Naslovna strana Informera

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How the attention turned from Fico to Vučić

If the shoe fits… Let the media run with it. The assassination attempt on the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico spurred weeks-long media coverage in Serbia. Yet, the coverage was largely framed through a domestic lens with the focus on the repercussions it had for another leader – the President of Serbia. As outlets played a guessing game on what will happen next, the perspective of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service outshined all others. With Russia and Hungary enjoying a preferential media treatment, the West, the opposition and Ukraine are at the recipient-end of the blame. 

As news broke of the attempted assassination on the Slovak PM, the media stuck to the Serbian President’s quick response. As a guest on public broadcaster RTS 1, Vučić iterated how unimaginable the attempted assassination was for contemporary Europe. Comparing Fico to other politicians of great “political integrity”, the President focused on the strength of the Serbo-Slovak friendship and followed it up with the announcement he will visit Fico in recovery together with Hungarian PM Viktor Órban. In a similar vein, the dailies painted the Slovak PM as a “friend of Belgrade”.

Reporting on the facts of the Slovak case very quickly turned to reporting on possible threats to the Serbian President’s safety. Using the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service as a frame of reference, the Informer cited that the “globalist totalitarian-liberal elite will ensue with open political terror against its opponents” where the most likely targets will be Vučić and Órban. RT Balkan and Sputnik were the first to report on this, stating that the US and EU leadership is growing more angry due to the strengthening of the positions of nationally oriented political forces.

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The portals were in sync to borrow these narratives and disclose the possible threats to Vučić, with the Kurir reporting that the threat against Vučić’s life has been ongoing and will never stop. The same portal also reported that the greatest danger is posed by criminal gangs, political fanatics and foreign power centers. Novosti also reports on calls to assassinate Vučić and Órban, relaying Russia’s claim that behind the calls is a “globalist cult”. Several outlets detailed the threats Vučić received online, which were sent out by opposition supporters “who called for the murder of President Vučić with morbid threats”.

So, what is the connection to Ukraine? The Novosti reports that world leaders, amongst them Vučić, are in danger and that “enemies of Ukraine will be punished”. Meanwhile, the daily Informer’s front page reads that “Volodymyr Zelenskyy is behind this attempted murder”. Similar sentiments appear on the front page of Srpski Telegraf, maintaining that Fico was shot “because of Putin”. In casting the blame further, the Kurir relays Ľuboš Blaha’s claim that the possible suspect is pro-Ukrainian, accusing the pro-liberal US media of covering up the fact and misinforming the public. 

The media kept a close eye on Viktor Órban’s statements, framing the news through his and Vučić’s POV. The daily Informer quoted Orbán, suggesting Fico was shot due to his stance on Ukraine, a view echoed by other dailies. Similarly, Órban’s statement that Fico will not be active in the most important months ahead of the European elections caught the attention of Alo!.

Other Serbian officials reacted to the news as well with the Minister of Family Welfare, Milica Đurđević Stamenkovski, stating that a similar scenario might be repeated in Serbia and warned of the horrible threats against Vučić on social media. In an interview with Sputnik, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vulin, stated that different political affiliations are punishable in the West: “Sometimes they place you under sanctions, sometimes they shoot you”.The Minister of Internal Affairs, Ivica Dačić also put out an official statement that a man was arrested for jeopardizing the Serbian President’s safety. Meanwhile, ruling-party MP Nebojša Bakarec stated that part of the Western deep state operates in Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia, and they prepare individuals to get any job done as per their instructions.

*The observed media included televisions with national coverage (RTS 1, TV Pink, TV Prva, TV Happy, TV B92); daily newspapers (Informer, Blic, Večernje Novosti, Kurir, Alo!, Politika, Srpski telegraf, Danas, Nova) and online portals (Informer, Blic, Večernje Novosti, Kurir, Alo!, Politika, Republika).