When he was Serbia’s information minister in the late 1990s, Aleksandar Vucic censored journalists, forced media critics out of business and served as chief propagandist for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian strongman reviled for the atrocities that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. Today Mr. Vucic is the prime minister of Serbia, having been elected in 2014 as a reformer on promises to lead Serbia into a democratic future and membership in the European Union. He has renounced the extreme nationalist views of his past. Western leaders rely on him as a partner to maintain calm within the Serbian minorities in Kosovo and Bosnia, to support their migration policies and to keep sufficient distance from Russia — even though Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has professed his support for Mr. Vucic.
However, Serbian journalists who have reported critically on Mr. Vucic say that little has really changed. They say that tactics of harassment and intimidation have made it almost impossible to do fair-minded journalism.
Stevan Dojcinovic is the editor of the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, a nonprofit organization that does online investigative journalism. He is 31, with a steely personality, a short scruffy beard and metal piercings.
He was investigating the undeclared assets of Mr. Vucic’s family last year when his picture appeared on the front page of The Informer, a popular pro-Vucic tabloid in Serbia, five times in one month. Some of the photographs and personal information could only have been obtained from government surveillance, Mr. Dojcinovic says. “S&M French Spy?” was the lead headline in one issue.