Dejan Anastasijevic, a 2002 Nieman Fellow and highly respected veteran journalist in Serbia, died in Belgrade on April 24 after battling a long illness. He was 57.
A longtime contributor to Serbian and international news outlets including Time magazine and the BBC, Anastasijevic covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia, reporting from the battlefields in Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Kosovo. He wrote extensively about war crimes against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, angering Serbian authorities and prompting Slobodan Milošević’s regime to file criminal charges against him for “spreading disinformation and aiding terrorists.” Though the charges were later dropped, Anastasijevic fled to Vienna during Milošević’s crackdown on the media and NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia. He returned to Belgrade in 2002 to cover Milošević’s downfall, and was the first Serbian journalist to testify in The Hague against the former president of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Born in 1962, Anastasijevic began his journalism career with Serbian radio broadcast B92 before working for the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Belgrade from 1992 to 1993. He then joined Vreme—the Serbian weekly newsmagazine modeled after Time—and, after fleeing to Vienna following his reporting on Serbian atrocities in Kosovo in 1998, worked for Time magazine itself, in the central and east European bureau. Anastasijevic later became Brussels correspondent for Vreme and then for the Serbian news service Tanjug while also continuing to freelance for Time and other media outlets, and to write commentary for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s publication Balkan Insight. At the time of his death, Anastasijevic was an editor for the BBC World Service’s Serbian-language digital platform.
Much of Anastasijevic’s reporting following the end of the Yugoslav wars was focused on security issues and organized crime in Serbia. In 2007, in a failed assassination attempt, two hand grenades were placed, by unknown assailants, outside the window of his home.
Anastasijevic was honored with a number of national and international journalism awards, including the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression in 2008. He was the co-author of several books, and was the editor of “Out of Time: Draskovic, Djindjic and Serbian Opposition Against Milošević,” published in London by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in 2000.