This blog is going to be closed for business for a while. You know the story: too much work, too little time. I am leaving the archive up in the unlikely event that somebody might find something useful in it.


Here come the brides

Somebody must have published this story as a joke. Right?

Update: No, somebody really proposed this. Check the comments below for a link to the quick rejection of the idea by the ministry where the fellow is employed (and to which he was proposed by SPS). For more on the fascinating biography of Željko Vasilević, have a look at today's Danas.



Everybody raise a glass to welcome two new letters to the written language -- šj and žj!!!!!!!!


Rasplet povijesne zbiljnosti

If you hurry, you may be able to order enough advance copies of Vojislav Koštunica's treasury of political speeches to give them as holiday gifts to all of your friends.

Fa fa fašista nemoj biti ti

At the core of this piece is something that is a legitimate cause for concern, not only of course in Croatia. But the text itself is a bit of a recycling of old news and commonplaces. Isn't the benefit of having a contributor who is from the place about which she is writing, like Slavenka Drakulić is, supposed to be that the reader gets some kind of new information or unique insight?


Prosecution, defence

The ICTY is bringing contempt charges against the former spokesperson of its former prosecutor, Florence Hartmann, for publishing confidential information.

And the Serbian ambassador in the Netherlands says that the Serbian government will assist in the legal defence of Radovan Karadžić -- presumably the principle here is that the state will assist not only its citizens, but also noncitizens that it promoted, financed, armed and hid.


What makes a terrorist?

According to a report by MI5, it is not one factor in particular. The research, "Understanding Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in the UK," (no, I do not have the original report: this is based on media accounts here and here) is based on a collection of case studies of people known to be "involved in or closely associated with terrorism." It might be said that some of the most important findings are non-findings, in the sense that several popular stereotypes did not receive confirmation. To wit:
  • There is not a pattern of "illegal immigration," most of the people are nationals of the UK. Among those who are migrants, they are more likely to have come for study or economic reasons than for political reasons or as refugees.
  • To the degree that they are religious, they are relatively new to religion and not well versed in it.
  • They are no more likely than than any other part of the population to suffer from psychological disorders.
  • They are not unified by any particular national or ethnic origin.
  • While most are under the age of 30, this cannot be said to be typical of the group.
  • Among those over 30, they are more likely than not to have families.
  • No general claims can be made about whether they are likely to have completed formal education or not.
As meaningful as these findings may be as a counterpoint to stereotypes, they are probably not very surprising. Since the overwhelming majority of people in every demographic are not terrorists, it would not be reasonable to expect any particular demographic characteristics to be typical of terrorists. These are individuals who are largely self-selected and their activity involves a considerable degree of will.

Is there anything that can be said the people in the group studied? Perhaps a few things:
  • It is not sufficient to be exposed to extreme ideas or to be persuaded by them. People are recruited into groups and remain in them by means of personal contact.
  • People who have experienced marginalisation or racism or who have only held low-level jobs may be more receptive to recruitment than others.
  • The tolerance of terrorists for people with criminal records (here they refer to ordinary rather than "political" crime) may mean that people who are not accepted elsewhere in society may be accepted by terrorist groups.
  • The people recruiting members into terrorist networks are less likely to be the famous "radical clerics" as they are to be peers from the communities in which the recruits live.
  • The strongest force maintaining members in the group is a sense of belonging.
  • Perceptions of racism, anti-Muslim sterotypes in media, and other information that promotes a sense of victimhood strengthen recruitment.
Now, if we look at that list of factors above, it is easy to conclude that there are a lot more people who are influenced by several of those factors than there are terrorists. The MI5 report is sensible in pointing out that personal recruitment is essential.

There is of course another distinction to be made: between having extreme ideas and using violence to realise these ideas. Here (this is not a quotation from the report, which I have not seen, but from a summary of it by Alan Travis in the Guardian):
"The MI5 authors stress that the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence "in defence of Islam", but that there are also violent extremists involved in non-Islamist movements.

They say that they are concerned with those who use violence or actively support the use of violence and not those who simply hold politically extreme views."

If this is the way that thinking is developing among people in law enforcement about terrorism, it is a good sign. Concentrating attention on where the trouble might be rather than on where it is could have the effect of producing more terrorists.

Update: That last point is made more colourfully at SpyBlog (which also discusses the possible provenance of the document) -- "One Obvious Question not mentioned in the "Key Points" or in The Guardian's articles, is to what extent "radicalisation" is influenced by the cockups and mistakes whereby heavy handed or inept Police and Security Agency actions, which sweep up innocent or neutral or marginal terrorism supporters, and who refuse to promptly admit, publicly apologise and make generous financial compensation for their mistakes, contributes to the conversion of these people and their relatives, into more extreme supporters or into actual terrorists, exactly as used to happen in Northern Ireland."


Worthy of note

Yesterday Belgrade got a new mayor and a bunch of lovely patronage jobs were distributed. This was probably good news for the people receiving direct benefit from it, and may be good news for more people in the sense that that other party did not get the goodies that were handed out.

There was more good news for Belgrade today, which will please local lovers of the game Monopoly. The new international version of the game has come out, and it features Belgrade among the fancy dark green properties, right between Cape Town and Parigi. Now anyone who puts a hotel there, if it is a decent one, ought to do just fine.

Home to roost

A delegation from SPS went to Požarevac to visit the corpse of Slobodan Milošević. And a delegation from SRS went to prison to visit Milorad Ulemek. We hope they both had nice chats.

Fly the complacent skies

Word is BAA will be instructed to sell two of the three airports it operates in London. That's one too few.



You know, I'm not a fan of conspiracy theory (so ignore the text on the page I'm linking to if you choose). But in this picture it really does look like Milorad Čavić is ahead of Michael Phelps. Doesn't it? Nothing against either one of them.


Forecast: Knifey, with occasional showers of hysteria

Confronted with a massive wave of media coverage of knife crime, police initiated the "Tackling Knives Action Programme" (TKAP). Though you could say that when you are confronted with a knife that "tackling" it is a bad idea unless you are Yukio Mishima or Cassius, nonetheless police came forward with results: 55000 people searched, 2500 arrests made, 1600 knives found. Sounds impressive, eh wot? Until you read the numbers to indicate that of all the people searched there was no cause to arrest 95.45% of them, and that of those arrested each possessed, on average, less than two thirds of one knife. They could have achieved a better average by rifling through random kitchen drawers.

Meanwhile a person was convicted and labelled as the UK's "youngest terrorist" because when he was sixteen he was found to possess, erm, some pamphlets. And computer files. Expect the "youngest terrorist" to figure among the youngest people to complete a sentence as well.

Update: It looks like the "young terrorist" got twelve years for possessing reading material. Imagine the sentences that will be given to people who have actually done things.

Update2: My mistake (I blame BBC!), it was the person who actually recruited the group who got twelve years. Pamphlet boy will be sentenced in September. The charge on which he was convicted was one count of "making a record likely to be useful."

A new problem for the Karadžić case

Several lawyers are offering reasons why ICTY judge Alphonse Orie should not preside over the trial of Radovan Karadžić: he was one of the counsels for the defence in the case of Duško Tadić, a soldier who was (at least formally) under Karadžić's command, and was the presiding judge in the case of Momčilo Krajišnik, a Karadžić associate convicted (but acquitted of genocide) in 2006. The Krajišnik case is particularly important, not only because of overlapping details but also because of the likelihood that Karadžić may call Krajišnik as a witness, and because Krajišnik is very likely to seek Karadžić's testimony for his own appeal. Edina Bećirević has the details of the discussion.


Solidarity among the squalid

The "president of South Ossetia" has a special message of brotherhood for Serbia in Glas gadosti. Highlights of his historical-anthropological disquisition:
"In the past there existed good relations between the Alana-Ossetians and the Georgians. The attack of the Mongol-Tatar hordes changed the situation."

"The nation of South Ossetia, an ancient nation with an old Orthodox tradition, is filled with extraordinarily warm feelings toward the brotherly Serbian nation. Our common roots date from the Scythnian-Sarmatian-Slavic times, and even earlier. In addition, our position is ordered not only by historical and religious-cultural closeness. Our opponents call us separatists and so we see that people in Serbia are surprised by our support. But as I have already said, South Ossetians are not separatists, we were always against the dissolution of our state, the USSR."

"We follow the events in Serbia with great attention. We would like very much for the Serbian nation to be consolidated and we are deeply affected by the division in Serbian society. In contrast to the Serbs, among us there is complete unity."
One very tiny group of Serbs wants to return the compliment. The ten or so people who are still protesting the arrest of Radovan Karadžić paid a visit to the Russian embassy to congratulate them on their military success, equipped with a banner reading "Ne dam Osetiju!" It is nice to know that there is always some little crowd of marginal people who can never get enough of murderous little territorial disputes.

If you think that the other folks are doing any better, look over at Georgia, where president Mikheil Saakashvili is attempting to draw on his contacts with the American far right (for example Randy Scheunemann, John McCain's top foreign policy advisor, who was a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government) to try to encourage a revival of the hostile footing between the US and Russia.

For an interesting perspective, look at the assessment of events by Soli Ozel. In the world where humans actually live, ill-intentioned national romanticism will not achieve any more than it already has, and neither will dreams of bringing back another Cold War that will never end.

Thanks to AR for a bunch of the links and to the Mongol-Tatar hordes for keeping the world interesting.


Quote of the day

  • “Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.”
--Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States

Bez komentara, zbilja.

(Thanks to Wonkette)

News from Necrophiladelphia

I suppose psychologists might be pleased that the losers on the far right do not hide their inclinations.

In related news, it's not for nothing that people need to clean up after their dogs.


Five quick points about Georgia

The first one: It is a matter of no consequence whether South Ossetia is a part of Georgia or not. It is a matter of tremendous consequence how people live in the whole region regardless of borders.

The second one: Russia is determined to show how powerful it is again in a way that other countries will recognise. It would be good to find ways to let this expression be made that do not involve endangering or killing people.

The third one: The choice of means offers a pretty good sign of who is in power in Russia. This will not make anything easier, and a strategy of confrontation will only confirm their power.

The fourth one: The Georgian government calculated badly in tying its foreign policy position to the United States. As convenient as the US may have found it to have a client in the region, it is not going to challenge a regional hegemon or take any other risks for its client's sake.

The fifth one: A lot of people in the US and Europe will find it hard to resist the tasty new Cold War bait that is being offered. This would make a few arms manufacturers happier and wealthier but would not help anyone else. If nothing else has become clear over the past seven years, it is that a failure of diplomacy cannot be covered over by an excess of belligerency.

Predicting the past

For the last several years, there has been the occasional flurry of stories claiming or conforming that various authorities have known where Ratko Mladić was until some point more than a year before the present. Here is another. Of course there have been moments: nobody really believes that the two soldiers who were guarding an underground play dungeon at Topčider somehow accidentally shot one another at the same time. But generally there is a thread that runs through all of these "Where's Ratko" stories: 1) a representative of a government tries to claim that its predecessor was protecting him, while the present government is not; 2) there is a claim that somebody else knew his location and movements (but we don't); 3) all of the stories involve an active role on the part of the military.

On that last point: let's accept for a moment the null hypothesis that the military is not actively protecting Ratko Mladić on some of the real estate it owns. Is it still impossible to trace the pension payments he receives?


Guzonjin odvratni sin

I have not written about this story because .... well, because it is a stupid story about a stupid person. But here we go: the spoiled and brutal child of a rich family beats a person in a bar fight, causing that person to go into a coma. The family, certainly by means as charming as those by which they got the money the first place, compels the local Serbian consul to bail out the snot and then to violate the terms of the bail by issuing him a false travel document which he uses to hide out in Serbia. Then they expect the minstries of justice and foreign affairs in Serbia to continue to shield their horrifying weasel from being tried for the crime he committed. The result: the entire population of the country, that is to say people who -- unlike the members of the family in question -- are not bar bullies, forgers, practioners of bribery, cowards, or hohštapleri, have to tolerate the diplomatic crisis that was provoked.

Do they feel entitled? See what their lawyer says.

And all those people who are not criminals, and who have not bribed a consul? They wait to receive a passport, and wait to be able to travel with it.

Lesson from the arrests of war criminals: the whole country is better off when people's lives do not depend on the moods of people who live off influence they would never have in a legal state.


Time, reflexes like a ...

The small brouhaha over the Holbrooke agreement is meant to answer the question of why Radovan Karadžić was not arrested between 1996 and 2000. Goran Petrović, who was head of state security for a very brief period, has an answer to the question of why he was not arrested between 2003 and 2008. Next up: the answer to the question of why he was not arrested between 2000 and 2003.


Dokaz da je Rendőrségska država

Adam has made an interesting find. It looks like the SRS riots were so disappointing, that in order to provide sensational coverage CNN had to beef them up with footage from riots in another place at another time. Since nobody who follows CNN knows any languages or ever goes anywhere, nobody would ever notice, right?


Thanks for the memos

For anybody who wants it, here is the statement that Radovan Karadžić wanted to make to the Tribunal yesterday (the translation precedes the original text, which is signed).

A new Balkans news portal

This is a nice little aggregator. Thanks to Yves Tomić for the tip.

Secret agent man

At his arraignment yesterday, Radovan Karadžić repeated a claim that has been made by many people (among them Florence Hartmann, Biljana Plavšić, Muhamed Šaćirbej ....) that he felt he had been protected by an agreement he had made in 1996 with Richard Holbrooke, who was then the US envoy overseeing the negotiation and implementation of the Dayton agreement in Bosnia-Hercegovina. As the story goes, the offer was made to Karadžić that if he were to withdraw from public life, in return for this the United States would either (in some versions) see to it that he would not be pursued and arrested or (in more dramatic versions) see to it that the charges against him would be withdrawn. Today's Blic offers an overview of stories involving the "Holbrooke agreement."

The US State Department denies that there was an agreement, as does Richard Holbrooke. But of course denials do not tell us anything about factual states, merely what somebody would prefer for us to believe. All the same, there is as yet no convincing evidence (say, a copy of the signed agreement) that would definitively tell us there was an agreement. What we have to do is the same thing we do with the Karađorđevo agreement -- some people claim that Milošević and Tuđman agreed in advance on the territorial division of Bosnia-Hercegovina, nobody has produced the smoking cocktail napkin or whatever it is that thugs in power write their mash notes on, so what is left to make inferences from the facts that are available.

Here is what we know: 1) The US long regarded the Tribunal as an obstacle to its efforts to negotiate with the criminals who would be charged, and refused to assist in the arrest of suspects or provide Tribunal researchers with evidence from sources such as satellite intercepts which the US intelligence agencies collected. 2) There was a longish period during which it was possible to arrest Karadžić and other indictees but this was not done. 3) After 2000, when a new president was appointed by the Supreme Court, US foreign policy became increasingly hostile to international legal institutions, international agreements and international organisations in general.

At the same time, here are some more things that we know: 1) Richard Holbrooke never had the authority to create obligations for the US by means of a personal initiative. 2) If he did ever have it, he did not have the means to enforce it, particularly after the administration he served left office, 3) An obligation undertaken by the US State Department would not create obligations for UN institutions or any other countries.

So my conclusion is that maybe Richard Holbrooke did make some promises to Radovan Karadžić. If he did, it was a mildly clever way of influencing a gullible megalomaniac. It never could have any legal force, neither in preventing Serbia from arresting Karadžić nor in preventing the UN from trying him.


In court

Radovan Karadžić makes his first court appearance. He is expected to confirm his identity, hear the charges against him, state that he intends to represent himself, and request to use his right to wait thirty days before entering a plea.

In the meantime there is some chance that the charges against him may be revised -- in some ways to account for evidence which was not available when the first charges were made, and in some cases it may be shortened because some facts (for example, related to the siege of Sarajevo) have already been established in other cases. Here a delicate balance has to be struck: important crimes should not be left out, but one reason for the endless Milošević trial was probably that prosecutors overcharged.

Photo courtesy of B92. There is another photo about of the accused looking a bit more Hollywoodish, but it is not legal to take photos of prisoners in custody, and I ain't going down that road.

That divine cocktail of MSG

Often admired, sometimes ridiculed, never quite successfully imitated -- Vegeta, together with the humble onion, is one of the pillars of Balkan gastronomy. Zlata Bartl (popularly, "teta Vegeta"), who created it in 1959, has passed away. I do not know what I will prepare to honour her memory, but it will be plenty salty and require a good cold beverage.


The case of the advocate who barked in the night

So, that whole game about waiting for the appeal to arrive? Now Karadžić's lawyer admits there never was an appeal. Initial thoughts on this very minor matter:
  1. On the one hand, there may as well not have been an appeal since it would have been rejected as a matter of course.
  2. On the other hand, these lawyers might think about defending their client instead of whatever it is they are doing.
In the event that Karadžić does decide to conduct his own defence, he will probably not have worse representation than he would get from Svetozar Vujačić and (for heaven's sake) Goran Petronijević. But considering that the case against him relies on his command responsibility for actions of his subordinates and that his strongest potential defence is that he did not really exercise command, any reasonable person would advise him to get some qualified lawyers.

Postscript: Here is the link. And the remark about Mr Petronijević is not because of this case or any of the other celebrated cases in which he has defended figures from the organised crime world, but because of his famous decision when he was a judge in the Djakovica terrorism case in May 2000, when he declared "There might have been shortcomings in the test, but the results must be accepted as valid because they were conducted in wartime conditions. It is impossible to determine your individual guilt, but that is not necessary." ICTY rejected him as a lawyer for Veselin Šljivančanin back in the day.


The meeting organised last night by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) was a failure in every respect. The turnout was low, the speeches were bad, the goals were not clearly stated, and the organisers failed to control the crowd. This is probably also why speakers were chosen from the D-list of Serbian politics: luminaries like Kosta Čavoški and Bora Đorđević. The government knew that the protest could be ignored, so they spent the evening preparing to fly Radovan Karadžić out of the country to the place where he will be tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Meanwhile the only element of the meeting that made news was the violent confrontation between skinheads and police, who this time around did not have orders to let the hooligans destroy anything they wanted. A suggestion to the winsome lads of 1389, Obraz and other groups allied with SRS: when your friends are not in power, it is a bad idea to attack the police, because there are more of them than there are of you, and they are better armed and better trained.

Today Tomislav Nikolić of SRS came out with an unintentionally revealing statement. He claims that president Boris Tadić was commanding the police and attempting to create disorder, and tried to dissociate his party from the thugs who turned out for the meeting, claiming that they were on the payroll of the police.

Let's leave the contradictions in Nikolić's statement alone -- they are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out. What the failure of last night's meeting shows is that without support from the regime in power SRS is simply another extremist party with severely limited support and little capacity to organise anything. They could build a small base of support when they had the ability to hand out commercial real estate on the Zemunski kej. And they could assure the validity of their licence to intimidate people when everyone was sure that the police and security services were standing behind them.

Goodbye, SRS. People are no longer afraid of you, and they no longer take you seriously.

Update: Rich Byrne on the failed meeting as "a total triumph for the new government."

Update2: Similar thoughts from Vladimir Vuletić, Zoran Stojiljković and (if you can believe it) Slobodan Antonić.


Ma kemoj

So the big meeting in protest of the arrest of Karadžić has come and gone, and it was as I predicted: small turnout, a bit of violence, anticlimax. The high point would have to be the typographical error at the B92 news site. Undoubtedly wishing to give the story the headline "Miting završen, kreće šetnja," (which is in fact the title given the full story), the main page instead gives the headline "Miting završen, kre." As if the thing were attended by a bunch of breteni.

Any truth to the rumours that Karadžić is already on his way to the Hague? I have not found any confirmation yet, but it will be my pleasure to let you know.

Update: Ah, timing! The title of the story has already changed -- to "Miting završen, nema šetnje." Apparently the police and the right wing thugs need some space to be alone with one another.

Update2: No trip to the Hague tonight, the rumour was untrue.

Update3: But if I had waited a couple hours longer ....

Notes on the commerciality of evil

Okay, while I have to agree that the "footsteps of Radovan Karadžić" tour is more than a tad obscene, I also have to admit that if I were in Belgrade right now I would probably be taking it (most likely without the help of an agency). Maybe I would skip having my photo taken holding his gusle.

A quick roundup

I have taken a few days off from following the strange doings of "Dr Dabić," alter ego of the genocidaire Radovan Karadžić. The reason for this is probably fairly legitimate: our furniture and massive quantities of boxes have finally arrived in scenic London. After three days of hauling things around and unpacking, our home is beginning to look a bit like a place where people live. The best part of it all is that half of the very large bedroom will be a work space for your humble correspondent and his closest relatives. Does luxury know no end?

In any case, there is not so much that is new to report. Karadžić may or may not have acquired a Croatian passport in the name of his witch-doctor colleague Petar Glumac. Glumac thinks so and so apparently do Serbian authorities, but police in Austria seem not so certain. It seems fairly clear that Karadžić vacationed in Croatia using this document, which would suggest that the folks in Serbia are closer to the truth here. Somebody -- either the real Glumac or Karadžić -- was apparently also practicing "medicine" in Italy.

Karadžić's lawyer Svetozar Vujačić seems to have adopted the only strategy available to delay the extradition of his client to the ICTY. He sent an appeal by the slowest postal means he could find. This is not going to mean much, except that the indictee may travel a couple of days later.

Meanwhile Karadžić's nephew Dragan Karadžić has come out with a declaration that he (and only he) assisted the fugitive in evading the law. This is probably an attempt to shield the people who participated in harbouring Karadžić and are still harbouring Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. There is no reason to expect much to come of this one way or the other. Dragan Karadžić might or might not get a short prison term, police are not likely to prefer his public statements to the results of their investigation, and public opinion will be balanced between the people who are relieved that the criminal has been arrested and people who will understand a little illegal expression of filial piety, however misguided. Luka Karadžić should get a little bit of blame for exposing his son to danger, but in his family life as in his driving habits he has never shown any sign of concern for people less powerful and well connected than himself.

Tonight the right wing parties are organising a protest against the arrest. This is a bit of a last ditch for them: they lost both the elections and the extended horse-trading session that followed, and now want to try their hand at a little bit of street populism. Expect them to attract a small number of people who will engage in a bit of violence.

Speaking of marginal parties of the far right, it looks like Koštunica dr Vojislav has broken his silence. Lucky us.

Apologies for the lack of links in the above post. I just wanted to catch up a bit. The people who have been following the news will already have read the original articles, and for the rest a search engine ought to do the trick.

Update: Just a note on the lawyer Vujačić's slow mail trick. If the appeal does not arrive, the court is not obligated to wait for it indefinitely. The judges could make a finding that there is no appeal.


Great moments in marketing

After the Chevy Nova, the Seat Pestilencia and the Toyota e-Coli, we now have the Ford Kuga. (NB)


They say Harlan Sanders was not really a colonel

So, the continuing education of Radovan Karadžić included a spell at a private school for "bioenergetics" in Belgrade, where he received the title of "general for poisons, gold and minefield injuries" (I am not making this up). It was Mina Minić, the director of the school, who gave him the nickname "David" because, she says, he was very curious and wanted "to see" (da vidi) everything.

I am just posting stuff I read. I am not making it up. What makes you think I could make this up?

Update: Oops, sorry, gender confusion. Apparently Mina Minić is a dude. And here is (perhaps) a photo.

Tracing the paper trail

One way or another, Radovan Karadžić was provided with this identity document:

Which belongs not to him, but to this person:

Or that is at least one of the versions. In another version he assumed the identity of a much younger person who was killed during the siege of Sarajevo.

What is fairly certain is that he did not get the false identity on his own. The answer to the question of how he got it probably depends on when he got it. If it was early on, it could have been as early as 1993 when the younger Dragan Dabić was killed. Then chances are that the documents were provided by Karadžić's fellow criminals in Bosnia. If it was later, and the most frequent guess now seems to be that was in Belgrade from 2005 onward, it would have to have been done by criminals in Serbia. What kind of criminals in Serbia? Follow the paper trail: who issues the documents?

Good things Karadžić has done

Ummm .... made Dutch people feel less guilty?

Your reading suggestion for the day

One more suggestion for reading today: the new and very fine online magazine e-Novine. There you will find Bojan Tončić reviewing the charges against Karadžic, Lidija Franović checking out the fate of zločinac-oriented niche marketing at the Belgrade railway station, Miša Brkić explaining the network that made all that fugitifying possible, and Dejan Kožul arguing that the fascination with Karadžić's freaky life as a charlatan of a different sort draws attention away from the very grave crimes with which he is charged. And that is not all, enjoy a good publication!

Blago cara Radovana

So far we have not had an answer to the question of how Radovan Karadžić supported himself while he was in hiding. He was not paid for his delightful articles in Zdrav život, and there is no evidence that he was ever employed anywhere in the practice of fake medicine. Milorad Dodik thinks he has the answer: he stole 36 million marks from the national bank of the "Republika Srpska" in 2005. Mind you, "some documents exist" is not the sort of argument that any legal institution, or indeed any individual, accepts.

Also, in the trivia department -- Radovan's gentlewoman friend's identity is revealed.


So that we should not forget the historical sources on which Radovan Karadžić drew and which he imitated, Gabriel Partos has today an obituary for Dinko Šakić. Šakić became commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp at a young age, but he continued to live much longer. During that period, he proved his ongoing utility by serving as a temporary receptacle for his own excrement, often for periods of several hours before it would be deposited into a public water system that was paid for and maintained by people he wanted to kill.

Scheveningen: Pa da, OK, važi

Quote of the day, from Vreme. Some web designer dude recalls his discussions on tourism in the cabinet of Dr. Dabić.
Pavlović je za B92 rekao da je razgovarao s Karadžićem i o svom obilasku Sheveningena. "Onda sam mu rekao: ‘Davide, Sheveningen je jedno super mesto, koje morate obavezno da posetite. On je pun hotela, plaža, stvarno jedno predivno mesto na Zemlji.’ On je samo slegnuo ramenima i rekao: ‘Pa, da, OK, važi’", priča Pavlović.
He didn't mention the jazz festival.


This was passed on by a reader in the comments last night (see below) but I was too tired to follow it up. Interesting little bit of speculation / conspiracy theory. Was the source of the information that led to the arrest of Karadžić none other than -- Ratko Mladić?

The way the story goes, Mladić is negotiating the terms of his own surrender, wants to avoid being tried, and passed on what he knew about his former co-conspirator to soemone, possibly the German intelligence agency BND.

It's all very interesting, though the article is short on detail and a bit rambling. According to my sources, Mladić is living under an assumed identity and working as an alternative pedicurist in Kuršumlija.

On the other hand, the more I look at the article, the more it looks like it was planted there, and not by a person skilled in feng shui.


Dabogda te posetio Čavoški

There are only a few new developments on the Karadžić front today: police are beginning to investigate how he was able to get false identity documents issued by, oh, the police in Ruma. Miša Brkić thinks the security services are behind both the hiding in monasteries story and the invention of Dr Dabić. There were protests yesterday and they are expected again today, with not many people -- just a few Obrazovci, but it looks like they do like to throw stuff. And with the goal of increasing his suffering, his cell was visited by his brother Luka, who was taking time off from killing girls while driving around drunk in his Mercedes, and by Kosta Čavoški, who hangs with mass murderers full time so he didn't have to interrupt his schedule.

Photo: Luka Karadžić arrives with his tailor and cosmetician to visit his brother.

Man of many roles

Psychiatrist, poet, politician, killer, practitioner of hand-waving, necklace marketer, fugitive, musician, rider of buses to unknown destinations -- lawyer?

Delovanje Dabića: dubine i dubioze

Some details are beginning to emerge about the life that Radovan Karadžić led under the name of Dragan David Dabić. He did not appear to make a strong impression on his neighbours in Novi Beograd, who if they remember him as well remember him as quiet and polite with a dress sense that was unusual, what Californians might describe as "elegant casual." He got groceries every day in one shop, and seems to have purchased there modestly, but liked to get large quantities of bottled water. Nobody seems to have drawn any connection between the pleasant practitioner of fake medicine and the fugitive who was playing the role.

People with whom he came into contact in the "medical" world also did not suspect anything, except that the editor of Zdrav život never did believe he had a medical degree or profession (but nevertheless appreciated Karadžić's articles on meditation and the like, which do seem to have attracted a readership). A couple of people used his healing services, which seemed to involve waving his hands around people's bodies, which would appear to constitute "classical bioenergy," and the purchase of pendants. Oh, and he seems to have been inseparable from someone called Mila.

There were only a few signs of his old political affiliations and of the ideas that led him a few years earlier to become a perpetrator of genocide. Apparently he frequented a bar where traditional gusle music was played, and liked to listen, sometimes played and sang songs about himself facing a picture of himself with a larger hairdo, and praised his fellow traditional music enthusiasts for preserving folk customs. This is hardly determinative of anything, though -- the overwhelming majority of people who appreciate traditional culture are not criminals at all.

A couple mild indications can also be found in the articles on meditation he wrote for Zdrav život. Again, it is not much: in reflecting on meditation he falls into a digression on the authenticity of cultures and whether they "have not been destroyed or blocked in development." But again, there are many more essentialists out there than there are extremists. Even offering up silly ideas, he gave nobody any reason to suspect who he was.

All in all it sounds as though he succeeded in living the life of a peaceful fellow who did not stand out much in a crowd. Very likely he would have been able to continue doing that if he did not begin to seek publicity for his "treatments." Psychologist Leposava Kron explains this behaviour, which seems to have led to his capture, as representing a need for attention which was unchanged from his previous life.


The David wellbeing program

A few more details are available from B92 about the life of Dr Dragan David Dabić, as Radovan Karadžić called himself for some time. There are memories from the magazine editor mentioned in the previous post, from some people who heard him lecture on meditation in Belgrade and Novi Sad and, erm, someone who had some tea with him once. The minister of health says there is no medical practitioner registered under the name of David or Dragan Dabić. And the Belgrade city transport company says that Dabić never bought a monthly bus pass. This last bit is probably designed to cast doubt on the version of the arrest presented by Karadžić's lawyer, but I think there they are going a bit far. As far as I know, I am the only person who has ever paid to ride on a bus in Belgrade.

The petard department

Having opened up the competition for most vapid article, I really ought to be cautious about posting this. Best to skip it and read the illustrated piece by Richard Byrne instead.

Ceci n'est pas un chapeau

In addition to the existing international charges against him, Serbian prosecutors plan to charge Radovan Karadžić with smuggling endangered forest animals under his hat.

No text to link to, but I just heard an interview on the radio, Tatomir Toroman interviewed the editor of Zdrav život magazine, who published a series of articles on meditation by Dragan (sometimes David) Dabić, and who says that his lectures on meditation were outstanding. The editor had no clue who was hiding behind the assumed name.

Here's a tad more: from Stultitia, scenes from a Dabićin' lecture and the menu for a lovely vegetarian repast.

A jogurt?

And in Sarajevo, BBC's film shows, many people are celebrating. Including one fellow on the back of a motorcycle who looks like he was surprised while bringing his kifla back from the bakery.

Dragan Dabić in the literature

Where did Radovan Karadžić get his pseudonym? From the examination of police officer Dragan Jašović by prosecutor Geoffrey Nice before ICTY, an excerpt:

"Dragan Babic [sic], and Srecko Dogandzic's office, I saw a

25 civilian male Albanian, aged about 20, lying on the blue carpeted floor

Page 40820

Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and

English transcripts.

Page 40821

1 without his shoes on. Dragan Babic [sic] was sitting on his legs and

2 remained there when I walked in. Srecko Dogandzic had a baton in his hand

3 and he froze when he saw me, he was standing behind Dragan Babic and it

4 was obvious that he had been beating the young man's bare feet. Dragan

5 Jasovic was in a crouched position at the guy's head with his hands either

6 side of the young man's head, it was if he had let the guy's head go when

7 I entered the room. Radomir Mitic was standing by the desk and he froze

8 when I entered the room.

9 "Jasovic stood up --" Sorry. "Dragan Babic [sic] and Dragan

10 Jasovic stood up. As Babic got up --" Dabic, I beg your pardon. I'm

11 misreading it. "As Dabic got up, he practically stood on the young man's

12 genitals and went over and stood by the wall. Dragan Jasovic was wearing

13 a button down cardigan-type sweater which was open, and as he stood up, he

14 stood on the right-hand side of his sweater, which caused him to slightly

15 lose balance."

16 Now, do you remember an incident with Dragan Dabic, Srecko

17 Dogandzic, and a young man who was being beaten?

18 A. Dragan Dabic and Srecko Dogandzic worked with grand larcenies and

19 theft. That was their area of work.

20 I'm not aware of this case at all. And I never wore a pullover.

21 I always wore a jacket. I am not aware of this case at all. I wore polo

22 shirts or T-shirts in summertime.

The testimony took place in June 2005. We still do not know when Karadžić began using the pseudonym.

Raša Ram Dass

Is this the photo of Karadžić alias Dragan Dabić we have been wondering about? AFP says it is. Would you take this fellow's alternative medicine?

Alternatives to medicine

Says Rasim Ljajić at his press conference, Karadžić was living in Belgrade and dressing like the jazz-folk legend Louis, and practicing "alternative medicine" at a private clinic under the assumed name Dragan Dabić. And Ljajić directly answered the folks looking for hidden meaning (I guess I am one of them) behind the timing of the arrest: "This shows that we do not choose the place or time for the arrest of suspects. There was international pressure to arrest Mladić, hardly anyone expected the arrest of Karadžić, but our operative findings led to the location and arrest of Karadžić." So there you have it.


In younger days...

Then ....

And now ....

Adil Zulfikarpašić

Radovan Karadžić will be all over the news today, but we should not neglect to remember decent people: Adil Zulfikarpašić, at one point a Partisan and official of Tito's first government, later an emigre in Switzerland and one of the founders of the Democratic Alternative, has passed away at the age of 87.

And the competition begins ....

.... for the most vapid article about the arrest of Karadžić. The first entry is from Marcus Tanner, who gets the wife's name wrong and assures us that the whole business is all about Marcus Tanner.



Čovek koji je sve samo što nije i nikad neće ni biti gradonačelnik Beograda kaže da je hapšenje Karadžića "jeziva vest." A frajer poznaje jezive stvari.

Ej, pa sad

If the rumour reported by Blic is correct, Karadžić was arrested in Vračar! Of all places!

Initial observations

The arrest of Karadžić is of course a huge event, leaving just two major suspects (only one of whom is worth the trouble) still to be captured and tried. A few initial observations:
  • It was announced that he was arrested, but not where. This matters in the sense that a lot of people have claimed for a long time either that they know where he is or that someone else does. The BBC report sazs that he was arrested "by Serbian security officers," which would suggest that it happened in Serbia.
  • On the same say that Karadžić was arrested, Dinko Šakić died. Pravo stiže svakom govnu.
  • The Tribunal had better not mess this one up because there are not many chances left.
More on the story as it develops, no doubt.

A couple more details, from B92: it happened in Serbia, and the Interior ministry had no part in it.

Also, we recommend the fantastic Indian place at the bottom of Muswell Hill.

You go out to dinner, things happen. Off to the Hague, Radovane.


Documentary film workshop!

Are you in or near London? Do you have an interest in people from eastern Europe and documentary film? I thought you did, and that you would therefore be interested in the London in Motion UCL Documentary Film Workshop to be held in November. The deadline for applications (form available at the site) is 1 September.


Ne zastareva

So it seems that somebody has caught up with 86-year old Peter Egner, resident of a retirement home in lovely Bellevue, Washington. According to the charges, Mr Egner, who came to the United States in 1960 and received citizenship in 1966, was a member of the Nazi security police in Belgrade between 1941 and 1943 where he acted as an interpreter during interrogations of prisoners and guarded transports of prisoners (at least) between two prison camps in the city. During the first nine months of the occupation, it is charged, he was a member of a unit that killed thousands of civilians, mostly by asphyxiation.

The suspect is not commenting and his lawyer says that the charges are vague.

A little bit more: the government has filed a case to revoke the old murderer's citizenship (here is the full text). Some guy says that he is a gentleman. While his neighbours seem to think that being a Nazi has something to do with privacy.

Thanks to AR for the charming photo.


Party like it's 1987

Bless the ultrarightists who call themselves leftists, they are outraged that SPS would join a government with DS. So now Hegel iz naših sokaka, Če da krade donacije od izbeglica, and Aca bivša faca have announced their intention of forming a new party. Mihajlo Marković rose out of his crypt to declare the new party's platform against "brutal trade, prostitution and unnatural acts," then scurried off in terror at the sunrise.

There is at least one set of rumours out there suggesting that they need not have bothered. According to this version of the near future, SPS will be out of all coalitions and LDP will be in. Or else -- get this! -- new elections, which DSS and SRS are hankering to lose while SPS is still uncertain whether it wants to lose now or later.


Deficient immunity

So a court in the Netherlands has ruled that the UN is protected by immunity in a case in which it was charged that the people the UN was obligated to protect were protected by nothing at all. The same principle, however, does not apply to the state of the Netherlands itself, so far.


Addition and subtraction

Serbia got its new government today. Think you can form a better one? Give it a try.

(Thanks to Nikola Jablanov)

Technical notes from all over

I guess I am not so much a client as a user of the Blogger service, since I do not pay them anything and they do not pay me anything. So this limits my ability to complain about their service. All the same, the new editing tool seems to be in the habit of eating my paragraph breaks. Do they taste nice?

It may seem that I spend a lot of time complaining here about agencies and companies that bother me (the Home Office, Defra, my local council, BT ....). This could lead to the impression that I am a grouchy old fellow, an impression that people who know me would certainly confirm.

All the same, in the interest of balance, a few of the providers of goods and services in the United Magical Kingdom who have pleased me:
  • John Lewis: They deliver when they say they will, and do not charge extra for it. And when I got a defective product from them, they were there the next day to take it away and bring a new one.
  • Riverford Organic: Say goodbye to depressing supermarket vegetables, order a nice box of veg from these folk instead. They come by once a week to bring it to you, and take back the box from last week to use again. The price is a little higher, but the quality is much better. And you don't have to carry anything.
There may be some more good ones out there.

You provide the prose poems

It could be a dismal enterprise to list all those things that have not changed. But among them is the tender attention ruling parties in Serbia always pay to the largest state-controlled newspaper, Politika, and to the largest state-controlled broadcast outlet, Radio Televizija Srbije (RTS). Both of these have taken beatings from competition, and consequently have weaker positions than they have had in the past. But Politika remains a semiofficial paper and RTS remains the only broadcaster which has access to resources for large-scale production (even if they use these resources poorly) and which is available everywhere. When Vojislav Koštunica became prime minister, he installed his journalistic admirer Ljiljana Smajlović as editor of Politika and his media advisor (media advisor to lots of folks, actually, and for a brief period minister of information for Slobodan Milošević) Aleksandar Tijanić as head of RTS.

Both Smajlović and Tijanić have some good things to show for their service. Smajlović engaged the much-admired designer Mirko Ilić to reconceive the look of Politika, and it is now more legible and more stylish than it was, with especially enjoyable graphics on Sundays. Under Tijanić RTS television looks a lot less haphazard and hackneyed, more like a professional TV outlet and less like the way a tech school dropout put onto video the hallucinations of a hatful of people to whom nobody can say "that's a bad idea."

And there are things that they failed to do. Smajlović cut short the path that Politika had begun back to respectable journalism. Times have changed, but you are as likely to find tendentious headlines and selective reporting in that paper as you were in the 1990s. She also handed out patronage in the form of columnist contracts to Koštunica's political supporters. Miroslav Lazanski? There. Slobodan Antonić? Him too. Đorđe Vukadinović? What a surprise. For good measure, the management board was packed with political supporters as well. Emir Kusturica was installed as its chair. Tijanić used RTS as a vehicle for personal promotion and the political promotion of his rotating cast of friends and business associates. So as much as the heads of these institutions polished their surfaces, the stuff underneath looked very much the way it did in the old days.

Now with a new government, new board members are heading to those media outlets. Tijanić and Smajlović are predicting, probably correctly, that they will be removed from their positions. But at the same time they are defending their positions using the rhetoric of "journalistic independence." Now the independence of media is a value that lots of folks for good reason would defend. In this case the rhetoric is in the wrong hands. The people using it did not come to assume their positions as independent journalists or because of their journalistic independence, but for precisely the opposite reason. In the second place, an important point is being missed: no media outlet is independent of its own managing board, which means that the problem is structural. Form the managing body of a media outlet with people appointed by political parties, the result will always be politically controlled media. Allow politicians to name the editors of media institutions, they will be anything but independent.

There might or might not be reason to imagine that the Cvetković-Daček government will appoint a higher class of lapdogs than its predecessors. What would really be interesting would be to see editorial independence practised as a general operating principle.


The Lajiad

Well, the family is after a long period reunited. And it took a while, but the one serious bureaucratic problem we anticipated in connection with arrival has been resolved. Here's how.

Mrs Ethnia and the Ethniette arrived Wednesday morning at 5 AM or so, I arrived to the fetching Heathrow airport to meet them, and at that point we were supposed to go to the Animal Reception Centre to pick up our long-suffering dog Lajoš (who appears to have been left without an Ethnian pseudonym; suggestions are welcome), who would be released after they finished doing whatever it is they do to helpless animals in sealed high-security zones.

This was to be the fruit of a long procedure to avoid quarantine in the UK, which is famously hostile to incoming animals. The procedure begins a year before the doggie is to enter the country. He gets certification and boosters for all of the vaccines he has received, and in an indignity meant to emulate the surveillance to which humans are subject at all times, a computer chip is shoved into his body. A blood sample is taken, and must be sent to the only laboratory in the country from which Defra will accept results (in the US, actually, there are two laboratories but the other is apparently only for dogs in active military service). A pile of papers must be gathered and certified by a veterinarian.

And then there is the travel itself. Lajoš must travel in crate that meets precise specifications, can only go on flights from a list provided by Defra, and is to be surrendered to the cargo carrier five hours before the flight. On arrival in London, he is to be taken in his crate directly to the Animal Reception Centre, where, their literature assures us, staff are on duty 24 hours to assure the health, safety and happiness of domestic animals and the people around them.

From Heathrow Terminal 4, which can be reached by tube, one can reach the Animal Reception Centre by car. If, like most people who live in central London, one does not have a car, the procedure is the following: one drags one's luggage past the point at which there are paved walks by the side of the road, and then drags the bags up some stairs to a path that runs through an overgrown meadow and leads to a narrow pavement bestride a six-lane highway. After tooling along that pavement for about 2 km, it is possible to see the building of the Animal Reception Centre, which bears a striking resemblance to the Medical Facility for the Criminally Insane outside the University of Massachusetts hospital in Worcester. On seeing the building, it becomes clear that it is on the other side of the six-lane highway and that there are no crossings. So the only thing to do is wait for a somewhat clear moment, then dash with suitcases and child in the hope of not making an involuntary appearance in tomorrow's Daily Mirror ("Stranded pooch after Ethnia family road rage squish"). Later we discovered that it is possible to take a bus from the terminal; the bus deposits you by a parking lot next to the cargo area about a mile further down the highway, which is also on the opposite side. Here there is a crossing, which leads to an unpaved strip on the other side where pedestrians are invited to slog through the muddy grass beside a shallow primordial pool which is shaped like an imitation of a river. 

Pedestrians who arrive at the entrance to the Animal Reception Centre are greeted by a sign telling them that pedestrian access is prohibited. After ignoring the sign they will reach a reasonably pleasant waiting room filled with sofas and piles upon piles of interior decorating magazines. On the walls are signed photos from celebrities whose animals have passed through those doors. Most of them I do not recognise, but there is the unctuous Richard Branson with two doggies and a signed portrait of a squat Elton John. There are also vending machines where one can buy a bag of crisps or a Yorkie bar (“not for girls!”). We are signed in and instructed that Lajoš should be delivered to us within the hour. 

But soon an agent appears with a problem: apparently in some obscure part of the guidelines we have been (or somebody has been) told that our Boston veterinarian's signature must be verified by the US Department of Agriculture. Since such a thing would not occur to any reasonable person and is not visible in the instructions, it was not done, and hence the Animal Reception Centre is not able to accept Lajoš's documents. The certificate will have to be issued by one of their vets. It is now 7 AM. Since the Animal Reception Centre works 24 hours a day doing nothing but processing animals, they naturally do not have veterinarians on staff (who are all these people, then?). A veterinarian drops by to visit twice a day, once at noon and once at 7 PM. We are advised to bring our bags home, and that somebody will phone us sometime after noon to tell us that our dog is ready to be picked up. Which we do. 

Around 1:00 we receive a call asking us to come back to the Animal Reception Centre with Lajoš's documents. Mrs Ethnia stays at home and the Ethniette and I head off, folder of documents in hand, to make the trek once again to distant Heathrow. It turns out that they needed to resolve some confusion as to whether the computer chip that was unceremoniously placed into Lajoš was placed on the day it was placed or on the day that its number was registered. We are able to resolve the confusion immediately. By this time, however, given the time it has taken for them to call us and the time it has taken to get back to the airport, the noon vet has left. The certificate cannot be issued until the 7 PM vet shows up. They kindly point out that our paid processing fee allows Lajoš to spend 48 hours enjoying their hospitality, and that we are perfectly free to return home and pick him up the following day, or even the day after. We are determined that our dog will not spend the night at their mercies, however tender. We tell them that we will be back at 8 PM. 

This leaves us with a good six hours to fill in some way or another. The time could be spent at Heathrow, revelling in the opportunity to pay £10 for beans on toast and to find out what abominations WH Smith has decided are “bestsellers.” We quickly dismiss this idea and instead arrange to meet up with Mrs Ethnia in the nearest proper neighbourhood I can think of. Which is how we came to spend our afternoon in Hounslow. 

Now, I have absolutely nothing against Hounslow, and in fact it seems like it is a perfectly fine place. There are many discount clothing and furniture stores, as well as some lovely outlets for electronic goods. There is a shop where everything costs a pound, and if we had been inspired we could have got a very good deal there on those metal balti dishes which are ideal for serving food that has to be hot at the table. There is also a quite good Lebanese restaurant, where the friendly staff served us a delicious dinner at a more than reasonable price. There is a bakery where they fill their cannolis with Nutella, an innovation that pleased the Ethniette a great deal. The only bad thing I can say about Hounslow is that the only two times I have been there in my life it was because of some mishap involving transportation that was expected to happen but did not because of bureaucracy, and that if this sort of mishap does not occur again, as I certainly hope, these will remain the only two times in my life I have been in Hounslow. It is entirely possible that this sentiment is misplaced and that it reflects poorly both on Hounslow and on me. 

In any case, our brief and unanticipated sojourn into Hounslow tourism completed, it was time to return to the inviting Heathrow cargo area. At around 9 PM we finally did receive Lajoš, who was happy and seemed no worse for wear despite his long imprisonment. By 10:30 PM he was off the tube and merrily sniffing the ground by the fast food stands where people wait for buses at Finsbury Park station. At 11 PM, a mere 15 hours after landing in a crate in the UK, he was at home enjoying the smells of Muswell Hill. 

Englezi: Lajoš has arrived in your country. One day he will rule you all.


Pa i u Ameriku

I am not certain whether or not it is the case that the new ambassador of Serbia in Washington will be Sonja Liht. The only person I have seen reporting it so far is Pera Luković, who does not like the idea (I disagree, but that is no reason not to give a link, I suppose). In any case, it is better than the idea I got when I saw the headline "Vratiti Kovačevića u SAD." It turns out that the person in question was not the very admirable but superannuated former ambassador but some criminal.

U Evropu, 200 na sat

I have no doubt that Ivan Gavrilović (where is he now?) and the Fanki Dži dancers will join East Ethnia in welcoming the statement by Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik that it is time to "switch to turbo mode in Serbia’s European reform course." Obožavam tu brzinu. Thanks to AR.

The Slavoj Žižek prize for highest concentration of invented terminology

Unionists? Sovereignists? The national-democratic elite? Rentiers of the surroundings? Probably Professor Antonić is trying to alter perceptions about whom he is speaking for, but I will offer a delicious prize to anyone who can tell me what he is talking about.

A side note to NSPM: your readers, and especially the sovereignists among them, would like you to find a web host that does not bloom with a thousand pop-up adverts.

“No rights,” says she “without their duties, No claims on equals without cause.”

The Socialist International will be an oddly named beast indeed if it accepts genocidal parties of the far right as members.


Spodobe na okupu

A ponovo i na vlasti.


Since the London transportation network is filled with people who are angry about the inadequate service they receive, its directors have found a solution: posters requesting that people that people not be angry about the inadequate service they receive.

Meanwhile, my local council in Haringey publishes a monthly magazine called Haringey People. In it one can see photos of the councillors wearing large shiny medals around their necks. The magazine must certainly provide hours of pleasure to that audience -- it must be out there -- that enjoys looking at photos of corpulent middle aged men in garish jewelry. It also appears to exhaust the council's reserves of competence.


A new, unstable, short-lived government

So it looks like they have done it after all. In a move many hail as some kind of victory, DS and SPS have agreed to alienate both their supporters and form a government together. Word is that the prime minister will be the current finance minster Mirko Cvetković, a compromise figure in every respect. As a "nonparty" person, he is more or less acceptable to everyone. As a nonentity, everyone believes they can control him. He may surprise people on that second count.

The new government is set to have 28 ministries, affirming the place of Serbia near the top of the world demographically in ministers per capita.

The good news about the government is that neither Vojislav Koštunica nor Velimir Ilić will be part of it. The bad news is that SPS will be, and once again a party with minor support will excercise inordinate power. What is uncertain is whether SPS will use the opportunity to demonstrate that it has the capacity the become a political party, and also whether DS will use the opportunity to demonstrate that it has the capacity the become a political party.

PS: Backstory? -- Here are journalists speculating in Politika that Tadić was compelled to choose Cvetković by party leaders and that his preference would have been .... Vuk Jeremić????? But how little does one have to respect (even) Tadić to imagine anyone, even him, seeing Vuk Jeremić in any position where something might depend on him?


War criminals: What are they good for?

Mr Župljanin has had a tough decade of it, if anyone is to judge by his lament. He says "we have never had any support in Serbia from the democratic authorities," if you can imagine that. And as for the democratic authorities? They couldn't liquidate him, they couldn't arrest him, they couldn't get past their amusement at Mr Lovre's personal ads, they just couldn't do much. Where would we be without Mr Župljanin, without his "enormous suffering and superhuman efforts," and without his self-pity? In a much less bemused world, that's where.

Bozza: "Response to a silly and hostile suggestion"

If you do not like living in London while it has a buffoon as its mayor, you may wish to look for a new home in the Caribbean. If you say the preceding, you may be encouraged to return to a former home in Australia, or at least to vacate a present place of employment. And if you like living in the United States either while it has a buffoon as its president or in anticipation of its having a nonbuffoon, you could be expected to pass something that looks like this test.


With reference to the previously posted item, Morgan Tsvangirai is clearly not a reader of this blog, or he would know that he is looking for protection from the wrong source.

While you were away

Well, while I was away, actually. While I was moving to what I hope will become a reasonably permanent new home amongst the sushi bars of Muswell Hill, Owen (who will be known to readers of this site as a regular commenter) was keeping the world informed of the progress of the lawsuit by Hasan Nuhanović and members of the Mustafić family before a district court in the Netherlands.

The plaintiffs are suing the Dutch state for the failure of its military forces, which were present in the area as members of UNPROFOR, to protect their relatives during the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. Rizo Mustafić, Ibro Nuhanović, Nasiha Nuhanović and Muhamed Nuhanović sought protection at the UN military base in Potočari, but were soon afterward delivered to the Bosnian Serb forces by the members of the Dutch military who were bound to protect them. The lawsuit seeks to establish that the military forces are guilty of gross negligence of their duty to protect civilians, and that this was a result of state policy which placed emphasis on the safety of soldiers at the expense of the obligation to protect civilians.

If you care for 198 pages of pleading, you can dowload the writ of summons (translated into English) at the plaintiff's firm's web site. It is a PDF, and since they are lawyers they have a little shrinkwrap agreement for you to click before you can get to it. Or you can listen to an interview with the lead lawyer by CBC, followed by Ramush Thakur's comments on the responsibility to protect.

Paul Vallely sets out several of the issues in the case for The Independent. Plaintiff Nuhanović and his lawyer set out their case to Reuters in an interview. Attorney Liesbeth Zegveld (bio) gives the theory of the case with admirable succinctness to the BBC. Some unexpected uncertainty came about just as hearings were about to begin when the judge who had been overseeing the case since 2005 was removed from the case without explanation.

A decision is expected in September.

Errata: See the comments for an important correction.

Holidays in the sun

If you decide to take your sun and fun in lovely Priština, then Sophie Middlemiss suggests, helpfully, in the Guardian that "the most authentic sleeping experience you'll have is at the family home of a former university professor." The suggestion box is still open for people who prefer an inauthentic sleeping experience.


Of kings and, well

Among the remembrances of Šaban Bajramović, add this obituary by John Lusk in the Independent. But better still: a long remembrance by Ljubomir Živkov, with additions by Zoran Živković and Dragan Kremer, in Vreme. And at Global Voices, Elia Varela Serra has posted a memorial video.

With one great person having left Niš, a more dubious one says he has forgiven the people he robbed, is an intellectual looking forward, and is ready to return. But we are not aware that anybody wants him back.


Your intelligence agencies at work

They are apparently leaving top secret folders on the seats of trains. While this is being done by daffy senior officials, the government is desperately trying to give itself the authority to hold people for 42 days until they can figure out whether they have done anything illegal or not. You feel ever so safe, don't you?

1 down, 3 to go

With the arrest of Stojan Župljanin announced today, that leaves three more people indicted for war crimes on the list to be arrested: Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, and Goran Hadžić. That will take care of one of the principal conditions for ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia. If the country succeeded in improving its wine and becoming a global tennis superpower, surely it can make that extra step. Samo napred!


Farewell, Šaban Bajramović

Šaban Bajramović: He deserted the army for love and formed his first band on Goli Otok. His music was gorgeous. In his life both his failures and successes were tremendous. The last few years saw him successfully reinventing his sound with the assistance of Cubismo, and more recently facing both health and material problems. He may have seemed indestructible to many. But today we have to say goodbye to the king of Roma music.

Link: This recent album review by Erika Borsos captures his quality nicely. And Toma Todorović has a fine remembrance in Politika.


Random observations from a visit to Belgrade

There will certainly be talk of nasty things (read:politics)from Belgrade in this blog. But just having returned today from a visit, some talk of less nasty things.

  • A top graffito of the trip: The long-closed store by where the Cinema Odeon used to be, which for years has had the sign "Objekat u renoviranju" in the window. This time passing by, I noticed that somebody had crossed out "renoviranju" and written "raspadanju."
  • Most tempting graffito: Somebody must have been well paid to paint "Sloboda za Caneta" on many prominent walls, because really, who cares? It took a tiny bit of effort and a good deal of laziness not to add "i Antona."
  • A question for my culinarily savvy Belgrade friends: Is the restaurant in the Ruski dom any good? Will they serve me the stuff my grandmother used to make?
  • Still the best thing about Belgrade (and every other city in the Balkans): Sitting in the outdoor cafes, which are everywhere.
  • Smallest surprise: JAT (now called "Jat airways" or if you prefer "ejrvejz")? Still atrocious.
  • Blogocentric moment: A fine evening spent drinking beer with Viktor (Belgrade 2.0) and Dejan (Anegdote), followed by pljeskavice in a wind tunnel.
  • Most zaslužan građanin: Radovanović, the person behind the wines. Also, whoever is behind Greenet. Sidney Greenstreet, one supposes.
  • Person and party inspiring the best and stupidest jokes: Krkobabić and PUPS.
  • Biggest disappointment: Leaving at such a moment that it required missing the concert by Nick Cave.
  • Greatest discovery: You'll hear about it. We have to get some grant applications together.
  • Imperial moment: Across from where we live there used to be a perfectly okay bakery and a samoposluga about which the most you could say was that it was conveniently located. First the bakery was taken over by a fancy (and not at all bad) pizzeria called "Piazza Artigiani del gusto." Now they have taken over the samoposluga too. Is the name meant to imply that they will expand all the way to the pijaca?
  • Nicest surprise: Seeing my high school friend, in town with her husband to do research.
  • Greatest reassurance: Bukovače (always excellent) at kafana Proleće.


....or are you just happy to see me?

Photo: A gentleman named Perković performed at a big concert yesterday, during the course of which he did not try desperately to compensate for anything.


Znalac. Intelektualac. Sam je sebi stranac. Kao vanzemaljac.

Two intellectuals in the news today. Slobodan Antonić confronts the mysterious fact that intellectuals have a hard time liking the folks who hate them. And Kosta Čavoški remembers wistfully when his pals were powerful enough to keep his furniture untouched.