Lawyers and historians evaluate the news about the idea of exchanging Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, convicted of genocide and other crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), for captured officers in Ukraine, as misinformation and insinuation, which has been placed by some popular media in the region and Russia in recent days.
According to the allegations of the Montenegrin portal IN4S published on June 18th, Western officials are negotiating with the Russian side regarding the exchange of Mladic and Karadzic for Ukrainian prisoners.
This news, which can be found on some Russian portals and on Russian and pro-Russian profiles on Twitter and Facebook, was also transmitted by several regional portals from Serbia and BiH.
Vesna Radojevic, the editor of the Serbian fact-checking portal Raskrikavanje.rs, believes that the IN4S portal, at least in the experience of her colleagues, has previously published controversial texts, and that, although Ukraine is not without false news, more propaganda and misinformation is coming from Russia in our region.
”The pro-regime media wholeheartedly support Putin and our tabloids are full of pro-Putin bias. (…) Another thing is quite important – a flood of misinformation in these areas is possible due to rather poor information,” said Radojevic, adding that she blames “bad journalism and lazy journalists” for that.
Radojevic mentioned that professional journalists would never allow themselves not to have at least a few sources that confirm the story of the anonymous person.
”Unfortunately, there is a complete abuse of anonymous sources in our region, and very often those sources are actually fabricated. What is a paradox in the region, is that fake news is in most cases so banal and meaningless that it only takes a little time to completely expose it,” she adds.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has sentenced Mladic, a former Republika Srpska Army (VRS) commander, and Karadzic, a former RS president, to life in prison for genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, terrorizing the citizens of Sarajevo, and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
The ICTY did not comment on the news posted on the IN4S portal.
Iva Vukusic, a historian at Utrecht University, said she was not an expert on fake news, but wondered “whether the purpose of this disinformation is to ignite the passions of people who care more about elderly convicted war criminals than what the country they live in looks like.”
”I really don’t know that anyone who is informed about the legal framework and international institutions could believe something like this. This is really such nonsense, if it wasn’t tragic, it would be completely absurd. I’m speechless and can’t understand that someone deals with such nonsense in their life,” Vukusic states, Detektor writes.