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the October 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48, No.
EmpressHad No Clothes
Zeljko Cvijanovic, Reporter
(Serbia edition), Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Oct. 6, 1999
commentary below was written after a brutal police action against
opposition supporters during massive anti-Milosevic demonstrations
led by Zoran Djindjic in fall 1999. At the time of its publication,
Reporter was already banned in Serbia.
The article prompted Milosevics regime to charge editor Perica
Vucinic with offending Yugoslavias state symbols.
He was interrogated in February 2000 in Banja Luka at the request
of Serbian police and could not return to Belgrade without risking
Eye: Reporter made Milosevic's enemies list with
this cover dubbing Mira Markovic Serbia's "Godmother."
By ordering the beating of protesters, Milosevic definitively identified
himself as a ruler whose only obligations are to his own power. And
in our schoolbooks, such a ruler is called a dictator.
In a synchronized action, forces of Slobodan Milosevics
regime last night in Belgrade arrested more than 300 intellectuals,
political leaders, and other opponents of the regime, took them to
an unknown location, and liquidated them. Among the first reactions
[to this news], leader of Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj expressed
satisfaction that, as he said, Serbia had started a new day without
being burdened with 300 traitors. [Milosevics] Socialist Party
of Serbia spokesman Ivica Dacic condemned the pogrom in principle,
but said that the fact that someone had graduated from a university
and participated in public life did not mean he was not a hooligan.
After two days of brutal police clashes with anti-regime demonstrators
in Belgrade, a series of arrests and kidnappings, after the closure
of the last company that printed opposition newspapersafter
all of this, it is certain that you will never read the piece of news
at the beginning of this article in the Serbian language. Not because
it is impossible for these things to happen, but because there will
be nobody to write about them: Those who could even manage to do so
would hardly avoid being among those 300 that are to be gotten rid
Last week, an open pursuit [of the opposition] was launched in Serbia.
Reporters high-ranking Serbian police source claimed that Belgrades
22nd and 72nd police units, which for two nights had beaten at least
300 fellow townspeople, were not ordered to crush the demonstrations,
but were in a defensive action. However, the fight between the
opposition and the regime has entered the phase when both of them
realize that in Serbia there is too much blood in vessels and too
little blood on the pavement. The beating of demonstrators Wednesday
night to prevent them from going to the district where Serbian politicians
live showed that the police were more prepared to defend the ruins
of the Yugoslav presidents former residence [destroyed in NATO
bombings] than to prevent [then-opposition leader Zoran] Djindjic
and his comrades from taking the buildings of parliament, state television,
and a number of other institutions in the city center left to the
Power in Serbia does not spend the night in institutions but in a
single briefcase. Therefore, only from that briefcase could come the
order to the police that not a single live protester should enter
Dedinje [the district where Milosevic lived at the time]. And the
following night, from the same briefcase, the police were ordered
to prevent demonstrators from going over Branko Bridge, which connects
New to Old Belgrade. The order was issued because only a few hundred
meters from the bridge, in the Hyatt Hotel, the Serbian elite was
celebrating a Chinese state holiday. The wife of the briefcase [Mira
Markovic] attended the party. She was not supposed to see demonstrators
because such scenes easily upset her.
This time, the defensive police actions showed that there
would be no relaxation, and that the briefcase that rules Serbia was
more determined to defend its power than the opposition was to take
it. Milosevic has demolished the parliament that chose him to be Yugoslav
president. He also diminished the federal government. Even Montenegro,
Serbias sister republic in the federation, does not recognize
When a policeman came back from Branko Bridge and told his wife that
he clubbed Zoran Djindjic, he probably had no idea that his boss had
abandoned any obligation toward the opposition in Serbia, giving up
any idea of somehow making a deal with Serbian opposition leaders.
When Milosevic was indicted by the Hague tribunal and when the international
community agreed that the only good Milosevic was a Milosevic out
of power, he did not even feel obliged to the West anymorethe
only power that during his 12-year-long rule he had to respect, at
least periodically. Milosevic is a man who does not have a single
institution behind him. Nor is he obliged to anything or anybody but
himself to continue to rule at any price. There is no need for theory:
The ruler who is obliged solely to his own power can only be called
So do not wait to see the news at the beginning of this article in
the newspapers; look for it in the street or in your apartment. The
beating of Belgraders was not a typical clash of the forces of order
with demonstrators, because the police got their orders from Milosevic
and had to obey them.
The beating was proof that the bloodshed has started, and there is
no way to stop it until either the dictator is fed or someone is fed
by the dictator. Besides, Milosevics rule can be simply described:
The intensity and amount of each use of force during these 12 years
[of his rule] was proportional to the intensity and amount of his
The fight between the opposition and the regime has entered the phase
when both of them realize that in Serbia there is too much blood allotted
to vessels and too little on the pavement. Therefore Seselj, who justified
the beating of women by saying that no woman is beaten without
a reason, is nothing more than a spokesman for the bloody retaliation
of the dictator against his own people.
Ivica Dacic, who promised that there will be no repression unless
peace and order are disturbed, is nothing more than an apologist
for the latest week of Serbias dictatorship. So the pitched
battle between the regime and the opposition was opened in Serbia
last week, and Zoran Djindjic was right when he said: We have
to make sacrifices.
Only first-class hypocrites, opportunists, and ignoramuses still believe
that the situation can be resolved without corpses. There is consolation
in the fact that the result is known: After each drop of blood spilled
in the street, one more wife of a policeman will slam a cold dinner
in front of her starving husband who came back from his beating shift.
Following each slammed dinner, there will be one fewer man to answer
Milosevics next call ordering another beating.
The outcome of every dictatorship, even Milosevics, is
an academic question. Expect casualties; everything else is
in Gods hands and in the story written at the beginning
of this article, which you will never read in the Serbian language.