By: Dina Đorđević, Jovana Tomić
From a responsible mayor to a caring father - this can be the shortest description of a video titled A Day with the Mayor, in which Siniša Mali showed what his typical workday looked like in 2018. As the head of Belgrade, he had meetings one after the other, he painted park benches, greeted a street cleaner. In March 2018, three days before the local elections, the video was posted on the Facebook profile Beograd Živi (Belgrade Lives).
Behind that brand is Wireless Media, a company owned by Adria Media Group owner Igor Žeželj. CINS uncovers a whole network of websites and accounts on social networks that have popped up across Serbia over the past three years, mostly ahead of elections. The goal is to convince citizens to vote for the local authorities and officials of the Serbian Progressive Party. This kind of party promotion was not reported to the Anti-Corruption Agency.
Wireless Media (WM) is an IT company that designs and creates websites and other digital content for other companies, to promote themselves online. This company founded a special section that has been working on promoting local authorities and the Serbian Progressive Party since 2017, says a source of the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) well acquainted with the company’s operations. The source wanted to remain anonymous, but CINS got confirmation for the claims made in the piece from multiple sides and through documents.
The Progressive party appeared among WM’s clients at one point, specifically the chapter in Stari Grad, one of the few Belgrade municipalities that were not controlled by the ruling party at the time. Their cooperation continued even after the party came to power in the municipality in 2020.
Over the last three years, this company has designed websites and social media accounts for Belgrade and Sombor, and has established social networks for Pančevo, Novi Sad, Subotica and Sremska Mitrovica.
You can read the whole story on CINS.rs.
The text was created within the project “PrEUgovor for Rule of Law and EU integration of Serbia” supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the above mentioned donors, or its partners.