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Vol 2, No 17
2 May 2000
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Serbian News Review News from Serbia
All the important news
since 24 April

Vana Suša

Several hundred people, including family members, colleagues and citizens of Belgrade, gathered on 23 April to mark the one year anniversary of when NATO bombed state-controlled Serbian Radio and Television (RTS). At 02:06 CET on 23 April 1999, 16 RTS employees lost their lives, when NATO bombed the building. Over 2000 people attended a religious ceremony in a park near the building, where the families had built a granite headstone with one word above the names of those killed: Zašto (Why). Relatives of some of those killed expressed their anger at NATO but also at the management of RTS, who had ordered the workers to stay overnight in a building NATO had warned might be bombed. "We ask the top people at RTS, why did you play Russian roulette with our dearest ones?" (Reuters) There are numerous claims that the television management had known the building was a designated NATO target but had done nothing to protect its workers. NATO said it hit the building because its broadcasts were part of Milošević's "war machine."

The editor of the state-run TV station and the high official of Yugoslav Left Party (led by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević's wife), Tatijana Lenard, said to NATO on 8 April 1999: "Shoot, we are waiting for it." Ironically, all the top management of the station were not in the building at the time of the bombing, as they left the technical workers to be the pawns. The Independent Journalist Association (IJAS) asked, "why was all of RTS not evacuated? Why were they some left to be pawns and why has an explanation for this still not been provided after one year? Who is the person that is responsible for this crime?" (Reuters and Glas, 24 April)

In Niš on 24 April, the trial of seven people from Kruševac who formed "Liberation Army of Serbia" began. The group was arrested last December and charged with forming a terrorist organization, in a village near the central Serbian town of Kruševac. They have been accused of plotting to kill Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff Nebojša Pavković, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević and seeking to restore a monarchy in Serbia. Yugoslav Army Lieutenant Boban Gajić denied that the group had ever made any such plans. "The only aim of the organization is to defend Serb territories in Kosovo and protect the Serbian people," he told the court. "I also know it is impossible to get anywhere near President Milošević, let alone carry out an assassination attempt, especially not by a small group like ours," he said. The accusation states that the members of the group had a three-phase plan. The first phase included propaganda activities and the promotion of the organization. The second phase included the assassination of Yugoslav Army General Pavković, while in the third phase, Slobodan Milošević was to be assassinated, with the ultimate goal of restoring the monarchy (Blic, 24 April).

In the entrance of 10 Vinogradski venac in the Cerak suburb of Belgrade, a powerful bomb exploded around 01:00 CET on 26 April. According to unofficial sources, the bomb was made of several kilos of a powerful explosive. The blast caused damage but no casualties. The entrance to the six-storey building was completely demolished, and damage was done even to the top floor, Beta reported. There was no police report on the blast. "It is supposed that the target of the bomb attack could have been Zoran "Skole" Uškoković, who lives in the building, television station Studio B said. The Belgrade press has linked Uškoković to the murder of Serb warlord Željko "Arkan" Raznatović last January, but he has denied any involvement. His murder is one in a string of unsolved killings in Belgrade, which include the shooting of Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle Bulatović.

Then, on 28 April, Zoran Uškoković was killed in the Belgrade suburb of Vidikovac. Uškoković and a passenger, Miloš Stevanović, were gunned down in a car chase, and the driver of the car, Petar Jokić, was injured. Police sealed off the crime scene and took the bodies away. Later, the car apparently used by the assailants was found burnt out in another part of Belgrade. Also, two Kalashnikov rifles were found, as well as two pistols used by Uškoković and Stevanović.

The head of Yugoslav Airlines, Žika Petrović, was shot dead on Tuesday 25 April by unidentified assailants. This is only the latest in a series of high profile assassinations in the Yugoslav capital. The body of Petrović, director of the airline since 1992 and a loyal ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, lay in the street after the shooting, which nearby residents said happened at around 21:30 CET. It is assumed that Petrović parked his car in front of his house, and that he was walking towards his house when someone shot more than ten bullets at him. "I heard three or four dull thuds, and a few minutes later my son ran in to say someone had been shot. When we came out four or five minutes later, the police were already there," said a middle-aged man from the building opposite of Petrović's (Reuters). Another eyewitness said two men had opened fire on Petrović and ran away immediately afterwards (Reuters). Serbian Justice Minister Dragoljub Janković followed the official line that Tuesday's killing was part of a Western plot. "This is obviously a specific kind of state terror imported from abroad. I think it is a perfidious attempt to destabilise the present authorities and topple this state," he told independent Belgrade radio B2-92.

Vuk Drašković, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Party (SRP), has filed a lawsuit against District Attorney Andrej Milutinović. Drašković has accused Milutinović of hiding evidence in the case of the attempt on his life last winter, when his motorcade was ran off the road killing four people. Milutinović stated that, "According to the evidence that has been gathered, there is nothing that points to a possible assassination or state terror." Drašković retorted that Milutinović breached judiciary functions several days ago: "Milutinović lies, he owes me and he owes the SRP... he will not get out of this easily" (Danas, 27 April).

Vana Suša, 28 April 2000

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Oliver Craske
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Brian J Požun
Slovene Skinheads

Peter Hames
Finále Film Festival in Plzeň

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