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INFO   :::  Projects > Archives > The Helsinki Charter: Promoting Serbia's Europeanization > HC No. 143-144 > Text



Risky Trial of Strength


By Zoran Dragišic

After yet another wave of violence in the streets of Belgrade, here are we asking ourselves once again whether this is about "angry young people defending the international law," "a social protest, "hooliganism," "a revolution attempt," "a protest against Europe, "a struggle against deviance" or whatever else.

Though expert circles were unanimous that the police did their job perfectly, the state's manifest inefficiency cannot but concern every citizen of Serbia. Namely, the police managed to prevent any contact whatsoever between the participants in the Pride Parade and bullies demonstrating in the streets and thus prevented a possible bloodshed. Two hundred injured officers and gendarmes were the cost the police paid for using the tactics of avoiding conflicts and acting only when really necessary. However, the police proved that they were capable of safeguarding such a high-risk gathering with minimum use of force. The police's excellent performance this year showed how wrong had been the estimates on the grounds of which the Parade was cancelled in 2009 and how much unnecessary moral and political damage the state of Serbia suffered because of cowardice and impotence of its quasi-political elite.

Another shock came after October 10. The football match between Italy and Serbia in Genoa was stopped only seven minutes after the first whistle. Before that a well-organized criminal group that passed the border with Italy as "fans of the Red Star" had assaulted the bus with Serb football players in the attempt to lynch goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. The scenes from the stadium in Genoa were broadcast throughout the world soon, whereas certain Ivan Bogdanov became a global star - the main character of jokes and the subject of ridicule for days after the match. A heavily built hoodlum with black stocking over his face and a naked torso to show his tattoos to cameras, who afterwards hides himself in a bus trunk, cannot but be a subject of ridicule in every normal society. But only in Serbia such a character can be a serious political factor.

After Belgrade and Genoa, came another challenge: the "eternal derby" between Red Star and Partisan teams. Everyone was really anxious about it, some thought the match should be cancelled or even the championship ended. Amendment of the Law on Criminal Proceedings on the eve of the derby and because of it was a real shame: it testified of the Serb elite's impotence and pretty much explained how come that Ivan Bogdanov and people like him were major political factors in Serbia. The entire police force of Belgrade was mobilized for the derby. For the politicians in power, the fact that no incident took place during the game was the state's triumph over hooligans. However, the ideas about canceling the derby or playing it before an empty stadium were by themselves a triumph of hooligans freezing the blood of the state and its citizens. One must be really naive to call the incident-free derby a victory or hooligans' surrender to "the power of the state." The police did their job properly and that needs to be commended.

However, the fact that no official bothered to tell citizens what it was our society had to cope with and that there was no consensus on the nature and perpetrators of violence can only trouble citizens even more.

When a society and a state face such a wave of violence (which, with the same scenario and scenography, reoccurs in Serbia on any opportune occasion) citizens rightfully expect their state to provide explanation and protection.

In coping with such complex security problems the state should harness the entire system of national security. Compiling information about persons posing security threats, their objectives, methods and sources of financial and political support is the first and most important step in the struggle against any organization that threatens national security.

Gathering and analysis of all information relevant to national security and monitoring of social processes and trends that might be interesting from the angle of security is the duty of the Security Information Agency /BIA/. Speaking of the organized violence that reoccurs in Belgrade and other towns in Serbia one cannot but wonder how come that BIA has done nothing so far to track down its organizers, financiers and ideologists. This is the more so intriguing since last year the same groups prevented a Pride Parade, killed Bruce Taton and beat up several citizens of Serbia and foreign nationals. Even though nominal leaders of Obraz and 1389 organization were kept in 30-day custody BIA failed to adequately expose these movements, while any newspaper reader has no doubts that these organizations pose a threat to national security.

In the terms of "personnel" these groups considerably coincide with the so-called fan groups: a number of individuals arrested for crime and misdemeanor come from some of extreme rightist organizations and some of the so-called fan group. Moreover, their actions were highly coordinated on every occasion seized for street riots, and they follow similar ideologies given that their earsplitting slogans at stadiums frequently correspond the phrases publicized at the websites of right-wing organizations, leaflets they circulate and graffiti their membership write.

Or their actions - be they violent or non-violent - are very well organized and their political messages are well-thought-out to provoke citizens' dissatisfaction with the political situation for which they blame the European Union, NATO and US, masons, homosexuals, communists and the rest that would not fit into their political pattern. So far, public debates have been addressing their probable fascist profiles, ideological concepts, the motion to have them banned by the Constitutional Court and the extent to which their activism actually endangers the Serbian society.

No doubt that deciding the exact ideological profile of these organizations is a major task from the angles of sociology and security. Such a task, however, is both time consuming and necessitates too much paper work but not that efficient in the struggle against their activity. In my opinion, these are the organizations without clear-cut ideologies despite the fact that their rhetoric associates a degenerate variant of neo-fascism (for more information, see Umberto Eco's "Eternal Fascism") overlapping unwrought conservativism and banalized clericalism. The unquestionable political goals these organizations want to achieve - without any political program whatsoever except for empty phrases about the endangered Serb nation, by spreading paranoia through quasi-social rhetoric and without a slightest idea how to legally attain their objectives through elections - are crucial facts not to be overlooked by those engaged in security analytics.

The stupidity of political goals they proclaim and the banality of their programs are not the reasons why they do not participate in elections given that the goals and the programs of the great majority of parliamentary parties are surely not more lofty and wise but secure them votes nevertheless.

Financing of these organizations needs to be under special scrutiny: for their must be someone abundantly funding their costly actions and infrastructure. BIA's duty is to provide an answer to the political leadership to the following question, "What is that someone's interest in financing social and political outsiders, who can only compromise him?"

Evidently, the extreme rightist organizations rely on steady financial sources. Maintenance of websites, large-scale campaigns, office rentals, computers, office supplies, propaganda brochures and leaflets, flags, T-shirts, sweat suits, posters and the like are costly. Even parliamentary parties financed from the state budget cannot afford so large-scale campaigns. This fact calls for clarification and more convincing answers than those an adviser to BIA director provided in an interview with B92. The Council for National Security may be satisfied with such answers but the general public is not.

The events of October 10 indicated more serious players in the shadows. In the lack of evidence for actual organizers and financiers of the riots, I just named them para-political underground. These organizations are para-political given that they obviously restrain from attaining their goals in a legal manner, through elections. And the fact that actual organizers and financiers are hiding behind football fans and extremist groups with nominal leaders of their own indicates that these organizations are underground and dare not make a public appearance at the political scene. I don't want to guess why that is so, because this state has the Security Information Agency we are all paying from our pockets to be saved of the trouble of guessing about who tries and how to undermine the constitutional order.

The government of the Republic of Serbia and the Council for National Security should expose the financiers of these organizations, order their arrest by the police and then leave it to the judiciary to process them on the grounds of the collected evidence of these organizations' unconstitutional actions against the state and eventually punish everyone involved in such activity. This is the only way for Serbia to prove that it is an ordered state.

But should I be the one to guess at Serbia's para-political underground, I would say it includes organized crime, those surviving the former security service and are now the pillar of BIA, those who safely survived October 6, 2000, as well as those who joined them after the ouster (and, to all appearances, long before it) in the organization that assassinated Zoran Djindjic, parts of the incumbent regime dealing under the counter with tycoons and the remnants of "the former regime" and recognizable by the claims about no political motives behind October 10, parts of the Serb Orthodox Church and all the other scum of the earth to whom law and order suits not - for with law and order in Serbia these is no place for them but in prisons.

Fan groups, the other head of the two-headed dragon that clouds Serbia, are another story. Labeling these groups hooligans indicates gross ignorance of the problematic. But when governmental officials call them hooligans then they must be deeply involved in everything bad going on in the state of Serbia for the last couple of years.

What is it that differs Serb hooligans from the rest in Europe?

First and foremost, Serb hooligans are not hooligans at all though they behave as such and look as such, and many of them feel as such. European hooligans are social outsiders searching for their lost identity in the groups of football fans, drowning their desperation in beer and occasionally fighting against their peers. Their "leaders" are losers as well, poverty stricken guys from suburbs, who eventually grow into poorly paid factory hands or live on welfare (which is more or less the same). They see managers of their fan clubs in newspapers only, their go into club premises in their dreams only, they see police officers only when the later beat them, they recognize not politicians, and they have never heard of any security services whatsoever. They despise politics because they understand it not, and are totally disinterested in social issues. They come from lower classes, they are uneducated and their mental capacities are rather limited - and only by this are they similar to their Serb "colleagues."

A Serb "hooligan" or "a leader of a fan group" drives an expensive car, he is loaded and sits in the club board, he appoints and dismisses club presidents and coaches, he decides who is to play and who is not, he is involved in football transfers, he buddies with politicians, his "pals" are high-ranking officers of the police and security service, and, of course, he is "a great patriot," he lives for Eastern Orthodoxy, he has an opinion about everything just name it, he understands nothing but knows everything, he is an "expert" in politics and concerned with social developments, he hates traitors of the nation, queers, false democrats and all the slum of the West, he is a row model to teenagers without parental care, he is strict and harsh to them but nice and servile to his boss.and, whenever arrested, he is released "in five minutes." In brief, he is "a boss." And his life ends in some "classical ambush."

The youngsters looking up to him could be called hooligans had they not been subjugated to iron discipline and subordination - and that has nothing to do with the notion of hooliganism. But what matters the most is that they know nothing about football and are not interested in it.

These are the groups (about the same persons are in the membership of Obraz and 1389) are the challenge the state of Serbia, that is petty politicians appointed to high offices, cannot come to grips with in the past couple of years.

Food for thought:

Who organized these groups and when?

Who are the outstanding members?

What are their motives?

What methods of recruitment and indoctrination they use?

What are their present capacities for the attainment of their political goals?

Who finances them and from what sources?

Who plans their campaigns?

Who are their connections at Serbia's public scene and in what way are they mutually connected?

Are they linked with foreign intelligence services and what is the nature of these links?

What are we to expect from them in the future?

Gentlemen in high offices, let me tell you what I know without having to answer to all these questions. THEY ARE AFTER YOU! In the meanwhile, you may go on spinning, avoiding embarrassing topics, postponing, stealing a bit, don't read anything or deliberate something.In the election campaign you can always figure out some new Fiat or free shares, you may spend Telecom money on your campaigns, brag of EU candidacy, if you can. If you don't stop them now elections may have to wait for liberation.should there be liberators or anything left to be liberated.

Well, I can understand you unconcern for Serbia. But what I do not understand is why for Heaven sake you care not for saving your skins! For they will first put your skins on their flags. Give it a thought.



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