Twitter has suspended the accounts of 13 ruling Serbian Progressive Party MPs, a party executive and two state officials, reportedly for contravening the social media platform’s rules.
Twitter is reported to have suspended the accounts of at least 16 political figures in Serbia, all of them either members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party or holders of senior state posts.
Political rights NGO CRTA on Friday named 13 ruling party MPs whose accounts have been suspended – Nevena Djuric, Sandra Bozic, Milica Nikolic, Jelena Obradovic, Aleksandar Markovic, Krsto Janjusevic, Dusan Radojevic, Jelena Zaric Kovacevic, Aleksandra Tomic, Stasa Stojanovic, Zoran Tomic, Andrijana Vasic and Olja Petrovic.
Twitter also suspended the accounts of Miroslav Cuckovic, the newly appointed Belgrade City Manager, and Slavisa Micanovic, a member of the Serbian Progressive Party’s main and executive boards.
The account of Arnaud Gouillon, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, has been suspended too. Gouillon is a French national, founder of the organisation Solidarité Kosovo.
According to screen shots that Gouillon and MP Stasa Stojanovic posted online, they were suspended for breaking Twitter’s rules and were not be able to post new content or to ‘like’ anything.
Stojanovic said on Instagram that she does not know why her Twitter account was suspended.
“I didn’t enter into any discussions, nor did I insult anyone, nor did I do anything bad, especially not there [on Twitter], there I mostly retweet, share and like [Serbian Progressive] party things, things that happen in our country, and above all beautiful things, about art, about culture,” Stojanovic said.
Gouillon implied in a message posted on Facebook that he was suspended over his comment about an opinion survey about whether people in Serbia think the country’s former province of Kosovo “is lost”.
“Twitter just suspended my account where I had 34,000 followers, without explanation! It’s scandalous! Look at my last tweet and decide for yourself if I wrote something wrong,” Gouillon wrote.
This is the third year in a row that Twitter has either down or added warning messages to accounts in Serbia.
In August 2021, Twitter labelled a number of well-known newspapers and TV stations in Serbia as media over whose editorial content the state exercises control “through financial resources and direct or indirect political pressures”.
In April 2020, Twitter removed almost 8,558 accounts that it said were “working to promote Serbia’s ruling party”, the Serbian Progressive Party.