The fifth column

Photo: Predrag Trokicic

Photo: Predrag Trokicic

Our fears, warnings, forebodings, however you may call them, have come true. As we anticipated, building managers have become a new division of Aleksandar Vucic’s political army. In fact, they are not managers, but Vucic’s trustees for the given neighbourhoods, or given parts of the population.

Their influence so far has been two-fold. In the buildings they have already occupied, they visit tenants and ask them to register themselves as sure voters for the list “Aleksandar Vucic – because we love Belgrade”. Some of them, albeit in a roundabout way, threaten, others – beg, complaining that if they do not provide a sufficient number of voters they would lose their jobs, and they’ve just had a baby, and so forth.

Where Serbian Progressive Party (SPP) has not yet won command positions, those tenants who are SPP members, sympathizers, or are in some other way connected to the party, intrigue against the legally elected building councils’ presidents and try to disrupt the normal work of the building administration. In addition, they promise all sorts of things on council meetings – elevator repairs, painting of facades, changing windows, etc. – just to get their neighbours to choose a “professional” manager. According to the reports from the „front“, most tenants are holding their ground for now, but the question is how long that can go on, seeing as they are completely isolated and there are no inter-brigades in sight.

The association, therefore, appears spontaneously and, immediately, we see Madrid from about seventy years ago, when the city was surrounded from all sides, and Franco’s troops marched onto the Republic. Back then, Franco’s General Emilio Mola said that he’s taking four columns of troops to the surrounded Spanish capital, and that the “fifth columns”, made up of Franco’s supporters, was already in the city.

Of course, today’s situation in Serbia is very different, and no “patriotic-treacherous” games should be invoked; in the end, we have only an election ahead of us, not “armed battles”, although judging by the behaviour of the authorities, as Milosevic said, “those are not yet out of the question.”

But, as I already wrote, Vucic, industrious as he is, has already mobilized entire armies of his fighters/voters, both voluntary and involuntary. The first army consists of members of his party, who, thanks to that membership, took up many important positions. The second is comprised of civil servants in the state administration and local self-government; the third, employees in public, national and utility companies, and the fourth his loyal media with two main chargers, Vucicevic and Mitrovic.

All these “armies”, or “columns” – totalling to, according to conservative estimates, over half a million people – are attacking citizens and demanding their secure votes. But they do it somehow from a distance, from without. When it comes to building managers and their helpers as a new, internal army, however, the analogies that occur are only partial, but in some elementary, metaphorical sense they are justified. And this business function, position, institution, if you want, is used by SPP to insert itself into the ranks of the besieged citizenry, to penetrate their last bastion, their micro-communities, and destroy their freedom – the foundation of every legal state and healthy society – from within.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Peščanik.net, 05.03.2018.

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Mijat Lakićević

Rođen 1953. u Zaječaru, završio pravni fakultet u Beogradu 1975, od 1977. novinar Ekonomske politike. Devedesetih i stalni saradnik mesečnika Demokratija danas. Godine 1998. dobija otkaz u Ekonomskoj politici; 1999. je među pokretačima Ekonomist magazina, gde je direktor i zamenik gl. i odg. urednika, a od 2001. gl. i odg. urednik; 2008. napušta EM sa Vladimirom Gligorovim, Predragom Koraksićem... Prelazi u Blic, gde je gl. ur. ekonomskog dodatka Novac. Krajem 2009. prelazi u NIN na mesto urednika ekonomske rubrike. Godine 2011. je među osnivačima nedeljnika Novi magazin, gde je i danas zamenik gl. urednika.

Pisao za brojne novine u Jugoslaviji i Srbiji. Zajedno sa Mišom Brkićem urednik serije od 12 TV debata pod zajedničkim nazivom „Kad kažete…“ Fonda za otvoreno društvo, u Medija centru NUNS-a, prikazivanih na TV Studio B. Godine 2011. objavio knjigu Ispred vremena, o nedeljniku Ekonomska politika i reformskoj deceniji u SFR Jugoslaviji (1963-1973). Sa Dimitrijem Boarovim 2013. napisao knjigu Kako smo izgubili (Našu) Borbu. Jedan od autora izložbe "Polet: Ekonomska propaganda u Jugoslaviji 1969-1980". Član Izvršnog odbora NUNS-a.

Mijat Lakićević

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