Internet hoax has Serb writer as Nobel winner

Posted Oct. 06, 2011, at 8:09 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 07, 2011, at 9:51 a.m.

BELGRADE, Serbia — The Internet hoax about this year’s Nobel Literature Prize was slick, and down fell the victims: Serbian TV, radio and the state-run news agency.

Moments before the Swedish Academy announced this year’s winner — Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer — on Thursday, unknown hackers said on what looked like an official Nobel Prize website that it was Serbian writer Dobrica Cosic.

The site included a photo of the 90-year-old Cosic, quotations from one of his books, and a description heralding him as “the last dissident of the 20th century, witness of a declining era, as well as the prophet of an emerging one.”

In today’s instant news markets, the false info quickly appeared on Serbian outlets, including Belgrade’s B-92 radio and TV and the state-run news agency.

“Someone has really tried hard to carry out the elaborate hoax,” B-92 said after withdrawing the news from its programs.

The Serbian writer is popular among his countrymen, but he’s also considered a proponent of the hardline Serbian nationalism which led to the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1990s’.

Cosic briefly served as the president of rump Yugoslavia — consisting of Serbia and Montenegro — in 1992 when he was hand-picked by late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.