Serbia's autocratic leader Aleksandar Vucic challenged Twitter on Tuesday to close his account like it did with Donald Trump's, after several media outlets under his control were labelled state-affiliated by the social media site.
“I can't wait for them (Twitter) to close my account so I become another Trump in the world,” Vucic said.
Twitter in January deleted the account of the former US president because of the risk of further incitement of violence after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 after he lost the presidential election.
Twitter has defined state-affiliated media as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” “Who should they cooperate with, tycoons, thieves and criminals?” Vucic asked. “It is most normal that they cooperate with the government.” He said the Twitter label is nothing but “censorship.” Vucic, a former ultranationalist, has kept a tight grip on Serbia's mass media since he came to power 10 years ago.
Serbia's pro-government outlets, including the state TV, regularly blast the few remaining independent media in Serbia, claiming they are controlled by corrupt opposition figures or Western embassies.
Vucic congratulated all the media that have received such a Twitter label on their accounts, saying they are “spreading the freedom-loving ideas.” Besides Serbia, the labels also appear on numerous Twitter accounts around the world, including the US, China, France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.