One of the leaders of Kosovo Serbs, head of the Movement “Freedom, Democracy, Truth” Oliver Ivanovich was killed in Kosovo on January 16, INTERFAX reports citing the Associated Press.
A 64-year-old politician was shot by unknown people when he entered to the building of his Party in Kosovska Mitrovica at 8:10 am local time.
Ivanovich’s lawyer Nebois Vladzic said: “He received five bullet wounds, and he was immediately taken to the hospital, but the doctors could not save him.” As doctors clarified, it was impossible to save him because of the many wounds to the upper body.
In connection with the murder, the President of Serbia Alexander Vučić convened an emergency meeting of the country’s Security Council.
At the same time, Vučić stated that the murder of Oliver Ivanovich in Kosovo is a “terrorist act”.
“It is a terrorist act for Serbia”, – Vučić said in a special appeal in connection with the incident.
In turn, the Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramos Haradinaj urged not to use the murder of one of the leader of Kosovo Serbs Oliver Ivanovich for political purposes. The corresponding statement Haradinaj made on Tuesday after an emergency meeting of the Security Council of the unrecognized republic.
“Ivanovich was active in political life, so after this murder political abuses and even more are possible. We condemn this crime and any attempt to use it for political purposes by anyone”, – the Kosovo TV channel RTK cites.
A burned car was found in one of the streets of the city about an hour after the murder, which, according to police, could be used for a crime.
Oliver Ivanovich served as Secretary of State for Kosovo Affairs in the Government of Serbia in 2008-2012. In 2016, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for war crimes against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. In February 2017, the verdict of the court of first instance was abolished and a new process began. The politician was under house arrest.
As noted, the assassination of Ivanovich may increase tensions in Kosovo amid of attempts to normalize relations between former enemies. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade refused to recognize it.
Negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo in the European Union were immediately suspended after the murder of the Serbian politician. The Secretary of the European Commission, Maya Kosjancic called on all parties to maintain “restraint and calm”.
These negotiations between the parties were to be resumed at the technical level on January 16. They were earlier discontinued in March 2017, after arrest the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the current prime minister of the unrecognized state Ramush Haradinaj (also, he is the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo) in France in January 2017 at the request of the Serbian side.
Serbia believes that Haradinai is a war criminal for his role in guiding the guerrilla revolt in his former southern province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. The French court rejected the request of Belgrade for the extradition of Haradinaj in April 2017.
According to experts, the “sacred” murder of the leader of the Kosovo Serbs Oliver Ivanovich is clearly not profitable either to Belgrade or Pristina, but only to the “third side” that loses its influence in the region and wants to destroy the fragile peace in the Balkans in its own interests, as well as the puppets of this side who sit on its financial and propaganda needle.
As early as the beginning of 2016, analysts warned that there is a very high risk that soon a cautionary reminder for the EU about fresh, but unlearned historical lessons in Ukraine may come soon: Europe needs to look more closely at the European “pain point” in the Balkans, as well as the Kremlin “tools” behind there.
And such a reminder came in October 2016 in Montenegro, but thanks to the timely joint actions of the Montenegrin and Western special services, the Kremlin’s plans failed.
Let’s remember how on October 16, 2016 a group of extremists tried to organize a coup d’état in Montenegro through an assassination attempt on the prime minister of this state Milo Djukanovic.
The attack on the parliament and the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Djukanovic, according to the plan of the Kremlin special services, were to plunge Montenegro into chaos on the eve of joining NATO. Do not forget the main concept of Moscow – “controlled chaos”.
The special prosecutor of Montenegro, Milivoje Katnich announced that Russian special services were behind the attempted coup in the country. According to the representative of Montenegrin authorities, Eduard Shishmakov, former deputy military attaché of the Russian embassy in Poland, participated in the preparation of the assassination of the prime minister.
According to investigators, Shishmakov and another suspect, Vladimir Popov, handed over 200,000 euros to the Serbian nationalist Alexander Sindzhelich, who fought in the Donbas on the side of pro-Russian separatists, to find people to carry out the coup. In particular, he was asked to find a sniper who would have shot the Prime Minister of Montenegro.
Another plotter, according to the findings of the investigator, is Nemanja Ristic, the radical from Serbia, who, as you remember, was photographed with Russian Minister Lavrov in Serbia two months after what happened in Montenegro.
The Minister of Defense of Montenegro Predrag Bošković reported in a comment to the British edition The Telegraph that “there is no doubt that the coup was financed and organized by Russian intelligence in cooperation with local radicals.”
Arrested and detained plotters were members of the radical nationalist groups of Serbia, many of them with experience of fighting in the Donbass on the side of pro-Russian separatists.
We have repeatedly discussed the tactics chosen by the Kremlin’s boss and his inner circle to destabilize the situation in Europe.
Moscow has long ago devised, as we designate it, the concept of “managed chaos”: when ever more and more new crises are generated, and society does not have time to sort out in their original cause due to the massive attacks, including information. Attention is simultaneously diverted by other events, and the situation is aggravated.
Serbian Radicals in the Service of the Kremlin
But now back to the murder of Oliver Ivanovich, or rather to the statement of the odious Vojislav Seshel.
The leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seshel accused the western special services of the murder of the Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovich, and also stated that this murder is the beginning of a new attack by the West, namely, the USA, on Serbia.
“I think that the killers of Ivanovich will not be found, because I am sure that Western intelligence services are involved in the murder of Ivanovich and this is the beginning of a new American initiative in the Balkans, which was previously announced by the Americans”, – Sheshel said on the air of the TV channel “Russia -24 ” on January 16. That was immediately picked up by all the Russian media.
Yes, this is precisely the Seshel who, urged the Serbian government to declare persona non grata of the Ukrainian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Alexandrovich in November last year, after the Ukrainian ambassador stated that Serbia does not react enough to the facts of participation of its citizens in military operations in the Donbas on the side of the militants of the so-called “DNR” and “LNR” in an interview with Balkan Insight.
In principle, nothing else could be expected from Seshel. Why?
Back in January 2016, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin met with leader of the “Serbian Radical Party” Vojislav Seshel in Belgrade, who is accused by the Hague Tribunal of committing war crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in 1991-1993.
Sheshel himself is a rather interesting character. During the wars in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Seshel actively participated in the organization and leadership of the Serbian voluntary units. In 1991-1993 Sheshel took an active part in the fighting in Croatia and Bosnia as the organizer of the armed units of Serbian volunteers (Sheshelevichi, Chetniks, and White Eagles). These units, together with the Serbian army, tried to occupy the territory inhabited by the Serbs. According to Seshel’s idea, “Great Serbia” should include Serbia along with the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and part of Croatia. “Russian volunteers” helped him in this such as the notorious Igor Girkin.
Later, Sheshel’s supporters directly participated in the events in the Crimea and the Donbass.
So, the same Rogozin said during the meeting with Seshel: “We have good relations with him since the beginning of the 90s, so the meeting with him was informal, it was a private meeting, and it does not concern the official program of my stay in Belgrade”.
During this meeting, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister presented several caskets with images of the Crimea annexed by the Russian troops to the Seshel noting that he would like to receive a gift from the Serbian radical leader himself some object symbolizing Kosovo’s return to Serbia as soon as possible.
Then, many experts believed that Rogozin opens a new front of the “hybrid war” in Europe by such actions. The ultimate goal is to prevent the countries of the Balkan region from advancing to the EU and NATO.
And the Kremlin has got friends from radicals for this, for example, in the Serbia.
At the same time, the Russian authorities are not really hiding their links with the radicals. So, in December 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was seen in the company of Nemanja Ristic, whom the Montenegrin authorities are accused of attempting to organize a coup d’état. By the way, Ristic set himself up as a FSB colonel and a former agent of the Serbian state security on his Facebook page. Now, this person is trying to open a small “business” in Russia.
Not only Montenegro
At the same time, the failed Kremlin attempt to carry out a coup in Montenegro and the mutiny in Macedonia will not be probably the last Russian destabilizing action on the Balkan Peninsula.
This opinion was voiced by many experts in January 2017 in connection with the statements of the top leadership of one of the parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Republika Srpska. In particular, its head Milorad Dodik stated that it is better for the Bosnian Serbs to create a unified state with Serbia and Serbian municipalities in the north of Kosovo, to which Montenegro should join subsequently.
He said in one of his interviews: “Bosnia as a state has no prospects, and it is better to disperse for the Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat federation”.
At the same time, the president of neighboring Croatia, Colinda Grabar-Kitarovich said that such statements are a consequence of the involvement of the Kremlin in the “hybrid war” in Bosnia.
And the Croatian president is right. In this case, Dodik is only a repeater of the words of the ideologist of the “Russian world” Alexander Dugin. Here, compare the words of Dodik with what Dugin said at 12 January 2017 in the program ” Dugins’ Directive” : “Great Serbia should now turn from a slogan into a project, an ideology, a theory … The Serbian imperial spring is not only a matter for our Serb brothers, but for us Russians”.
By the way, it should be said that neither the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor the political elite of Serbia support Milorad Dodik’s intentions. But Russian puppets from the Serbian party “Doors” with the head of the Republika Srpska certainly agree.
For example, the representative of this political force in Serbia’s national parliament, Zoran Radojicic, said: “Bosnia and Herzegovina is an extremely unstable state entity that was created artificially without regard for the interests of all the peoples who inhabit it”.
In fact, Milorad Dodik’s actions are non-casuall, and Dodik himself is extremely clear pro-Kremlin figure. Recently, the head of the Republika Srpska said in an interview with the Russian edition Izvestia that “if there had not been an unconstitutional coup on the Maidan, many events in Ukraine would not have happened. Crimea passed to Russia on the basis of a referendum, and the will of the people must be respected. The Crimean issue is settled”.
By the way, Bosnia and Herzegovina could not impose sanctions against Russia in connection with the annexation of the Crimea and the occupation of part of the territory of the Donbass because of this position of Dodik.
At the same time, Moscow intends to play an explosive scenario. Since the autumn of last year, Russian media have been actively introducing the idea about islamists in the information space of the region, which flood the streets of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. They began to return to the Balkans amid of defeats in Syria from the Russian Force and the army of Bashar Assad. The active information campaign, inspired by the Kremlin, is conducted with aim to create an internal ethnic and religious conflict between Muslims and Orthodox Serbs.
In support of this, it is necessary to show the statement of the Head of the CIS Antiterrorist Center of the CIS Member States, Colonel-General Andrei Novikov, in the context of the “Russian victory” over ISIS in October last year, where he mentioned the Balkans: “The majority of terrorist fighters will return to their countries or go to other states the same routes as they left the conflict zones. Special studies show that the Balkan route is particularly popular”.
At the same time, Russian experts commented on Novikov’s statements in this perspective: “There are whole enclaves of radical Islamists in the Balkans. Most of them are in Bosnia. Many ” jihad fighters” came there to fight in the 1990’s, and they remained there. A shade less of them were in Kosovo, in the Albanian areas of Macedonia. Whole “Wahhabi” villages exist in Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, and, of course, in Bosnia and Albania. It is easier to get lost in the Balkans, and geographically it is located between the Middle East and Western Europe. Especially, Kosovo and Bosnia are very comfortable, where there are no states and there is complete administrative anarchy. It’s easier to hide there, mix with the crowd. And, special services are not the strongest in other countries of the region”.
Analysts already point out that the conflict between Serbs and Albanians will be especially beneficial to Moscow, as it creates the illusion of a Christian-Muslim conflict where the Albanians fighting against Serbs can be instantly declared “ISIS terrorists” supported by the West. Such a propaganda product will obviously cause more sympathy from the Russian population than the war in Ukraine or even in Syria.
Apparently, the Kremlin managed to develop not only agitation products, but also a military plan. Otherwise, there are no words how to explain the opening of the humanitarian base on the territory of the Republika Srpska. According to Dodik, the Russian base on the territory of the Republika Srpska has a humanitarian mission and helps to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters.
Probably, it is not necessary to explain what sense the Russian leadership puts in the phrase “humanitarian aid”. All this means only that the probability of a new point of instability on the Balkan Peninsula day by day is getting higher in light of the recent very unfavorable trends for the Kremlin in the international arena.
According to the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Serbia Chedomir Jovanovic, the base in Nis was used for preparation of coup d’etat in Montenegro, which Serbian militants tried to accomplish, who before that had distinguished themselves in the war in Ukraine under the leadership of the Russian GRU. As Jovanovic said, the scenario of the riots in Macedonia was also written in the Russian-Serbian “humanitarian center”.
The trace of the most recent scandal with the creation of the paramilitary unit “Serbian Honor” in the Republika Srpska leads to Nis. Information about the fact that the President of the Republika Srpska with the help of Russian and Serbian Special Forces creates paramilitary groups recently published the British “Guardian” with reference to the Bosnian “Zurnal”.
Milorad Dodik’s office denies the information about the creation of paramilitary units, and the activists of “Serbian honor” threaten to pursue in court with Mektic and journalists. The youths say that they are engaged in humanitarian work. For example, they distribute food packages to the needy.
But the photos, released in the media with weapons and in uniform, speak for themselves – all in the spirit of Russian “humanitarian activities”. On January 9, representatives of the “Serbian honor” defiled at the parade, which Milorad Dodik organized in honor of “Republic Day” despite the court’s ban.
Therefore, European capitals should be borne in mind that if Putin chooses the path of least resistance, then the Balkans will seem to be the best option for him to distract the attention of the West on the eve of the introduction of new sanctions and his re-elections.
So, Russian special services can turn a number of places in the Balkans into real hotbeds of tension and directly with a projection on Europe, including number of new refugee flows in the perspective by the hands of Serbian radicals and other agents from among radical Islamists, which already got experience in a “hybrid war” against Ukraine and in Syria with help of the Kremlin.