2023 was undoubtedly the most difficult and tragic in the recent history of Serbia, while the centuries-old national motto that “we are at our best when we are at our worst” was unfounded.
While the majority of the population in Serbia continued to observe their own reality silently and from a safe distance, a handful of brave women decided to do something about future of the entire nation and showed everyone what human and professional integrity means.
These are the women who marked 2023:
The event which, after many years of collective apathy and indifference, started the awakening of the anaesthetized society, but also the chain reaction of civil rebellion that has not subsided to this day, took place in February. At that time, news about the arrest of several persons suspected of embezzling money from a public company (Electric Power Industry of Serbia – EPS) spread across the country.
A significant segment of the public was surprised to learn that the public prosecutor’s office did not completely capitulate to the regime and interest groups close to it.
A rude awakening, however, followed the very next day.
“The prosecutor who worked on the EPS case has been dismissed”, the media reported. Soon after, the second prosecutor who worked on the EPS case has also been dismissed. Press releases from the Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade were released almost simultaneously to the “demagnetized” public, with mind-boggling explanations about how and why the acting prosecutors, who worked on such an important case, were replaced, a day after they ordered and carried out the arrests of people involved in the embezzlement.
Just when it seemed to them that everything was ready for a new deluge of collective apathetic indifference, the Serbian judiciary stepped up and the Serbian public witnessed an unprecedented precedent and a step forward by brave professionals who refused to remain silent and participate in the organized destruction of the state and society. Thus, the prosecutors Bojana Savović and Jasmina Paunović became a symbol of resistance, evidence that there are still professionals in the prosecutor’s office who serve the law and the public interest.
Soon, Savović’s and Paunović’s colleague, public prosecutor Milena Božović, publicly came forward regarding the same case. All three revealed to the public what is happening in the prosecutor’s office, who has been working hard to prevent the accused individuals from being processed in a relevant court. Savović and Božović joined the ProGlas initiative on the eve of the elections, and, to the delight of the citizens, together with the initiators, were speakers at the ProGlas forums that were held throughout Serbia.
Marinika Tepić and Jelena Milošević, from the Serbia against Violence coalition, went on a hunger strike a day after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić declared election victory.
Despite numerous attempts to dissuade them from going on a hunger strike, Tepić refused to take food for 13 days and her health began to seriously deteriorate. No one from the government showed even the slightest empathy towards Tepić, who was not spared malicious comments, which came from regime supporters.
Danijela Grujić, from the Novi Sad branch of the Freedom and Justice Party, also joined the hunger strike at one point.
Magnificent university professors
Former rector of the Belgrade University, Professor Ivanka Popović, as well as Professor Tamara Džamonja Ignjatović from the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy are members of the academic community that initiated the ProGlas initiative.
Although the majority of their colleagues chose to observe current events from the sidelines, Popović and Džamonja Ignjatović joined a public struggle for the re-establishment of the proper value system in society and the restoration of dignity to educational institutions, professors, teachers and students.
Professor Tamara Džamonja Ignjatović was also the coordinator of the group hired to provide psychological help after the May mass shootings. When she clearly said that she would not allow herself to be governed by petty politics, she was declared undesirable, both in professional circles and in the government team.
A brave policewoman
Katarina Petrović from Valjevo came into the public spotlight after she was arrested and charged with abuse of office, because she provided opposition politician Marinika Tepić with information about a serious traffic accident caused by a good friend of the President of Serbia, Nikola Petrović.
In the report she submitted, it was clearly stated that Petrović caused the accident in Belgrade while he was under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.
Because of this, she was first arrested and subsequently suspended from her job, while the prosecutor’s office in Valjevo initiated legal proceedings against her.
An intrepid investigative journalist
Ivana Milosavljević, a student and journalist, exposed the SNS-run call centre which disposes of huge sums of money of unknown origin, as well as an organized criminal group engaged in buying votes for the SNS.
Milosavljević infiltrated the call centre and was ready to risk her own safety for the sake of the truth. For this, she was met with the approval and support from fellow journalists, as well as a significant part of the public.
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