Serbian Non-public Safety Firm Protects Vucic Posters

Aleksandar Vucic poster without teeth Photo: BIRN

The security company Intersec from Novi Sad is guarding a prominent poster of the chairman of the Serbian Progressive Party and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic in the northern city of Novi Sad around the clock until election day on April 2nd.

“I have to be here, that’s my job, and we guard this poster 24 hours a day. My company sent me here and that’s all I know, ”a security guard told BIRN, who was watching a large Vucic poster in Serbia’s second city.

Both Intersec and the Progressive Party declined BIRN’s request for comment.

Intersec was responsible for security at the well-known EXIT festival as well as for the concerts of Ceeloo Green in Novi Sad, Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Indjija, Madonna in Belgrade as well as for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Novi Sad and sporting events.

In September 2016, US celebrity Paris Hilton published a photo of them on Snapchat, which gives her security during a visit to Serbia, where she hung up for a private party in the capital, Belgrade.

The Vojvodina Civic Center [Vojvodina Civic Centre], an NGO, has launched an online campaign asking people to report posters in public places that they suspect should not be.

“We ask people to take pictures of these posters… and after we collect ten reports, we send them to the city’s municipal inspection. At the same time we are calling the public company “Greenery of the City”, which is obliged to remove the posters, ”said Jelena Dukaric, an activist from the organization.

The parties should bear the costs of removing the posters, not the citizens, she said.

Serbian Advertising Law states that posters can only be displayed in places where local authorities decide they are allowed and where they have permits.

However, the Novi Sad City Council informed BIRN that they have the right to reserve additional space for campaign posters if they decide that space is running out for all the posters they need.

So far, municipal inspectors in the city have said they failed to notice that someone had illegally posted posters and therefore no one was punished for the crime.

The move came after unknown assailants started tearing down or damaging Vucic posters in the days and weeks leading up to the presidential election he plans to win.

On the night of March 24th, someone removed Vucic’s teeth from a poster on a building under renovation that sparked online ridicule.

Earlier, on March 18, several people had torn down posters of Vucic when he was holding an election rally in Novi Sad, apparently mostly elderly people who they said wanted to keep their city clean.

In Kraljevo, western Serbia, police arrested three activists from the Lokalni Front [Local front] Organization and councilors of the local assembly for the removal of posters from Vucic.

Branislav Senicic of the local front said the prosecutor told him that “he believes there is no case – but that my behavior was offensive to someone – for the billboard”.

He and two other frontline activists spent two hours at the police station on March 20 when Vucic was holding a rally in the city. The front supports a rival, former Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.

Senicic said when he saw the police watching over Vucic’s billboard in front of the town hall where Vucic was holding his rally: “I asked if they could guard our posters, and the officer replied: We don’t care about anyone’s poster . Then we tested them, went to another location and sprayed a few lines on a Vucic poster. Several policemen appeared immediately. “

Act again.
Police Station SNS POSTERS pic.twitter.com/8y1lfgbm1L

– Vladan (@bagraubica), March 21, 2017

Sasa Djordjevic, from the Belgrade Security Policy Center, said posters are not public property and the police cannot be hired to guard them.

“The police can only be called if there is a violation of public order rules. But it’s not like that here, ”said Djordejvic.

The election poster has already caused a tragic death. While trying to find a place for a Vucic poster, a party activist was killed a few days ago while crossing the busy highway between Belgrade and Novi Sad.

NOTE: This article was changed on March 27th to include Intersec guarding Vucic’s posters. In the previous version it was stated that the Serbian Progressive Party had engaged Intersec.

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