8 November 2007

“Falter” Nr. 33/07 vom 15.08.2007 Seite: 12 Ressort: PolitikStefan Apfl

Ostwärts

Der Wachhund und seine Mörder

Ostblock? Das war vorgestern. Wie leben und denken unsere Nachbarn heute? Der “Falter” besucht in diesem Sommer osteuropäische Intellektuelle in ihrer Heimat. Diese Woche: Ein Spaziergang durch Belgrad mit dem serbischen Aufdeckungsjournalisten Dejan Anastasijevic´.

Sie kamen um 2.45 Uhr zu ihm nachhause. Dejan Anastasijevic´ und seine Frau Lidiha schliefen. Magda, die 15-jährige Tochter, stob noch durchs Belgrader Nachtleben, als unbekannte Täter zwei aneinandergeklebte Handgranaten auf das Fensterbrett der Erdgeschoßwohnung legten. Die Detonation ließ die Scheiben der Nachbarschaft bersten und trieb Granatensplitter in die Wände des Schlafzimmers. Weil die Wucht der einen Granate die andere undetoniert zurück auf die Straße schleuderte, überlebten die Anastasijevic´s den Anschlag. Nur deshalb.

Das Attentat wurde am Samstag dem 14. April 2007, verübt. Die Wohnung in der engen Hadzi Djerina ist hundert Meter vom schicken Café Speak Easy entfernt, in das der Journalist Dejan Anastasijevic´ aus der sirrenden Mittagshitze Belgrads hereintritt. Er scheint in Eile. Ruhelosigkeit ist seine Grundstimmung. Er dämpft eine Zigarette aus und greift nach dem Päckchen. Sein Zippo-Feuerzeug trägt den Schriftzug Federal Police Yugoslavia. Jahrelang ließ die ihn nicht ruhig schlafen. Der Mann hat Humor.

Anastasijevic´, 45, sieht unauffällig aus. Er ist frisch rasiert, trägt kurzes Haar, ein kariertes Hemd und Sandalen. Was man ihm nicht ansieht: Er ist ein Stachel im Fleisch einer Nation, die ihre jüngste Vergangenheit gerne aussitzen würde. Der Belgrader schreibt für die serbische Wochenzeitung Vreme (Zeit) und das amerikanische Time Magazine über Sicherheit, organisiertes Verbrechen und die Vergangenheit. In Serbien sind das weitreichende und gefährliche Aufgaben.

Der junge Anastasijevic´ las Comics, schrieb Gedichte, hörte Lou Reed und trug dazu ausgefallene Lederjacken wie ein Bekenntnis. Hätte der Lauf der Dinge in Jugoslawien einen anderen Weg genommen, wäre er heute ein Citoyen westlichen Zuschnitts. Doch so versucht er, den Krieg und die Granaten in seiner Wohnung durch zu viel Arbeit und zu viel Alkohol zu vergessen.

Der Name Dejan Anastasijevic´ wurde in den Neunzigern groß. Vukovar, Srebrenica, Pristina. Der jugoslawische Reporter berichtete über den Bruderkrieg in seiner Heimat und jene Orte, die international zu Chiffren des Grauens wurden. Er aß mit dem bosnischen Serbenführer Radovan Karadzic´ zu Abend, interviewte General Ratko Mladic´ und ließ sich schließlich als einer der Hauptzeugen in Den Haag vom serbischen Exdiktator Slobodan Milosevic´ ins Kreuzverhör nehmen. Der Krieg ist Geschichte. Anastasijevic´ hat sie mitgeschrieben. Wie viele andere Serben lässt sie ihn bis heute nicht los.

Am 12. April kritisierte er in einer TV-Diskussion ein zwei Tage altes Urteil gegen vier serbische Paramilitärs, die im Bosnienkrieg sechs Muslime exekutiert hatten, als zu milde. Die Morde waren auf Video aufgezeichnet, die teils minderjährigen Opfer vor ihrem Tod verhöhnt worden. Drei Tage nach seinem Fernsehauftritt reißt die Granate Anastasijevic´ aus dem Schlaf.

Das Attentat hatte zwei Folgen. Serbien stellte sich erstmals geschlossen hinter einen unliebsamen Journalisten. Der westlich orientierte Präsident Boris Tadic´, der nationalistische Regierungschef Vojislav Kostunica und die wichtigsten Medien des Landes sagten deutlich: so nicht mehr!

Die zweite Konsequenz: Anastasijevic´ weiß seither, dass er um sein Leben fürchten muss. Und um das seiner Familie. In Serbien wäre es nicht der erste Mord an einem Journalisten gewesen. Manchmal sieht es wie ein Unfall aus. Manchmal jagen “sie” ihren Opfern in der Öffentlichkeit eine Kugel durch den Kopf. Wer “sie” sind, ist bis heute in keinem der Fälle geklärt. Liberale Medien und internationale Beobachter vermuten Ultranationalisten, ehemalige Milosevic´-Anhänger, die nach wie vor von weit oben instruiert werden, hinter solchen Attentaten.

“Im Krieg geht es um kalkulierbare Risiken und darum, wie man sie minimiert. Sie können mich jetzt erwischen, wann immer und wo immer sie wollen. Aber mein Leben werden sie nicht ändern. Sie können mir keine Angst mehr machen. Das gelingt nur meiner Frau und meinem Zahnarzt”, sagt Anastasijevic´ und lacht. Schneller als er will, wird seine Miene wieder ernst.

Der Weg vom Café Speak Easy zu seinem Büro bei Vreme führt am Bulevar kralja Aleksandra entlang, vorbei am Tasmajdanskipark, wo der junge Dejan Sandkisten leergeräumt hat und Bällen nachgejagt ist. Diesseits der sechsspurigen Allee liegt Anastasijevic´s Grätzel in der 1,5-Millionen-Einwohner-Stadt: “Meine Burg. Hier ist alles, was ich brauche. Mein Café, meine Bar, meine Redaktion und mein Zuhause”, sagt der Belgrader.

Hier wurde er auch geboren. Der Vater arbeitete als Radiojournalist, die Mutter als Wissenschaftlerin beim Militär – gehobene Mittelschicht, wenig religiös, wenig politisch. Die neuralgischen Stationen seiner Jugend unterscheiden sich nicht von jenen Gleichaltriger im Westen. “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Auch er hat heimlich an Joints gezogen, ist mit dem Zug durch Europa gereist, hat mit Neil Young gegreint und nach der Lektüre von “1984″ in seinem Kinderzimmer mit dem System abgerechnet. Auch Anastasijevic´ hat Hesse geliebt. Und auch er schämt sich dafür. “Es war ein goldenes Zeitalter. Und wir haben es nicht gemerkt”, sagt er. Seine Generation wuchs in einem offenen, prosperierenden Jugoslawien auf. Zu einer Zeit, als der Vielvölkerstaat Titos funktionierte und Jugoslawen sich in Ljubljana ebenso zuhause wähnten wie in Zagreb oder Skopje.

Auf der Kralja Alexandra erkennen einige Passanten den Journalisten. Der Kettenraucher keucht und geht leicht gebückt. Die Arme baumeln schwunglos an seinem Körper herunter. Er sieht wie ein alter Wachhund aus, der noch einmal seinen Rundgang macht. Nur zweimal seit seiner Geburt verließ er das Land, für etwa ein Jahr. Das erste Mal 1999, als er vor der jugoslawischen Staatssicherheit nach Wien floh. 2001 ging er dann mit einem Stipendium nach Harvard. In Belgrad ändern sich die Dinge rasch.

Mit der Stadt von morgen, die im Zentrum, rund zwei Kilometer von hier, entsteht, hat er wenig gemein. Internationale Ketten wie Zara, Mango und Gucci haben sich bald nach Ende der Sanktionen angesiedelt und die ohnehin bunte Mischung aus Zeit und Form noch weiter durcheinandergewirbelt. Neben der Leuchtschrift des Hotel Balkan prangt das Logo von McDonald’s. Hochhausungetüme aus Stahl und Glas thronen neben Bombenruinen.

Aus dem Ausland spült es vereinzelt Gruppen junger Männer oder Pärchen hierher. Nur wenige sind noch neugierig auf das andere Europa. Was sie nicht erwarten, sind die körperbewusst gekleideten Frauen Belgrads. Sie stolzieren mit viel Haut und wenig Raum für textile Fantasie durch die Straßen – als wären die Laufsteg und Sprungbrett in den Westen zugleich. Angeblich gibt es derzeit nirgends in Europa so viele Schönheitsoperationen pro Tag wie in Belgrad.

Anastasijevic´ verdient bei Vreme nicht mehr als der Durchschnitt der Serben, also zwischen 200 und 300 Euro im Monat. Mehr als ein Drittel der Bevölkerung ist zwischen 15 und 35 Jahre alt, jeder Dritte von ihnen arbeitslos. Ein Handy besitzen trotzdem neun von zehn. Das größte Problem des jungen Serbiens aber ist die nicht vorhandene Reisefreiheit. Es kostet sie viel Zeit und Geld, um an eines der begehrten Visa zu kommen. Die Jugend sehnt sich nach London, obwohl Serbien der einzige Ort ist, an dem sie nicht Serben sein müssen. Denn im Ausland klebt auf diesem Anhängsel ein ominöses Täterimage. Anastasijevic´: “Serbien ist heute ein europäischer Staat mit Fehlern, wie andere sie auch haben. Das Land gehört zu Europa. Es wird seinen Weg gehen und dabei schreien und treten.”

Er betritt die obere der beiden Etagen von Vreme (Zeit), einem politischen Wochenmagazin, liberal und kantig. Schwarze Büromöbel, dunkelgraue Teppichböden und vom Rauch vergilbte Wände prägen die Atmosphäre. Durch die Gänge huschen zwei Gruppen von Redakteuren – Frauen Ende zwanzig und alte Wölfe mit Vollbärten. Als zu Zeiten Slobodan Milosevic´s neunzig Prozent der Medien unter Staatskontrolle standen, war es ein Triumvirat, das die andere Seite der Geschichte erzählte: die Radiostation B92, die Tageszeitung Danas und Vreme.

Durch die neue Freiheit von Meinung und Markt hat das Magazin an Gewicht eingebüßt und versucht nun, mit seinen 17.000 Stück Druckauflage im Aufmerksamkeitswettbewerb mitzuhalten. In einer Medienlandschaft, die sich auch wegen Investitionen ausländischer Verlage wie WAZ und Ringier zunehmend kommerzialisiert und boulevardisiert, steht Vreme aber nach wie vor für Qualität. Anastasijevic´ hat 1993 begonnen, für das Magazin aus den jugoslawischen Krisengebieten zu berichten.

Obwohl er von Krieg und Politik ursprünglich nichts wissen wollte. Comics und Literatur waren sein Metier. Um daraus einen Beruf zu machen, schmiss er 1986 nach zehn Semestern das Studium der Molekularbiologie hin. Lieber übersetzte Anastasijevic´ Kurzgeschichten und las Comics für die Zeitung Student. Milosevic´ aber feuerte 1987 die aufmüpfige Redaktion. Auch seine Show auf B92, in der er zweimal wöchentlich die neuesten Bildgeschichten rezensierte, musste er 1991 aufgeben. Die Militärpolizei klopfte täglich an seine Tür, um ihn gegen die Kroaten ins Feld zu schicken. Vor dem Bruderkrieg, in dem er um keinen Preis kämpfen wollte, floh er für drei Monate nach Wien, wo er aus Jugendtagen noch ein Mädchen kannte. Tagsüber verpackte er beim Falter Werbungen für fünfzig Schilling die Stunde. Abends streifte er durch die Cafés und stritt mit Marxisten über den Realkommunismus. Schließlich entschied er sich, über den Krieg, der ihn nicht loslassen wollte, zu berichten.

Anastasijevic´ trinkt das nächste Glas Rotwein leer. Er sitzt im Gastgarten des Stammlokals der Redaktion, wo Laubbäume die Gäste vor der Nachmittagshitze schützen. Hier hat Präsident Tadic´ am Tag des Attentats einen Kaffee mit dem Journalisten getrunken.

“Ich vermisse den Krieg nicht. Obwohl er auch ein Spaß war, dieses Cowboy-Ding. Du jagst mit 120 km/h über Feldwege und bist ständig in Gefahr. Es gibt einfach keine Regeln. Das Adrenalin macht dich abhängig”, erzählt er in jener Mischung aus Helden- und Draufgängertum, die Kriegsreportern oft eigen ist. Anfangs arbeitet Anastasijevic´ als Organisator und Führer für Journalisten von CNN und BBC, bis er selbst zu schreiben beginnt und schließlich von den Auseinandersetzungen in Kroatien, Bosnien und im Kosovo berichtet. Morgens fährt er an die Front, abends kehrt er heim, sieben Tage die Woche, jahrelang. Zwischen seinen Aufenthalten bei Frau und Kind herrscht – Krieg. Anastasijevic´ geht in die Häuser der Zivilisten und in die Baracken der Militärs, er hält Opfern und Tätern auf beiden Seiten sein Aufnahmegerät unter die Nase. Nicht nur spricht er ihre Sprache. Im Gegensatz zum Gros seiner Kollegen ist es sein Krieg: “Ich war kein Tourist, der am Ende zurück in sein Land gehen und sich ein Souvenir aufs Regal stellen konnte. Das alles fand bei mir zuhause statt.” Seine Interviews und Beobachtungen waren all die Jahre Beleg dafür, dass die von Milosevic´ auf sämtlichen Medienkanälen propagierte Wahrheit über die Kämpfe mit der Wirklichkeit an der Front wenig zu tun hatte.

“Die Albträume vergehen mit der Zeit. Und den täglichen Horror ertränkst du in zu vielen Zigaretten und zu viel Alkohol. Wenn ich heimgekommen bin und meine Frau von ihren alltäglichen Problemen erzählt hat, habe ich mich gefragt, was das soll. Nein, ein guter Vater war ich nicht.” Anastasijevic´ ist jetzt ruhiger, seine Hektik verflogen, der Alkohol wirkt. Distanziert von seiner eigenen Geschichte, kann er sie erzählen: “Böll schreibt von einem Mann, der nach einem Bombardement durch die Straßen geht und schreit: Genießt den Krieg, denn der Friede wird schrecklich sein.” Jetzt, wo Arbeit, Familie und Nüchternheit verflogen sind, sitzt da ein Gebrochener, der sich solange an die Zigarette in seiner Hand klammert, bis er davon zu husten beginnt.

Serbien ist sieben Jahre nach dem Sturz von Milosevic´ keine Erfolgsgeschichte. Der Versuch, dem Diktator vor dem Kriegsverbrechertribunal Gerechtigkeit abzuringen, schlug weitgehend fehl. Mit seinen Auftritten vor Gericht konnte er seine Rolle als ideologischer Machthaber über seinen plötzlichen Tod in Haft hinaus aufrechterhalten. “Die Polizei und das Militär sind im Grunde unreformiert. Die Regierung ist stabil, aber inkompetent. Langfristig wird Milosevic´ verlieren. Es hat sich vieles verändert. Zwischen einem kriminellen Regime und einer demokratischen Regierung, die hier und dort korrumpiert ist, besteht derselbe Unterschied wie zwischen einem KZ und einem normalen Gefängnis”, sagt Anastasijevic´.

Im Land herrschen 31 Prozent Arbeitslosigkeit und 15 Prozent Inflation. Nach vier verlorenen Kriegen in den Neunzigern und der Loslösung Montenegros empfinden viele die international unterstützten Sezessionsbestrebungen des Kosovo als weitere Demütigung und verstecken sich umso vehementer hinter der Opferrolle. Einzig Russland applaudiert der Darbietung.

Der Kosovo ist der größte Brocken zwischen Serbien und Europa. Die Region im Süden des Landes wird den Serben seit jeher als historisches “heartland” verkauft. Die wenigsten Serben waren selbst schon dort. Wer von ihnen hinfährt, stößt unter den neunzig Prozent Albanern auf Ablehnung und reagiert selbst mit Befremden.

“Serben wie Kosovaren sehen sich als Opfer der jeweils anderen. Beide haben nationalistische und schwache Regierungen, die an einer Lösung wenig interessiert sind. Hinter der Statusfrage verstecken sie ihre wirklichen Probleme. Die Kosovaren brauchen Sicherheit auf den Straßen, Elektrizität und Jobs. Der Status allein kann ihnen das nicht bringen”, sagt Anastasijevic´.

In Serbien mögen die Zeichen der Normalisierung unscheinbar sein, aber es gibt sie. Am Tag, an dem Milosevic´s Leiche von Den Haag nach Belgrad überstellt wurde, gab Lou Reed ein Konzert in der Stadt. Der Sänger lockte damit weit mehr Menschen an als der ehemalige Diktator. “Das war eine klare Botschaft. Und Milosevic´s letzte Rache an mir. Denn wegen ihm konnte ich nicht zum Konzert”, sagt Anastasijevic´. Im Mai gewann mit Marija SÇerifovic´ nicht irgendeine Serbin den Eurovision Song Contest, sondern eine lesbische Romafrau, um deren Gunst sich die etablierten Parteien im Parlament danach offen stritten.

Anastasijevic´s Haustür ist unversperrt. Die Wohnung wirkt warm, familiär. Die Zimmer haben Parkettböden, an den Wänden hängen Drucke von Picasso und Kinderzeichnungen von Tochter Magda. Ein einziges Kleinod hat Anastasijevic´ als Erinnerung an den Schrecken behalten. Das Foto hängt hinter der Küchentür. Es wurde im Dezember 1991, kurz nach der Eroberung Vukovars, gemacht. Zwei hohe Offiziere der beiden Armeen sind zu sehen, zwischen ihren Füßen ein Ball. In der Mitte des Bildes steht Anastasijevic´, den Blick auf den Ball gerichtet.

Vor dem Kriegsverbrechertribunal in Den Haag legte Anastasijevic 2002 Zeugnis über diese Zeit ab, erzählte von den Übergriffen, den betrunkenen Soldaten und den Leichen am Straßenrand. “Ich wusste, dass jemand eines Tages für all das geradestehen muss”, sagt er und sieht lange das Bild an, auf das er noch immer seinen Zeigefinger gerichtet hat. Slobodan Milosevic´ saß ihm im Tribunal gegenüber. Elf Jahre waren damals vergangen, seit Anastasijevic´ entschieden hatte, in den Krieg zu ziehen. Hier schloss sich der Kreis: “Es war einer der wichtigsten Momente meines Lebens. Nun konnte ich nachhause gehen.”

Zur Person:

Dejan Anastasijevic lebt als Journalist in Belgrad. Der 5-Jährige schreibt für das serbische Wochenmagazin Vreme und für das amerikanische Time Magazine. Anastasijevic´ machte sich in den Neunzigerjahren als Kriegsberichterstatter in Kroatien, Bosnien und im Kosovo einen internationalen Namen. Nach wie vor stöbert der Serbe in seinen Artikel und öffentlichen Auftritten in der dunklen Vergangenheit der jungen Demokratie. In Serbien ist das ein gefährliches Geschäft. Im April entgingen Anastasijevic´ und seine Frau nur knapp einem Mordanschlag in ihrer Wohnung.

Filed under: — Tags: , , — Gerald @ 12:39 pm
27 October 2007

Belgrade

Belgrade, October 2007. I arrive in Belgrade to give a presentation at the 7th Serbian Economic Summit. The summit is interesting: initially some 450 people, 10 cameras, apparently huge interest. It takes the man reading out the welcoming speech of prime minister Kostunica about 30 seconds to make the transition from welcoming potential foreign investors to underlining the importance of the Kosovo issue. Later the foreign minister of Serbia tells the audience that in case of a recognition of Kosovo independence “all bets in the region are off”. This dramatic warning strikes me as a strange way of reassuring potential investors that Serbia deserves their attention. By that time the room has emptied and the audience has fallen to less than 100. The foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, young, western educated and speaking with a strong American accent, is a member of the Democratic Party. If he argues like this, I wonder, what about the rest of the political class? It is a question I will pose to many people in the coming two weeks.

In fact, the main purpose of this trip, spending almost 2 weeks in Belgrade and Novi Sad, is to find out where Serbia stands on the eve of a possible decision on Kosovo. It is also to try to define the content of a film on Serbia we are working on in the context of a large Balkan documentary series to be broadcast on German and Austrian TV in spring 2008.

How can one explain the paradox of Serbia (so much potential, and so much waste of it at the same time) to a broader outside public? As I meet a succession of analysts, politicians and friends from civil society in different cafes in walking distance from Terazije a sense of gloom, reinforced by the rain and autumn cold that has chased away the last warm days, thickens.

I will not quote my friends here directly and most of them – particularly those in government – spoke as always on condition of anonymity, but the overwhelming emotion was that of opportunities wasted, of a revolution (the toppling of Milosevic and the dismantling of his regime) agonisingly incomplete, of sterile public debates dominated (again) by the issue of Kosovo and of the wrong people (re)gaining confidence.

One friend, for a long period already very active in Serbian civil society, admits that she cannot bear to read local papers or watch Serbian TV anymore, or she would risk loosing her sanity and any ability to act. Another friend, in an important political position, shrugs her shoulders when asked about the increasingly aggressive statements coming from some members of her own government. The worrying thing, quite a few note, is that the new assertiveness of Kostunica in particular appears to be working, extracting concessions from the outside world without having to make any compromises. What the EU was not willing to give to Zoran Djindic it is now going to give to Kostunica, one says, not because he is nice but because he is difficult. Stubborness and playing the Russia card on Kosovo appears to be working too.

The appropriate joke circulating in Belgrade is this: Kostunica is like the man standing in front of a coffee machine throwing in money and getting out coffee cup after coffee cup. After doing this thirty times and standing surrounded by all his purchases somebody in the queue behind him asks when he is going to stop. Why should I stop, the man responds, just when I am winning? (one might add: regardless of how much it might cost and what to do with all the cold coffee afterwards).

What would Kostunica do if the EU were to recognise Kosovo independence, I ask. “I genuinely do not know”, one member of the government tells me, “we currently just follow him on this.” Is the flirting with an increasingly authoritarian Russia anything serious or a passing diplomatic manouvre? “I can no longer tell”, says another.

As always, there is no shortage of impressive individuals in Belgrade who have not given up the fight for a more open, more cosmopolitan Serbia. I may be wrong and it may be the mood induced also by the weather but rarely have these people – let me call them Serbia’s Europeanisers – seemed as exhausted as now in the period since 2000.

As one friend, Dejan Anastasijevic, puts it, Serbia is like a car that looks ok from the outside, but one simply cannot get it to start moving in the right direction. The wheels turn, but there is something that still blocks serious movement. Everybody has of course their own part of the answer what it is that blocks progress. For Dejan the key is the unreformed state security institutions at the heart of Serbian politics. The secret service remains unaccountable to parliament, the courts, even the government.

For Natasa Kandic, one of the most impressive defenders of human rights in the whole region, it is also the lack of willingness of facing up to the dark legacies of the immediate past. Her response is activism, as it has been for two decades: working to turn her Humanitarian Law Centre into a Simon Wiesental type centre to continue to be able to identify perpetrators of actrocities in the wars of the 1990s and bring them to belated justice.

For movie director Milutin Petrovic (known outside through his film “Land of truth, love and freedom”) the obvious turning point in Serbia’s post-Milosevic story is the assassination of prime minister Zoran Djindic, and the inability so far to get to the bottom of this sordid story. Milutin prepares to launch his own campaign for enlightenment with a documentary on the Djincic assassination.

Dejan Anastasijevic, Belgrade journalist

During the time that I am in Belgrade the cover of Vreme also highlights an article by Dejan on the failed assassination attempt carried out only a few months ago, when a bomb was placed on the window of his apartment. What is disturbing is both the event itself and the failure of a real response by official institutions in its wake. The article sums up much of the atmosphere in Belgrade in this uncertain autumn of 2007. I recommend any visitor to the Rumeli Observer to read it in full:

Vreme, October 2007: Six months later
Who put bombs on my windowsill?

by: Dejan Anastasijevic

It is six months this Sunday since a hand grenade exploded on the windowsill of my apartment. The material damage caused by the explosion was a broken window and a room drilled with shrapnel, but more permanent damage was done to my life and work. In spite of claims by top politicians and police officials that my case would have the highest priority, the perpetrator has still not been found. During these last six months, I have tried not to disrupt the investigation with public statements or criticisms of any public agency: I was hoping that, in spite of everything, at least some part of the state apparatus had a genuine interest in solving my case. Now, I begin to believe that my hope was unfounded.

My initial idea was to present this text as an open letter to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Dragan Jocic. In the meantime I changed my mind: I do not believe that the minister would reply. It is even less likely that the letter would bring any consequences for the minister and his subordinates for their failure to defend my constitutional and legal right to live. That right is denied because I go to bed every night aware that the perpetrators could come back and finish the job they started six months ago.
That is why, instead of the minister, I address myself to the readers of “Vreme”, who deserve much more to hear what I have to say. Since the investigation did not bring any results, I have had to play private detective on my own case. I admit that I do not have enough evidence to accuse anybody, but I think that there are enough clues to conclude that the attack on me and my family came from the political/police underworld which, without major problems, has managed to survive 5th October and Operation Sabre. This is the stone the state dares not look under, for fear of disturbing the vermin who prefer dark places. The following text is a simple presentation of facts, from the description of the event to information about motives and political background. Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions.

CRIME SCENE BELGRADE: The hand grenade exploded at a quarter to three in the morning of 14th April this year, on the windowsill of my bedroom facing the street. It is an old-fashioned, double-glazed window with a relatively narrow frame and, looking from the street, it is a little over two meters above ground. The outside wooden blinds were half pulled down and the Venetian blinds drawn from the inside. This explains why the attacker did not try to throw the granade inside: it might have bounced off the inner window frame and fallen back into the street. That is why he decided to use two grenades, as the police discovered, connected with tape and placed on the windowsill. He was obviously familiar with this type of grenade – he knew that one would not activate the other, so he pulled out the firing pin from both. Luckily, the explosion of the first grenade dislodged the detonator of the second grenade from the chamber, and the grenade body flew some 20 meters to the next door entrance. Another fortunate factor was that the Venetian blinds absorbed part of the blast, reflecting it back into the street. In spite of that, the bedroom was full of shattered glass and shrapnel, which drilled into the ceiling and walls. Thanks to the fact that the bed is below the window level, they missed my wife and me. Anyone standing in the room at that moment would not have survived. If both grenades had exploded, the cumulative effect would have been enough to injure both of us. This way, we were very lucky, as was our daughter who at that time was returning home from a party (she called around half past two to say she was on her way). If she had come only a few minutes earlier, she would have been in the apartment at the moment of the explosion.

In the street where I live there are no CCTV cameras, but they are situated in neighbouring streets where there are some banks and embassies. The police took all the tapes, but did not find anyone. “As if a ghost walked past,” was the comment of one inspector, concluding that the attacker took care not to be visible. Police also talked to the neighbours in a few apartment blocks around, but nobody noticed or heard anything suspicious. A reconstruction of the event would go like this: the attacker came walking (a car would not have gone unnoticed in my little street), pulled the firing pins, placed the grenades on the windowsill and sheltered from the explosion in the next-door building entrance, knowing that the time from activating to exploding is three to five seconds. After the explosion, all the neighbours came to their windows but looked only in the direction of the window where the smoke was coming from, allowing him to leave unnoticed. The fact that police blocked the area within ten minutes without catching him means that he had a car waiting for him close by.
I have to say that police arrived five minutes after the call and that their work was more than correct.

I can say the same about the director of police, Miroslav Veljovic, who helped me through the procedure of giving evidence at the police station. Unfortunately, after that the investigation became complicated.

ANASTASIJEVIĆ ON TWO LISTS: Vojislav Šešelj…

SCORPIONS AND NEIGHBOURS: Encouraged by the positive reaction of the public and promises from politicians that my case would be solved, I did not take a close interest in the investigating procedure – I believed, then, that it was best to let them get on with the job. A whole month later, I found out that the case was still in the municipal prosecutor’s office (in charge of minor offences), and that the investigation had been given to the department of the city police responsible for arson. This was despite claims from politicians, as well as Veljovic himself, that my case was attempted murder with terrorist elements. In the meantime, the press started speculating, based on unnamed police sources, that I had set the bomb in order to draw attention to myself. At the same time, I found out that the physical evidence collected at the scene will probably not be used as evidence at all, because somebody forgot to send the appropriate order to the laboratory – analysis without appropriate documentation is not admissible in court. It was almost three months later that the district prosecutor’s office, in charge for serious criminal cases, took over the case and brought statepolice into the investigation. This was another fact that I found out only indirectly, because after the initial conversations during the first few days after the attack, nobody was interested in talking to me officially.
…and Jovica Stanisic

I found out from the press that police questioned a group of “Scorpions”, a paramilitary organisation from Šid, but released them soon after. The “Scorpions” were suspects because I had written about them several times, and two days before the explosion I had talked on Radio B92 and criticised the mild sentence that a group of their members had received for the murder of six Bosnians from Srebrenica. I was not sure that members of the Scorpions had came from Šid to Belgrade to take revenge for a single radio comment, because others talked and wrote about them much more harshly then I did. They even wrote a touching message to the head of the Fund for Humanitarian Law, Natasa Kandic, in which they categorically denied involvement in the attack, saying “Dear Natasa, at least you know us, we didn’t do this…”. I tend to believe them, at least in this case.

Two or three months after the explosion, neighbours who live a few streets from me told me that police came to ask them if they saw or heard anything that night. Although they said they did not, they were asked to come to the police station and give a written statement. When they asked why, they were told that for every statement taken, a policeman gets three points, and their performance is assessed based on their number of points. I remembered then that Minister Jocic had said that they questioned over 600 witnesses in my case – that would be twenty Scorpions and 580 neighbours. All in all, a total of 1800 points.

ŠEŠELJ’S LIST: Now is the time to say something that so far I have not spoken about, in the interests of the investigation. Last year I was warned by the Hague Tribunal to be careful, because leader of the Radicals Vojislav Seselj had made a list of potential witnesses who should be eliminated or intimidated, and my name is on that list. Seselj’s wife Jadranka took the list to Belgrade and, after that was discovered, she was not permitted to visit her husband in prison for some time. The reason for putting my name on the list was my testimony against Slobodan Milosevic in 2002, from which one part, concerning Seselj’s role in Miloevic’s regime and his ties with State Security, was included by the Tribunal as evidence against him. That part will be presented to the court in writing – so I will not be called as a witness – but Seselj has the right to cross-examine me and demand that the evidence be excluded if I do not come or if, god forbid, something happens to me. By the way, a few months ago at an interim hearing, Seselj asked the court to dismiss three written statements against him because the authors had died in the meantime. I almost became the fourth.

There are two more circumstances showing a certain unhealthy obsession of the Radicals with me. Even three years ago, secretary general of SRS (Serbian Radical Party) Aleksandar Vucic held a press conference entirely dedicated to me and my colleague Jovan Dulovic, during which he distributed some written material intended to show us as morally worthless people and traitors. That material, judging by the format, style and jargon, was provided by BIA, Serbian main intelligence agency, which, bearing in mind the deep and extensive connections between the Radicals and the secret police, should not surprise anyone. Another example is that Seselj, in his book The devil’s Apprentice – Criminal Pope John Paul the Second from 2006, dedicated almost one hundred and thirty pages (out of a thousand) to me, again presenting me as a traitor and “Belgrade street scum.”

At the time when I got the warning from the Hague, I did not take it too seriously, but after the explosion I told the police about it. I got sympathetic looks, but I noticed that they did not write anything down. I also told them something I found out from a source whose name has to be concealed – that Seselj’s list was given to a person close to him with very strong connections to the underworld. That is a man who has already been convicted to jail for a violent crime some years ago, but somehow managed to avoid serving the sentence. In informal conversation, I mentioned the name of that person to the deputy district prosecutor in charge of my case. He also looked at me sympathetically.

JOVICA’S LIST: At the beginning of this month, I came to know something else and, since I have not yet shared it with the police, this is the opportunity to do so. People from the Hague Tribunal contacted me again, this time asking me to be a witness against Jovica Stanisic. That surprised me because I have never met Stanisic, and everything I know about him I wrote in “Vreme” long time ago. I was even more surprised when they told me that my name was placed on the list of witnesses six months ago (April 2nd), and that the list was delivered to Stanisic’s legal counsel. When I asked why I was not informed of this, I was told that it was overlooked “because of high turnover of personnel at the Tribunal”. I asked the gentlemen from the Tribunal if they have any better witnesses than me, and was told that there was a problem, because several people from the list had suddenly died, and others either refused to testify or changed their testimony.

I have to say that I was shocked at such a casual attitude from the Tribunal people, whose work I have long supported, towards witnesses in general and particularly me. I asked the prosecutors, as politely as I could, to erase my name from the list and inform Stanisic’s lawyers. They said they would do that, but in case they haven’t done so, I want to tell everybody one more time: I will not testify against Stanisic, and I will not testify against Seselj unless I am subpoenaed by the defence (in which case I would receive a court order).

I have to stress one more time that everything I have mentioned are facts, but that I do not dare to claim, based only on those facts, that Volislav Seselj or Jovica Stanisic are in any way involved in the case of the bombs on my window. However, I do accuse the agencies responsible for the investigation and for finding the perpetrators of not being willing and brave enough to prevent the attack and keep my family safe. I admit that I was unpleasantly surprised by the recent statement from Minister Jocic in which he said that my case will be difficult to solve “because it is not easy to resolve the case if there is no reasonable cause”. In this way, the Minister made the whole story out to be an act of god, almost like a natural disaster.

DELAYED ACTION: I said at the beginning of this article that the bomb, although it did not hit its target, left permanent consequences on my work and my life. As a journalist writing for the print, I had a privilege to be relatively unrecognisable to the general public. That changed somewhat after I testified against Milosevic and started appearing as a guest on some TV programs, but after the attack, it has become unbearable. Put simply, the publicity that the bomb has attracted (and unfortunately not my articles) makes my life as a journalist difficult. When I enter a room, I have the impression that everybody is staring at me, and sometimes I hear “Look out, bomb!”. I am sick of being asked by people “What’s up, you still alive?” although I know they do not mean anything bad. I would like to be anonymous again, at least for a while, but I know that this is impossible. My wife and daughter also have to cope with publicity that is neither welcome nor deserved.

However, I am certain that the temperature would go down if, by some miracle, the attackers were caught. I believe in that miracle less and less, in the same way as I do not believe that the murderers of Slavko Cuvurija, Milan Pantic or any other journalist or citizen who dares to get in the way of somebody powerful and unscrupulous will be caught.

Finally, I want to say something else: I do not intend to change my job, move to another address or a higher floor, nor turn my apartment into a bunker. I will not hire private bodyguards nor ask police to provide me one, but I will insist that they protect me from hooligans and criminals, just as they should protect everybody else. In my case, they slipped up.

And one other thing: in the aftermath of the bomb, when there were numerous statements from political leaders condemning what had happened, announcing their determination to solve the case, declaring that it was an attack on the state and the constitution, I must admit that I had some hope that my case would serve as an opportunity to shine some light into the darkness that we have still not escaped from since October 5th. Now I see that I was naïve; new opportunities, unfortunately, are yet to come.

2 October 2007

Vreme, October 2007: Six months later
Who put bombs on my windowsill?

by: Dejan Anastasijevic

It is six months this Sunday since a hand grenade exploded on the windowsill of my apartment. The material damage caused by the explosion was a broken window and a room drilled with shrapnel, but more permanent damage was done to my life and work. In spite of claims by top politicians and police officials that my case would have the highest priority, the perpetrator has still not been found. During these last six months, I have tried not to disrupt the investigation with public statements or criticisms of any public agency: I was hoping that, in spite of everything, at least some part of the state apparatus had a genuine interest in solving my case. Now, I begin to believe that my hope was unfounded.

My initial idea was to present this text as an open letter to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Dragan Jocic. In the meantime I changed my mind: I do not believe that the minister would reply. It is even less likely that the letter would bring any consequences for the minister and his subordinates for their failure to defend my constitutional and legal right to live. That right is denied because I go to bed every night aware that the perpetrators could come back and finish the job they started six months ago.
That is why, instead of the minister, I address myself to the readers of “Vreme”, who deserve much more to hear what I have to say. Since the investigation did not bring any results, I have had to play private detective on my own case. I admit that I do not have enough evidence to accuse anybody, but I think that there are enough clues to conclude that the attack on me and my family came from the political/police underworld which, without major problems, has managed to survive 5th October and Operation Sabre. This is the stone the state dares not look under, for fear of disturbing the vermin who prefer dark places. The following text is a simple presentation of facts, from the description of the event to information about motives and political background. Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions.

CRIME SCENE BELGRADE: The hand grenade exploded at a quarter to three in the morning of 14th April this year, on the windowsill of my bedroom facing the street. It is an old-fashioned, double-glazed window with a relatively narrow frame and, looking from the street, it is a little over two meters above ground. The outside wooden blinds were half pulled down and the Venetian blinds drawn from the inside. This explains why the attacker did not try to throw the granade inside: it might have bounced off the inner window frame and fallen back into the street. That is why he decided to use two grenades, as the police discovered, connected with tape and placed on the windowsill. He was obviously familiar with this type of grenade – he knew that one would not activate the other, so he pulled out the firing pin from both. Luckily, the explosion of the first grenade dislodged the detonator of the second grenade from the chamber, and the grenade body flew some 20 meters to the next door entrance. Another fortunate factor was that the Venetian blinds absorbed part of the blast, reflecting it back into the street. In spite of that, the bedroom was full of shattered glass and shrapnel, which drilled into the ceiling and walls. Thanks to the fact that the bed is below the window level, they missed my wife and me. Anyone standing in the room at that moment would not have survived. If both grenades had exploded, the cumulative effect would have been enough to injure both of us. This way, we were very lucky, as was our daughter who at that time was returning home from a party (she called around half past two to say she was on her way). If she had come only a few minutes earlier, she would have been in the apartment at the moment of the explosion.

In the street where I live there are no CCTV cameras, but they are situated in neighbouring streets where there are some banks and embassies. The police took all the tapes, but did not find anyone. “As if a ghost walked past,” was the comment of one inspector, concluding that the attacker took care not to be visible. Police also talked to the neighbours in a few apartment blocks around, but nobody noticed or heard anything suspicious. A reconstruction of the event would go like this: the attacker came walking (a car would not have gone unnoticed in my little street), pulled the firing pins, placed the grenades on the windowsill and sheltered from the explosion in the next-door building entrance, knowing that the time from activating to exploding is three to five seconds. After the explosion, all the neighbours came to their windows but looked only in the direction of the window where the smoke was coming from, allowing him to leave unnoticed. The fact that police blocked the area within ten minutes without catching him means that he had a car waiting for him close by.
I have to say that police arrived five minutes after the call and that their work was more than correct.

I can say the same about the director of police, Miroslav Veljovic, who helped me through the procedure of giving evidence at the police station. Unfortunately, after that the investigation became complicated.

ANASTASIJEVIĆ ON TWO LISTS: Vojislav Šešelj…

SCORPIONS AND NEIGHBOURS: Encouraged by the positive reaction of the public and promises from politicians that my case would be solved, I did not take a close interest in the investigating procedure – I believed, then, that it was best to let them get on with the job. A whole month later, I found out that the case was still in the municipal prosecutor’s office (in charge of minor offences), and that the investigation had been given to the department of the city police responsible for arson. This was despite claims from politicians, as well as Veljovic himself, that my case was attempted murder with terrorist elements. In the meantime, the press started speculating, based on unnamed police sources, that I had set the bomb in order to draw attention to myself. At the same time, I found out that the physical evidence collected at the scene will probably not be used as evidence at all, because somebody forgot to send the appropriate order to the laboratory – analysis without appropriate documentation is not admissible in court. It was almost three months later that the district prosecutor’s office, in charge for serious criminal cases, took over the case and brought statepolice into the investigation. This was another fact that I found out only indirectly, because after the initial conversations during the first few days after the attack, nobody was interested in talking to me officially.
…and Jovica Stanisic

I found out from the press that police questioned a group of “Scorpions”, a paramilitary organisation from Šid, but released them soon after. The “Scorpions” were suspects because I had written about them several times, and two days before the explosion I had talked on Radio B92 and criticised the mild sentence that a group of their members had received for the murder of six Bosnians from Srebrenica. I was not sure that members of the Scorpions had came from Šid to Belgrade to take revenge for a single radio comment, because others talked and wrote about them much more harshly then I did. They even wrote a touching message to the head of the Fund for Humanitarian Law, Natasa Kandic, in which they categorically denied involvement in the attack, saying “Dear Natasa, at least you know us, we didn’t do this…”. I tend to believe them, at least in this case.

Two or three months after the explosion, neighbours who live a few streets from me told me that police came to ask them if they saw or heard anything that night. Although they said they did not, they were asked to come to the police station and give a written statement. When they asked why, they were told that for every statement taken, a policeman gets three points, and their performance is assessed based on their number of points. I remembered then that Minister Jocic had said that they questioned over 600 witnesses in my case – that would be twenty Scorpions and 580 neighbours. All in all, a total of 1800 points.

ŠEŠELJ’S LIST: Now is the time to say something that so far I have not spoken about, in the interests of the investigation. Last year I was warned by the Hague Tribunal to be careful, because leader of the Radicals Vojislav Seselj had made a list of potential witnesses who should be eliminated or intimidated, and my name is on that list. Seselj’s wife Jadranka took the list to Belgrade and, after that was discovered, she was not permitted to visit her husband in prison for some time. The reason for putting my name on the list was my testimony against Slobodan Milosevic in 2002, from which one part, concerning Seselj’s role in Miloevic’s regime and his ties with State Security, was included by the Tribunal as evidence against him. That part will be presented to the court in writing – so I will not be called as a witness – but Seselj has the right to cross-examine me and demand that the evidence be excluded if I do not come or if, god forbid, something happens to me. By the way, a few months ago at an interim hearing, Seselj asked the court to dismiss three written statements against him because the authors had died in the meantime. I almost became the fourth.

There are two more circumstances showing a certain unhealthy obsession of the Radicals with me. Even three years ago, secretary general of SRS (Serbian Radical Party) Aleksandar Vucic held a press conference entirely dedicated to me and my colleague Jovan Dulovic, during which he distributed some written material intended to show us as morally worthless people and traitors. That material, judging by the format, style and jargon, was provided by BIA, Serbian main intelligence agency, which, bearing in mind the deep and extensive connections between the Radicals and the secret police, should not surprise anyone. Another example is that Seselj, in his book The devil’s Apprentice – Criminal Pope John Paul the Second from 2006, dedicated almost one hundred and thirty pages (out of a thousand) to me, again presenting me as a traitor and “Belgrade street scum.”

At the time when I got the warning from the Hague, I did not take it too seriously, but after the explosion I told the police about it. I got sympathetic looks, but I noticed that they did not write anything down. I also told them something I found out from a source whose name has to be concealed – that Seselj’s list was given to a person close to him with very strong connections to the underworld. That is a man who has already been convicted to jail for a violent crime some years ago, but somehow managed to avoid serving the sentence. In informal conversation, I mentioned the name of that person to the deputy district prosecutor in charge of my case. He also looked at me sympathetically.

JOVICA’S LIST: At the beginning of this month, I came to know something else and, since I have not yet shared it with the police, this is the opportunity to do so. People from the Hague Tribunal contacted me again, this time asking me to be a witness against Jovica Stanisic. That surprised me because I have never met Stanisic, and everything I know about him I wrote in “Vreme” long time ago. I was even more surprised when they told me that my name was placed on the list of witnesses six months ago (April 2nd), and that the list was delivered to Stanisic’s legal counsel. When I asked why I was not informed of this, I was told that it was overlooked “because of high turnover of personnel at the Tribunal”. I asked the gentlemen from the Tribunal if they have any better witnesses than me, and was told that there was a problem, because several people from the list had suddenly died, and others either refused to testify or changed their testimony.

I have to say that I was shocked at such a casual attitude from the Tribunal people, whose work I have long supported, towards witnesses in general and particularly me. I asked the prosecutors, as politely as I could, to erase my name from the list and inform Stanisic’s lawyers. They said they would do that, but in case they haven’t done so, I want to tell everybody one more time: I will not testify against Stanisic, and I will not testify against Seselj unless I am subpoenaed by the defence (in which case I would receive a court order).

I have to stress one more time that everything I have mentioned are facts, but that I do not dare to claim, based only on those facts, that Volislav Seselj or Jovica Stanisic are in any way involved in the case of the bombs on my window. However, I do accuse the agencies responsible for the investigation and for finding the perpetrators of not being willing and brave enough to prevent the attack and keep my family safe. I admit that I was unpleasantly surprised by the recent statement from Minister Jocic in which he said that my case will be difficult to solve “because it is not easy to resolve the case if there is no reasonable cause”. In this way, the Minister made the whole story out to be an act of god, almost like a natural disaster.

DELAYED ACTION: I said at the beginning of this article that the bomb, although it did not hit its target, left permanent consequences on my work and my life. As a journalist writing for the print, I had a privilege to be relatively unrecognisable to the general public. That changed somewhat after I testified against Milosevic and started appearing as a guest on some TV programs, but after the attack, it has become unbearable. Put simply, the publicity that the bomb has attracted (and unfortunately not my articles) makes my life as a journalist difficult. When I enter a room, I have the impression that everybody is staring at me, and sometimes I hear “Look out, bomb!”. I am sick of being asked by people “What’s up, you still alive?” although I know they do not mean anything bad. I would like to be anonymous again, at least for a while, but I know that this is impossible. My wife and daughter also have to cope with publicity that is neither welcome nor deserved.

However, I am certain that the temperature would go down if, by some miracle, the attackers were caught. I believe in that miracle less and less, in the same way as I do not believe that the murderers of Slavko Cuvurija, Milan Pantic or any other journalist or citizen who dares to get in the way of somebody powerful and unscrupulous will be caught.

Finally, I want to say something else: I do not intend to change my job, move to another address or a higher floor, nor turn my apartment into a bunker. I will not hire private bodyguards nor ask police to provide me one, but I will insist that they protect me from hooligans and criminals, just as they should protect everybody else. In my case, they slipped up.

And one other thing: in the aftermath of the bomb, when there were numerous statements from political leaders condemning what had happened, announcing their determination to solve the case, declaring that it was an attack on the state and the constitution, I must admit that I had some hope that my case would serve as an opportunity to shine some light into the darkness that we have still not escaped from since October 5th. Now I see that I was naïve; new opportunities, unfortunately, are yet to come.

Filed under: — Tags: , , , — Gerald @ 9:16 pm
Rumeli Observer

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.