Goran Radosaljevic (Guri): a profile
by Dragoslav Grujic
Basic data. Born in 1957 in Aranđelovac, graduated from the faculty for physical culture, has worked in the Serbian ministry of the interior since 1985. He initially taught special combat, and then became head of the relevant department. When the war started in the former Yugoslavia, he joined the special units of the police which were subsequently turned into the gendarmerie. During the war in Kosovo he commanded the ‘search and destroy’ units (OPG), small contingents trained for anti-guerrilla warfare. ‘I was deputy to the staff commander in Prishtina, but I operated all over Kosovo.’ He is married and has a daughter. At present runs the gendarmerie’s judo club.
Nickname. ‘Guri means “stone” in Albanian. This what my fellow fighters called me when we fought in Kosovo.’
Career. The turning point came on 5 October 2001 when, holding the rank of colonel and commanding the OPG, he failed to act against the demonstrators. He chose the winning side. Though in active service since 1985, he became publicly known when he helped suppress the revolt in Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa [majority-Albanian municipalities in southern Serbia]. In February 2001 he replaced Obrad Stefanović as chief of the special police units and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general. Operation Sabre brought him another promotion and he became a colonel-general. Minister of the Interior Dušan Mihajlović stated on this occasion that the promotion was due to the operation’s great success. His envious colleagues mutter that his promotion has been too rapid.
Charges. According to the reports of several humanitarian bodies, OPG units called Lightning and Scorpio conducted massacres of Albanian civilians in several villages.
Examined. According to the minister of the interior, at the time when Radosavljević was appointed commander his records were carefully checked. Nothing was found that would ‘compromise’ or ‘disqualify’ him. The ministry thus rejected all accusations that Guri had been responsible for severe breaches of international humanitarian law applying to armed conflicts.
Medals. He won several medals in Serbia during the 1990s and one in Brussels after the October change-over. Last year he was decorated by NATO for his contribution to enhanced security, which was earned in fact in the Serbian south.
The Haguetribunal. ‘This has nothing to do with us. The gendarmerie is not responsible for arresting people charged by The Hague. I have no idea whose job that is.’
Women in the gendarmerie. ‘The time for their involvement depends on our interests and our internal organization, which is proceeding. We have women already, two of whom have completed their training. One works in an office as an administrator and the other on the ground.’
The gendarmerie deserves higher wages. ‘They spend two weeks on the ground, sometimes 24 hours without taking their boots off. They often sleep in dug-outs guarding the state. They also have to avoid explosives, bombs, enemy bullets, snakes... When they return, after two days of rest, new tasks await them. Over a hundred policemen who had joined the gendarmerie decided after a while to return to ordinary police service and “lower wages”. They simply could not keep up the tempo.’
The gendarmerie’s future. ‘I see this developing in several directions. We cooperate closely with similar units abroad. During the past few years we have developed very strong contacts with the Spanish, the French, the Italians, the Russians and the Israelis. We need their experience, since we lack experience of urban terrorism. It is difficult to imagine that our police will again be used for fighting wars. I hope there will be no further wars in our region. We must turn our attention to the international evil called global terrorism, and establish links with other similar units to exchange experience and information on the movement of terrorists and criminals. To work together for European security. According to the plans for this year and the next, we shall have joint instruction, training and exercises.’
Translated from Vreme (Belgrade), 25 September 2003