Views of the Serbian media on the events of September 24 in Banjska, Kosovo

September 2023.

As part of the program Regional Initiative to Combat Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Views of the Serbian media on the events of September 24 in Banjska, Kosovo

On Sunday, September 24th, 2023, there was an armed confrontation between a group of Serbs from Kosovo and the Kosovo police, in which an Albanian policeman was killed while two others were injured. Four Serbs from Kosovo also died in the confrontation, which is why September 27th was declared a Day of Mourning in Serbia. What was known in the media on the same day was that at the entrance to the village of Banjska in the north of Kosovo, the border police noticed that two heavy trucks without license plates were positioned to block the bridge, reports Kosovo Online.

On Sunday afternoon, we had the opportunity to hear the emergency address of the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić. Until the address, the citizens of the Republic of Serbia could not be informed about the tragic event, given that no television with a national frequency broadcasted the details of the aforementioned armed confrontation. On that day, there was silence in the media about this critical event if we consider that even RTS, as a public service, did not inform the citizens about it. The only television reported was N1, as written by the Danas portal.

After the president’s address, the citizens still have not gotten an answer to what exactly happened in the village of Banjska. Vučić stated that “Serbs revolted because they did not want to suffer from Kurti’s terror anymore”, reports Kosovo Online. It is hard to believe that it was a spontaneous rebellion of Serbs from Kosovo, who have been fighting for their rights for many years. There was an active dialogue about the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities, and a document was even published in which “it is foreseen that the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities will be completed by the end of October 2023”, reports Sputnik. What is certain now is that the Serbs are in a much worse negotiating position than before this tragic confrontation. Likely, the dialogue about the CSM will not continue soon, bearing in mind that in the Pristina media, this confrontation is widely presented as a “terrorist act” committed by a “Serbian criminal gang”, as N1 finds out.

“The only one to blame for all that is happening in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, the only one to blame… Admittedly, there is a little bit of blame for those who help him in this, and that is part of the international community.” It’s Albin Kurti,” said the President of the Republic of Serbia. He added that no pressure from the international community would lead Serbia to recognize an independent Kosovo. Blaming a part of the international community for the armed rebellion near Banjska, he also told them that he was ready for dialogue, which confused the citizens of the Republic of Serbia, reports KoSSev.

The vice president of the Serbian List, Milan Radoičić, admitted that he personally organized the rebellion in Kosovo in an open letter to the public on September 29. “I inform all the on-duty persecutors of the Serbian people that I made all the logistical preparations for the defence of the Serbian people against the occupiers, and this act has nothing to do with my previous political involvement. I did not inform anyone from the Serbian authorities or local structures about this”, reports Telegraf. He pointed out that on September 24, he “returned to the north of Kosovo and Metohija to protect his people who are exposed to Kurti’s terror every day”, reports Novosti.

Although Radoičić’s confession denied the involvement of the Republic of Serbia and its officials in the armed rebellion in Banjska, the Kosovo media began to publish disturbing footage about the possible involvement of Aleksandar Vučić and the Serbian Army. Namely, there are videos from a drone that allegedly show exercises and preparations for the attack in Banjska carried out in central Serbia, i.e. on Kopaonik and Pasuljanske livade, where a unit of the Training Command of the Army of the Republic of Serbia is located, reports KoSSev.

Author: Nataša Stanojević