The scenery of our public life has completely changed. It looks more like a crossword puzzle which has to be solved every day: a word across, a word down… in order to somehow arrange all those lies. Besides the heap of incomprehensible lies that is more and more difficult to break through, the problem is also the fact that Aleksandar Vucic can order an entire series of fake plots to be put on the air and the media has to (and does) obey. That matter is even more serious because key government institutions are involved in those lies. As if they were goals in mini football. The latest dance of that kind is currently taking place. I am referring to the lie that the ministry of police and the Special prosecutor’s office have completed investigations of all the murders during the Milosevic era, even those attributed to him. In some strange way, these institutions kept the investigations secret even from themselves, because no one from those institutions knows anything about these investigations, nor has heard of them.
By now it had to become clear that the only limit of Aleksandar Vucic is his own imagination, processed and treated by “official methods”. And the scenario is always the same: in order to achieve some goal, Vucic runs an umpteen of behind-the-scenes actions, with the agencies as lead actors. To the outside world, i.e. to us, some fantastic story is launched, actually some police witticism translated into headlines, launched by Informer, Pink and Kurir. All other media have to report that nonsense, too; if not, some editorial heads will roll. Typically the subject that fills all the headlines suddenly disappears without a trace.
It seems to me that the latest series of spins of Milosevic’s crimes is a product of efforts to cover-up the “Russian hand” in the process of forming the new government. My goal is to prove that it is true, not to write about who was and who wasn’t assassinated by Milosevic, because it’s not the subject of these stories flooding the media during the last two days. Let’s start at the beginning. After the grand election victory, we expected a government to be formed immediately, because reforms can’t wait. Now when only one man makes all the decisions, because his party has won absolute majority, there is no need for long bargaining with future coalition partners, and those who want be the SPP’s partners have already lined up to maybe become part of the government. Some have already bid positions for themselves, like Vuk Draskovic in the show Kaziprst, who said that he would like to be the minister of foreign affairs. So, there are no rebels, everyone is ready and waiting for the chief of parade to say – go. However, there is silence. Vucic is completely silent, he hasn’t spoken for days. He had a good reason to fall silent. Namely, right after the victory Vucic ran to some clerk in Moscow (for medical treatment!) to hear a lecture about the things he has to consider when forming the government. We can only guess what he was told. Those guesses are the subject of this article.
In order to disguise the fact that the order from Kremlin has already arrived, they welcomed the news about Ukraine which was sidelined the entire time. Suddenly, all eyes were on Serbia: will it impose sanctions against Russia?! Doesn’t it seem weird to you that we have suddenly become such a world power. It’s not that it’s that important what Serbia will say about Ukraine, when bigger countries didn’t even say much, not even the Americans who more-or-less made all the fuss. Obama flexed his muscles, because Republicans were at his tail, which is proven by what was eventually delivered to the Russians, i.e. what sanctions were imposed against them. Basically, nothing much, practically nothing! UN passed some informal resolution, which doesn’t mean anything, just to cause some turbulence and spice things up. Russia is no longer a member of the G8, but it didn’t even belong there. A couple of rich Russians are forbidden from entering the USA. Germany slightly reduced trade with Russia, but not enough to hurt its vast economic interests in that country. So what sanctions should Serbia join? None, but that’s not what this is about. The small ones are expected to swear alliance to the big ones in order to avoid their radars on other occasions. And it was so. Vucic demonstrated the pride of his people who won’t impose sanctions against the Russians, but, just in case, obeyed both sides: he said that we respect the integrity of Ukraine, but definitely won’t impose sanctions against the Russians.
In the middle of sampling formulation about Ukraine and during the negotiations with Prishtina on the functioning of Kosovo court in North Mitrovica and elsewhere, the news that investigations on unsolved murders from the nineties are finished and that those murders have mainly been solved swooped in. The main discovery was that evidence that Milosevic was behind many murders, including the murder of Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan was found. Everything related to the murders can be labeled as expected, but still wasn’t labeled as anything, because not one official could confirm that the investigations of Milosevic’s murders were even conducted, let alone finished. No one from the ministry of police knew anything about that and the news broadcasted by Pink cited the ministry of police. Informer cited the investigation of the Special prosecutor’s office which proved that Milosevic had ordered Arkan’s murder, and a high ranking official of the Special prosecutor’s office who talked to Politika said that the prosecutor’s office is not investigating Raznatovic’s murder and “has no new evidence about that case”. Elaboration of these “investigations and evidence” became grandiose in Kurir: all the information about who was murdered by the former leader of SSP and why. He killed out of jealousy. A genuine Othello. The lies about investigations and evidence would have been harder to decipher if it wasn’t for Vuk Draskovic in Kaziprst, as the key witness. He unintentionally drew attention to the SSP, not the one under Milosevic, but the one under Dacic. Saric failed, so abuse of Milosevic’s crimes was up. It is such irony that this is now needed for petty-political purposes, to be spinned by the tabloids and other media on Vucic’s orders.
Why does he do that and why does “the most powerful man in Serbia” need such embarrassing moves. It is not easy to see the motive, but at least two things should be considered. The first is about the place where Russian interests in Serbia are decided, i.e. where they are actually weighed. Maybe Russian interest is important to us because of Kosovo, because Matushka supposedly protects “our Kosovo”. That issue is not important to the Russians, which was evident in the Crimea crises, when Putin referred to Kosovo as an infidel. The main plot is about Russia’s energy interests. That is where the power of any government is measured, whether it will be able to solve that problem and come out from under the heavy hand that fell upon them. I shouldn’t even remind you that the previous government (i.e. Vucic again) couldn’t do anything about those issues. There were some attempts, but they all failed, because Russia refused to change anything, from NIS, the price of mining rent, to two Russian intermediaries who skim the milk thanks to Srbijagas. In order to make sure that these important details are not forgotten, the Russians asked that the person in charge of energy in the new government be someone from the SSP. That’s what Vucic was told and that’s where we should look for the denouement of this morbid story.
And another thing. If you think about against whom the campaign about Milosevic’s murders is aimed, it is clear – it is aimed against the SSP, trying to present some reason to the Russians why that party can’t be part of the government, including the human resources chosen by the Russians. And those human resources are determined to protect those interests, because it is their only way to be part of the government.
In such a relationship, absolutely everything is a problem. Many others have already meddled with this, surrendering our energy interests to the Russians for Kosovo, and then our government itself surrendered Kosovo (i.e. its North part), because it helped the EU integration process. Hence, we regret this excessive gift to the Russians and are now trying to get something from it. But, the Russians won’t let us pull back, because there will be immediate retribution. It requires huge political balls that are nowhere to be found.
Even bigger problem is that someone thinks that this plot can be untangled by the future prime minister Vucic hysterically ordering which heaps of lies will be thrown out into the public by the media, trampling upon the very existence of any institutions in this country. And for what? For some nonsense and behind-the-scenes police scenarios that once again, for the millionth time since he came into power, shake this country in the bud because someone was in their way. Destabilization and throwing dust in the eyes have become the new way of ruling, and it is like a drug, you need more dust, and then some more, until everything has gone to hell.
Still, maybe the biggest thing in this story is the way we understand crimes in Serbia today. It seems that it’s not exaggerated to say that crime is used for “tabloid mockery”, spin and humiliation of institutions and the public. This part of the story is best left aside, it doesn’t belong here, since it is a much wider subject than this Russian-Serbian “secret connection”.
Translated by Marijana Simic
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).