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Serbia: Bloggers Discuss Rally and Rioting in Belgrade

Yesterday, Kosovo is Serbia rally was held in Belgrade. According to unofficial sources, 150,000-200,000 people attended it to protest against unilateral proclamation of independence of Kosovo. The rally went peacefully, but was followed by rioting. Buildings of the American, Croatian and Turkish embassies were set on fire. Many people were injured, at least one person was killed.

Below are a few reactions by the Serbian bloggers who blog at B92's blog portal (all but one are translated from Serbian).

Milan Lukic posted this short summary:

Let's sum it up once again: the rally in Belgrade today was party-organized, not a people's rally. […]

[…] Let's non allow losers of the last presidential election to cancel the people's will by force. Let's not allow that today's peace protest, as it is falsely named, to cancel the democratic will of the majority. Let's not allow the rats to pull us under water, into mud. Into their false country.

Dejan Stankovic provided this vivid description of yesterday's events in Belgrade:

1. Prime minister, accompanied by his friends and like-minded persons, looked like someone who is sick of everything when he addressed the people. Two hundred years ago, his speech could be perceived as modern. Today, it is a parody. […]
2. The not-to-be president of the country [Tomislav Nikolic] and prime minister's pal threatens to go into Kosovo. I immediately remember the '90s and it gets me worried.
3. Then, the naivete of the athletes was abused. Publicly, so that the whole world could see. At that moment, I was sorry more than I was ashamed.
4. Then appeared a convert disguised as Rasputin [filmmaker Emir Kusturica]. At that moment I felt nauseous.
5. Parents of Serbian young people applauded. I felt even more nauseous.
6. And their children, the future of Serbia, became wild. After the rally, they were destroying, breaking, burning and looting all over Belgrade. […] Then I was sorry and, at the same time, I was angry. […]

For the end, the impression of the night:
A picture of the demolished Belgrade, victim of Serbian terror.
Apocalyptic scenes, chaos and fire, and in the middle of the disarray, young Serbian vandals walk indifferently down the street. They grew up in chaos and in the chaos they live the best.
But, in the middle of the disarray, a group of Roma was diligently clearing Belgrade's streets…
Then I recalled the words of a man who told me when I was child that the Roma were Serbia's biggest shame. […]

Ivan Marovic, wrote this in English in a blog post titled, “The end of nationalism”:

Since Kosovo declared independence Belgrade has become a warzone. Radicals are burning and looting, and ordinary people are confused – five days ago they were concerned with Kosovo, today they are concerned with the possibility that drunken hooligans may smash their heads with rocks. Kosovo is far away, radicals are just around the corner, breaking windows and setting buildings on fire.

The Belgrade riots are a symptom of a failed political movement. Nationalism has nothing to offer, no strategy, no plan, no political vision. Unlike Gazimestan in 1989, where Milosevic faced a crowd much bigger, crowd consisted of people that were calm and determined, Kostunica today faced people without a clue. Unlike Milosevic who promised war and revenge, Kostunica has nothing to promise, nothing to offer. He can only complain.

You can tell the day by the dawn. Nationalism is finished in Serbia, nationalism has nothing to offer except self destruction. We just need to wait for the mob to get tired of rioting, come out and continue the peaceful protest that started two weeks ago, protest led by Belgrade students, protest with a clear goal – European integration.

Boris Tadic was in Romania, while Kostunica was giving a speech together with Nikolic. This may prove to be a big blow to Kostunica. The message is more than clear: Serbian interests are better served with diplomacy than with speeches followed by looting. The contrast between Tadic and Kostunica is clear and will undermine Kostunica's base of support in the months to come. […]

Nebojsa Milenkovic sent an open letter to president Tadic. He warned him about vandalism in the streets of Serbian cities and the possible consequences.

Mr. President Tadic,

I am turning to you on behalf of the citizens who, despite all, still believe in the democratic heritage and who strongly want Serbia to become part of the civilized, developed and democratic society. I am asking you, a person with a huge confidence of citizens on the last voting, to turn to the public and protect all people who are exposed to danger and violence by many hooligans in Belgrade's streets at the moment when our country comes face to face with one of its biggest historical defeats and humiliations.

[…]

You should not be silent until the mass political hysteria and blindness of those people […] became wild in the streets of Serbian cities in the last days. The current situation the in country should not serve as justification for suspension of freedom of speech or even physical liquidation of each political alternative, and you had to react to this fact! On the contrary, if this madness is not be stopped, the loss of Kosovo and Metohja would be followed by a permanent loss of the even elementary European and democratic perspective for this society and would return destructive political forces on the stage of Serbia. You overcame them in the last election thanks to the votes of those citizens who exposed violence in Serbia today. […]

Jelena Milic quoted statements by two Serbian ministers who have justified violence; below is one of these quotes:

“Democracy also means smashing embassy building windows.”

Velimir Ilic, Serbian minister for infrastructure.

13 comments

  • The main protest KOSOVO IS SERBIA was great though. There were more than 300.000 poeple. It was followed my prayer in beautiful St. Sava temple.

    Terrible things happened in front of USA embassy. I am so sorry about that. The police should have been there. Maybe they were outnumbered. I don’t know.

    The worst outcome of the protest lays in the fact one life was lost. This occurred when one a protester somehow entered the embassy. This was Zoran Vujovic, young person from Pristina. He was studying Management in Novi Sad. His friends said he was quiet, honest and very popular person. His family refuged from Kosovo in 1999. Maybe this was the reason for his acts that day. We are all so sorry one life was lost after protest.

  • Listen to this song, its beautiful:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2S34l71XSY

  • I want to remind you that his horrible events wouldn’t happen if some nations didn’t accept to recognize unilateral and illegal declaration of Kosovo independence.

    After the WWII in Kosovo there were 60% of Serbs. Ethnic cleansing lasted half of century. Now there are about 200.000 of Serbs.

  • Nationalism, protectionism, conservatism… won’t help Serbia forward… Violence is never to be justified. No matter for what cause.

    The independence of Kosovo was almost a fact as of 1999. It was just a matter of time. The important issue now is how the Kosovar Serbian communities can be protected and integrated into Kosovo. Nobody wants yet another nation in turmoil.

  • Vox Dei

    The province of Kosovo and Metokhia will never be independent, though.

    It is more than obvious now, since one of the biggest EU countries, Spain, has vowed never to recognise the self-proclaimed alleged independence, as have smaller Romania, Greece, Slovakia, Malta, Cyprus…

    The most important point now is for the province to quit its pompous pretence at quasi-independence and be reintegrated into Serbia’s legal system, because it is the SOLE way to pacify the Balkans permanently.

  • victor

    What a shamefull protest. Is this how Serbia is? Burning, destroying, insulting, violating and so many uncivilized acts!!! But surprisingly the Serbian government does not blame its willingness to “participate” in the destruction by not enforcing the laws of its land and also internatianal laws which protect embassys as sovereign territory of another country. Shamefully the Serbian government blames other countries to justify violence, destruction and the burning of multiple foreign embassys. I thought Serbs really care about iternational law, but I guess i was mistaken.

    P.S. Which part of international law legalizes Serbs ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo???

  • David J Jones

    Victor,

    You are obviously not a very well educated person are you? If you are going to make statements such as “Which part of international law legalizes Serbs ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo???”, I suggest you read history. Just go back to 1981 to see the start of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo…..Just see how many serbs have disappeared over the last 25 years.

    Look at the full history of the Balkans War to see the atrocities the Croats inflicted even after President Milosevic signed peace deals with them. There is good and bad in all race, just look at the systematic torture and murder the British Military have conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan,even that does not come close to Americas humanitarian abuses worldwide and a total disrepect for International Law.

    Kosovo i Metohija je Serbia

  • Victor

    David J Jones,

    I have my BBA from a college which is one of the top 20 list in the US, while also working for a major investment bank in NYC. One of the many things I have learned so far is how to disagree without disrespecting the other, but, obviously, you seem to lack that.
    Don’t be such a huge naive to compare the UK and US to Serbia. you are way off target.
    Look at this picture from New York Times website:

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/02/21/world/0221-KOSOVO_6.html

    The woman is holding a portrait of Ratko Mladic, not sure if you worship him too but in case you didn’t know he is an indicted war criminal from the ICTY in the Hague and hiding and worshipped in Belgrade.

    Maybe the name of the rally or riot, should have been: RATKO MLADIC IS SERBIA.

    My warmest congratulations for Kosovo’s indepence. They earned it.

  • El Paredon

    Victor, do noy confuse Mladic with George Bush, who has murdered far more people than Mladic did. Not that Maldic is not a criminal, however both should convene together in Milosevic’s cell in prison.

  • victor

    I am not confusing President Bush with Mladic. I know very well what I am saying. Mladic is the one who is hiding and not men enough to face trial as most of Kosovars did. Ramush Hajredinaj and plenty of others from Kosovo have gone to the Hague by themself there was no need to man hunt them. While Milosevic, Mladic, Sadam Hussein & the rest of the Serbian “saints” knew very well of their sins they have commited.

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