Serbian investigative journalist Milan Jovanovic, 70, survived an assassination attempt just two months ago. Assailants threw Molotov cocktails and fired guns into his home. He and his wife barely made it out alive.
“This is the third time they tried to kill me,” Jovanovic told VICE News. When asked if it was because he reports on local corruption issues, he said, “Yes, precisely."
"There is no freedom of press in Serbia nowadays," he added.
Jovanovic’s experience is part of a trend in Serbia: Critics of president Aleksander Vucic’s government say they have increasingly become the targets of threats and violence. This week, the international nongovernment organization Freedom House downgraded the country from “free” to “partly free” because of the attacks.
The Serbian government quickly rejected that characterization, but many Serbians seem to agree with it. Every Saturday for the past nine weeks, tens of thousands have protested in cities around the country. They say the country is becoming an autocracy and accuse Vucic and his ruling Progressive Party of violently silencing their critics; manipulating election results through voter intimidation, ballot stuffing and vote buying; and neutering the judiciary to protect their own.
One of the protesters' main demands is a new government, and Jovanovic thinks that’s possible. “They can [succeed] if the citizens are persistent, and I see they are," he said. More protests are planned for Saturday.
This segment originally aired February 7, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.