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Banned promotion

On Saturday 27 February, Serbian police detained president of the local community Crvenka because he tried to organize unannounced promotion of Ljiljana Bulatović’s book, which we mentioned in one of earlier posts. As Belgrade’s B 92 reports, president of the local community Crvenka, Radonjić Hercen, was detained for more than three hours and as a sentence he will have to pay 70.000 RSD. According to media allegations, the police prevented even the arrival of the book’s author in Crvenka. The promotion was scheduled for 11h in the Dom Kulture (House of Culture) Crvenka and Radonjić said that he did not report the promotion because there is no reason for the promotion in a closed space (in a cultural institution) to be reported. After he was released Radonjić also said that he will not give up and announced his intention to organize the sale of this book.

The last weekend, the police also banned the promotion of the same book in town Crvenka and neighboring Kula, some 130 kilometers north from Belgrade. That time the promotion was organized by clerico-fascist organization Otačastveni Pokret Obraz (Patriotic Movement ‘Dignity’) and local community Crvenka . Several hours before the scheduled events the police informed the organizer that the promotion has to be canceled. The police canceled the promotion because, as it was explained, security reasons since it is concluded that “the meeting may put in danger the safety of property and people.” The police actually reacted because when the event was reported they’ve been told that the organizing of the event is Dušan Ilić, while on the promo materials for the event it was stated that the organizer is Otačastveni Pokret Obraz. Ilić said that he was quite disappointed and finally stated: “If on the poster was a sign of the Soros Foundation, the promotion would surely have been held.” The smaller group of people who were gathered in Kula went their homes peacefully after they had been informed about the cancelation, the organizers in Crvenka tried to hold the promotion despite the ban. According to media reports, the police prevented them and dispersed a crowd of 150 people without using any force.

As the Press daily reported in that time,  Ljiljana Bulatović said there has never been any bans on promotion of her books and that she promoted her books even in Srebenica and nobody has ever prevented her from talking about it. ”The fact that someone send the police on the truth I am talking about won’t stop me” added Bulatović.

This is the first time that the promotion of the book about Ratko Mladić is canceled and it is completely unknown why the promotion was scheduled and then banned in towns such as Kula and Crvenka. The strange thing is also that Obraz didn’t want to be reported in the police as the organizer of the event.   It is known that patriotic circles who favor Mladić and others accused of war crimes have organized freely their promotions and discussions even at the Law Faculty in Belgrade. Ljiljana Bulatović was a regular guest and speaker at many of them (Thanks Owen!). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t complain because the book promotion was canceled, on the contrary, I think that this move of the police and local community we should welcome. It is high time that we stop promotions of wrong idols (read: accused for war crimes) and start to build new value system. What I am trying is to find an answer on the question “why now”? Some of my readers might ask me why I need some particular reason for banning the promotion of the book that celebrates person accused for genocide. That’s normal civilized reaction. Well, unfortunately, in Serbia you need a very good reason for doing that.  Every single move towards condemnation of war crimes inductees and acceptance of legal, political and moral responsibility for the 90’s events had to have very good practical or patriotic explanation: “We have to cooperate with the ICTY because we want to become part of the EU and get money from access funds”, “well, you know we have to figure out something about that resolution on Srebrenica because we have to respect decision of the court in the Hague if we want to defend Kosovo” etc… So, what was going on these days related to Mladić?

First of all, on Tuesday two days after the first ban of the promotion, special police forces searched the family house of Ratko Mladić in Belgrade. The search lasted eight hours and the police confiscated discs, video tapes, old notebooks, 14.000 Euros and hunting ammunition. The War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević said that this search was related to cutting financial support for Ratko Mladić and to seek evidence and documentation and not for finding Mladić. The last major action of a search for Ratko Mladić was in early October 2009 around Novi Sad. This time, the police action came right after the arrival of Ratko Mladić’s son Darko from Russia. Darko was in Russia together with Ljiljana Bulatović who was awarded with the prize of Russian writers of which we have already talked about. Vladimir Vukčević in an interview with the daily Blic said: “We are aware of Ratko Mladić’s movements from three years ago and know he was in Serbia at that time. Mladić then turned to “another tactic” to hide from the authorities.” So, that means that the authorities knew where he was before he changed his tactic? Hm!

Second of all, at the moment there’s a discussion about adaptation of Resolution on Srebrenica. In fact this discussion has lasted for more than a month now and we still haven’t had an opportunity to see draft of the declaration.

The last and probably the most connected thing with this banned promotion, although Rasim Ljajić negated any connection, is the international conference regarding the legacy of the ICTY which was held in Den Hague. Vladimir Vukčević took a part in the conference and as he said later the majority of questions were directed to him. It sounded to me that, in a way, he was surprised that majority of those questions were about Mladić, and added that some even asked him why Serbia was hiding the Hague fugitive. Well, the fact that the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor had to reply to a bunch of questions about Mladić isn’t surprising for me. I don’t know what did he expect to do in the Hague?

Well, to go back on the banned promotion. My humble opinion is that the ban and the search of Mladić’s house are mutually connected. The thing, or better to say event, which connects them is the above mentioned international conference. As I already said, Rasim Ljajić negated any connection among these events but it is not that we’d expected him to admit. It is kinda hard to believe him since every other major action was accompanied with some big international event or visit where Serbian’s politicians have to explain that they do everything to arrest Mladić and Hadžić. What else can we think, that they’re too shy and don’t want to be in the center of attention during big international events?

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About Sladjana Lazic

I am a PhD student of Political Science manly focused on dealing with the past and nationalism, but with great interest in new media and changes of journalistic practices (and media) triggered with the expansion of Internet and ICTs

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