The case of Sreten Ugricic is serious. The line has been crossed. They removed a man of high quality and great results, a philosopher, writer, intellectual and head of the National Library of Serbia. A man who, by doing his job, had elevated an important national institution to the European level and above. Ugricic was appointed director of this institution by Zoran Djindjic, clearly not by party line (as Olja Beckovic unfortunately believes, showing us last night that she understood nothing), but following the logic by which every administrator should work creatively and dedicatedly, trying to advance the institution for which they took responsibility. It is more than symbolical that such a man should be sent to jail and fired from his job by Ivica Dacic, Slobodan Milosevic’s right-hand man and spokesperson. But this is only an indication as to how we should understand reality. And reality is much worse, because Sreten Ugricic was not dealt with by a symbol of the former regime, but rather by the real leader of today’s Serbia, Boris Tadic. He dealt with both Djindjic and Sreten Ugricic. I’m not sure if he is aware that, in doing so, he crossed the line he should not have crossed. This will cost him dearly. He declared war on society. Society has no choice by to fight back, and this we believed had ended with the fall of Slobodan Milosevic’s criminal regime. Well, this line was crossed; let us make that clear, as an introductory diagnosis. He will not get away with Sreten Ugricic. However much it seems to Boris Tadic that he already won the battle, it is simply unwinnable. The more of these battles there are, the nearer to the end he gets.
Because when the society once moves, it will not use only blank ballots, but also other, much stronger means. We are dealing with old problems of this society. Entire generations suffered in this battle – for free speech. And here we have another ruler who would like to be final arbiter. If we go along with this and let Boris Tadic get away with sacking one of the best people that Serbia has got, then the lives of us all are threatened. He is kidding himself if he thinks this Serbia is dead and buried. What he wants simply cannot happen. And he knows it, but I want to remind him just the same. We cannot let him get away with it, because the next question is – whose turn will it be tomorrow.
The case of Sreten Ugricic finally became clear to me after I heard what he had to say. One really could not understand what the problem was about, let alone why he was removed and who removed him. There is a crucial issue behind this conflict: it has to do with two completely divergent worldviews. According to the first one, there is no a priori truth, because such a world collapsed a long time ago. It existed in a time when in social matters, in a world of people, there was one and only interpreter of truth. And we know who that may be. This interpreter may be only god. The medieval, god’s world order fell apart and withdrew into churches and monasteries. Ever since, in social matters the question is not what the truth is, but rather who makes decisions, how they are made and what are their consequences. But still, the other worldview – closed for interpretation – does not give up, constantly putting on god’s robes. In the form of personal government, which no longer has any legitimacy, these celestial rulers cannot manage to get anything done in this earthly world of ours, destroying it irresponsibly, leaving it in ruins, not just material ones, which are certainly not unimportant, but going beyond that: trying to smother every last possibility of life outside of their “divine” rule, as well as the recollection that we can do better. Sreten Ugricic dos not accept this closed world. In his works he is looking for the open horizon of interpretation. He is asking for responsibility for the consequences and refusing to accept power above beliefs, criticizing the impossible, which is what the subjugating Serbian ideology is based upon. Exactly that, and very unambiguously.
This is how I understood Sreten Ugricic’s worldview. The person who decided to occupy our heads and common sense with the well-known means of closing the alternatives did not choose to target Sreten Ugricic by accident. He was detected unmistakably. This can also be seen in the way all those journalists who act like police investigators are pretending not to understand. They do not find Sreten Ugricic’s defense convincing. And they keep hollering “what did he write?” But Sreten Ugricic thinks that we should first read what is written to find that out, and he refuses to accept what someone else interpreted for him. That is all he wants to do. He insists that he signed the petition because Nikolaidis’ piece should have been published in integral form, before the hunt began; that is to say before it was decided what the piece says. You first let us read the article for ourselves, before the government begins a campaign to occupy the brains, which never really ended, because it is still going on after 600 years. Sreten Ugricic raised his voice against “truth” being forced upon us, just because someone has the power of interpretation, so he can initiate a media lynching of the petition signers who demanded exactly that – freedom of interpretation. This is important methodologically, because it lays bare the world we live in. The truth being monopolized, it is as god himself makes the decisions for us. Then it turns out that Sreten Ugricic was removed for supporting terrorism, and on top of that, terrorism from Montenegro; not as an ordinary man, but as a state official! In Sreten Ugricic’s case, we are not dealing with terrorist sympathies in general, but with sympathizing with a specific terrorist act against his country and its highest officials, who were supposed to be eliminated in a concrete, planned assassination. And those same people, whose murder he supported, brought him to office (except they did not, Djindjic did), so what right has he to complain, he must go down immediately, until he as a “Serbian official” has learned the Serbian theory of government.
But this is not the only point of this story. There is another one, which is suppressed, which must not be mentioned. This entire hidden quagmire must be paid for by Sreten Ugricic. He must pay for the imaginary assassination attempt against the Serbian leaders and cover the infantile fantasies of the national-security agency, whose idiocy Tadic relies on in his campaign. It is beyond absurd to defend the idea of a concocted assassination attempt with terrorist who were nowhere to be found in the sports center in Banja Luka, but had to be identified as signers of a petition for freedom of thought. Because petitions are usually signed by some freelance artists, then they had to take it out on Sreten Ugricic, to make him pay for their abuse of power for overtly political purposes. In it the government is used, which is also a nonexistent and abused institution, which “meets” on conference calls, without the people or the politicians asking how is this possible and who is running this government, without living people but only phones buzzing instead. This affair hides the main occupier. Because again the question was not raised about how decisions are made in Serbia and exactly who is making them. Are the decisions legal if they are not made by the government, but by the president? In last night’s show they told us not to pretend that Dacic made the decision on Ugricic, because we all know that his removal was decided by Tadic. They say that, but they do not ask what exactly Ugresic is guilty for, if there is an ever-crueler personal power, which treads on the constitution and persecutes people hiding behind the government and all the institutions – the president of the republic himself. And how is it that in matters such as the usurpation of power, his most reliable partners are Milosevic’s people?
Vesna Pešić, političarka, borkinja za ljudska prava i antiratna aktivistkinja, sociološkinja. Diplomirala na Filozofskom fakultetu u Beogradu, doktorirala na Pravnom, radila u Institutu za društvene nauke i Institutu za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, bila profesorka sociologije. Od 70-ih pripada peticionaškom pokretu, 1982. bila zatvarana sa grupom disidenata. 1985. osnivačica Jugoslovenskog helsinškog komiteta. 1989. članica Udruženja za jugoslovensku demokratsku inicijativu. 1991. članica Evropskog pokreta u Jugoslaviji. 1991. osniva Centar za antiratnu akciju, prvu mirovnu organizaciju u Srbiji. 1992-1999. osnivačica i predsednica Građanskog saveza Srbije (GSS), nastalog ujedinjenjem Republikanskog kluba i Reformske stranke, sukcesora Saveza reformskih snaga Jugoslavije Ante Markovića. 1993-1997. jedna od vođa Koalicije Zajedno (sa Zoranom Đinđićem i Vukom Draškovićem). 2001-2005. ambasadorka SR Jugoslavije, pa SCG u Meksiku. Posle gašenja GSS 2007, njegovim prelaskom u Liberalno-demokratsku partiju (LDP), do 2011. predsednica Političkog saveta LDP-a, kada napušta ovu partiju. Narodna poslanica (1993-1997, 2007-2012).