bosnia report
New Series No. 6/7 September - December 1998
 
part 2
by Miodrag Stanisavljevic

June 1998

The reptile's tail, or testing apathy A hypothetical chronicler from this century's end might record in his big book that Slobodan Milosevic's rule was 'long and tenacious'.

What a difference between this spring's tyrannosaurus, flushed anew with arrogance, and that bewildered, scared little banker, ringed with mighty armour, who called in a small hoarse voice to his lost and bewildered admirers: 'I love you too!' The regeneration of his severed tail is complete and now he is flailing it around once more with full power.

Everything, as he used to say once before, is going his way. The arrogant gestures he dreams up and enacts with the aid of his courtiers finds scarcely any resistance. The rule of every autocrat - 'I want, so I can' - has a new sparkle. I want to appoint my flunkey as federal prime minister, so I can. I want to disperse the free media, so I can. He must himself be amazed by the climate of easy surrender and submission. His every vindictive caprice proceeds as if through butter. Such subservience is truly to be marvelled at. Even his attendant thugs, ostentatiously few in number and lightly accoutred, break heads more to keep in shape than to protect anyone from anything.

Nasa Borba

Every attempt to democratize the tyranny in Serbia leads to still darker tyranny. I wrote about this following the winter demonstrations: the tyrant who survives an attempt to overthrow him becomes even worse and more arrogant. When you take on a tyrant, you must finish him off. Any hope of his 'softening' is rubbish. That is why the Novi Sad students, with lucid cynicism, informed their teachers and parents: 'If you are cowards, we have no wish to be fools'! This spring the Dedinje autocrat has successfully finished testing the general apathy and the unchallenged status of his power. But strongmen too come in all shapes. Milosevic is a 'peasant strongman', the type who always tries to make a big show of his power. Like a hired killer he always embellishes any demonstration of his power with some detail that is his 'trademark' and that further humiliates the victims. Not satisfied with strangling most of the free electronic media (which would have been sufficient for the purpose of perpetuating his power), he arranged at the same time for his fun-loving pet to get a media toy that is 'the most modern in Europe'.12 According to the same principle of demonstrating power in the Balkan, peasant style, Mrs Markovic will no doubt become a university rector.

June 1998

Kosovo symbol of our woes

Dogs gone wild... Horses wandering loose in search of food... The smell of burning, the stenchÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ of gun-powder... The rim of soot round paneless windows... Villages without a living soul. A display of misery and sorrow...

That is how foreign diplomats, for whom the Boss had put on a display of his 'artworks', described the scenes left behind in Kosovo the other day by the workmen preparing the MiloÐevic-Seselj exhibition.

'The Albanians saw what burned villages looked like in Bosnia', said Vojislav Seselj a few months ago. 'Let them bear it in mind.' This was said publicly, but did not shock anyone here at the time. It turned not to be an empty threat, but a statement from a well-informed person. What Milosevic is thinking and planning, Seselj is saying. It is enough to read carefully the statements of Milosevic's lieutenants to predict quite accurately what is in store. Immediately after Holbrooke's Balkan 'peacemaking' mission, a Dedinje news-reader an- nounced that 'our basic policy in Kosovo is to continue negotiations in search of a peaceful solution and, simultaneously, to pursue a pitiless fight against terrorism.' Milosevic saw this formula as a logically impeccable justification for one more episode in the ethnic-cleansing series; as his right of way to an orgy of killing and destruction. His love of death and destruction require formal justifications. But the substance of his 'deeds' always transcends their form. Who ever first uttered the word 'terrorism', for whatever reason, provided Milosevic with a marvellous smoke screen. In the aftermath of the Decani offensive, one foreign journalist counted the word 'terrorism' 64 times in a 9-minute speech by one of Milosevic's police officials! 'Any village in which a single terrorist is discovered must be eradicated!' This, no doubt, is how the Dedinje-Batajnica13 revision of a famous article in the Code of Tsar Dusan reads. The Milosevic-Seselj solution to the 'Kosovo problem' manifests itself as a passion for the depopulation of territories, a passion for the creation of waste land. As ethnic cleansing carried out in accordance with the tried and tested recipe. Loathsome things when repeated become simply unbearable.

Charms of the Serb propaganda

The Decani campaign over, centre stage is thronged with Dedinje propagandists, 'experts' at waging media war. They explained to us nicely that what foreign reporters called Milosevic's 'bloody business in Kosovo' was nothing but an anti-Serb 'media plot'. And they invited the journalists and diplomats to have the plot explained to them, over drinks, pork scratchings and salami. And they explained to them nicely how the Albanians killed themselves, torched and blew up their own houses, drove themselves from their own lands - all with the perfidious intention of blackening the Serb image. The recipe had already been tested in Bosnia, so why not use it again? The yarn about the Markale marketplace massacre had produced very nice results, at least among Belgrade's criti- cal intelligentsia.

Why, you may ask, does Dedinje HQ not employ more imaginative people to wipe off the bloodstains? The question is misconceived - there is no place for imagination here. If a person has to resort to the only explanation left, he is bet- ter off silent. For the shamelessness of the crimes coupled with the shamelessness of the attempts to justify them only makes matters worse and arouses still greater indignation.

I daresay the foreign journalists and diplomats were bewitched by the charms of Serb propaganda - sorry, Serb truth. ('Serb truth' will doubtless become synonymous with any idiotic reinterpretation of facts, and always be good for raising a laugh.) It must be admitted, though, that the whole business was not in vain, at least where domestic journalists were concerned (including, alas, those who call themselves 'independent'). It is instructive to read their 'eyewitness' reports from places to which they were taken by the Boss's helpful policemen. They went and filed eyewitness reports, bÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ ut what their eyes actually saw remains a mystery. They saw something, but are not sure themselves just what. When non- Serb populations are driven out of their wits by artillery shells, Serbs too are always reduced to spiritual witlessness.

Fable of the 100 boxes

With such witless, myopically blundering journalism, it is no surprise that when we are threatened one fine morning with military intervention ('not just in Kosovo, but throughout Yugoslavia' - i.e. a very serious threat), we take it not as a consequence of the exploits of Milosevic-Seselj's champions, but rather as the sudden approach of some wayward meteorite.

'We shall give them tit for tat!', bristles the 'Vojvoda' of Batajnica, like a suburban rooster. A brush with Nato - our famous military commentator explains - would help cure 'the Serb martial spirit, which has already grown quite flabby.' 'Why do we organize expensive military send-offs, if we are not ready to fight?', he asks.

'Have we got any chance? Is there any hope for us?', asks the interviewer. We have every chance to thrash Nato and 'strengthen the Serb martial spirit', our commentator explains. Our chance is called 'the syndrome of a hundred tin boxes' (not ours, theirs - Nato's). When those hundred tin boxes arrive in anti-Serb America, the belligerence of public opinion will melt away overnight, and they'll soon take to their heels. Human life is expensive in America. Our comparative advantage is the cheapness of labour and the cheapness of human life. So we have to fight and die until this life-saving total of a hundred tin boxes is reached... How long this may take, how many tin boxes will be needed for Serb boys - that's unimportant. What's important is to restore the credibility of the old song: 'A Serb goes to war with a song in his heart'.

July 1998

The depths of Serb genius

The main characteristic of Dedinje policy towards Kosovo is the customary combination of arrogance and stupidity. It is hard to tell which of these comes first, but they clearly function according to laws of reciprocity. A combination of arrogance and stupidity on the Kosovo issue is equally characteristic, of course, of those who think they can be opponents of the regime by being 'basically the same, just a bit different'.

The depths of Dedinje genius in solving the Kosovo problem have over the past ten years led steadily to an ever worse and more volatile situation. Of all possible solutions, Serbia's 'chosen leader' has always opted for the most absurd (but which most delighted the ears of the 'celestial nation'). The verse-mongers of the ditty: 'Hey, Serbia, cut in three, soon you'll once more single be' did not realize that events were unfolding according to the rule: 'The better (apparently) for Serbia, the worse for Serbia.' Those who proclaimed Kosovo 'holy Serb land' (some even demanding this be made official, presumably by publication in the Official Gazette) overlooked the fact that it would send a direct and dire message to the inhabitants of that land - a mere two million of them. The message ran: to have non-Serbs lounging about on holy Serb land is a defilement and desecration of its holiness! Do not tread on my holy place! Do not blabber in an incomprehensible language in my holy place! Do not build houses, stables and hen coops in my holy place! A holy place must be clean - by definition. And the best form of cleansing, as we know, is the one already tried and tested in Croatia and Bosnia. (We also know that whoever lives by ethnic cleansing will also perish by ethnic cleansing.)

The combination of arrogance and stupidity has now generated a full blown revolt in Kosovo (a revolt just as holy to its participants as any defence of 'holy land'). The attempt to crush the revolt and 'root it out' (under cover of the magic formula of combating 'disorderly gangs' and 'terrorists') merely showÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ s yet again Dedinje's genius: in just a couple of months Milosevic has managed to swell the KLA from a few hundred people to fifty thousand. Anti-Serbs from across the ocean have recently sent us a useful bit of pro-Serb advice: if he carries on in this way, Milosevic will become the best recruiting officer for the KLA.

Barren mothers against mother Serbia

For many parents and their children, Kosovo is not just a theoretical problem but a real nightmare: the 'holy land' needs its 'holy warriors'. 'Serbia is in the right this time, she is defending universal international principles - territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders - while fighting against the international evil of terrorism.' This is how the commentators of even independent Belgrade papers speak and write. Ergo, we must go to war. 'Serbia is in the right.' Yet during these past few years Serbia has been rather too often and too much in the right - so much so that her children now therefore have to die. 'If parents complained before about our sending their sons off to war outside the borders of Serbia, now they have no right even in formal terms to complain', says the ruling-party spokesman. 'They're worthless parents', one of our super-patriots adds; 'just barren mothers conspiring against mother Serbia.' 'They're worthless children', adds another patriot; 'if they can have girl-friends, they can go off to battle' (to have a girl-friend in Serbia is a mortal sin, in the eyes of these patriotic monks). 'The army's not a kindergarten, soldiers have to die', philosophizes the Batajnica 'Vojvoda'.

The top brass of the Army speaks up too. They explain how none of the June recruits (it is still June while this is being written) have been sent to Kosovo. Very comforting, and very generous of the Army and the masters of our lives. Then they add how only soldiers who have completed 'basic training' are sent to Kosovo. This basic training, so far as I recall, lasts three months and involves acquiring such important skills as making beds neatly, buttoning up uniforms properly, greeting officers correctly, removing the bolt from a rifle and reassembling it - and perhaps one practice with live ammo. Then the instant warrior is ready for battle.

Giving your vote to Seselj and Milosevic means giving them the right to dispose of the life of your son, your nephew or your grandson. How odd that no one has used this fact as a 'trump card' in the electoral campaign. Even the voters failed to bear it in mind, or, if they did, perhaps they thought: 'surely it won't happen again'. But the trouble is that those two will do it again: the power over life and death is one form of the insatiability of rulers. Unpunished looting and the acquisition of further subjects are not enough for them - only the right to take away life itself endows power with that divine radiance.

Nasa Borba

Serbia is the only European country in which it is dangerous to be young. In which the only role guaranteed to young people is - to die. It is as though Milosevic and Seselj were telling them: you've no chance to land a job , to get an apartment, or to start a family; the only chance in life we generously offer you is to die. So sorry. Be off with you now.

August 1998

Kosovo or the impasse equation

Western diplomats have been complaining these days: 'Mr Milosevic has deceived us. He promised to halt his military and police offensive in Kosovo, but he broke his promise the very next day... He seems not at all interested in a peaceful solution of the Kosovo problem... We have no more illusions concerning Mr Milosevic and his tactics...'

No one makes a fool of himself as readily as the weÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ ll-intentioned man who accepts some arrangement in which it is quite obvious he is going to be duped. So far as the tactics of the Dedinje warlord are concerned, they were outlined with a minimum of concealment only a couple of weeks ago by Vojvoda Seselj: 'To escape bombing and finish the job in Kosovo.'

Why should Mr Milosevic be interested in a solution to the Kosovo problem, when he has built his entire political biography precisely on the creation of this problem?.

The folly of the world's diplomatic chancelleries lies in their belief that Serb nationalists can solve the problem of the rights of non-Serb citizens. A situation in which nationalism has been raised to white heat is hopeless. An insatiable appetite is in the nature of the nationalistic metabolism; its diminution is not. Allowing the nationalists to seek a satisfactory solution for the Albanian population of Kosovo means creating an insoluble equation, an impasse equation. It is impossible for Serb nationalists to satisfy themselves and the Kosovo Albanians simultaneously.

That is why all the diplomatic answers, all the verbal and written promises, are merely part of a bloodstained farce that is just beginning.

'Go easy on civilians!' - plead Western negotiators with the Dedinje warlord. 'Oh, of course', he replies, 'I too like poor little civilians!'... 'You promised us there would be no excessive use of force, but it still seems to have occurred.' 'That will be corrected. We are just now installing a violence-gauge into every holy Serb warrior.'

The result of these pleasant confidential talks is villages and towns left without a living soul, systematically torched houses and crops, woods full of dazed and starving people... The patriots beguile us with explanations about how these are just passing side-effects of the battle against 'the universal evil of terrorism'. Passing - my foot! 'The incidental', 'lateral' effects of Dedinje's punitive expeditions are the main and intended effects of the Milosevic-Seselj dramaturgy of 'defending Serbdom' in Kosovo.

The darkness of 'absolute consensus'

A ruling-party spokesman announced with satisfaction not long ago that an 'absolute consensus' had been reached in Serbia regarding Kosovo! Whatever it may mean, the phrase has an ominous ring. It promises us some new Srebrenica - where, of course, nothing shameful ever happened.

The impatient lads from the vanguard of the Kosovo defenders (led by Mr Draskovic) for the first time won public praise from Mr Dacic14 for their initiative in 'hitting the occupier with everything at our disposal' and for their 'general contribution' to strengthening the 'absolute consensus'.

What is called the Serbian democratic opposition, concerned by 'confidential information' from the tabloid press that Mr Milosevic has already submitted to the idea of Kosovo as a third republic, is waiting to start up a chorus about 'selling out'. Which is an indirect contribution to the absolute consensus.

Nasa Borba

This ominous phrase is most depressingly evident, however, in the information industry - unfortunately including the so-called independent media. Thus one respected independent weekly reported that the latest Milosevic-Seselj offensive was carried out with 'surgical precision', without civilian casualties. Naivety, or a belated fit of patriotism? Has the Dedinje warlord decided to change the script? Thirty per cent of houses destroyed and villages emptied of inhabitants (only last weekend humanitarian workers estimated at thirty-five thousand minimum the number of people sheltering in the woods); 'ethnic cleansing with a new aroma', 'the beginning of a humanitarian catastrophe' (according to foreign reporters): thÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ ese are the results of that 'surgical precision'. What would surgical imprecision look like, then? But that's how it always is: absolute consensus always breeds surgical precision.

Fool/Dean

When a man a fool is born,
there is, they say, no cure known.
In Serbia there is a cure!
Let him just wait patiently,
he in time a Dean will be!

Serbia is a country in which even the most complete fool may have his 'five minutes' (especially if the fool is no softie, but a hard and hardline Serb). On BK television15 I observe one such miracle of our national cadre allocation, a gift to Serbdom from the government of national unity. This fellow has been given the job of sorting out one of the most prestigious Belgrade faculties. He scarcely attempted to hide the fact that he is using his cover as a good Serb to get satisfaction at last for long years spent in a position of inferiority: all those 'lauded' lecturers and academics are just vermin who have prevented this fool-of-genius from showing his talents. He will not kick anyone out: as notorious 'traitors to their nation', all those professorial layabouts have kicked themselves out. Well-behaved students will be able to study in peace, undisturbed by a bunch of hooligans parading under foreign flags. All aglow with aggressive stupidity, Mr Fool outlines his recipe for salvation: Order and Hard Work. In despair you realize that in this country the power of fools can become a reality, and their ideas ruling ideas.

September 1998

Bestiality and Shamelessness

Serbia is a country of darkness. For us Serbs, things are clearest and most visible in the dark. Darkness is our normal condition, in which the majority of this country's people exist with ease, without groping around or stumbling over any so-called scruples. Ruler and subjects alike seem hardly to have been able to endure the confused, wearisome period between darkness and light, between war and peace, which reigned in this country after the Bosnian campaign. Now that the Kosovo darkness has set in, we have returned to our normal condition.

The Security Council saw in the Milosevic- Seselj Kosovo campaign 'deliberate destruction of property and displacement of people'. International humanitarian workers stated that they were 'preparing for the worst', and that 'a humanitarian catastrophe is pending' - there is talk of almost three hundred thousand homeless people, tens of thousands of them living out in the open. Hardly anyone seems disturbed by this in Belgrade. Radio Belgrade assures its listeners that these are the usual anti-Serb tricks: the humanitarian catastrophe is 'alleged', 'so-called', 'pseudo-' (the commentator uses all these adjectives in a single sentence, in order to be more persuasive). Bestiality and shamelessness go hand in hand. Mrs Morina, the Serb Commissioner for Refugees, feels no unease about the waves of victims, brazenly claiming that 'the number of displaced persons is being exaggerated and manipulated'. Mrs Visic16 in turn touchingly declares that 'behind all these humanitarian organizations lurks the Albanian lobby'. Dedinje newsreaders say that if there are displaced people (which is not the right word, in their view; 'temporarily resettled' is the term they prefer), it is not the fault of our dignified, awe-inspiring warriors. No, the Albanian population fled 'beneath the assaults of the Shiptar terrorists'. According to Dedinje, the Shiptar terrorists themselves drive out their own people, in order to 'demonize the Serbs'. The sensitive poet and humanist Vladislav Jovanovic, our Ambassador to the UN, has reprimanded General Secretary Kofi Annan for saying that Milosevic was pursuing a 'scorched-earth policy' in Kosovo. He knows for certain that in Kosovo the Shiptars are burning their own houses. (He has personally heard them singingÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ : 'We're burning our own houses, and blaming it all on the Serbs.') Poet Vlatko (whom we remember for his comment that the Muslims of Srebrenica died fighting among themselves) has an easy job at the UN: his shamelessness leaves him with plenty of time for writing poetry. And that Serbs are humane is proved by the Association of Young Socialists - they have organized a collection for the building and reconstruction of 50 houses in Kosovo!

Celestial standards

I am already sick of the phrase 'autonomy according to the highest international standards' (which until recently every Serb nationalist generously offered to the Kosovo Albanians). Since the publication of various models of autonomy for minorities from around the world (the proposal of the Contact Group), the term 'highest international standards' is far less frequently employed. Serb nationalists used to bandy the phrase about because they are ignorant. Recently they have changed tack: there can be no question of any autonomy in Kosovo … la South Tyrol, … la Aland Islands, or God forbid … la Tatarstan. The lover of Milosevic's police and fiercest admirer of 'the highest international standards' Vuk Draskovic has declared that these solutions are unacceptable to the Serbs, because 'Kosovo means more to the Serbs than any Chechnya or Tatarstan does to the Russians'. A reasoned debate with nationalists is impossible - they always introduce as an argument some inane rubbish such as 'the cradle of all Serbs' or 'limitless meaning'.

Anyway, no problem exists with respect to rights and freedoms in Kosovo. A high-ranking functionary from Milosevic's crew has explained to us that the Kosovo Albanians are avoiding a dialogue, because they would then have to 'tell the world which so-called national rights have not been realized in Kosovo.' All have been realized, as Dr Ratko17 could easily explain to Albanians and the World alike. And they would all cower in shame. For a celestial nation cannot bestow rights and freedoms of a base kind upon anybody, but only such as are to be encountered in the highest cosmic spheres.

Ministerial logic

I wrote in my last column about the informational darkness connected with what is going on in Kosovo: a darkness resulting from the so-called absolute consensus of the majority parties on the 'Kosovo question'. A day or two ago I heard the Serbian Minister of Information adding his own contribution to the subject. For him, the 'consensus of the main political parties on Kosovo' (consensus here being a synonym for the long-desired 'Serb unity') is not a source of informational darkness, but, on the contrary, a source of informational light. Information about Kosovo, he said, was getting better and better in Serbia, and all thanks to the 'consensus of the main political parties and their influence on the media'. An interesting theory. The more party influence on the media, the better the information. The greatest party influence on the media is to be found under dictatorships; so it is under dictatorships that information is most truthful and comprehensive. If, as is the case in Serbia, we are dealing not with a one-party but with a multi-party dictatorship, information will be many times more truthful and many times more comprehensive.

September 1998

Big Brother in Kosovo

At his meeting with Shattuck and Dole, Milosevic claimed that there were only sixteen thousand 'temporarily displaced' persons. Twenty times fewer than the estimates of international humanitarian workers. The rest do not exist - and what does exist may yet vanish. If what does not exist vanishes, there can be no talk about a humanitarian catastrophe down there. The 'temporarily displaced', said Serbia's Boss, can return to their villages and 'enjoy freedom, security and equality'. It is a long time since I heard more brazen cynicism. Kosovo Albanians are invited to enjoy everything of which they haÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ ve been stripped - in unfreedom, fear, torture and segregation. Not only are they supposed docilely to put up with these fruits of Milosevic's fatherly concern, they ought actually to enjoy them. And accept them as freedom, security and equality. A message worthy of Big Brother. Another item of news is that many Albanians from a refugee column near Pec, after talks with Zoran AnÔelkovic,18 'returned to their homes accompanied by police whom they asked for further protection.' (Every day they will squeal with delight at their presence and sing out: 'Milosevic's police is all our joy!')

The opposition criticizes the Milosevic-Seselj alliance for not having any 'developed plan' for Kosovo, which could be publicly debated - o forlorn hope - in the Assembly. It is increasingly evident that those two do in fact have a 'developed plan' - but it is not one that can be debated publicly. The plan, it seems, is to break and humiliate an entire people, to make life in Serbia intolerable for it. And to carry out protracted ethnic cleansing drop by drop (mass expulsion across the Prokletije mountains really might have caused international consternation).

Profiting from tragedy

I hear on 'Voice of America' that certain papers are criticizing the American government for allowing the humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees to be delivered via Milosevic's '11 distribution points'. I now understand the pictures on Serbian TV and the 'Little Bastille'19 of humanitarian aid parcels found on KLA members: cans 'filled with bullets and explosives' (!) brought to Kosovo by 'bogus aid workers'. There will be no more such stuff. The Boss will distribute humanitarian aid himself. He will appear generous and compassionate - at someone else's expense. As for where most of the aid parcels will end up, that is already clear: on the black market. It is not enough to enjoy the tragedy of others, you should also profit by it.

Vuk Draskovic, bush by bush

'Thou shalt not remain empty, fair-lying Nevesinje,20 but shalt again be what thou ever wert: nursery of Serbdom and cradle of lions!' 'Serbia must become a great building site and a great birth clinic!.' These are just two snatches from recent ramblings of Vuk Draskovic. Anachronistic, heart-tugging rhetoric, modelled after that of 18th-century politicians, today represents the best example of false-speak or language as mask. But those who don the mask of false-speak will sooner or later choose the lie as their fundamental political principle. No one has yet uttered so many lies, falsehoods and bogus facts about Kosovo as Mr Draskovic and his television. We used to take this anachronistic rhetorical mask as his personal eccentricity, rather in the way we may accept someone's odd style of dress. We should have called his rhetoric what it always was - plain political kitsch.

All political kitsch, as has long been noted, is bloodthirsty. Ever since Milosevic and Seselj started holding their blood-stained orgies throughout Kosovo, Mr Draskovic has been asking avidly and impatiently for more and more violence. Torch, burn, sow fear, from all barrels, with all force, by all means - he has urged every evening from the 'Little Bastille'. Milosevic and Seselj must have felt like amateurs in the matter of punitive expeditions. The writer - who is by definition a humanist, isn't he? - did not for one moment show the least speck of sympathy for the 270,000 people who had lost their homes. Instead we got a communique from the SPO that 'no humanitarian catastrophe whatsoever is happening in Kosovo.' The desktop warrior's passion has these days grown to grotesque proportions: Mr Draskovic has seriously asked for an operation to comb Kosovo 'bush by bush'. Rabbits, foxes and grouse must be scared out of their wits.

International Herald Tribune

Dindic and Kostunica - or protecting Milosevic from himself

And what is the so called democratic opposition doing and saying with a view to solving the Kosovo problem? They are competing with Milosevic and Seselj in a discipline called : 'Who will give less to the Kosovo Albanians.' I sometimes see them as protecting Milosevic from himself. The purpose of opposition activity, where Kosovo is concerned, is apparently reduced for them to staying alert in case Milosevic should perchance fall victim to a sudden fit of generosity towards the Kosovo Albanians. Thus Mr Dindic, prompted by the Albanian leaders' request that the autonomy of 1974 be the negotiating minimum, ardently assured foreign emissaries (and even the Albanians themselves) that this solution had 'brought nothing to ordinary people'. And prompted by rumours about the terms of a so-called interim solution for Kosovo, Mr Dindic announced that this would be merely a 'step nearer to independence'. Mr Kostunica is of a similar opinion, only he uses the word 'foot' instead of 'step'. It remains a riddle whether the distance between Milosevic and the opposition is a step or a foot. I cannot fathom their relations, or what they have against one another.

Footnotes:
1 Milan Bozic a leading member of Vuk Draskovic's SPO (Serb Renewal Movement) who played a key role after the winter 1997/8 demonstrations in taking the party out of the Zajedno opposition coalition and aligning it instead with Milosevic's ruling SPS (Socialist Party of Serbia).

2 Vojvoda = Duke, in its original sense (from the Latin Dux) of war leader. As a title favoured by the Chetniks of World War II, it was bestowed on Seselj by Pop Dujic, a war-criminal survivor of that movement.

3 'Shiptar' is a derogatory Serb-nationalist term for Albanians.

4 Borovo Selo and Bijeljina: the first engagements in Belgrade's wars against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina respectively.

5 'Vukovar Three': three JNA officers from Serbia, indicted by the Interna- tional War Crimes Tribunal for their involvement in the massacre of Croatian prisoners following the fall of Vukovar, but whom Milosevic has always refused to hand over.

6 Dedinje: exclusive neighbourhood on a hill on the southern outskirts of Belgrade, synonymous with power. Milosevic lives there, in a villa once occupied by Tito.

7 JUL or Yugoslav United Left was set up in 1990 as a party of generals and communist hardliners, but is now dominated by war profiteers and the mafia. Headed by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, it is in permanent coalition with the ruling SPS.

8 Goli Otok is an Adriatic island notorious as the site of the harshest prison camp in Communist Yugoslavia. Ratno Ostrvo, (close to Seselj's mayoral stronghold of Zemun), Ada Huja and Ada Ciganlija are river islands in Belgrade. Mira Markovic is the wife of Slobodan Milosevic.

9 Ratko Markovic, deputy prime minister of Serbia and a former law professor at Belgrade University, wrote the 1992 FRY constitution.

10 Prokletije or the Accursed Mountain straddles the borders between Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania.

11 Momir Bulatovic, former president of Montenegro.

12 Reference to Milosevic's daughter, who has her own private radio station.

13 Batajnica is a large military airport on the outskirts of Belgrade, close to Zemun where Seselj is mayor.

<ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ a name="footnote14">14 Ivica Dacic is the official spokesman for the SPS, within which he has responsibility for information and propaganda, international cooperation, culture and sport.

15 Independent television station run by the Karic brothers, bankers who have grown enormously wealthy during the past decade, profiting especially from trade with Russia, especially in the context of sanctions.

16 Radmila Visic is Serbia's deputy minister of information.

17 Ratko Markovic: see note 9 above.

18 Zoran Andelkovic, a leading SPS member who is also managing director of the large firm 'Genes-Sistema'.

19 Nickname for Draskovic's television station (state TV being housed in 'the Bastille').

20 Nevesinje in eastern Herzegovina is Draskovic's birthplace, now ethnically cleansed of all its pre-war Muslim inhabitants.

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