who were brought to these meetings.”

“Vucic also got extensive coverage in the programmes of several national, regional and local private commercial TV stations," Minic said, Beta news agency reported.
He added that other candidates were barely visible, and some even invisible, to media.

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Representatives of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy, CeSID, announced on Wednesday that they will disclose the results of the upcoming presidential election on April 2 in real time as they arrive from the polling stations after voting closes on Sunday evening.

CeSID Executive Director Bojan Klacar said on Wednesday that the real-time results will not constitute an assessment of the final election results, and that the CeSID will announce the final projection when it receives enough data from a representative sample.

Klacar added that the key reason for displaying the results in real-time are transparency, modernisation of technology and a desire to be in step with time.

Bojan Klacar I Photo: Media Centre

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Serbian presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic said on Wednesday that he received a warning from a man from the national intelligence agency against him running in the election, scheduled for April 2.

“A member of [the] Security Information Agency, who privately knows me, said that breaking my arms and legs would be better for me than if I entered the second round [of the election],“ Jankovic said in an interview for Serbian portal Insajder.

Jankovic also claimed that institutions know of pressures being applied to Serbian citizens to vote for candidate of the ruling Progressive Party, current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Sasa Jankovic at a campaign rally. Photo: Beta/Milos Miskov

 

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Announcements endorsing Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s camapign for the Serbian presidency have included people who deny ever pledging support for the ruling party’s candidate. Read more: Serbian Public Figures Deny Backing Vucic Campaign

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Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate of the ruling Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic, announced on Tuesday that he would not attend a party rally in the town of Leposavic in Kosovo’s north during his visit to the region today, Beta news agency reported.

"They [the Pristina authorities] won't be telling me if I should come with [Minister of Labour Aleksandar] Vulin, [Interior Minister Nebojsa] Stefanovic or someone else. It's not happening," Vucic said, adding that he had decided not to go to Leposavic, because he didn't want to inconvenience the Kosovo Serbs.

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Serbia’s Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI), says it identified 11 cases in which Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic broke the law by using his position to promote his presidential campaign. Read moreVucic Abusing PM’s Post to Campaign, Watchdogs Say

March 28,2017

Batman, Darth Vader and Mad Max are among the 651 imaginary characters to have signed a spoof letter of support for Serbian presidential candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli which is being shared by Serbian Twitter users.

Jeff Lebowski, John Rambo, Super Mario, Luke Skywalker, Atomic Ant, Optimus Prime, Peter Pan and many others also gave their support to Beli.

The letter for the spoof politician was published in mockery of another letter or support for Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic, the presidential candidate of the ruling coalition, signed by 650 intellectuals, mostly professors.

Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli

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Presidential candidates have traversed Serbia in recent weeks as part of their election campaigns, mustering as much support as possible ahead of the elections.

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Pensioners dissatisfied with annuity cuts are currently staging a protest in Belgrade, asking Serbian authorities to return pensions to their pre-reduction levels.

Among the protest, banners reading "Robbery of pensioners is not reform," "Abolish the unconstitutional law", "We want to live, not only to survive" and "Vucic deceives pensioners, that how he keeps his word" can be seen.

The pensioners are also claiming that the elections are being financed with the money that has been cut from their annuity.

The protest was organised by the Association of Unions of Pensioners of Serbia and the Association of Unions of Serbia retired military personnel.

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At least 17 foreign organisations will monitor Serbia’s presidential elections, but with the OSCE only sending a limited mission, domestic NGOs will carry the greater burden of reporting irregularities. Read more: Few Foreign Observers to Monitor Serbian Elections

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is expected to travel to northern Kosovo on Wednesday, where he will visit the Trepca mining complex and meet workers and citizens, before holding an election rally in the town of Leposavic.

Local Serbs expect to be granted the possibility of vote, but they also harbour fears of electoral fraud. Read more: Serbian PM Mulls Kosovo Visit amid Election Uncertainty

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After Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Serbian tabloids are awash with headlines promoting the close ties between the two leaders.

"Serbia and Russia together make new howitzer", "Putin's open support to Vucic", "Putin, (you are) the king. (Putin) wants powerful Serbia", "Putin: all for Serbia", are among the titles.

During their meeting, in which they discussed economic relations and defence cooperation, Putin also wished Vucic, who is the presidential candidate of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, good luck in the April 2 elections.

Front page of today's pro-government tabloid Informer

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NGO Centre for Electronic Media and Communications, CEM, that is monitoring presidential campaign in the media published a report showing “absolute dominance” of Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister and ruling Progressives’ presidential candidate, on all national TV stations between March 2 and 22.

In a report, CEM said that whether media gave Vucic lead over other candidates is out of question, but the only issue is who gave him bigger advantage.

CEM analyised central news programmes of five Serbian national TV stations – public broadcaster RTS, B92, Prva, Happy and Pink.

SERBIAN PUBLIC BROADCASTER RTS, CENTRAL NEWS PROGRAMME
B92, CENTRAL NEWS PROGRAMME
PINK, CENTRAL NEWS PROGRAMME
PRVA, CENTRAL NEWS PROGRAMME
HAPPY, CENTRAL NEWS PROGRAMME


March 27,2017

The security company Intersec from Novi Sad is mounting a 24-hour guard over a prominent poster of Serbian Progressive Party leader and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic in the northern city of Novi Sad until polling day on April 2. Read more: Serbian Private Security Company Protects Vucic Posters

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, when the Russian President wished him every success in the April 2 presidential election, which he is tipped to win. Read more: Putin Wishes Vucic Luck in Serbian Election 

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The Kremlin has no intention to interfere in the upcoming elections in Serbia, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, Russian Tass agency reported.

The Kremlin spokesman thus commented on a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic scheduled for March 27.

Vucic is paying a visit to Russia a week before the Serbian presidential elections on April 2. The Serbian premier is the main contender for the post of the head of the Serbian state.

"No doubt, there can be no talk that the Kremlin interfered in any electoral processes," Peskov told journalists.

"Russia and Serbia have a special nature of mutual relations and it determines a high pace of maintaining a political dialog at the highest level," he said.

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After the yellow duck, which has become a symbol of the protests against the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project in the Serbian capital, also appeared at anti-Kremlin protests in Russia on Sunday, Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic stated that both of the protest movements “comes from the same place”.

Vucic, who is meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin today, told Serbian media on Sunday that for him it is interesting that the same symbol is used in protests around the world, but added that it is hard for him to believe that “different people came up with the same symbol in Belgrade, Brazil and Moscow”.

Anti-corruption protests were held in several Russian cities on Sunday organised by the leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny, who was, together with several hundred people, arrested by the Russian police on the day.

Photo: Twitter

 

March 26, 2017

Serbian public broadcaster RTS reported that 650 intellectuals, artists and athletes signed a letter supporting the candidacy of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

“Because we want to be independent and sovereign country. Because we want a decent life for everyone. Because we are ready to bear the burden of any reform that guarantees economic progress, jobs and the future of us and our children,” writes the letter.

The dean of Belgrade’s Faculty of Law, Sima Avramovic, the dean of the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi sad Rade Doroslovacki, former football player Dragan Dzajic, race car driver Dusan Borkovic, basketball player Nikola Pekovic and Boban Marjanovic and football player Branislav Ivanovic are some of the signatories.

The list also includes ballet dancer Konstantin Kostjukov, fashion designers Zvonko Markovic and Sasa Vidic, actors Svetislav Goncia and Lazar Ristovski , opera singer Jadranka Jovanovic, director Jug Radivojevic and singers Merima Njegomir and Svetlana Raznatovic aka Ceca.

Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP

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Serbian Regulatory Body for Electronic Media, REM, announced that presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic violeted the Law on Advertising as one of his promotional videos contains the photographs and videos of Serbian Prime Minister and rival presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic, which could have been published only with Vucic’s consent.

March 25, 2017

After local Belgrade activists Filip Vuksa posted that 43 city’s public transportation buses have been used to drive Progressives’ supporters to Aleksandar Vucic presidential election rally in Serbian capital on Friday, city confirmed the buses were “rented” to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.

"City of Belgrade is renting busses to all those who are willing to pay, when we have enough buses for rent,” Goran Vesic, city manager appointed by Progressives, told TV N1.

Vesic rebuffed claims that public transportation in Belgrade has suffered as “malicious insinuations”.

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TV N1 reported that a database containing personal data of more then 400,000 citizens, as well as remarks that show a political party has used database for campaign purposes, has been published on a publicly available server.

The database is divided into 222 sheets sorted by cities and villages across Serbia with neatly sorted data revealing citizens’ names, ID numbers, numbers of personal ID cards, addresses and home and mobile telephone numbers.

Next to some names the creator left remarks such as: “Voted for DS [Democratic Party] until now. He would not any more. Invalid. Children 20 and 22 years. Unemployed, wife work in a restaurant for 11,000 [dinars]. He is invalid from Bosnia.”

“Big opponent of this government. Do not contact,” another remark writes.

“She says that [we should] give a bit of oil and flour, etc. and all Siptars [derogative terms for Kosovo Albanians] from Adic would vote for us. Knows a lot,” writes next to a name of another person.

TV N1 reported the database is linked to email address of local official from Belgrade’s municipality Savski venac, ruled by Serbian Progressive Party.

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Presidential candidate and the leader of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Nenad Canak, told Serbian outlet Insajder in an interview that he would recognize Kosovo’s independence, given that Serbia de facto has not had any authority over that part of the territory for a long time.

“The issue of Kosovo is nothing more than patriotic opium. It is exploited so that the citizens would not think of how much money the Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija spends. Laws of Serbia do not apply in Kosovo, it is already independent,” said Canak, adding that it is time to face the reality.

He said that Kosovo is not the heart of Serbia, referring to a popular saying in Serbia, claiming that the heart is “the youth who left Serbia.”

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Some members of Serbian diaspora in China and US complained they were not refused the right to vote, although they registered online in time, TV N1 reported.

Serbian consulates in Beijing, Chicago and New York stated they received some applications “after the deadlines have expired."


“It is possible that there were issues with a server, which we unfortunately could not have been aware of,” Serbian embassy in Beijing said.

Serbian citizens in UK, Canada, Germany and Greece also reported problems during registration.

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Transparency Serbia, a local branch of international watchdog organisation, stated that Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate for ruling Progressives, had the most excessive media coverage during the pre-elections campaign and was overwhelmingly presented in positive light.

On the other hand, opposition candidates Sasa Jankovic and Vuk Jeremic were far less covered by media and were mainly presented in negative context.

Transparency’s media monitoring results show that Vucic appeared 128 times on front pages of 12 Serbian daily newspapers since March 2.

Aleksandar Vucic

Number of front pages: 128

Positive: 98 [70 per cent]

Neutral: 12 [10 per cent]

Negative: 17 [13 per cent]

Sasa Jankovic

Number of front pages: 71

Positive: 18 [25 per cent)

Neutral: 13 [18 per cent]

Negative: 40 [57 per cent]

Vuk Jeremic

Number of front pages: 55

Positive: 10 [18 per cent)

Neutral: 14 [26 per cent]

Negative: 31 [56 per cent]

Ljubisa Preletacevic - Beli

Number of front pages: 40

Positive: 27 [68 per cent)

Neutral: 8 [20 per cent]

Negative: 5 [12 per cent]

Vojislav Seselj

Number of front pages: 30

Positive: 12 [40 per cent)

Neutral: 10 [33 per cent]

Negative: 8 [27 per cent]

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Thousands gathered inside the Kombank Arena in Belgrade on Friday to show their support for the presidential candidate of the Serbian Progressive Party - Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Gerhard Schroeder, former German chancellor, addresed the Aleksandar Vucic’s election presedential convention in Belgrade as Serbia commemorates the 18 anniversary of the 1999 NATO airtrikes.

Germany took part in the NATO operation in Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 and Schroeder was its chancellor at the time, while Vucic was information minister and member of far right Serbian Radical Party.

“Serbia is faced with decisive elections. This is about continuing country’s path towards the European Union, reconciliation with the neighboring states and about the reforms. The grounds for the membership in the EU, but also for the country’s prosperity is being created”, Schroeder said in Belgrade.

He claimed that Vucic has improved Serbia’s reputation abroad. Alfred Gusenbauer, former Austrian chancellor, also supported Vucic at the convention.

 

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March 24, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic in Moscow on Monday, March 27, the Kremlin has announced.

"A meeting will take place on Monday," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian RIA Novosti agency.

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On the night of March 24, someone removed his teeth from a poster depicting party leader and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic erected on a building under reconstruction, which prompted mockery online.

A day later, one social media user published the photo showing that the worker is fixing up the poster.

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The latest opinion polls in Serbia show that opposition candidates Vuk Jeremic and Sasa Jankovic would come out on top among voters in Belgrade for the upcoming presidential election, but the ruling Progressive Party’s candidate, current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, would have a big lead in other districts.

According to a poll conducted by Factor Plus agency, published by Serbian weekly Nedeljnik on Friday, if the vote goes to a second round between Jankovic and Vucic, around 47 per cent of voters in Belgrade would choose the former versus around 46 per cent who would back the latter.

If the situation in a possible second round offers voters a choice of Jeremic or Vucic, the former would have around 48 per cent of support from voters in Belgrade, while Vucic would have around 42 per cent.

The same poll showed that Vucic would have the majority of support in both scenarios in other regions of Serbia.

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Presidential candidate of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, LSV, Nenad Canak said that as president of Serbia he would work on the decentralisation of the country and to introduce the five regions.

"As President of Serbia I would develop closer regional relations, worked on lowering tensions and the opening of borders for the larger common market," Canak told Serbian daily Vecernje Novosti on Friday.

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President of the Alliance of Vojvodina's Hungarians, Istvan Pastor, said that those Hungarians who want to vote for the candidate of the ruling Progressive Party Aleksandar Vucic should not feel uncomfortable – because this decision strengthens the community.

"The candidate of the ruling coalition is correct, respects the Hungarian community and respect what has been agreed," Pastor said.

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March 23, 2017

State Electorial Comission head Vladimir Dimitrijevic says the opposition "has no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the electoral process in Kosovo and Metohija."

According to the BETA news agency, Dimitrijevic's statement came after Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, who heads an opposition parliamentary group, described the instructions for the holding of the presidential elections in Kosovo, which State Electoral Commission (RIK) adopted late last night, as "unconstitutional and allowing for electoral fraud."

He said that RIK also "had in mind the decision of the Constitutional Court and sought to enable Serbian citizens residing in Kosovo to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to participate in the selection of the state authorities of Serbia."

Dimitrijevic noted that organizing elections in Kosovo with OSCE's "direct support and under its auspices" is a practice established in 2012, which means that the April 2 elections represent no precedent.

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Serbia's Association of Trade Unions of Pensioners urged the pensioners not to vote for the candidate of the ruling Progressive Party Aleksandar Vucic who, as they claimed, "cheating pensioners, stealing their property and destroying institutions."

"We said loud and clear, all pensioners should not to vote for those who have brought us this far. This man is now the candidate for president and we do not need to vote him," the head of the association of pensioners Milorad Vujasinovic said.

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If incumbent PM Aleksandar Vucic wins the upcoming presidential elections in Serbia, the decision on who would be the new PM is to be made in April or May.

The deadline for the new president to take office is still far away, but if the Serbian Progressive Party wins the presidential elections, the decision will be made in April or May, Vucic told Prva TV.

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Serbian current PM and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic has by far the largest support ahead of the presidential elections, with over 50 percent Ipsos Strategic Marketing Director Srdjan Bogosavljevic said.

According to the poll Sasa Jankovic is second with 12 percent, followed by Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli with 11 percent and Vuk Jeremic and Vojislav Seselj, each with around 7 percent.

In his interview for the regional TV N1 Bogosavljevic said that Vucic had a huge advantage from the beginning comparing to the other candidates.

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The OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission for Serbian April 2 presidential elections will be led by Ambassador Alexandre Keltchewsky from France.

The mission consists of five international experts from five OSCE participating States and it will be based in Belgrade.

In line with the OSCE/ODIHR methodology, the mission will not carry out systematic or comprehensive observation of voting, counting and tabulation on election day.
"Mission members will, however, visit a small number of polling stations on election day," OSCE said.

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Vuk and Natasa Jeremic campaigning in Nis. Photo: Beta/Sasa Djordjevic.

Serbian lawyer Vladimir Gajic said Natasa Jeremic, wife of presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic, filed a criminal complaint against ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), its leader Aleksandar Vucic and party's official Milenko Jovanov after she has been accused of being the drug lord.

Jovanov and the Progressives issued a press release on Monday claiming that Vuk Jeremic, a former Serbian foreign minister and former president of the UN General Assembly who is running for the country’s presidency in the April 2 elections, is surrounded by “the biggest criminal gang in Serbia”

“The entire drug market in Serbia is managed by his wife, Natasa Jeremic,” it alleged.

Gajic told reporters that a criminal complaint was filed because there the SNS and its leaders committed a criminal offence of false reporting.

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The Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection Rodoljub Sabic said on Wednesday that a large number of citizens had addressed him in the past few days, claiming the election campaign activities are violating privacy and freedom of citizens .

Citizens are particularly concerned that with canvassing or electronic communication, parties are abusing various personal data from the database of government institutions, telephone operators or the Internet, which has to be protected, according to the press release.

"The Commissioner would like to recall that on several occasions, including the previous elections, he had warned both the authorities and the public, that various activities of political parties are viewed by many citizens as harassment and an invasion of their privacy," the press release said.

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Eight observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights have registered to monitor the April 2 presidential elections in Serbia, the national election commission RIK told Tanjug.

Registration requests by observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the State Election Commission of Macedonia are under consideration.

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March 22, 2017

Following media reports that he will submit a retirement request on May 31, incumbent Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told the Vecernje novosti and Politika dailies on Wednesday his potential retirement did not mean he would stop working.

Daily Kurir has reported earlier Nikolic would hand in a retirement request after the expiry of his presidential term, while Wednesday's issue of Vecernje novosti reported Nikolic had still not made a final decision, but that he was seriously considering the option.

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The wife of the Serbian presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic, journalist Natasa Jeremic, said on Wednesday that she is convinced that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic wrote a statement in which she was accused of being a drug lord.

She told N1 broadcaster that in the future "someone could plant drugs on her".

"Serbia is not a normal country just thanks to Aleksandar Vucic," Jeremic said.

On Tuesday, Jeremic said she was appalled and scared after the ruling Progressive Party’s vice-president Milenko Jovanov accused her the previous day of being the “chief of the Serbian drug market”.

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Foreign observers who wants to monitor Serbia’s presidential elections, scheduled for April 2, have until midnight on March 22 to register their interest.

Currently only the Central Electoral Commission of Russia has done so.

Observers from within Serbia who want to supervise the Serbian Electoral Commission for the polls have until March 27 to submit their applications.

The Serbia-based NGOs which have so far registered to observe the elections are the Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability, CRTA, “Citizens on Watch” (“Građani na straži”), the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM.

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Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday called on the Serbian prosecution to react and examine the statement of Vojislav Seselj and his possible involvement in the preparation of the assassination of late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

The LDP statement said that Seselj's claims - that in the case he won the presidential elections he would pardon Zvezdan Jovanovic, convicted for the assassination of Djindjic - could be considered as the glorification of killers of Zoran Djindjic.
The LDP claims that that was a "dangerous statement", which could not pass without condemnation and reactions of all institutions and presidential candidates in Serbia.

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March 21, 2017

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate of ruling Progressives, condemned the words of his party’s vice president about Natasa Jeremic, a wife of his rival Vuk Jeremic, but said that reactions to the comments were “hypocrite”.

Vucic said that anyone who attacks family members of presidential candidates would be expelled from the Progressive, but added that there were no smilar reactions to the accusations that his brother Andrej is linked to criminals.

“My brother who is the leader of a crime gang, did I supposed to bring him here to cry and say that he is awaiting a baby in three months?” he said.

Earlier today, Vucic apologized to Serbian public for a statement.

“I ask all citizens of Serbia to accept my apology for the incorrect statement, which was not mine,” Vucic said in a statement.

Natasa Jeremic however rebuffed the apology, insisting that Vucic controls every word that comes out of his party. Read more: Drug Claim Sparks Outrage in Serbia Poll Campaign

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Bosko Obradovic, the candidate of right-wing Dveri, stated that the accusation such as those made against Natasa Jeremic have never been made in history of campaign in Serbia.

“I raise my voice in protection of Natasa Jeremic and all victims of Vucic’s dirtiest campaign so far,” Obradovic said.

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Commenting the verbal attack on Natasa Jeremic, Nenad Canak, the candidate of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, stated that Serbia is witnessing the dirtiest campaign so far.

“It is very important that this what happened with Ms Jeremic happens for the last time, not just in this campaign but in future as well,” Canak said in an interview for TV N1.

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Several presidential candidates condemned the words of the ruling Progressives’ vice president on called Natasa Jeremic, wife of their rival Vuk Jeremic, “chief of the Serbian drug market”.

“I congratulate Ms Jeremic and her family on courage and give all support. I am sure that the time in which public officials are a threat to citizens are coming to an end,” Jankovic, former Serbian ombudsman, said.

Later during the day, Jankovic shared a photo of his wife and him celebrating 25 years since they met and expressing his respect towards women.

 

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Reporting about presidential candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli, a spoof political character, on Tuesday in an article “In Serbian election, the comedy candidate is no joke” Reuters wrote that his popularity “represents a damning indictment of Serbia's beleaguered mainstream opposition and sends a worrying message to the ruling Progressive Party about the depth of popular disenchantment in this impoverished corner of Europe.”

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The security of presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic refused to allow journalists from pro-government media Studio B, Srpski Telegraf and Informer to a press conference of Jeremic’s wife Natasa.

Jeremic’s campaign organisers stated that these media did not have valid accreditation for the event.

In front of the building, Ljiljana Smajlovic from Serbia Association of Journalists, UNS, also asked the editor of Informer, Dragan Vucicevic, known for defamatory and libelous claims in press conferences, to stay out of the conference.

 

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Presidential candidate’s wife Natasa Jeremic told a press conference on Tuesday that she was appalled and scared after the ruling Progressive Party’s vice-president Milenko Jovanov accused her the previous day of being the “chief of the Serbian drug market”.

“Last night’s press release showed they [the Progressives] are ready to do anything,” said Jeremic, who until recently worked as a journalist for Serbian public broadcaster RTS.

“I do not think this will stop here, I am afraid that someone will plant drugs on me. I do not know what is [coming] next, I am honestly scared,” she added. Read more: Drug Claim Sparks Outrage in Serbia Poll Campaign

Natasa Jeremic. Photo: Beta

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The Bureau for Social Research, BIRODI, published a media monitoring results in the second week of presidential elections campaign, revealing that Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister and ruling Progressives’ candidate, is dominating the media coverage.

BIRODI's media monitoring results. Photo: BIRODI

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Serbian State Electoral Commission announced on Monday that Central Electoral Commission of Russia would be following Serbian presidential elections.

The deadline for foreign observers to apply for monitoring the elections expires on March 22, while for domestic it expires on March 27.

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The candidates running for the Serbian presidency have avoided discussing the country’s role in the 1990s conflicts because they have no interest in post-war justice or fear losing votes, human rights campaigners argue. Read more: Serbian Presidential Candidates Avoid ‘Painful’ War Issues

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Several activists of citizens' group Local Front were arrested and released late on Monday in Serbian central town of Kraljevo, after police saw them ripping off posters promoting Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister and the presidential candidate of ruling Progressives.

The activists were released after questioning. Local Front supported the candidacy of Sasa Jankovic, former Serbian ombudsman.

Local Front members wrote on social media that police officers in Kraljevo later stood close to Progressives’ members who were putting up posters, in what activists saw as an attempt to prevent further damages to Progressives’ promotional material.

Vucic is visiting Kraljevo today.

In a press release, Serbian Progressive Party accused Local Front for “destroying” party’s property and Sasa Jankovic for “physical violence.”

 

 

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Current Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic announced he will retire after the presidential elections scheduled for April 2.

In an interview with the Serbian daily Kurir on Tuesday, Nikolic has announced that on May 31 he will apply for retirement, on the day when his presidential term expires.

On February 20, Nikolic has decided not to run for another term in this spring’s presidential elections. The decision was announced after a meeting with PM Aleksandar

Vucic, who emerged as the favoured presidential candidate of the Progressive Party to which they both belong.

Tomislav Nikolic and Aleksandar Vucic celebrating Statehood Day on February 15. Photo: Beta/Milan Obradovic


March 20, 2017

Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbian interior minister, said that police is investigating the death of an activist of ruling Serbian Progressive Party, who was killed in a traffic accident while putting up posters for the party.

The activist was hit by a car while trying to cross the highway. He was putting up posters ahead of Aleksandar Vucic, Progressives’ presidential candidate, journey to a rally in Novi Sad.

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Vuk Jeremic announced he would sue pro-government tabloids Informer and Srpski Telegraf for defamation and slander.

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Presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic stated that it is a scandal that OSCE will not be monitoring this year’s presidential elections.

“Previsions elections in 2016 went the way the went. OSCE then gave a full report with a list of recommendations on what should be amended so that the election process would be fair.

“Not only that none of the recommendations were adopted and implemented, but OSCE was not even invited to monitor the elections,” Jeremic told Juzne vesti.

In early March, OSCE announced that only a limited mission would monitor the elections. The organisation stated it will not have observers at the polling stations, as there was no time for preparation of a full scale mission.

Vuk Jeremic. Photo: Beta

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The presidential candidate of the ruling called Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic, is uncompromising in the fight for a better Serbia, he is the only serious politician today, and he shows his diplomatic authority abroad, said Lazar Ristovski, prominent Serbian actor, producer and director.

In an interview with the Serbian daily Kurir, Ristovski said that everyone has the right to choose a politician and a person to believe in, adding that is the  "true democracy and tolerance."

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Sasa Jankovic told daily Danas that Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian PM and ruling Progressives’ candidate, is abusing his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to gain political points in the campaign.

“Angela Merkel meet the Prime Minister, who is leading presidential campaign from [PM’s] post and is abusing it… Our international partners and diplomats cannot even imagine the extent of abuses that he is engaging in daily,” Jankovic told Danas.

Vucic meet Merkel on March 14. Following the meeting, Ivica Dacic, Serbian foreign minister whose Socialists have backed Vucic candidacy stated that Merkel would never meet with someone who could loose the elections.

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Socialist Party of Serbia, a member of the ruling coalition, sharply criticised the decision of Serbia's Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) to ban an election vide of the presidential candidate, Aleksandar Vucic, over the Advertising Law violation.

"This scandal can be resolved in only one way - with the resignation of all the members of REM," the party said in a statement.

The Regulatory Body for Electronic Media on Friday banned the airing of an election video for the Serbian Progressive Party which featured its leader, Aleksandar Vucic, overhearing himself being insulted as a “faggot".

The video was banned because it violated the Advertising Law, which specifies that "advertising messages must not contain statements or visual presentation which may be considered offensive." Serbian Electoral Commission adopted a decision on ballots.

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Roma Party in Serbia said on Monday that its president Srdjan Sajin received threats because of his support for the opposition presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic.

The party's statement said that the threats came from "an organised group of eight persons who also attempted extortion."  

Roma Party said that the case was reported to the police.

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Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said the decision to hold Serbian presidential elections in Kosovo has not been made yet adding that in deciding on that issue the will of the Serbs but also the Kosovo laws will be respected.

"We will act responsibly in this regard. We understand the will of the citizens with dual citizenship. At the same time, we respect the Kosovo Constitution and our laws. " Thaci told local "Serbian Freely" TV show on Sunday.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. Photo: Visar Kryeziu/AP

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Ipsos Strategic Marketing latest polls show that the two candidates with largest support are ruling Progressives’ Aleksandar Vucic and spoof politician Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli.

According to the survey published on March 20, Vucic enjoys support of 53 per cent of voters, while about 11 per cent of people who participated in the survey supports Beli.

About 10.6 per cent of voters support former ombudsman Sasa Jankovic, while about 8.7 per cent of voters support Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj.

Vuk Jeremic, Serbian former foreign minister and ex-President of the UN General Assembly, enjoys support of 6.9 per cent of voters, followed by Bosko Obradovic, leader of Dveri, supported by 3.5 per cent of voters.

Sasa Radulovic, leader of Enough is Enough, and Nenad Canak, the head of Vojvodina Social Democrats, both enjoy support of 1.7 per cent of people.

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The presidential candidate of the Serbian ruling Progressive party, Aleksandar Vucic, said that will soon meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, probably before the elections scheduled for April 2.

During the presentation of the electoral program of the public broadcaster RTS on Sunday, Vucic said that he met Putin nine times so far, "more than all others together", and that he will do it again.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Franz Johann Morgenbesser/Flickr.

 

March 17, 2017

Serbia's Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) on Friday banned the airing of an election video for the Serbian Progressive Party which featured its leader, Aleksandar Vucic, overhearing himself being insulted as a “faggot".

The video was banned because it violated the Advertising Law, which specifies that "advertising messages must not contain statements or visual presentation which may be considered offensive."

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"Today, at the Russian King [one of the oldest Belgrade cafes, now closed], battery charging for the finish. We're going to win!," presidential candidate and former chief of Serbian diplomacy Vuk Jeremic wrote on Twitter on Friday.

 

 

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Preparations for the rally of presidential candidate of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party Aleksandar Vucic in the Serbian city of Novi Sad on Friday blocked shops in the city centre, with the event set to take place on Saturday.

Preparations for the party event of Progressives on Friday. I Photo: BIRN

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Serbian citizens have been altering posters of the presidential candidate of the ruling Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic, crossing out his name and replacing it with "AVE Beli", referring to presidential candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli, a spoof political character.

 

 

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The latest opinion polls show that Serbian PM and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic has the support of 57 per cent of voters in the upcoming election, according to the latest opinion poll published by Demostat, in partnership with Danas daily, on Friday.

The poll also shows that former Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic has the backing of 11 per cent of voters, while ex-chief of Serbian diplomacy Vuk Jeremic has 9 per cent.

Head of the right-wing Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj is in fourth place in the ranking, with 8 per cent of voter support, followed by spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic - Beli with 3 per cent.

Presidential candidate of the right-wing Democratic Party of Serbia, Bosko Obradovic, also has 3 per cent of voter support while the rest of the candidates have 9 per cent in total.

 

 

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Former Serbian Ombudsman and 2017 presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic announced he will organise a public meeting in Savamala on Saturday.

After the Ministry of Interior refused to receive his public gathering registration, which the organiser has a legal obligation to provide, with the explanation that it was not in line with the law, Jankovic’s campaign team announced that the event will be held regardless at 5pm on Saturday.

However, Serbia Police is claiming that the event will not be in according with the law.

Savamala has been in the headlines over the past year after a group of masked men demolished several buildings in the waterside neighbourhood, where the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project is to be built, in April 2015.

March 16, 2017

Former Serbian Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic's campaign team for the 2017 presidential election announced to media on Thursday that it has filed libel lawsuits against multiple unnamed Serbian tabloids.

According to his campaign team, Jankovic has received "attacks and death threats" trough social media which have intensified since his election campaign began, and all cases have been forwarded to the competent institutions.

His team also stated that citizens have informed them of "abuse of state bodies, public enterprises and the civil servants who are placed at the service of the campaign of one man," but did not clarify who they were referring to.

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Serbia’s Republic Election Commission, RIK, has rejected the candidature of Predrag Vucetic, a graduate police officer and lawyer, for the upcoming presidential election.
On Tuesday, RIK gave Vucetic 48 hours to rectify issues with his application, but deemed on Thursday that none of the signatures of citizens’ support he had submitted in his documentation were valid.

So far, 11 candidates have been approved to run in the polls on April 2.

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Bosko Obradovic, Photo: Beta

Serbian far-right Dveri party submitted a complaint to the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media, REM, on Thursday over the alleged unequal representation of candidates running for presidential election in the polls on April 2, the party informed media today.

Dveri’s leader and candidate for the presidential post, Bosko Obradovic, claimed that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is represented in 56 per cent of the free-to-air news broadcasts, whereas the other ten candidates have a 44 per cent share of coverage combined.

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Forty per cent of Serbians will vote in the upcoming presidential elections while 20 per cent have not decided if they will cast a ballot, according to the latest research from Faktor Plus polling agency.

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Although there are currently no valid estimates on spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli’s popularity ahead of the presidential election on April 2, Vladimir Pejic, the executive director of Faktor Plus polling agency, says that the satirical candidate could expect support of 10 per cent of voters.

Pejic told media that first valid estimates can be expected in the next few days.

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March 15, 2017

Nikola Jovanovic, spokesperson of presidential candidate and former chief of Serbian diplomacy Vuk Jeremic, stated on Wednesday that a police officer had entered Jeremic’s headquarters in the central city of Nis on March 10, checking citizens’ documents and enquiring as to who of them would attend an upcoming convention in Kragujevac for the candidate.

Jovanovic, speaking to Belgrade’s Fonet news agency, said that the policeman did not state what the basis of his activities were.

Jovanovic has accused Jeremic’s rival in the presidential election, Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic, of abusing the police for the purposes of his electoral campaign as a result of the incident. However, it is not clear if the two are connected.

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Miroje Jovanovic, a lawyer from Novi Sad, called an urgent press conference on Wednesday about the alleged threats he has received since he sent a complaint to the Serbian Republic Election Commission, RIK, on Tuesday regarding its decision to approve the candidature of spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic-Beli in the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for April 2.

The conference, scheduled for 1pm, has been co-organised by another candidate for the presidential post, Miroslav Parovic.

Meanwhile, the Serbian public is also awaiting a decision of the Administrative Court regarding the legitimacy of Beli’s candidacy.

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A collective of Serbian LGBT NGOs called Da se zna (Let it be Known) announced on Wednesday that it has filed a complaint to the Ministry of Trade against one of Serbian PM and 2017 presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic’s campaign television adverts, claiming it contains offensive terminology which would encourage further discrimination of the LGBT community in the country.

The complaint refers to an advert in which a football game is being aired on a television in the background with fans shouting "Vucic, you faggot".

Da se zna highlighted the fact that spreading any content which could encourage discrimination is forbidden by the law.

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March 14, 2017

Addressing inter-ethnic issues in Serbia's town of Novi Pazar, presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic said, Tuesday, that there was no room for fear.  He pointed out that people live in that town together for centuries, appreciating and keeping each other.

"We all need clear rules that will equally apply to Muslims, Serbs, Bosniaks ... and to the government and to the opposition, " Jankovic was cited as saying by Tanjug news agency.

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Serbian Electoral Commission rejected today complaint over presidential candidacy of spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic–Beli, filed by lawyer from the Serbian city of Novi Sad Miroje Jovanovic.

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Serbia’s Enough is Enough movement on Tuesday accused EU leaders of supporting Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s presidential bid and urged them to “preserve some semblance of neutrality” in the current election campaign.

“A visit to Angela Merkel by Aleksandar Vucic, the prime minister and also a candidate for the Serbian presidency, has been announced for today, in the middle of the election campaign. It is incomprehensible that EU leaders are participating in such a direct way in the abuse of the position of prime minister and in Aleksandar Vucic’s presidential campaign,” Enough is Enough said in a statement.

Enough is Enough, whose leader Sasa Radulovic is also running in the presidential election on April 2, called on leaders of EU states to cancel all pre-election visits by candidates from Serbia’s ruling parties.

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The presidential candidate of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, Nenad Canak, stated on Tuesday his beliefs that due to the mass exodus of young people from Serbia, the “heart of the country is now abroad.”

“In ten years, more than 300,000 young people left Serbia. Doctors, engineers, professors are leaving [Serbia] and they take away their family and children, because here they cannot see perspective. Soon here there will be no one to build, no one to cure us, no one to earn pensions," Canak said in a press release.

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Presidential candidate of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, believe life in Serbia has become unbearable for citizens, with little food, no jobs and no hope that the situation will improve, he said during his visit to the Toplicki, Nisavski and Pirotski districts in Southern and Eastern Serbia on Tuesday.

The Radicals also addressed Russia’s growing interest in the Balkans, stating in a press release that “Russia is coming back in the Balkans and that process no one can stop. The process of rapprochement with Russia should be as fast as possible implemented.”

The press release added that Seselj welcomed the pro-Russian policy in neighbouring countries.

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Nikola Jovanovic, spokesman of the campaign of former top diplomat and presidential candidate Vuk Jeremic, accused Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday of not answering questions about low salaries and those who have left the country in search of work elsewhere during his appearance on Happy TV on Monday night.

“Citizens no longer believe in Vucic's famous promise that they will ‘live better in two years’. The next five years should be years of better life for the people, and not the [years of] new false promises,” Jovanovic said in a press release.

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Presidential candidate of the right-wing Democratic Party of Serbia, Aleksandar Popovic, is pushing justice as one of the conerstones of his presidential programme, he said today in the Serbian city Jagodina.

Popovic added that everyone in Serbia has the right to health care, saying that “healthy Serbia is fair Serbia. Fair Serbia is above all, because the man is first of all,” Tanjug news agency reported.

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Serbian presidential candidate Milan Stamatovic called on Russian President Vladimir Putin not to receive Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate of the ruling Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic, on his planned visit to Moscow because, according to Stamatovic, Vucic forgot the friendship with “brotherly Russia.”

In a written statement to Putin, Stamatovic urged the Russian leader not to forget that Vucic, together with "his brother Milo [referring to Montenegrin PM Milo Djukanovic], miserably defamed Russia, accusing it of attempting a coup in Montenegro".

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Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic is dominating coverage on news programmes in Serbia as he is both current Prime Minister and a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, the Bureau for Social Research, BIRODI, found after monitoring media coverage in the first week of the election campaign.

Vucic receives the most coverage on pro-government station TV Pink, and similar trends are seen in the television coverage of Prva TV, B92, public broadcaster RTS 1 and Happy TV.

BIRODI’s monitoring showed that N1’s television reporting is the most equal when it comes to presenting the presidential candidates for the upcoming polls, scheduled for April 2.

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Lawyer from the Serbian city of Novi Sad Miroje Jovanovic filed a complaint to the Serbian Electoral Commission on Tuesday over the presidential candidacy of spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic–Beli.

“Luka son, you got complaint of your little candidacy from uncle [Jovanovic]. …to wake you up better this morning than coffee. Kisses from uncle Miroje #samojako,” Jovanovic wrote ironically on Facebook.

Jovanovic was the deputy mayor of Novi Sad until the elections in 2016, and was appointed by right-wing party Third Serbia.

He was also close associate of Miroslav Parovic who will also be a candidate in the upcoming presidential election on April 2, as long as he corrects irregularities in the documentation handed to Electoral Commission.

 

 

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Presidential candidate of Serbian right-wing Dveri party, Bosko Obradovic, said on Tuesday that he has no trust in any of the representatives of the Serbian authorities, because, as he claims, they did not fulfil any of their pre-election promises.

“It will not be the end of the world if [Serbian PM and presidential candidate Aleksandar] Vucic doesn’t win,” Obradovic told Politika daily.

March 13, 2017

After long debate, the Serbian Electoral Commission has confirmed the candidacy of spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic–Beli on Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday, the commission has confirmed three other candidates – Milan Stamatovic, the president of Cajetina municipality, Nenad Canak, the leader of League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, and Miroslav Parovic, the head of anti-globalisation National libertarian movement.

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As the Serbian Republic Election Commission, RIK, still has not decided whether the documentation of potential presidential candidate, satirical character Ljubisa Preletacevic-Beli, is valid or not, Ivan Ninic, a member of RIK and opposition Enough is Enough movement, published a tweet reiterating that candidates require 10,000 signatures of support from citizens to qualify for candidacy.

 

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Serbian Republic Election Commission member Ivan Ninic, who is also part of the opposition “Enough is Enough” movement, told media on Monday afternoon that the documentation submitted by the 'Beli - Hit it Hard' group, led by spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli, has been sent to the Ministry of State Administration for further electronic checking.

Nincic said that the announcement about the validity of Beli’s signatures of support, submitted to the election commission on Sunday, will be released today.

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As many people in Serbia impatiently await the announcement from the Republic Electoral Commission, RIK, on whether spoof political character Ljubisa Preletacevic–Beli’s candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections is valid, internet users across the country are heading online to mock the situation.

A Facebook page called “Opozicionar” (“Oppositionist”) begun a live poll soon after the decision, which was expected to be announced at 11am, didn’t arrive, asking people to show their support for Beli by clicking the ‘like’ button, or for current Serbian PM and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic by clicking the ‘angry’ icon on the post.

After only three hours more than 20,000 Facebook users had taken part in the poll, which is still running, with Beli receiving the vast majority of support.

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Spoof Serbian political character Ljubisa Preletacevic – Beli handed the Serbian Republic Electoral Commission, RIK, 12,700 signatures of support from citizens on Sunday evening for his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for April 2.

However, the commission has called Beli’s candidacy into question because of a problem with the signatures.

Members of the RIK explained last night on Twitter that the problem is in the fact that the words “Group of citizens” is not written in front of the name of Beli’s group.


The issue caused a wave of public dissatisfaction on social media, with many people asking the members of the RIK to add the words that are missing themselves, accusing the commission of obstructing an opposition candidate.

The final decision on Beli’s candidacy is to be made today, the RIK announced.

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The Republic Electoral Commission of Serbia, RIK, confirmed that voting in the upcoming presidential election will also take place at 90 polling stations in Kosovo and at 53 stations abroad in 32 countries, N1 television reported last night.

Presidential elections in Serbia will take place on April 2.

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The Serbian Electoral Commission has confirmed seven candidates- Aleksandar Vucic, Sasa Jankovic, Vojislav Seselj, Vuk Jeremic, Bosko Obradovic, Sasa Radulovic, and Aleksandar Popovic - while 12 have filed their registration documentation.

The deadline for the registration of candidates in Serbia’s upcoming presidential elections expired at midnight on Sunday.

March 10, 2017

Serbian political satirist Luka Maksimovic, alias Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli, the leader of the “Beli Hit it Hard” movement, has continued to collect signatures for his presidential election bid on Friday in Serbia’s second-largest city, Novi Sad.

On the day prior, the line of people eager to give him their signature of support had reached a kilometre in length, with the crowd applauding and chanting the words of his slogan “Just Strong” every time Beli made an appearance.

“See a true leader - and that is me! I am here for almost the whole day, I even went to have coffee with some of these people. They are great!” Maksimovic told BIRN.

A young man waiting in line to give Maksimovic his support said the reason he is backing the satirist is because “he is presenting us - ordinary people! That is why I am here.”

Another of his fans said that for him, it is just important that Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic does not win.

“Other candidates [in the elections] have chances, but Beli doesn’t, so we have to help him to win,” he said.

Maksimovic’s fame grew after he stood for election in the local polls in the town of Mladenovac under his alias. His running was intended to poke fun at the political establishment, but he ended up coming second having won 20 per cent of the vote.

Luka Maksimovic, alias Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli with his supporters in Novi Sad. Photo: Vanja Djuric

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Serbia’s Republic Election Commission approved former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic's candidacy on Friday for the upcoming presidential election.

The commission confirmed that Jeremic had submitted 14,360 valid signatures of support from voters.

 

Vuk Jeremic, Photo by: Beta

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The leader of far-right movement Dveri, Bosko Obradovic, submitted his candidature for the upcoming presidential election to the Republic Election Commission on Friday, having gathered 11,500 signatures of support.

The leader of far - right Dveri movement, Bosko Obradovic Photo: Beta

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Gordana Susa, a former member of Serbia’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media, REM, said that the regulatory body’s decision not to monitor media content during the presidential election campaign was political, the Independent Journalists' Association, NUNS, reported in a post on Twitter.

Serbia’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media, REM, is not monitoring if the candidates for the presidential election get equal coverage in the media, despite the fact that it is obliged to by law, Pavle Dimitrijevic from CRTA, a local election monitoring group, told media on Friday.

 

During a debate on who oversees the media in Serbia during election campaigns, Serbian Press Council member Tamara Skrozza said that there is no continuation of institutional election overseeing in the country.

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Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic has 53.1 per cent of voters’ support for the upcoming polls, scheduled for April 2, according to the latest poll conducted by Factor Plus marketing agency for Blic Daily.

Former Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic is the second most popular candidate for election with 14.5 per cent support, followed by Vuk Jeremic, Serbia’s former candidate for the post of UN Secretary-General, with 11.11 per cent, and Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj with 11 per cent.

The research was conducted between March 4-7 and involved 1,200 Serbian citizens.

March 9, 2017

Former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, who recently ran for the post of UN Secretary-General, delivered 15,000 signatures of support for his presidential candidacy to the Serbian Electoral Commission.

Jeremic has thus officially filed for his bid to run in the April 2 presidential elections.

Vuk Jeremic heading to the Serbian Electoral Commission. Photo: Beta

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Well-known Serbian basketball coach Dusko Vujosevic appealed to Serbian citizens on Thursday to stand up for their political views and announced that he is going to support former Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic in the upcoming presidential campaign, scheduled for April 2.

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Serbia’s Republic Electoral Commission announced on Thursday that there will be 8,253 polling stations open in Serbia for the presidential elections scheduled for April 2.
The number or polling stations to be open in Kosovo and further abroad will be announced in a special decision on March 12, the commission said.

 

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Serbian citizens are filling their Twitter feeds with comments on Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s recent electoral meeting in the northern city of Subotica on March 7, where, according to some activists, locals were hard to spot among the attendants, most of who had arrived on the some 100 buses bringing people from further afield to the event.

 

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Serbian Radical Party head and candidate in the upcoming Serbian presidential election, Vojislav Seselj, held a lecture for students from Banja Luka, a city in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Sprska, on Wednesday in the National Assembly building in Belgrade.

Seselj told the students that he would like to open the issue of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, a self-proclaimed wartime rebel Serb statelet in Croatia, in front of all international institutions, as a step towards uniting lands where ethnic Serbs live, or used to live before the wars in the Nineties.

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LGBT campaigners allege that the latest promotional video for PM Aleksandar Vucic’s presidential campaign breaches the law on advertising because it uses a derogatory term for gays. Read more: Serbian LGBT Activists Report ‘Offensive’ Vucic Video

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As the presidential campaign heats up in Serbia, some voters are mocking the corrupt culture of Balkan politics with tongue-in-cheek offers to sell their votes online to the highest bidder. Read more: Serbs Mock Presidential Poll by 'Selling' Votes Online

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