Serbia’s electronic media watchdog chief in Nazi uniform

NEWS 06.12.202309:50

The head of Serbia’s electronic media watchdog Oliver Zekic posted a photomontage of herself in Nazi uniform on her Telegram channel profile, Radio Free Europe said adding that she said the picture was there as a provocation.

RSE: Fotomontaža koju je čelnica spskog REM-a Olivera Zekić, postavila na svom Telegram profilu, kombinujući svoje lice sa arhivskom fotografijom uniforme nacističkog komandanta Rajnharda Hajdriha

Zekic’s head was photoshoped onto a colorized picture of Reinhard Heydrich, author of the Nazi final solution to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. RFE said that it found the original photograph through an online search.

“I did it purely for provocation,” the head of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) told RFE. “You know I like to provoke. I could have put up caricatures by Korax and Petric (both known critics of the Serbian regime) which are much worse. This is a photomontage from Twitter and I put it up,” she said. RFE said that it’s search did not turn up the picture on X (formerly Twitter). Zekic claimed that the picture was put up several years ago on Twitter.

Serbian historian Branka Prpa said that the picture with Nazi symbols are problematic in every aspect because of Zekic’s position as head of the (REM) which has final say over the allocation of electronic media frequencies and is supposed to enforce the appropriate laws. Zekic has been fiercely criticized by both the opposition and independent media as well as international organizations including the European Commission for alleged favoritism benefiting pro-regime media. Zekic defended herself in a heated exchange during an opposition protest in front of the REM headquarters by calling criticism of her “pure Fascism”.

Under the law, REM should be an independent body promoting quality and diversity in electronic media and helping protect and develop free thought and expression.

Prpa told RFE that “anyone bearing Nazi symbols for the sake of exhibitionism, political or any other reason actually reaffirms those ideas”. According to her, the symbols of Nazi Germany “are not something you can parade around in a European state … because Nazism was the greatest trauma of the continent, taking so many lives and because as an ideology it annulled the idea of humanity”. She added that the public and state bodies that verified her position in the REM should react.

RFE recalled that Serbia has a law banning neo-Nazi and Fascist events and the use of those symbols in public. That law bans “the production, duplication, storage, presentation, glorifying or any other form of spreading propaganda material, symbols or insignia which cause, motivate or spread hatred and intolerance, advocate or justify neo-Nazi and Fascist ideas and organizations”. Violations of that law draw fines of up to 50,000 Dinars (1 Euro – 117 Dinars) for private individuals and up to a million Dinars for legal entities.