News 04 Jan 16

Bosnian Serb Blogger Denounced by Minister

The Interior Minister in Republika Srpska, Dragan Lukac, has accused the independent blogger Slobodan Vaskovic of trying to destroy the institutions of the entity.

Rodolfo Toe
BIRN
Sarajevo
 
 The Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska Dragan Lukac | Photo: MUPRS

The Minister of the Interior in Bosnia's Serb-majority entity, Republika Srpska, has launched an extraordinary attack on an independent journalist from Banja Luka, Slobodan Vaskovic, accusing him of trying to destroy the entity's institutions.

"For years, Slobodan Vaskovic with his blog has been calling for the destruction and undermining of the institutions of Republika Srpska, especially the Ministry of Interior," Dragan Lukac told a press conference on Wednesday.

Vaskovic, born in 1962, has been running a personal blog, "From the other side" [Sa druge strane] since 2011.

On it he habitually slates the government of Republika Srpska as "a criminal organization", reporting also on court cases against the ruling class.

Following Lukac's highly personal attack on his integrity, Vaskovic posted a reply on his blog accusing Lukac and the authorities of trying to intimidate him.

"Your dogs are constantly after me and my family," Vaskovic wrote, adding that he was "not afraid" of attacks.

On November 18, Vaskovic was assaulted by a unknown person in front of his home in Banja Luka. The journalist claimed that was the third such assault on him in two months.

 
 Slobodan Vaskovic during a recent appearence on FACETV

"There's no way a blogger can undermine the institutions of Republika Srpska," he wrote on his blog, "unless you know for sure that those institutions are so weak that one simple man can destroy them.

"In that case, the person responsible is not that man but those who have reduced the institutions to such a poor state", he added.

At the end of his message, Vaskovic went on to accuse Lukac of implication in war crimes that took place in the region of Bihac, in the northwest of the country, in 1992.

Vaskovic is one of the best known critical voices in Republika Srpska and Lukac's attack on his work drew sharp criticizm from his colleagues.

"We condemn Minister Lukac's declaration," the Association of Journalists of Republika Srpska said in a statement, adding that "Vaskovic's security is in danger".

The union called on state institutions to improve his protection because "he is now at risk of new physical and verbal attacks, which can be connected to Lukac's accusation".

The denunciation on Vaskovic comes at a tense moment for the government in Republika Srpska. On Monday, 4,000 people protested in Banja Luka against reforms to the labour law, in the biggest anti-government rally seen in recent years.

During the past two months, tension between the authorities of the entity and the central government has also been rising, especially after the RS government briefly halted official cooperation with the state court, state prosecution and state investigative agency SIPA.

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