A week after
the Macedonian government signed a pact practically disemboweling
its own country, Western media vultures continue to pick at
its carcass in eager anticipation of NATO's impending deployment.
Apparently, it is exceptionally
newsworthy that NATO is still deciding whether or not
to send troops as if that was ever in question and even
more newsworthy to fawn over the recently legitimized UCK
bandit leader, Ali Ahmeti, who sits behind
the US and NATO flags and talks "peace." So when Ahmeti's
merry men do what they have done in Kosovo over 170 times
up a 14th century Orthodox Christian monastery
the helpful reporters see to it that Macedonians
are blamed, and the ever-serious US Department of State
stern "shame on you" to "whoever did this."
Macedonia sinks even lower on its knees under the voyeuristic
gaze of UCK
cheerleaders, its neighbor to the north is locked in a
dramatic struggle that might just change the balance of power
in the region. Hard as it may be to do so, as Skopje is sacked by
the barbarians, it is worth diverting one's attention
to the unfolding drama some 200 miles north, in Belgrade.
ago, on August 3, a retired State Security (SDB) official
by the name of Momir Gavrilovic visited the office of President
Vojislav Kostunica, and talked to his advisors about the links
between the Serbian government of Zoran Djindjic and organized
crime. We will never know what made the habitually quiet "Gavra"
(as his wife called him) talk. He was gunned down the same
might have been dismissed as just another mysterious gangland
hit so common in the last days of Milosevic's government and
the early days of Djindjic's regime. But this assassination
exploded right in the government's face. When the Belgrade
daily Blic cited inside sources
from Kostunica's office claiming that Gavrilovic discussed
government corruption, Djindjic's henchmen Vladan Batic and
Zarko Korac immediately unleashed a barrage of vitriol against
the paper. Police interrogated the editor and demanded that
the editor reveal the name of his source. The editor refused.
On August 9, President Kostunica confirmed the Blic story,
detonating the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
on a secret lobbying trip to Washington, after selling
Serbia's computer market to Microsoft took a week to cry
foul. By then, the cat was out of the bag; the unholy
alliance between Djindjic, Montenegro's despot Milo Djukanovic,
and the most powerful criminal clans in Serbia was now out
in the open. The simmering conflict between Djindjic and Kostunica
exploded, and the gloves came
17, Kostunica's party struck
back, announcing it was quitting the Serbian government
and calling for a review of its practices. This threw Djindjic's
cabinet into chaos and stoked fears that the entire regime
could collapse. Battle lines were quickly drawn, and the fight
for Serbia's future began.
At a press
conference on the 21st, Dragan Marsicanin, the
Chairman of the Serbian Parliament and one of the leaders
in Kostunica's DSS, cited a
plethora of issues his party intended to raise. Among
them: that the government was deceiving the people, that it
had not implemented any of its promised reforms, that it did
not function properly, that it established monopolies and
took over thousands of enterprises, that its Prime Minister
maintains connections with mobsters, and that the current
economic and political crisis in Serbia is largely a product
of the current government, not its Socialist predecessor.
This type of thinking in a country that has until recently
blamed everything but foul weather on Milosevic is nothing
short of revolutionary.
It was not
so long ago that Djindjic was riding high on the wave of treacherous
accomplishments: he successfully monopolized the Serbian
oil and cigarette trade in the government's hands, arrested,
abducted and delivered Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague Inquisition
destroying the Serbian and Yugoslav constitution in the
process and just about destroyed his only serious rival,
the increasingly less popular Kostunica.
Kostunica hardly put
up a fight until now. Statesmanship does not accept
"Better late than never," as an excuse. Kostunica's inaction
in June and July cost him much in the eyes of the people.
How much exactly enough to be defeated in the slugfest
with Djindjic? only time will tell.
It is nothing
short of a miracle that a coalition of no less than 18 parties
spanning the entire political spectrum has survived this long.
Still incongruously called the "Democratic Opposition," the
ruling hydra more resembles the "Opposite of Democracy," with
parties and egotistical leaders that can hardly stomach each
other, and never agree on how the country should be organized.
are now, only two of the 18 parties Djindjic's Democrats
(DS) and Kostunica's Serbian Democrats (DSS) stand any
chance on their own. Others barely have a program and a functioning
office. Such a pack of nonentities would have easily bankrupted
a much wealthier country in six months.
were held tomorrow, the DSS would triumph convincingly, and
all the freeloaders that jumped on Kostunica's victorious
bandwagon last year could be left behind in the dust. Djindjic,
whose popularity has steadily run in single digits and who
came to power only because his candidacy list ran under Kostunica's
name, faces certain defeat. Kostunica's revolt opens up prospects
for criminal charges against the wannabe despot, on grounds
ranging from embezzlement, smuggling and corruption, to crimes
against the Constitution and high treason. Given such stellar
prospects, Djindjic is likely to put up a
of that came on Tuesday, as Djindjic's allies took aim at
the helpless, deceased Gavrilovic. A certain Dragan Karleusa,
introduced as "deputy police superintended for organized crime,"
alleged that Gavrilovic was a mobster involved in smuggling,
drug-running, murders and extortion. He was backed up by police
minister Dusan Mihajlovic, who also denied Kostunica's
charges of rising crime rates.
the same Karleusa, then identified as "police captain," who
was in charge of the infamous "refrigerator truck" investigation,
trotted out to justify president Milosevic's abduction in
late June and then forgotten except when recycled
by some pro-NATO papers, who make it more sinister with each
telling. So does Karleusa run war crimes cases, organized
crime cases, or is he just the loyal underling that Minister
Mihajlovic uses for dirty work such as character assassination?
Mihajlovic is a shady businessman who made a fortune
during Milosevic's "dictatorship," and saved his fortune from
Djindjic's Great Looting Tax on "extra profit" by becoming
Herr Kanzler's most rabid henchman. His wielding of
the police ministry as a baton against all of Djindjic's enemies
caused the DSS to demand his resignation even before the Gavrilovic
Djindjic's gambit is transparent. Had Gavrilovic really
been a shady figure, that would have been mentioned on the
night of his murder, not two weeks later. Belgrade may have
over a million residents, but it is still a surprisingly small
city. Its rumor mill has worked all too well for over two
centuries. Gavrilovic's shady past, if there had been one,
would have been known right away.
it is hard to keep a straight face when Djindjic's henchmen
accuse the deceased of befriending a mobster, when Djindjic
himself has been known to use the very same mobster's private
jet to visit his sponsors in the Western world.
WITH NATO BACKING
economic policies such as confiscatory taxation and state
monopolies' price gouging, coupled with the total lack of
payoff for delivering Milosevic, are quickly turning Djindjic's
domestic footing into quicksand, he still gets plenty of backing
from foreign centers of power. The Guardian readily
echoed his arguments that any questioning would "destabilize"
the government and that Kostunica was making much ado about
nothing in order to make a power grab! Instruments
of US propaganda overseas are also openly siding with
support for Djindjic (and disdain for Kostunica) is nothing
new. It could, however, embolden Djindjic to resort to unrestricted
political warfare, and embolden factions that seek to further
weaken Serbia from Djukanovic
to the Vojvodina separatists and even the Albanian
bandits in southern Serbia.
the early casualties of the clash might be the Yugoslav ambassador
to Washington, Milan St. Protic. Belgrade papers announced
Wednesday and confirmed Thursday that Protic would be relieved
from that sensitive post, after acting like a loose cannon
in the Imperial Capital for months.