The parliamentary elections and the campaign marked the month behind us, which is the reason why this DFC Magazine issue mostly addresses these topics. Therefore, besides debunked disinformation and fake news published on the eve and after the elections, find out which political party spent the largest amount of money on Facebook ads in August. In the 23rd Magazine issue read about everything that we have discovered by analyzing the content on the UDAR news portal.
On August 25, the news portals Republika.rs and Srbija danas published fake news that the rebellion against the government began in Montenegro, and that the dissatisfied citizens moved the police car with their hands, which was blocking the road.
Republika was the first to publish the news: (VIDEO) EXCAVATOR REVOLUTION IN MONTENEGRO! The revolted people said „IT’S ENOUGH“ to the regime in Podgorica. Shortly after that, Srbija danas republished the whole text with a headline: WITH EXCAVATOR ON THE REGIME, WITH BARE HANDS ON THE POLICE CAR: People launched the „revolution“ against Milo’s torture! (VIDEO).
The texts read that the citizens started fighting the Montenegrin police in order to break the blockade on a yet unknown location. They added that „the excavator revolution“ started in Montenegro, and the video description says – take a look at what the dirty government forced the citizens to do.
Together with the text, the news portals published a Facebook video of Vladimir Savic, the President of the Association of Former Police Officers, a soldier and a security services, who did not explain in the description that the video is old but also did not state that the record was created two days ago. The video was shared more than 430 times on Facebook and the majority of users thought that the incidents occurred on Tuesday, August 25.
In fact, there was no rebellion on the Montenegrin roads on Tuesday. The report from TV Vijesti created five years ago (published in June 2015) showing the protest of the workers from bauxite mine in Niksic which used to be in the state of bankruptcy back then, was used for this fake news. The workers protested since the Company Board of Trustees refused the offer of Miodrag Davidovic, the owner of Neksan, to buy the company.
The posts of this kind only represent the continuation of the disinformation campaign which has been led by the Belgrade-based tabloids for months, and which has been additionally amplified before the parliamentary elections in Montenegro.
New and fake public opinion research appeared yesterday on social media. It is stated in the post that the IPSOS agency conducted a piece of research for one political party in August.
IPSOS agency said for the DFC that the piece of research was not theirs, reminding that it is not the first time that the name of their agency has been misused.
Fake data of the research that the Ipsos allegedly conducted have been appearing lately. Taking into consideration that the data mentioned in these articles do not correspond to any research of the Ipsos agency even though our logo was used, the démenti of the information should be published, said Vladimir Raicevic, the CEO of Ipsos for Montenegro.
He appealed to all media outlets to verify the credibility and truthfulness of the data before publishing them or to publish the data while stating their true source, without misusing the name of Ipsos agency.
Besides, when Ipsos publishes the data of the research, as a rule, we also publish the interpretation of one of the authorized Ipsos researchers or publish them on our website, Raicevic said.
This is not the first time that the fake news predicting the election results have appeared on social media. Last week, a fake piece of research for the local elections in Budva appeared on social media. Allegedly, its author was the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM). CEDEM stated that this piece of research was not theirs, adding that they always publically present their public opinion surveys.
Countering disinformation is a long-term issue and there are no quick fixes, said the outgoing Ambassador of the UK in Montenegro for the DFC Magazine. She assessed that the best way to fight such phenomenon is through transparency, accountability and good governance.
Ambassador Alison Kemp will end her mandate in Montenegro at the end of August. In her farewell interview for the Montenegrin media while commenting the attempts of Russian interference in the elections around the world, including the UK and Montenegro, said that her country would always respond to attempts to interfere in democratic processes.
As she explained, the UK is clear that the 2016 attempted coup in Montenegro was part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour, since Kremlin persistently seeks to undermine the security of the allies around the world.
Speaking of the upcoming Parliamentary elections, Kemp said she regretted the fact that not all of the suggestions of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) had been fully addressed through the Parliament procedure, but ultimately she thinks that the validity of the elections depends primarily on good will, faith and trust of all the political actors and the general public.
Disinformation – a weapon to undermine and destabilise society
Are you familiar with the work of the Digital Forensic Center? To what extent is the work of such an organization, which is fighting against disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories significant for the society?
Alison KEMP: I’ve followed the work of the DFC with interest since its foundation, and I’m pleased that the Centre collaborates with a wide range of experts in tackling disinformation, including those based in the UK. In a world where only 10% of the global population has access to free media, disinformation is often wielded as a weapon to undermine and destabilise society. It has never been easier to publish and receive information, it has also never been easier to spread lies and conspiracy theories.
Technological advances including the development of AI and of deep fakes, makes it all the more important that credible experts exist able to highlight and effectively deconstruct these dangers to the general public, who are aware of these trends, but tend to feel that disinformation is something that happens to other people.
We have seen disinformation used to influence the public debate and choices both in the UK and across the Western Balkans. The UK is at the forefront of efforts to fight such malign influence in the region, and in 2019 we announced a package of nearly £10 million over three years to counter disinformation and strengthen the independent media in the Western Balkans.
The UK has no quarrel with the Russian people
The British Intelligence and Security Committee’s report showed that Russia interfered with many elections in the United Kingdom, including the Brexit referendum, the 2019 general elections, as well as the Scottish independence referendum. Why is Britain one of the main Russian targets, as stated in the report?
Alison KEMP: On the seventieth anniversary of the founding of NATO, its leaders met in London on 3-4 December 2019 and agreed that the Kremlin’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Russia’s pattern of aggression and destabilising behaviour undermines its claim to be a responsible international partner.
The UK has no quarrel with the Russian people, indeed the UK and Russia’s historic ties, including as Allies in the Second World War means our relationship can and should be better. But that relationship must be based on mutual respect and a commitment to the Rules Based International System. The Russian government doesn’t like that the UK holds up a mirror to its reckless and illegal behaviour wherever it occurs.
Russia doesn’t like when we hold up a mirror to its illegal behaviour
The UK has called the Russia government out where it has crossed that line, including in the attempts to interfere with the 2016 Montenegrin election, malicious cyber activity, and the use of a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury which put the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk and resulted in the tragic death of a British mother, Dawn Sturgess and was a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
I should note that the Intelligence Select Committee report is an independent parliamentary report, rather than a government report or a statement of British government policy. The British government has responded that we have seen no evidence of successful interference in the 2014 Scottish referendum nor the 2016 EU referendum based on available information and intelligence assessments. However, the British Government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 UK General Election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents.
We have robust systems in place to protect the UK against foreign malign influence. These bring together government, civil society and private sector organisations to monitor and respond to interference, to ensure our democracy stays open, transparent and resilient. During the 2019 General Election a cross-Government election security cell coordinated responses to threats and hazards relating to the election.
The 2016 attempted coup in Montenegro part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour
As an example of elections interference, the Committee is providing an attempted coup during the 2016 Parliamentary elections in Montenegro, prior to NATO accession. Do you think that our country, ahead of the elections, is more resilient to such interference, or are you expecting more attempts of Russian interference?
Alison KEMP: Interference in any democracy is an international issue. And the UK will respond to any attempts to interfere in democratic processes, alongside NATO, the EU and our international partners.
The UK is clear that the 2016 Russian-backed attempted coup in Montenegro was part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour that persistently seeks to undermine our security and that of our allies around the world. And as a result, the UK increased our support and I’m pleased with the breadth of our co-operation, and the way in which Montenegro is working with the UK and other NATO allies to build its resilience across a range of national security issues. This work continues.
The UK is conscious of the challenges involved in holding elections under the current conditions, and that is one of the reasons why we support election observation by local and international organisations, including ODIHR, and why we are funding a range of local NGOs to monitor media and political financing in the run up to the elections and build a understanding in key electoral processes.
In the end, however, the best way to fight malicious interference and disinformation is through transparency, accountability and good governance, all core values which Montenegro shares with its NATO allies and the EU.
Objectivity and an ethical approach should be at the heart of responsible journalism
Last couple of months we faced a yet unseen flood of disinformation, launched by the Belgrade-based media and, as the DFC found, strictly ordered by Russia. Having that in mind, as well as the upcoming elections, what is there for our society and country to do to be more ready to respond to hybrid threats that, as we can see, more developed countries than Montenegro are exposed to?
Alison KEMP: Countering disinformation is a long-term issue and there are no quick fixes. It will take consistent and patient effort, with the focus adapting as society’s interests and technology change, for example the way in which misinformation and disinformation about COVID19 is being used to undermine public trust.
I’d suggest a three-fold approach, starting with supporting a trusted, sustainable, responsible and high quality media, which reflects and represents citizens. Objectivity and an ethical approach should be at the heart of responsible journalism. As the famous British newspaper editor C.P. Scott said, “comment is free but facts are sacred.”
It is not the job of the media alone to tackle disinformation
But it is not the job of the embattled media alone to tackle disinformation. The young entrepreneurs who first established the companies which dominate social media famously “moved fast and broke things”. But they now recognise that they need to balance freedom of expression with responsibility. We must have profound conversations with tech platforms whose space is used and abused by disinformation and misinformation. We are at the start of a journey through an evolving landscape. Montenegro’s NATO membership means it can share other allies experience of these conversations.
And a third part of the solution lies in education. Our schools and our curriculum have a valuable role to play, so young people grow up with the skills to tell fact from fiction, and think critically about the information they consume online. That is why I am so pleased that British Council and Montenegrin Government’s s 21st Century Skills and 21st Century Teachers programmes will train every primary school teacher in the country to bring innovative teaching focusing on problem solving, critical thinking and coding skills to their schools.
Technology will not slow down, it will only get faster and smarter. We must respond in a way which is consistent with our democratic values.
Questioning the way things have been done is one of democracy’s most valuable tenets
Many times have you called on all parties to find a common solution regarding the reform of electoral legislation. However, the consensus was not reached in the end. In that perspective and taking into account the processions that marked the year, how would you assess the atmosphere around elections in Montenegro?
Alison KEMP: Every election is a challenge to the way things have been done during the previous mandate and an opportunity to offer new approaches. This is not inherent fault in democracy but rather one of democracy’s most valuable and treasured tenets. Since in a democracy voters are offered a choice, the election process is always competitive, sometimes more sometimes less so. It is not unusual for elements of the society that have a vested interest in the outcome of the election to want to have their voice heard during the election campaign. As long as the political competition remains within the boundaries of the law, contested political campaigns are what democracy is about.
Boycotts stymy democracy
Significant steps have already been made in the electoral legislation in Montenegro before the 2016 national elections. The ODIHR observation mission report after that election highlighted further important recommendations that should have been implemented. I regret the fact that not all these suggestions have been fully addressed through the Parliament procedure, but ultimately the validity of the elections depends primarily on good will, faith and trust of all the political actors and the general public. I am confident that with a full and committed implementation of the existing legislation by all institutions and political parties a good outcome can be achieved.
Our word “parliament” derives from the French verb to talk, your word “skupstina” derives from the verb to gather. Your representatives are entrusted with citizens votes to gather together, hold the government to account and represent their interests. Boycotts do not help achieve this, they stymy democracy and inhibit those reform processes that political parties say they want to support. I hope that all MPs who win the public vote at the end of the month will participate in the next parliament.
At the heart of Montenegro’s accession journey is the reforms
Even though Great Britain left the European Union, its officials have stated many times that it is very important for Montenegro to continue its European path. To what extent does the advancement in that process depend on us alone and to what extent on the balance of power inside the Union, because the Member States do not have the same attitude on the enlargement process, particularly after Brexit?
Alison KEMP: The UK wants a strong, stable and prosperous neighbourhood. We remain of the view that the EU accession process is important to delivering security, stability and prosperity in the entire Western Balkans region. At the heart of Montenegro’s accession journey is the reforms that must be undertaken to demonstrate effective and sustained commitment to the values shared by all EU members states. Dialogue with the Commission and member states on these reforms will be an important demonstration of Montenegro’s engagement with the accession process.
Now the hard work of closing the chapters must begin
In the three years I have been in Montenegro, the EU has underlined its commitment not just to Montenegro, but to the entire region through a series of Presidencies who concentrated on your region; a new Enlargement package by the Commission in 2018; and new methodology which unlocked the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania in 2020. And now most recently with the extension of the Green Deal and COVID response measures and assistance to Montenegro and the region.
I’m pleased that Montenegro has now opened all chapters of acquis, but now the hard work of closing them must begin. The UK is proud to continuing supporting Montenegro’s commitment to the accession process, and in meeting the necessary requirements.
DFC: Now, at the end of your mandate in Montenegro, what do you see as the greatest advantage and disadvantage of our society?
Alison KEMP: Your advantages are you size and the resilient spirit of your people, which I think was typified by the documentary I made on Operation Brezna of 1944. Montenegro’s resilience has been strained recently, but CV19 has also brought out the best in people in terms of supporting those more vulnerable than themselves.
Montenegro has so much going for it
Throughout my time here I have been concerned by the discriminatory rhetoric and invective that sometimes features in your political life, including the use of ethnic, sexist and homophobic slurs. And this is something I’ve been particularly conscious of in the last year, including in the public discourse over the law on religion and COVID. Diversity is a shared European and NATO value, and in this regard the UK will continue to support dialogue and an inclusive approach to policy making and the full and fair exercise of the rule of law.
As is everyone in Montenegro, I’m apprehensive of the economic impact of coronavirus. Montenegro has so much going for it: one of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes most visitors have ever seen, wonderful agriculture products, resourceful and talented people. I am encouraged that the recent package of economic measures seeks to balance Montenegro’s core sectors – tourism and agriculture, with emerging areas of economic growth. I will continue to follow Montenegro’s progress from afar.
In the new DFC Magazine issue read what the British Ambassador to Montenegro Alison Kemp told us about the way the United Kingdom is fighting against disinformation and foreign interference. Read about the way the Montenegrin political parties are using Facebook for their electoral campaigns, as well as about the role of Twitter in global conflicts.
The news on the death of several hundreds of sparrows, due to a thunderstorm that hit Podgorica last night, created an avalanche of comments that the 5G technology is responsible for their death. That disinformation could be found among the readers’ comments on almost all Montenegrin news portals and their Facebook pages.
The comments on the news portals read that the authorities used the thunderstorm to install secretly the 5G masts in the night and that the consequences of such actions could be seen this morning. One of the comments read that the people themselves wanted the technology, which “could be easily installed in Montenegro because no one knows what that is”.
Many times have we explained that there are no scientific proofs of 5G technology having an impact on the health of the living creatures. Even if that would be true, the sparrows could not die due to the frequencies of the 5G technology because its first installations in Montenegro are expected no sooner than late 2022.
Ornithologist Darko Saveljic explained for the DFC that the birds died due to a sudden drop in temperature.
“Sparrows are social birds, which after nesting form flocks that sometimes account for several hundreds of them. They search for food, drink water, and sleep together. As this was the first rain young sparrows faced after coming out of their nests, they did not steel themselves for such a heavy rain and temperature drop of more than 20 degrees. The strong wind had a deadly cooling factor. Those who were looking saw that the rain was falling horizontally. All that brought death to hundreds of them. Most probably to other species in nature too, but the sparrows live with us, so we found about that immediately”, Saveljic said.
This is not the first time that the Montenegrin public reads about speculations on the harmful effects of news technologies. On April 4, “The petition against the implementation of 5G in Montenegro” appeared on the peticije.online platform, explaining that many harmful effects hit the counties that have already installed the 5G network. They explained that during the 5G testing in the Netherlands, hundreds of birds fell from the sky and died because they were using frequency ranges which are beneficial neither for human health nor for nature.
Many conspiracy theorists and 5G technology opponents refer to the death of birds in the Netherlands. When the bird deaths occurred (November 2018), no 5G testing was performed, and the last testing was carried out on July 28, 2018, a couple of months before the incident. The theories were denied even by the local societies for the protection of birds.
Just like other generations of wireless technologies (4G, 3G, and 2G), 5G cellular data are transmitted through radio waves. Radio waves constitute a small part of a broader electromagnetic spectrum of waves and they emit the energy called electromagnetic radiation. Radio waves can be found at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum – and they produce only non-ionizing radiation (a type of electromagnetic radiation that does not have enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules, i.e. to remove electrons from atoms). That means that these waves cannot damage DNA inside cells, compared to waves with higher frequency (such as gamma rays, X-rays, and ultraviolet light) which may cause alteration in the DNA inside any cell.
The appearance of a publicist Danilo Tvrdisic on the National TV IN4S in the Srpski svijet (The Serbian World) TV show on July 19 was marked by the narratives on coronavirus, as the greatest global experiment in the history of mankind, but also on the events in Montenegro – indispensable topic of IN4S.
When the journalist asked him to comment on the world current affairs regarding coronavirus pandemic, Tvrdisic stated that the global experiment is in force currently, the greatest socio-psychological-media experiment in the history of human civilization, with media injecting fear among people. He completed his conspiracy theory with the claims that the terminology is very significant and in the context of the virus – it is very dramatic. He stated that someone is striving to amplify the drama and planetary fear, which results in the deprivation of human liberty.
The publicist expressed the thesis that two phases of global answers come to the stage when human consciousness changes due to the fear. The first one is a voluntary giving of the personal and individual rights and freedoms, while in the second phase – people will be deprived of the rest of their freedom. All of this is performed for a defense from a great apocalyptical evil and trouble – the coronavirus, Tvrdisic stated. He mentioned Israel and Middle East countries as an example of deprivation of freedoms, where people in self-isolation are being watched by thermal imaging cameras and wiretapped, while particular programs are being inserted into their cellphones. Even though we know that thermal imaging cameras may be helpful in recognition of the novel coronavirus symptoms and are being used in Israel in the car industry or crowded areas such as hospitals and shopping malls, it is not recorded that they are installed to observe and wiretap people in self-isolation. When it comes to cellphones, there are no inserted programs but the security services are tracking the location of the infected citizens through cellphones, which has been approved by the Israeli Parliament.
Comparison with the Pavlov’s conditioned reflex
In his speech, the publicist made an analogy between the current state and experiment with dogs of Russian scientist Pavlov. He is comparing Pavlov directing of dogs in a wanted direction with directing of people whose behavior is irrational.
He also reflected on the usage of masks, stating that the World Health Organization claimed in the beginning of the pandemic that masks could not protect you in open spaces or in public, and that only the infected ones need it. Now, he added, everything is changing spontaneously and masks are saving the society. He commented on this phenomenon as the beginning of shifting the will of humanity in the direction of the one who created this experiment. The attitude of the WHO in the beginning indeed was that masks are not needed in open spaces and that only the infected ones have to wear them, but after new information and results of the research, new instructions and recommendations were made – masks may represent a barrier against potentially contagious droplets. We are advising governments to encourage their citizens to wear the masks in public, said Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist of the WHO, claiming that now they have new proofs of the transmission risks.
Tvrdisic admits that the novel coronavirus does exist but he also thinks that the explosion of fear is much more dangerous, adding that the contradictory messages on the virus itself and its transmission are being spread. Even though Dr. Branimir Nestorovic, member of the Crisis Staff, spread the contradictory statements on the virus at the beginning of the pandemic, Tvrdisic does not mind it; he even agrees with Dr. Nestorovic that the appearance of the second wave of the virus will be a clear indicator that the virus is programmed and instrumentalized
Two options for humanity
Tvrdisic is convinced that we are entering the stage when there are only two possible options for humanity. One option is that people accept the current situation imposed by the WHO and global centers of power, and be directed at one way only, without big pockets of resistance. However, it cannot last forever, because humanity will completely lose the purpose of its existence, he says. He wants to believe that such a scenario will never occur, because that is what was presented in the apocalypse: the time will come when no one could buy or sell anything without the mark, whatever it would be – the vaccine-mark or the chip-mark.
Still, he believes that the critical thinking of the civilization will be awaken, that all freedom-loving people will realize where the world is going and that they will raise their voices against this new imposed totalitarian system and pull of a victory over civilization evil, which has been putting us in global quarantine.
Rockefeller and Bill Gates the main WHO sponsors
The discussion over coronavirus between TV host Velja Cipic and his guest Danilo Tvrdisic was continued about the World Health Organization and its position in this new situation. The host highlighted that the Organization was established by the Rockefeller foundation and that it works in private interests, which was supported by Tvrdisic’s information that 60% of its finances is coming from private funds, and that it is an open secret that Bill Gates is its main sponsor.
What is striking is his theory that Bill Gates is doing the same thing he did once with computer viruses – creates a virus and releases it, and then he erns huge money by creating anti-viruses. He also talked about conspiracy in practice, as he put it, an alleged plan and Bill Gates’s philanthropic goals to reduce the planet population, a theory debunked many times before. He continued in the same manner by stating that Gates and his laboratory in Wuhan did the research on viruses, and that there is a suspicion that the virus escaped from one of his laboratories there.
He concluded that the WHO is representing the interests of Gates and Soros, whose ideological professor is Robert Malthus and his work An Essay on the Principle of Population.
People in Montenegro have been returning to factory settings
The guest of the Srpski svijet (The Serbian world) TV show has commented on the current developments in Montenegro, gladly showing happiness and thrill about people in Montenegro having been returned to factory settings – that is their Serbhood and Orthodoxy, by entering the streets.
His interpretation did not miss the narrative on people having awaken to defend their religious rights, because someone decided to take those most precious things away from them by passing a decree. Tvrdisic thinks that a flood of people, which could be seen at the processions, is yet unseen example of those who did not bow down, an example of spiritual uprising since the famous Battle of Mojkovac. The guest included the uprising against seizure of the shrines in the periods of national awakenings, together with the events at Gazimestan (‘’89), the time when they said no to NATO (‘’99) and the death of Patriarch Pavel (2009). He showed how proud he is about that and he is convinced that the events in Montenegro are a sapling for Serbia, the Republic of Srpska, and the all freedom-loving Serbs.
An indispensable topic was the endangered Serbs in Montenegro, and as he said, Milo Djukanovic is concerned by the developments; he decided to use a much bigger tool of repression and to attack the Orthodox Church and Serbs. Tvrdisic is not an optimist when it comes to the developments in Montenegro and he thinks that the conversion-prone regime has crossed some of those red lines, which fears him, but he still hopes that the dramatic scenario will not occur.
Negation of Montenegro – the narrative that dominates and by that could be heard in the IN4Smisija (IN4Smission) TV show of a newly founded the IN4S National television on July 14, was also rich with debatable statements. Besides the general attitude that Serbs have been endangered all across the Western Balkan region, the TV show participants – historian Sasa Adamovic and MPs in the new Parliament of Serbia, Vladan Glisic (Serbian Patriotic Alliance – SPAS) and Vladimir Djukanovic (Serbian Progressive Party), made unfounded claims that the government in Montenegro is performing ethnic engineering. They also spread the idea present for some time now about the creation of the national strategy aiming at integrating and connecting all Serbs from the Balkans.
To realize such a plan, according to the participants, it was necessary to use the current collapse of the new world order and global politics. The starting point is strong Serbia, which, owing to its allegedly economic domination, would perform its influence in Croatia, Montenegro, and B&H. It was stated that Serbia is able to finance different projects such as the IN4S National television. The participants think that in that way, it will contribute to the preservation of values of the true old Montenegro, which have been disappearing today. Their conclusion is that the state order of Montenegro should be respected, but also Serbia should interfere and will interfere whenever it is necessary to protect Serbs because it has all human and God’s rights to do it.
The Montenegrin nation will be a derivative of the Serbian cultural space
Numerous problematic attitudes on the Montenegrin identity and the authorities in Podgorica were expressed in the show. The most prominent is the one that Montenegro will always be Serbian; we should just let a life flow naturally. This does not mean that the Montenegrin-hood and Montenegrin nation will not exist, as it was stated. However, according to the participants, the Montenegrin nation, to the extent in which it would exist, will be a derivative of the Serbian cultural space. During the TV show, the Montenegrin regime was described as neo-Ustasha multiple times and Montenegro as Red Croatia.
Supporting the meddling of the church into the state affairs with the emphasize that the church should be consulted about numerous matters clearly describes the ideology of the participants. Quoting Metropolitan Amfilohije and commending his statement that one cannot participate in the processions and vote for the DPS at the same time is also indicative in this context
The idea of integration of the Serbian people has been present in the media for some time now. The concept of the Strategic trine: Belgrade – Banjaluka – Podgorica, or the concept of the so-called Serbian world was presented recently. News portal Sve o Srpskoj wrote on this concept for the first time and after that – the news portal IN4S. The premise of the concept is to unite the Serbian people around identity and cultural aspects through three centers, while they would consult mutually regarding the important issues and act together when it is possible.
The abovementioned indicates that the IN4S show is built upon on the idea of the Strategic trine and both concepts have a strong notion of nationalism.
Doctors who express unverified and controversial attitudes during coronavirus pandemic contribute to the creation of the information chaos, said Ognjen Gajic for the DFC magazine, a specialist in intensive care medicine and lung disease at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, assessing that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be found faster than in the case of the previous pandemics.
Dr. Ognjen Gajic, one of the leading experts at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, is also known in this region as a member of the original lineup of Zabranjeno pušenje, a famous band from Sarajevo.
Even though he has been living and working in the USA since 1995, Dr. Gajic did not forget his roots. Each year, he is visiting his birth town and exchanging opinions with the colleagues from the Balkans. It was the case during this pandemic as well. Despite his obligations, he is the main administrator of a Viber group containing more than 2000 doctors from ex-Yugoslavia. In a virtual communication, doctors have been exchanging opinions since the beginning of the pandemic in order to offer more quality health care.
These days, we discussed a couple of key topics with him: when to expect a vaccine for COVID-19, the phenomenon of disinformation which did not circumvent the pandemic, as well as why the epidemiologists’ advice is key in the next phase of the combat against this disease.
DFC: While the epidemic of coronavirus is still raging in the USA, the abrupt rise of new cases occurred in Montenegro and countries in the region after the fall in the number of the infected. Can we consider this a second wave or is it something else?
Dr. Ognjen Gajic: My field is intensive care medicine and I am not an epidemiologist. I think that people in many parts of the world have relaxed too fast and forgotten to respect protective measures. On the other hand, the economic and social consequences of the pandemic are very difficult; therefore, it is understandable that the authorities are reluctant to introduce more strict measures as it was the case at the beginning of the pandemic.
There is an effective therapy for more severe cases
DFC: Now, six months after the beginning of the pandemic, are the experts and scientists closer to finding the medicine or a vaccine for COVID-19?
Dr. Ognjen Gajic: So far, two medicines turned out to be partially effective with more severe cases. The first one is anti-virus medicine Remdesivir which reduces the length of the disease and the other one is anti-inflammatory medicine – steroids, since they reduce the mortality of the critically ill. Never before has there been such a large number of researchers from all around the world who are working on finding an effective vaccine. Even though it takes a long time to ensure the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine, I believe that the process will go faster than in the past.
There is no disinformation in medical journals!
DFC: Disinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories have been spreading together with the coronavirus. Many of those have been spread by your colleagues, doctors. How would you comment on this phenomenon and to what extent could it be dangerous in a further combat against the disease?
Dr Ognjen Gajic: I have not noticed disinformation in medical journals. Doctors who were spreading unverified and controversial information in the media contributed to the creation of the information chaos, which is expected when we find ourselves in a combat against a new, difficult and unknown disease.
DFC: Do you think that the Chinese authorities could and must have done better in responding to the virus outbreak to prevent its further spreading, as it was the case with SARS?
Dr. Ognjen Gajic: As I have already said, I am neither an epidemiologist nor a politician. Chinese colleagues from the intensive care medicine have helped us a lot to understand the disease and to prepare ourselves better to work in the intensive-care units.
Online communication with colleagues from the ex-YU countries
DFC: From the beginning of the pandemic, you have been an active member of a Viber group containing over 2.000 doctors from ex-Yugoslavia. In the virtual world, you are exchanging real experiences. How would you assess such experience?
Dr. Ognjen Gajic: Invited by the WHO Country Office in Sarajevo, we created a Viber group for the education and exchange of reliable information to help each other better, and by that –those in critical conditions. Likewise, we exchange pieces of advice on how to protect better the health care workers, who have been exposed to great risk on a daily basis. It is lovely to see that such a large number of doctors from ex-Yugoslavia and beyond have joined us, and I am sure that it helped us all. To me, it certainly is.
DFC: To conclude, what is, according to you, the biggest problem in a combat against coronavirus which has infected more than 12 million inhabitants?
Dr. Ognjen Gajic: The problem is that the virus is very easily transmitted and many virus carriers are asymptomatic. Until the vaccine is made, I think the best advice would be to listen to the epidemiologists and follow the hygienic measures which slow down the transmission: in other words, to wash hands, keep physical distance, avoid larger crowds, and wear masks in closed facilities.
In the new DFC Magazine read what Dr. Ognjen Gajic, a doctor at the famous Mayo Clinic said about disinformation being as harmful as the coronavirus; why Facebook groups are destroying America; whether the referendum in Russia made Putin’s legitimacy weaker; and which disinformation on Montenegro spread by the Belgrade’s media made June.
Digital Forensic Center
Digital Forensic Center is a project of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro with the main goals of countering the problem of disinformation and fake news as well as reducing problem of digital/media illiteracy through events, work shops, and lectures that will raise awareness of this issue.
- Have you found a disputable article? Please share it with us, alongside things you find questionable.
- DFC - Digital Forensic Center
- Address: Serdara Jola Piletića 1/J, Podgorica 81000, Montenegro
- E-Mail: [email protected]
- Phone: +382 20 510 806
- Fax: +382 20 510 807