Gabriel PartosDraskovic website hoax
Friday, 1 September, 2000
One of Serbia's leading opposition parties, the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has become the victim of a cyber hoax.
An internet website bearing the name of the party's charismatic leader, Vuk Draskovic, is being used to publicise President Slobodan Milosevic's governing Socialist Party.
The hoax has come to light on the day Serbia's main opposition bloc - the SPO's rivals - launched its own official campaign for Yugoslavia's presidential and parliamentary elections.
There are just over three weeks to go before President Milosevic faces re-election, and the race for the Yugoslav presidency is beginning to hot up.
Domain name bought
According to senior SPO officials, the domain name www.VukDraskovic.com was bought by the leader of the Socialist Party's youth wing in the small western town of Loznica.
Lawyers have been in touch about the matter, and it now appears that the Socialist Party publicity material will be removed from the website on Saturday.
This is by no means the first occasion that cyberspace has been used for a robust form of propaganda in and around Yugoslavia.
Last year's conflict over Kosovo was quickly dubbed the first internet war when rival cyber activists hacked into the official websites of NATO member countries and of the Yugoslav Government.
Football websites disrupted
The return of peace has not put an end to such activities.
In April, the websites of several prominent Western organisations - including leading football clubs - were disrupted when pro-Serb messages were posted on them.
And two months ago Serbia's leading pro-government newspaper, Politika, became a target for hackers when its website carried a report claiming President Milosevic had died in a bomb explosion.
Although internet usage may not be as widespread in Serbia as it is in the West, the scope for causing mischief is no less extensive.