Another SLAPP against Serbian Investigative Outlet KRIK

Published: 11 May 2023

krik-timJournalists of the Serbian investigative news outlet KRIK face lawsuits for their reporting. (Photo: KRIK)

By Zdravko Ljubas

KRIK, a Serbian investigative outlet and partner of OCCRP, is facing another lawsuit in response to its report on alleged connections between a Serbian businessman close to President Aleksandar Vučić and a criminal involved in international drug trafficking.

Nikola Petrović, who is considered a powerful figure in Serbia and known as Vučić’s "best man,” has filed a lawsuit against KRIK's editor Stevan Dojčinović and investigative reporters Bojana Jovanović and Dragana Pećo.

The report by KRIK alleged close ties between Petrović and Dejan Stanimirović, also known as Marcos, who was suspected of maintaining connections with drug trafficking networks in the Balkans and Colombia.

Stanimirović was killed in Colombia in 2020, and Petrović was believed to have had a business arrangement with him from 2004 to 2010.

In his complaint, Petrović argues that KRIK's claim of his collaboration with the criminal is false. According to the report, Petrović asserts that their collaboration occurred during a period when Stanimirović was not suspected of involvement in international drug trafficking.

Consequently, Petrović is demanding the retraction of the KRIK article and seeking 200,000 Serbian dinars (equivalent to US$1,863) in compensation for "mental suffering."

However, KRIK's reporters view Petrović's legal action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, a so-called SLAPP.

Such lawsuits are designed to financially drain and intimidate the editorial team, discouraging them from reporting on individuals close to the government.

Over the past two years, KRIK has faced a total of 12 lawsuits, including three filed by Petrović.

“Flooding with lawsuits is a new tactic used by the government to suffocate Serbia’s few surviving free media outlets,” said KRIK’s editor-in-chief, Stevan Dojčinović.

“This is an issue that must be resolved,” he concluded.