Disinformation about the massacre at the “Vladislav Ribnikar” school

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Original article (in Serbian) was published on 07/05/2023

Eight children and a school guard were killed on May 3 in the Belgrade elementary school “Vladislav Ribnikar”, and seven more people were injured. After the massacre, for which a thirteen-year-old student of that school is suspected, a high level of unprofessional reporting was observed in the local media, as our colleagues from Raskrikavanje wrote about. At this point, we draw brief conclusions about some of the inaccurate and manipulative information that we have observed, with a note that due to the sensitivity of the topic, we are not in a position to respond to all requests for verification sent to us by readers.

No, the history teacher did not die

Some media wrongly stated that the history teacher from the “Vladislav Ribnikar” school died during the shooting. These are the web portals where it is still evident that incorrect information was shared: Nova, Novi glas, Srbin info, Direktno, Mondo, Serbian tajms, Prijedor 24h, Bosna info, Hayat, Press media and Srpska info. The same news was also reported in the daily TV Pink, which was followed by a denial (Srbija Danas, Alo, Lajk, Danasnje, Republika). To remind you, the history teacher from the “Vladislav Ribnikar” school was wounded in the shooting and according to the latest information, she was moved to a “less intensive care unit”.

No, vaccinated people are not prohibited from being donors

After the tragedy, information spread on social networks that there is a demand for blood donors who were not vaccinated. There is no such rule, and those who have received the vaccine against the coronavirus and those who have not done so can equally donate blood – if they are healthy and meet all other necessary criteria. “The statements that it is necessary to be unvaccinated against coronavirus are incorrect. The only important thing is to be healthy. Even if someone has a mild cold, it is necessary to wait a few days”, the Institute for Blood Transfusion told the N1 web portal. The Institute for Blood Transfusion of Serbia has published a notice on its Instagram account that further confirms this information and states that there is currently enough blood for all the injured.

No, N1 did not call for the suspect to be released

The weekend edition of “Informer” carried a sensational text on the front page titled “INSANE DEMAND / N1 Requested that Kosta be released!”. What Informer attributed to N1 television were actually the words of Aleksandar Fatic from the Institute for Practical Humanities, who was a guest on this television’s show. On its web portal, Informer was even harsher, and titled the text with the following “Scum from N1 DEMANDS THAT THE KILLER OF EIGHT CHILDREN IN PRIMARY SCHOOL IN VRACAR, BE RELEASED AND ENROLLED IN ANOTHER SCHOOL! (VIDEO)”. The web portals  Republika, Vojvodina uzivo i NSuzivo wrote: “SCANDALOUS REQUEST FROM SOLAK’S N1: They demand that the MONSTER who killed the students at school be let home and returned to his parents (VIDEO)”, while Pink states the following: “THE N1 DEMANDS: The killer boy should be released, he just needs to change schools! (VIDEO)”.

No, Dusan Bajatovic is not the Minister of Education

Politician and entrepreneur Dusan Bajatovic was mistakenly identified, in a popular post on Reddit, as the minister of education who “blamed Western values for the school shooting”. Along with these words, a photo of Bajatovic holding a gun in the company of sportswoman and reality star Ljuba Pantovic was published. Bajatovic, however, is not the Minister of Education, but the general director of the public company Srbijagas, while the current Minister of Education Branko Ruzic criticized “Western values” as a possible cause of this act at the press conference after the shooting in Vracar.

No, Matija Beckovic does acknowledge the quote attributed to him

A reader drew our attention to the fact that in the past few days, a quote by academician Matija Beckovic has been widely shared on social networks and messaging apps. Considering that we did not find a relevant source that confirms this, we decided to contact Beckovic, who denied that these were his words. “Someone wrote it instead of me!”- Beckovic wrote in his answer to Fake News Tragac.

This quote has more than a thousand reactions and shares, as well as several hundred comments on Facebook. About 18,000 users saw the misattributed quote on Twitter. It was also reported by the web portals Asinfo, Opstinasokolac.net, Borba.me and Srpska24.me.

Subsequent note: Natasa Stanojlovic contacted the Tragac editorial office via Facebook, stating that the post (attributed to Matija Beckovic) was actually hers. You can view the post here.

No, Zarko Lausevic did not write a song about the massacre

On May 4, the web portals Mondo, Telegraf, Glorija, Puls onlajn, Blic, Republika, Espreso, 24 sedam, Kurir, Direktno, Bigportal.ba, Red portal, Informer, Pink, Srbija danas, and Alo  reported that actor Zarko Lausevic wrote a song dedicated to the murdered children at “Vladislav Ribnikar” school. However, the very next day, denials and confirmations arrived that this song was not the work of Lausevic (which was reported by Telegraf, Glorija, Puls onlajn, Republika, Espreso, 24 sedam, Kurir, Informer, Radio Balkan Fox, Pink, Nportal). These media reported the words of Lausevic’s representative: “I inform you that our client Zarko Lauseivc is not the author of the mentioned verses. We also inform you that Mr Zarko Lausevic does not have an account on any social network, so he could not publish the mentioned song via his account”.