Headline of the day

"Trust us on Mladic," says Serbia


Version tracking for fugitives, cont'd

Or was he arrested yesterday in Romania by British SAS forces? That is what Pincom is reporting, anyway.


As the Mladić bubble deflates

For Danas, Ratko Femić gathers up a set of responses to yesterday's conflicting and apparently inaccurate reports of the arrest or impending arrest of Ratko Mladić. An unidentified "source close to the Serbian government" believes that the government "tried something but did not succeed." Another anonymous "source from the security structures" believes that Mladić will be arrested soon, but that this will not be announced for some time "because discussions will have to be carried out then with the indictee." The same source (I think) also suggests that Mladić would have to be offered a large sum of gotovina, though why he would be paid off after being arrested seems a bit unclear.

Civil defence specialist Zoran Dragišić believes that the government is attempting to find a way to make Mladić's arrest "appear to be a voluntary surrender," and thinks that the "media noise" of yesterday was a part of this strategy. Military analyst Aleksandar Radić suggests a wider strategy to "send a variety of disinformation to the public" as a means of "applying psychological pressure," but Radić also does not exclude the possibility that the psychological action might not be directed toward the indictee, but toward testing the response of public opinion.

Nobody, of course, is persuaded by the denials coming from the government and from the ICTY prosecutors: these seem to be regarded either as signals that the opposite of what is being said is true, or as parts of a strategy to direct attention away from ongoing activities. And although nobody can say with any certainty how many people thought that Mladić had in fact been arrested when the news came out, one thing is clear: there were no protests, no support rallies, no rushed telegrams, and no campaigns to mobilise feelings of wounded innocence. The practitioners of violence who controlled the media persuaded themselves well that they have popular support. They do not.

Update: Oh, why not inflate the bubble a little again. The not-as-amusing-as-Kurir tabloid Glas javnosti is speculating that (take your pick) Mladić was either 1) already arrested on Cer, and authorities have not yet figured out how to get him to Scheveningen, 2) already arrested in Belgrade, several hours ahead of the point at which he had agreed to surrender, and that authorities are trying to persuade him to publicly fake a voluntary surrender, or 3) already arrested on Cer, sent to Belgrade, packed off to Tuzla, and delivered to the Hague. Vladeta Janković commented to the (unidentified, hm) journalist for Glas, "What are you thinking?" The article does not help to answer Mr Janković's question much.


Index has a nice reminder from the earlier career of the newscaster Goran Milić, from when he hosted the evening news on the briefly active Yutel network. The recollection:

Radi se o isječku iz Yutelovih vijesti emitiranih 1991. godine, kad je Jugoslavija bila pred raspadom. Snimka prikazuje Milića kako književnim srpskim jezikom čita vijest o reakcijama iz svijeta na događanja u SFRJ.

Milićeve riječi praćene su grafikama uz pripadajuće naslove, od kojih jedan eksplicite kaže: "EEZ izražava zabrinutost zbog sranja u Jugoslaviji".

"Pardon, ovo je štamparska greška, treba da piše "stanja u Jugoslaviji". Mada, moram da kažem da ovo što je napisano nije baš sasvim pogrešno. Izvinjavamo se a vi sami prosudite da li je bilo namerno." - objašnjava Milić na kraju ove zabavne video snimke.

The article contains a link to the video of the broadcast (WMV, 38 seconds).


Nobody knows the Ratko they haven't seen

Ratko Mladić may have been arrested in Belgrade. Or he may not have been. Or maybe there is an action to arrest him going on in Bosnia, perhaps near Tuzla. Or perhaps not. Maybe we will know something by the end of the day. Or maybe we will not.

Update: For a not particularly representative sample of responses to the news (which may be false) that the suspect was raspamećen, it's always fun to follow the comments on B92.

Update: Still no reliable signs that the report is true. In the meantime, however, Mirko Marjanović died.

Another update: Nezavisne novine is reporting that the recent stories are untrue, but that PM Koštunica has issued a warrant for Mladić's arrest. Is the implication that there was no legal basis for his arrest up until now?

Morning update: Still nothing solid. The government and ICTY are either denying everything or saying nothing, media are tending to converge around the story that he has been "located but not arrested" on Cer, and Toma Nikolić chose the moment to remind everyone that he is a necrophiliac.


Dealing with the past, contd.

The BBC is reporting that Mittal Steel, the world's largest steelmaker, is abandoning plans to set up a memorial at the Omarska mine it recently bought, after the plans met with opposition from locals.

Omarska, a concentration camp during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, was the site of some of the most horrific crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs in their drive to "cleanse" the territories they had occupied of non-Serbs.

Mittal only agreed to erect the memorial after robust lobbying from activists of all ethnic backgrounds. It has evidently concluded that the goodwill of locals is more important than what people across Bosnia (or indeed abroad) might think.

Unfortunately, the attitude of people in Omarska is fairly typical for the mindset that still prevails in Republika Srpska. A vox pop on last night's main evening news on Bosnian TV included someone from Banja Luka who qualified the topic of Grbavica, a Bosnian movie on wartime rape that just won the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival, as "tendentious." (Yes, the topic, not the specific treatment it gets in the movie. Even mentioning it is tendentious, apparently.)