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news 09 May 14

Serbian Newspaper Editor Fired After Criticising Govt

The sacking of Srdjan Skoro, editor of state-owned newspaper Vecernje Novosti, who publicly criticized Serbia’s new ministers, has been described as an attack on independent media.

BIRN, Novi Magazin

Skoro said that he was told that he was no longer the editor of the Serbian tabloid Vecernje Novosti on Friday morning, but was given no explanation for his sacking.

"I have been told to find another job and that I would perhaps do better there," Skoro said.

He said that although no one has said it directly, the reason for his dismissal was his recent appearance on public service broadcaster RTS’s morning TV show, in which he openly criticised some candidates for posts in the new Serbian cabinet.

After Skoro's appearance in the show, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party issued a statement accusing RTS of damaging the reputation of the new government and the party's leader Aleksandar Vucic.

Skoro said however that no one from his newspaper’s management had criticised him over the issue.

"I was appointed to the post last July and no one mentioned my dismissal until my last appearance on television," he said.

Meanwhile, Ratko Dmitrovic, director and editor in chief of Vecernje Novostidenied that Skoro's dismissal had anything to do with his appearances on the RTS.

"For some time we have discussed how he is leading the desk... I was not pleased with the way he did it," Dmitrovic told journalists' association UNS.

The Serbian journalists' association, NUNS, however also linked Skoro's dismissal to his appearance on the RTS show and said it was a blow to free speech.

"NUNS believes that Srdjan Skoro's dismissal is a result of pressure on the media, and it is openly telling journalists that they could face sanctions for criticizing the government. Such actions are deepening self-censorship and represent an attack on freedom of expression," NUNS said.

Vecernje Novosti was recently taken over by the state, a move that followed the government's acquisition of a majority share in the company that owns Serbian newspaper Politika in October last year.

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