‘Attacks in Serbia raise fear of a return to extremism’
International Herald Tribune
April 17, 2007
BELGRADE: Serbia has been struck by a string of attacks against government critics that is fueling concerns of a possible explosion of ultranationalist sentiment as Kosovo moves toward independence.
Many people, including the country’s pro-Western president, Boris Tadic, even warn of a return to the days of violence and turmoil under Slobodan Milosevic, the late president.
In recent weeks, unknown assailants have thrown grenades at a journalist’s home, made death threats against a reporter, tossed bricks into an opposition politician’s living room and ransacked the offices of a Muslim party.
“What year are we in?” said Marija Pavlovic, a 40-year-old doctor. “I really thought all this was behind us.”
Her fears have found a voice on the Internet.
“All this is just the same as seven or eight years ago,” a person who gave the name Dusan Nedeljkovic wrote on a blog. “I want to know who is responsible and when all this is going to end.”
Western support for Kosovo self-rule and a United Nations plan granting supervised independence have unleashed a wave of anti-Western rhetoric among conservative politicians; some have even called for abandoning Serbia’s bid for membership in the European Union or cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries.
- Note that while ‘the West’ and the UN gave support to independence / the creation of the new state of Kosovo, David Hicks — who in 1999 travelled to what was then more simply known as Albania to train with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), until 1998 considered a ‘terrorist’ organisation by the US State Department, when it suddenly became a form of ‘armed resistance’ — was not, repeat not, a terrorist… despite being famously photographed posing with an RPG while training with the KLA. Note also that this photograph of Hicks was subsequently used by media to help establish in the public’s mind the idea that Hicks was a ‘violent extremist’, one worthy of being deemed an ‘enemy combatant’ by George II’s extremely violent regime. Pleading guilty (before an absolutely farcical military court system) to one charge of ‘providing material support to terrorism’ was the icing on the cake.
That has all fed the nationalist furor.
Liberals in Serbia were particularly alarmed this past weekend when two hand grenades exploded at the bedroom window of an independent journalist, Dejan Anastasijevic, hurting no one but causing extensive damage to his home.
“I never thought it would come to this,” said Anastasijevic, who once testified at the Milosevic genocide trial at the UN war crimes tribunal. “I’m in shock.”
The bombing of Anastasijevic’s home came just days after a neo-Nazi group posted death threats on the Internet [that is, Scumfront] against another independent journalist in the north.
- ‘SERBIA: Neo-Nazis threaten to kill independent journalist’, Committee to Protect Journalists, New York, April 3, 2007 : “The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by death threats made against Dinko Gruhonjic, head of the Vojvodina branch of the independent news agency BETA and chairman of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, by a local neo-Nazi group.
The threats, which were posted on a neo-Nazi Web site this week, stem from Gruhonjic’s coverage of National Formation, a neo-Nazi group based in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad, the journalist told CPJ. Gruhonjic’s reports publicized the group’s activities, including a 2005 organized attack where neo-Nazis armed with crowbars attacked participants marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht — a pogrom against Jews throughout Germany and parts of Austria in 1938 — according to local and international press reports…”
The group’s [bonehead] members stood in military formation wearing black shirts and waving Serbian flags in a protest last month on Belgrade’s main square, vowing never to give up Kosovo. The police did not intervene.
- Much like their counterparts in Russia:
The same day that Moscow police savagely beat protesters from “Other Russia” and illegally detained dozens of participants in that non-violent demonstration, an anti-Semitic rally was allowed to go forward in another part of the city without any interference from the police, despite the fact that it featured several statements that violate Russia’s hate speech laws. According to an April 1, 2007 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center, around 400 extreme nationalists [ie, fascists] rallied in Moscow that day under the slogan “Moscow is a [ethnic] Russian City”…
[See photo of a Russian fascist at April 1 demonstration in Moscow holding a sign of a man with a Star of David around his neck holding up a severed Russian head. Slogan reads: “Russian! Help a Russian or you’ll be next!”]
In another incident last week, three men wearing T-shirts with the image of the fugitive war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic broke into the offices of a Muslim-led party in Belgrade, shouting insults and telling party activists to leave Serbia.
And on March 1, a brick was thrown into the home of a liberal politician, Vesna Pesic, one of the founders of Serbia’s antiwar movement and a former ambassador to Mexico. There were no injuries.
“Such crimes are attempts to return Serbia to the 1990s and the era of wars,” Tadic warned.
“But we must not, at any price, give up our goal of building a democratic society. The reaction of the state must be the harshest possible.”
Despite promises of a crackdown, critics claim that the post-Milosevic authorities, especially the current conservative government, have not done enough to sideline nationalist groups following Milosevic’s fall from power in 2000.
The critics argue that the failure of the government to decisively distance itself from the Milosevic era and arrest Mladic and others charged with war crimes was encouraging the extremist groups.
“Recent attacks are a consequence of the political climate in the country,” said Natasa Kandic, a leading human rights activist in Serbia who has won international praise for her efforts to expose the war crimes committed during the Balkan wars.
Vojin Dimitrijevic, another human rights activist and international law expert said that “large parts of our political elite have been sending signals” in support of the nationalist organizations.
Cedomir Jovanovic, leader of the Liberal Party and the only leading Serbian politician supporting independence for Kosovo, said official policies offered a green light for a “lynching of all those who think differently than the quasi-reformers.”
Pesic, an ally of Jovanovic, agreed that the Kosovo dispute had revived Milosevic-era divisions. “Once again,” she said, “we are being divided into patriots and traitors.”
- See also : Sindikalna konfederacija Anarho-sindikalistička inicijativa (Union Confederation / Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative); Neo-Nazi and fascist attack on IAS members in 2 cities, July 22, 2002 (“This two examples show that rise of extreme right in Serbia is not an “illusion” and “nonsense” as many of the media here are trying to present. Fascist and Nazis are raving out here and we have to be ready for a fight with them in every moment! Long live class war!”); Studentski protest 2007 : Dole školarine!. Note that the ASI-IWA has played an important role in the recent series of student protests, blockades and occupations mounted in opposition to the neoliberal destruction of the tertiary education sector. Among the many who’ve taken part is Ratibor Trivunac, currently the General Secretary of the IWA. And like Dinko Gruhonjic, Rata’s status as a troublemaker has brought him to the attention of fascists on Stormfront, if not the corporate/state media.