President snubs BIA event after reporters are banned from it

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic late on Monday canceled his participation in an event marking the day of the Security Information Agency (BIA).

Source: B92, Tanjug
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

According to the Presidency, Vucic did this "because several journalists from different newsdesks did not get permission to attend the ceremony."

Previously, journalists Vesna Radojevic and Dusan Teleskovic announced on Twitter than they had been turned back after being told there were "no security conditions" to allow them attendance at the event, where Vucic was to appear together with BIA Director Bratislav Gasic.

Eventually, Deputy PM and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic participated in Vucic's stead.

A statement explaining Vucic's absence said that he "believes that the right to report and freedom of information cannot be denied to anybody," and "demands from state organs of Serbia to respect and guarantee freedoms and rights of all citizens, regardless of their political orientation."

"Representatives of state organs must not behave brazenly and irresponsibly, like many political leaders who do not allow journalists who think differently to their own events, or deny them the answers to the questions asked," the statement said.

It added that "transparency and openness in their work must be the basic way of acting and functioning of public authorities."

The statement further said that the president congratulated all BIA members on their "excellent results achieved in preserving the country's security, that of all citizens, and in combating corruption and crime."

"I congratulate you on your devoted work, enormous efforts and energy, and because of the complexity of the situation in the world and in our environment, I expect you to be even more committed to fighting for the interests of the citizens of Serbia and our country," Vucic said.

The Ministry of the Interior of the Kingdom of Serbia formed the Department of Confidential Police Affairs on October 17, 1899 - which is marked as BIA Day.

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