Zeljko Mitrovic, the general director of Serbia's leading TV network Pink, recently declared that he would not allow “Russophiles” to appear on their broadcasts. Mitrovic expressed frustration with the presence of Russian spies in Serbia and criticized journalists for featuring pro-Russian commentators.
In contrast, the Balkan branch of the Russian propaganda channel RT continues to operate in Serbia, despite being included in the 11th package of European sanctions against Russia on June 23. RT started broadcasting in Serbia in November 2022 — eight months after Russia initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The response from Serbian authorities to this decision is still pending.
Serbian political analyst Aleksandar Djokic shared insights on the media landscape in Serbia with The Insider:
“I have received information from credible sources confirming that Mitrovic did issue instructions to reduce coverage of the war from a pro-Kremlin perspective on the Pink channel. Additionally, the directive included a decrease in the frequency of inviting guests with these views.
This may be related to the crisis in Kosovo, in light of which it is very important for Serbian authorities to negotiate with the West. In connection with this, as well as with the imminent transition of the Ukrainian counteroffensive into the second phase, which Vucic himself recently stated, they do not want to appear pro-Russian.
Russophile sentiments are also not useful for Vucic in the Kosovo process, because he has already made a number of compromises that are painful for him, the application of which at this stage is sabotaged by Pristina for its own reasons. When the agreements will have to be implemented in the near future, it will not be the liberals who will rise against him, but the fierce Serbian nationalists and Russophiles.
As for the Russian media in Serbia, apart from RT, there is also Sputnik. Here they have a whole network of informal collaborators among the Serbian radical left and right who occupy high positions in institutions, universities, and media (the law and philosophy departments of the University of Belgrade, as well as the weekly magazine Pečat and the newspaper Vecernje Novosti are of particular note here).
It must be said that the leadership of these media is behind the times; they are mostly anti-Western socialists of the Slobodan Milosevic era, and their weakest point is that they put too much emphasis on the radical left, which is unpopular among ordinary Serbs, even when they criticize NATO and the United States. Serbian nationalists, on the other hand, are more hungry for propaganda in the style of Igor Girkin [Strelkov], while the Russian agents broadcast someone like Boris Rozhin [a Russian military expert known as Colonel Cassad].”