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PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS

Aleksander KOTS

KP journalists trace the scandalous book by Carla Del Ponte, prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Dmitry STEPSHIN May 12-14, 2008

KOSOVO KILLERS

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


Ethnic groups:

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KOSOVO
Location: Southeast Europe, between Serbia and Macedonia Geographic coordinates: 42 35 N, 21 00 E Map references: Europe Area: total: 10,887 sq km land: 10,887 sq km water: 0 sq km Area comparative: slightly larger than Delaware Land boundaries: total: 702 km border countries: Albania 112 km, Macedonia 159 km, Montenegro 79 km, Serbia 352 km Coastline: 0 km (landlocked) Maritime claims: none (landlocked) Climate: influenced by continental air masses resulting in relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and autumns; Mediterranean and alpine influences create regional variation; maximum rainfall between October and December Terrain: flat fluvial basin with an elevation of 400-700 m above sea level surrounded by several high mountain ranges with elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m Elevation extremes:

Albanians 88%, Serbs 7%, other 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Roma, Turk, Ashkali, Egyptian) Religions: Languages: Albanian (official), Serbian (official), Bosniak, Turkish, Roma Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Kosovo conventional short form: Kosovo local long form: Republika e Kosoves (Republika Kosova) local short form: Kosova (Kosovo)

Government type: Capital: name: Pristina (Prishtine) geographic coordinates: 42 40 N, 21 10 E time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in Administrativ e divisions: 30 municipalities (komunat, singular - komuna in Albanian; opstine, singular - opstina in Serbian); Independenc e: Constitution: Constitutional Framework of 2001; note - the Kosovo Government is charged with putting forward an AHTISAARI (UN Special Envoy) Plan-compliant draft of a new constitution soon after independence Legal system: evolving legal system based on terms of UN Special Envoy Martti AHTISAARI's Plan for Kosovo's Suffrage:

lowest point: Drini i Bardhe/Beli Drim 297 m (located on the border with Albania) highest point: Gjeravica/Deravica 2,565 m

18 years of age; universal

Natural resources: nickel, lead, zinc, magnesium, lignite, kaolin, chrome, bauxite Population: 2,126,708 (2007 est.) Nationality noun: Kosovar (Albanian), Kosovac (Serbian) adjective: Kosovar (Albanian), Kosovski (Serbian) note: Kosovan, a neutral term, is sometimes also used as a noun or adjective

Updated on May 15, 2008

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS After


Kosovo declared independence, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla Del Ponte raucously quit her position at The Hague. She slammed the door so loudly behind her that the ceiling plaster cracked at parliaments across the European Union. After her exile to Argentina as Switzerland's ambassador, Ponte said the new Kosovo was run by butchers who made a fortune trafficking organs extracted from kidnapped Serbs. In her book titled, "The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals," Ponte describes how a black organ market formed during the Kosovo War. Meanwhile, she says, the European Union played dumb paying no attention to the crimes. KP journalists went to Kosovo to learn more about the crimes. Iron Carla's revelation Hardly a day goes by without fragments of Ponte's book hitting Belgrade newspapers. Here is a commonly quoted section that details the horrors of Kosovo organ trafficking: "According to the journalists' sources, who were only identified as Kosovo Albanians, some of the younger and fitter prisoners were visited by doctors and were never hit. They were transferred to other detention camps in Burrel and the neighboring area, one of which was a barracks behind a yellow house 20 km behind the town. "One room inside this yellow house, the journalists said, was kitted out as a makeshift operating theater, and it was here that surgeons transplanted the organs of prisoners. These organs, according to the sources, were then sent to Rinas airport, Tirana, to be sent to surgical clinics abroad to be transplanted to paying patients.

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involvement of middle and high ranking involvement from the KLA (ed. Kosovo Liberation Army). "A few months after [October 2002] the investigators of the tribunal and UNMIK reached central Albania and the yellow house which the journalists sources had revealed as the place where the prisoners were killed to transplant their organs. The journalists and the Albanian prosecutor accompanied the investigators to the site. "The house was now white. The owner denied it had ever been repainted even though investigators found traces of yellow along the base of its walls. Inside the investigators found pieces of gauze, a used syringe and two plastic IV bags encrusted with mud and empty bottles of medicine, some of which was of a muscle relaxant often used in surgical operations. The application of a chemical substance revealed to the scientific team traces of blood on the walls and on the floor of a room inside the house, except for in a clean area of the floor sized 180x60cm. "The investigators were not able to determine whether the traces they found were of human blood. The sources did not indicate the position of the grave of the presumed victims and so we did not find the bodies." However, Serbian journalists began conducting their own investigations into the purported organ trafficking. Correspondents from the Press newspaper were said to have found the barracks described by Ponte. However, they refused to share detailed information with KP. The tabloid published several photos related to the incident, but many local media representatives believe their authenticity is dubious. "They wanted to fabricate this huge story, but they ended up with a piece of crap," said Aleksandr Bechich, deputy chief editor of the Pravda opposition newspaper. "Press has been caught lying on more than one occasion. But there is truth to the article. Many Serbs heard about these crimes even before the book's publication. Serbia's Justice Minister Vladan Batich gave Ponte numerous materials about executed and kidnapped Serbs. There was also evidence, but no one was sure if the organs had actually been trafficked. I originally heard about this 5 years ago from Serbia's former head of Military Intelligence. But no one listened to special agents at the time. The Serbian special forces had documents that certified that medical equipment had been brought to camps in Albania. This evidence was given to Western intelligence agencies. 'We can't work in Albania,' they said. 'Help us with this.' But no one did a thing. U.S. and German special forces knew that Serbs had been kidnapped in 1999. As they didn't do anything to fix the situation, we should assume they were also were involved in the trafficking network. How was the system organized? The KLA received huge sums of cash for the organs. This money was used to buy drugs from Afghanistan, which were later sold in Western Europe. The KLA bought arms using this money. Enough facts had been dug up to indict Kosovo's former Prime Minister Ramush Kharadinay, current head of state Khashim Tachi and other prominent Albanians. But as opposed to being sent to prison, Kharadinay was released from The Hague in early April even though he had been charged with murdering Serbian civilians. They said he

Law students from Prishtin University at a rally. "One of the informers had personally carried out a shipment to the airport. The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs. In this way, the other prisoners in the barracks were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified to be killed immediately. "Among the prisoners who were taken to these barracks were women from Kosovo, Albania, Russia and other Slavic countries. Two of the sources said that they helped to bury the corpses of the dead around the yellow house and in a neighboring cemetery. According to the sources, the organ smuggling was carried out with the knowledge and active

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


wasn't guilty. But we have documented facts proving that Kharadinay personally executed 60 Serbs and ordered 300 more to be killed. Kharadinay's release was a severe blow for the families of the deceased." The tribunal's decision to set Kharadinay free was as hurtful for Serbs as when the West recognized Kosovo's independence. The KLA's field commander was the equivalent of an Albanian Shamil Basaev cruel and uncompromising. Nine witnesses were lined up to testify against Kharadinay at The Hague. But they were all killed under various circumstances during the trial. Two were killed by a sniper, one died in an automobile accident in Montenegro, two were stabbed, two were burned to death in

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Serbia's parliament, told KP before our trip to KosovskuMitrovitsu. He spouted off his version of a brief history of modern-day Serbia. "First, Tachi was involved in drug trafficking, then he headed a gang and later a terrorist group. Now he's a U.S. and EU ally. Kharadinay is the same story. He was a bouncer at a night club and ended up running a terrorist organization. In the forward to his book 'Peace and Freedo,' he wrote: 'I've killed Serbian policemen. I've killed civilian Serbs and Albanians who were disobedient.' This is why I believe everything Ponte wrote. We know all about this in Serbia. Kharadinay had a camp on Lake Radonich in Metokhia. People were taken there from Prizren, Pecha and Djakovitsa. Many were executed. People were also selected for so-called medical centers. They were kept captive while their organs were systematically extracted. You want proof? Look for their relatives in Kosovo. That's the only way. All the other e vidence is destroyed." Nothing to lose for Serbs in Kosovo's enclaves Many people have heard the phrase "humanitarian catastrophe," but few have actually seen one. Serbian enclaves in Kosovo fall into this category. Homeless children roam the streets. Adults loiter in the sun, or wait for clients who never come in self-styled cabs. Piles of trash lie by the roadside. Disfunctional state services that won't do anything even if they're asked to. KP traveled to the Kosovsku-Mitrovitsu enclave in north Kosovo to learn more about the enclave phenomenon. Our journalists sat in a dilapidated cafe waiting for the Kosovo Serbian rally to begin. The cafe's windows were covered in bullet holes. The rally was to commence at 12:44. The number has a special subtext. It's the number of a UN resolution on Kosovo declaring the territory an indelible part of Serbia. Romanian soldiers from the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) took the cover off the machine gun on the small armored car. They knew they had to be ready. Meanwhile, we drank coffee behind the UN courthouse. Shrapnel had killed a Ukrainian peacekeeper there only a week before. He had been on a peacekeeping mission to introduce constitutional order in the country. But Serbian lawyers weren't a part of that order. They had been asked to leave the courthouse and were later replaced by Albanians. Those who refused to leave were arrested. The peacekeepers hadn't realized Kosovo Serbs had been on the edge of an explosion for several years. They had nothing to lose. Their country had been taken from them, and they had been left in poverty waiting for a miracle. As we were told numerously, many Kosovo Serbs consider a miracle to be Forty last names of deceased Serbs are written on an obelisk on the 250,000 Russian volunteers. Russian journalists, like us, were Serbian side of the bridge dividing the town along ethnic lines. The taken for spies or advanced detachment. Albanians have tried to annex the Serbian section of the city on numerous "Sweet life" of guardian's of the east occasions. The bridge has served as a stage for bloody wars. Mitrovista isn't really an enclave. It practically borders Serbia, but their car while serving in Kosovo's Police and two were killed in a a bridge divides the city into Albanian and Serbian sections. Unofficial guards man the Serbian side. This small detail shows village cafe in Kosovo. Many people in Serbia believe that Ramush Kharadinay was a who is the aggressor in the situation and who is on the defense. Forty last names of deceased Serbs are written on an obelisk on key figure in the organ trafficking network. "Tachi was a criminal," Deyan Mirovich, a radical party deputy in the Serbian side. The Albanians have tried to annex their section

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


of the city on numerous occasions. The bridge served as a stage for bloody wars. It's quiet on the Serbian side. Muscular men sit in a pink 24-hour cafe. They're officially called the bridge's guardians, as their job is to stop Albanians attacking from across the bridge. They greeted us cautiously. The waiter approached us slowly and indifferently. "One coffee, one bottle of water," we asked in Serbian, adding in Russian that we were Russian journalists writing about Kosovo Serbs. The demeanour of the waiter and the guards changed immediately. They offered us the table with a view of the bridge.

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When Kosovo declared independence, automobile amnesty was given to all vehicles stolen from the EU. The automobile business has served as an economic engine for Kosovo. Soon after, the leader of the local branch of National Serbs Union, Neboysha Iuvovich, came to the cafe and greeted us. "Many politicians are straying from their positions and writing about the truth," Neboysha said. "Carla Del Ponte didn't want to write about what really happened before because she would have had to launch investigations into crimes connected with organ trafficking. It would have been career suicide for an EU politician in Kosovo. We have enough facts to prove genocide. We have information confirming 1,200 Serbs were kidnapped and 1,700 killed. No one can say for sure. Serbs were kidnapped all over Kosovo. People disappeared and not farmers but doctors. Several were kidnapped. One was the famous surgeon Andrea Tomanovish. His body was never found. Try going south to the Albanian border. Don't think about

talking about this with the Albanian administration, though. You'll disappear. And only speak English with the Albanians." In the morning we saw we were almost in the mountains. The enclave was overtaken by a thick icy mist. They came to pick us up. A red jeep poked through the clouds. The numbers on the Kosovo license plate were cardboard. Our driver, Dushko, a Serb, took off the numbers before crossing the bridge onto the other Albanian side. Two-hundred meters, barbed wire fences, a KFOR outpost... Then everything changed. All the sudden we saw clean, swept streets, bright signs, shop Turkish- and Romastyle windows. And U.S. flags. The new Albanian Kosovo is still celebrating victory. Big laundry mat Kosovo was once considered Yugoslavia's poorest province. However, the situation has recently changed thanks to the world's most progressive democracies. Of course, myriad sacrifices were made along the way. Many Kosovo residents were exiled or sent to reservations, which the European Union refers to as "enclaves." Humanitarian mission representatives don't like visiting Serbian ghettos. The reservations are an unpleasant sight especially compared to the rest of Kosovo which is a perfect example of good peacekeeping. Kosovo is crammed with cash. EU and U.S. humanitarian organizations are making significant contributions to the economy. Albanians are also sending huge annual remittances from Western Europe. Part of this money is earned from criminal activities. But Kosovo can't yet cope with these substantial money streams. The funds are poorly managed and large sums are invested in outlandish construction projects, such as 100meter swimming pools in entirely uninhabited areas. Thousands of consumer goods stores stand by the road. The average Kosovo village has 5-10 supermarkets for every 500 residents, as well as three car washes and mechanics shops. The country's elegant agrarian landscape now has tens of thousands of newly built elite homes. Scattered among them are the skeletons of Serbian homes in ruins, covered in weeds. Albanians are dismantling these homes and using the materials to build more multilevel mega markets. One theory why these stores are built is that they are used for money laundering. They have few customers and the assortment is always e nuts and mineral water. It's interesting to think how long these stores would have to run before covering their costs. The average land plot for these mega markets sells for 100,000 euro. The EU can't explain why the Albanian mafia was given a republic to rule after massacring the Serbian population. But the Albanians know how to play the democratic game. Each mega market boasts a collection of small EU and U.S. flags, although the well-being of Kosovo residents is divided purely along ethnic lines a mockery of the democratic values that the country pretends to uphold. Istok A Western humanitarian mission employee based in Prishtin recapped the events that had transpired in the Kosovo village, Istok. He said that Albanians had misbehaved a bit in the summer of 1999, but everything fell into place shortly after. Moscow built 48 homes in the village for the Serbians whose

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


houses had been burned down. Today, he added, Istok is the pinnacle of peaceful coexistence of Albanians and Serbs. Lawyer Lozanka Radoyvich told us an altogether different story in Belgrad. A massacre had ensued for a week in Istok in 1999. All the homes of Serbs were burned down or seized. Forty-three people were kidnapped. They have never been found. As we made our way through Kosovo, we couldn't imagine the danger facing two Russian Orthodox journalists. We relied on our Serbian driver to handle all our safety issues. At first, Dushko refused to go to Istok. But we told him that as a refugee of the Grachanitsa reservation he could help us to put together an article about the real situation in Serbian enclaves, or sit at home

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"Yes. So?" she answered in the same tongue. "No, really tell us, are you a Serb?" he asked again, only in Serbian. "And so?" she repeated, only in Serbian. "I'm a Serb from Grachanitsa! These are Russian journalists from Moscow!" he said. In half a moment we were already in her kitchen. The coffee boiled on the gas stove. Milavitsa put shot glasses and rakia on the table. The home was half-dark. All the windows were covered in blankets. She told us how she had run away from Istok, but later returned.

The Moscow government built these houses in the Istok village after Serbian homes were burned down by Albanians. We managed to find one family living in the area

waiting for his enclave to be cleansed. Our jeep had already been riding for half an hour in the mountainous village Istok. Passers-by stared at us intensely. Doshko gripped the wheel tightly. His large hairy paws whitened from stress and he whispered through his teeth: "Albanians, Albanians." Doshko visually screened everyone around us, looking for his fellow Serbs. But he didn't find any. All the sudden, the car backed up, he turned down an alley and we stopped at a house with a satellite dish that read: "Total-TV." "It's Serbian TV," Doshko said. "Albanians don't watch it." We exited the car. Destroyed walls of old homes surrounded us. New smaller houses had been built among them. Typically Albanians don't live in such modest residences. And in Istok the Serbs don't either, although these homes had built especially for them by the Moscow government. All the homes sat empty and silent. The windows were covered by rags. We walked around the homes and stood next to the crumbling walls that had eroded beneath the rain. Snakes warmed themselves under the sun on concrete blocks. We were looking for the only remaining Serbian family. And we found her. An elderly Serbian woman stood looking at us cautiously. Doshko asked her in Albanian: "Are you a Serb?"

"I came back when I learned that Moscow had decided to help us. But the Russians outsourced the work to a German company that hired Albanians to fulfill the contract. In effect, the Albanians made money off the Russians, by building our homes and not providing us with electricity or water. This was done on purpose. But I'm still happy the house was built. Before I was living in a shed with a cow." Milavitsa's family had lived in Istok for nearly a century. In the summer of 1999, Albanians blew up a home, fish restaurant, wine cellar and four-car garage in the village. They also stole a tractor and land. Her family home was burned. She named the dead, counting them on her fingers. "Did you know that Serbs were kidnapped and their organs trafficked?" we asked her cautiously. "Yes, we all knew! We knew that only young, strong men went missing. On June 10, the Albanians rounded up about 50 people here in Istok and took them away. No one ever saw them again. We appealed to both the Serbian and EU authorities for help. But they said that we didn't have any evidence. As if you can just go to a clinic where organs are being trafficked, take photos and leave!" When we left, Milavitsa complained that the humanitarian aid in Mitrovitsa was subsiding from Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry. She added there was no communication among the

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


enclaves. We told her that service was being held again at the Grachanitsa Monastery and some enclaves were holding up well. Serbs give birth in enclaves Try to imagine a Russian village in a mountainous district of Chechnya in the mid-1990s. There's poor communication with mainland Russia and transport is unreliable. The local population has no one to rely on in an emergency. It's a long hike to the Serbian border from the Shtripts enclave. The 10,000 or so population doesn't have any employment opportunities. They're farmers, although portions of the land border with Albanian villages and locals don't let Serbs work the fields. "They shoot farmers," said Mile Popovich, a member of the local administration. "Almost everything in our enclave is completely natural. The economy is ruined and the Albanians don't buy anything from the Serbs."

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Tsveta's son may have been a victim of underground organ trafficking. But she hopes to find him alive. "Doesn't Belgrade help you?" we asked. "It's hard to call it 'help,'" Popovich said. "Their policy is to move all the educated people to Serbia and help them find work. Belgrade helped all qualified workers leave. Only we farmers and workers remain. But that's okay. We'll win Kosovo back the

same way we lost it. And our friends will be stronger by then. I don't think we should drag Russia into a war right now. In the meanwhile our kids are growing up." "Do Serbs really have children in the enclaves?" we asked. "People just understood what they need to do," Popovich answered. "There's an average of three children per family in the enclaves." "Have Albanians tried to take Shtripts?" we asked. "They're too afraid. We can call 5,000 men to arms in a moment," Popovich said. "The KFOR soldiers already tried to disarm us. The Poles came first. They walked through the enclave, spoke with locals and later told their commanding officers they wouldn't do it. Then the Americans came with their search dogs on helicopters. They went to each home looking for arms, but we sent our shepherd dogs after them. Then the Americans climbed back into their helicopters and took off. For some reason, they haven't rushed to disarm the Albanians... But the KLA has shot at our buses. People have died in the thousands. A lot of people have disappeared without a trace. We used to worry during kidnappings in 1999. My neighbor was kidnapped and they never found his body. The kidnapping started as soon as NATO forces came to Kosovo." A government employee told us how to find the mother of a kidnap victim. We went to see her. "They kept telling me my son's alive." It wasn't easy to find her home. We wandered the streets until a local woman carrying groceries offered to escort us to Tseta Dogandjich's house. As we walked, we read the many death notices glued on the fences and lampposts. The woman caught us staring and said in good Russian: "There aren't many of us left..." Dogandjich's story is typical in Kosovo. Her son Yakov disappeared in 1999. "He was coming home and had to pick up some shepherds along the way," she said. There was an old Soviet TV in the corner of the room. "Someone stopped Yakov. They found his car by the road with the doors half open. I went to the KFOR for help, but they said calmly: 'Your son was kidnapped by an independent criminal group.' The authorities didn't look for him at all. But then word came that Yakov was still alive. We asked a foreign journalist who was preparing to meet Albanian criminals to help us find him. They again told her that Yakov was alive. About one month later, some people contacted me and asked me to give them clothes and money for food for my son. Albanians have contacted me several times saying that he was alive, but they couldn't release him. Why did they want him to begin with?" "Have you continued searching for your son?" we asked. "Yes. We were continuously told he was alive. We met with Major Taylor who commanded KFOR in our region. He told us they couldn't find and free our son. But he added we should try to buy him back through our Albanian acquaintances. A good Albanian friend of Yakov's said that if he tried to intervene, he and his whole family would be killed. Other Albanians refused to help us, although we've managed to set aside a good amount of money to buy him back."

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS

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Soldiers of the enclave self-defense movement explained why General's list prisoners were often sent from one area to the next speaking on Deputy in Serbias parliament and General Bozhidar Delich told the condition of anonymity. us that no Serb was left alive who could testify to the KLA's organ trafficking. "We received information about the concentration camps holding Serbian prisoners," Delich told KP. "We passed these materials along to international organizations. But the terrorists had their own links in the KFOR and UN missions. Whenever the commission intended on checking a specific location, the prisoners were quickly transported to another camp. Back then, we had high hopes we would see the prisoners alive. In 1999, Serbia released 2,000 Albanian prisoners to Kosovo, hoping to receive kidnapped Serbs in return. But the Albanians didn't send one! Of course not! They would describe the horrors they were subjected to, including organ extraction. The KLA had about 10 concentration camps for organ donors in south Kosovo. The largest were Budak, Yablonits, Ponoshevets, Zrsts and Nashestk. There was a huge camp in Prizren near a bank building, but it's very dangerous traveling there." Naturally, the first thing we did was visit these 10 locations. But there were no signs of war or museums honoring genocide victims. All we saw was new buildings, dumps, car parts clearance sales and hundreds of monuments honoring KLA heroes. We stopped to take a closer look at one of the monuments. Kosovos state myth about the righteous KLA was developing quickly. "Who's your hero," we asked a young boy in English in Yablonits. He looked about 15 years old. "Who are you?" he asked. "Reporters from Scotland, we said. "Where's that?" he asked. "Great Britain," we answered The boy smiled and started running around us with his dog. "English is good, Europe is good, America is our friend! And Ramush Kharadinay is the best!" the boy shouted, getting back to my first question. "Well who isn't good, then?" we asked. Evitsa Dzhovevich was miraculously released from an Albanian concentration camp. She hasn't left her apartment with her daughter "Serbia," the boy said straight away. "And Russia," he added. "I Militsa in two years. hate Russia the most. It's the farthest away." Some adults nearby joined in the political debate. But when "Many kidnap victims were found in mass graves," they said. asked about the concentration camps, they answered: "The "But they were mostly older. Young healthy men were kept in Serbs were never here. There was never a war here. We special camps. When international commissions headed to the always lived here." And we heard the same things in every town. area, the Albanians relocated their prisoners. And this is how the After visiting the last location on the general's list, we knew there victims live until the Albanians receive an order for a specific was little hope to find witnesses to the KLA's organ trafficking. organ. Then the victim is taken from Kosovo to an underground Driving around the mountain roads, we drove by the Holy clinic." Archangels Monastery that had been burned down by Our investigation was nearing an end. Most importantly, we had Albanians. During the last wave of the genocide in 2004, monk learned that Ponte's scandalous statements were true. Many Khariton was kidnapped. Several days later, his naked body Serbs were kidnapped at the same time in the summer of 1999. was found in the mountains. He was severely tortured and his The majority were young healthy men. Also, they weren't killed severed head was never found. Today, the Middle Age immediately, but kept in special camps. KP came across a monastery has a modern-day martyr. Restoration works have woman who was examined by doctors working for the commenced at the monastery only inasmuch as they have underground organ trade. She was saved by a astounding chain begun cleaning the ruins. The monks haven't been persecuted in recent years. of events.

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


The monastery's members are few. One is a Serbian from Prizren where the general advised us not to go. Evitsa Dzhovevich and her daughter Militsa take a cab to the monastery on holidays. But they walk all the way back to Prizren. It's a form of protest. Two-year-old Militsa is the only Serbian child in the ancient capital of Orthodox Kosovo. There aren't any more Serbian children. And there probably won't be anymore. The nuns told us that Eva and Militsa haven't left their apartment in two years. And Eva refuses to move to Serbia. She promised God she wouldn't leave Kosovo after being miraculously saved twice. However, she'll most likely end up moving for her daughter's sake.

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Usually the only person who comes to the apartment is an 80year-old Muslim Serb. He's brought them food to the apartment for two years now. Militsa's father, a Greek who worked in Prizren, sends them money each month. He didn't want to stay in Kosovo, and Eva didn't want to leave. "I was first kidnapped on Sept. 14, 1999 at 11:50," Eva said. "I was buying vegetables at a stall near my house. Albanians had just entered the city at the time. Fifty people were killed before the KFOR came. Around 30 children had also disappeared. An Albanian walked over to me in a military uniform and asked to see my documents. But he didn't even look at them. He knew right away that I am a Serb. Then he dragged me to his car. I was screaming and fighting. Soon a second Albanian ran over to help him. They picked me up and shoved me in the trunk. The next thing I knew I was at their headquarters, where they held me three days. Later, a man came to see me who gave me a thorough medical examination. He measured my blood pressure, took blood and started asking me a bunch of questions. He wanted to know how healthy I was and I didn't understand why." Eva was devoid of emotion. It was clear she had put the incident behind her long ago. "Who was this man? Was he a Serb or an Albanian?" "I dont know. He spoke both languages equally well," she said. "He wrote down everything I said in his notebook. He was surprised Monuments dedicated to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have been built along the roads when I told him how old I was. one every half kilometer. I was born in 1960." "You look wonderful for your Eva and Militsa live in the center of Prizren in an apartment age," we said. We couldn't resist the compliment. building. But she didn't tell us her apartment number. She wanted to check that our intentions were sincere. And so we ran Eva smiled for the first and last time at our meeting. up and down the stairs knocking on all the doors. Essentially "That's what saved me. Then the man who inspected me left there were two types of doors. The first was ornate steel doors immediately. Later I was taken to their chief, who was sitting in with Albanian last names. The second was wooden doors the office of a bank director. He said: 'Pray to God and thank him covered in a layer of cheap paint, the majority of which had been for being so old. Now get out of here.' And he threw me my passport. Ever since I have believed in God. But I haven't left beaten in. Kosovo." "I believed in God, but I didn't leave Kosovo" Eva and Militsa live behind a thick steel door. Eva installed the Eva said sadly that Prizen was a Serbian city in the 1990s. Most door a long time ago, and she's regretted doing so on more than resident Serbs said they'd never live anywhere else. But then one occasion. Militsa is bright-eyed and enthusiastic upon they started leaving one by one. Only Eva stayed. She refused seeing us. She's never had so many guests over before. And to leave in 2001 when Albanians tried to kick in her apartment we're having a difficult time coping with the situation. Imagine door, or shot at her in the street. playing with the last Russian child in Novgorod or Tver. That's a "There was a massacre on March 17, 2004. Serbian homes were burning in the city. The day before, the KFOR soldiers had good way to understand what the Serbs have lost.

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


come to our homes and hung signs on the doors reading 'This apartment is protected by the KFOR forces.' I ripped the sign off right away. And on March 18, Albanians came and started kicking in my door. I called my Greek friend who works for a charity mission and asked him to call the UN Police. But someone told the Albanians that a patrol car was on the way and they escaped. The police helped me pack my things. I lived for an entire year at a military base before going home. We got ready to leave Prizren before dark. But my driver Doshko couldn't hold back. "Eva, don't you understand? You can't live this way. Think about your daughter. Here is my number in Grachanits. Call. I'll help you move to our enclave." Eva took the number, but made no promises. We didn't judge her. Maybe Eva and Militsa are paying the price for their nation's wrongdoings. They're forced to live in torment in what was once a Serbian city. But someday the tide may change. That's something worth believing in. Doshko was quiet on the way back to Grachanits. All he said was: "It's a shame God doesn't have time for all of us." "I spoke with Carla. She waved us off" We traveled to Belgrade to complete our investigation. We had learned about a group at a refugee camp near Obilich that was collecting information on kidnapped Serbs. We were given the number of the group's head Simo Spasich at a KFOR wagon inhabited by exiled Serbs. Spasich had tried to get The Hague to investigate the organ trafficking. Spasich met us in a yellow T-shirt with the motto: "Why have Belgrade and Prishtina forgotten kidnapped Serbs?" "I don't want people to forget their brothers," Spasich said, smiling sadly. He spoke in earnest. In 1998, both his brothers disappeared Zharko and Belko. He still hopes to find them. "Several weeks after they disappeared, I received the first news about them. A Turk told me he saw both my brothers in Albania. They were both alive. I was even able to talk to them by phone. And that was the last time we spoke. My brother says he doesn't know why he was kidnapped. They don't force him to work and they don't demand ransom. I could kidnap an international bus and demand they return my brothers, but I hoped they'd trade them instead. Serbia released 2,108 Albanians. But no one was offered in return." "Ponte writes in her book that Russian volunteers also disappeared. Have you heard anything about this?" we asked. "There's one Russian in the list of kidnapped individuals Igor Sergeevich Nifontov born in 1968," Spasich said. "We don't even have his photo. He disappeared in July 1999. There were probably more Russians. Volunteers fought under different names. Maybe the relatives of kidnapped Russians will read the article and contact me?" "What happened to the Serbs who were held hostage?" he asked. "The Albanians didn't kill everyone at once," Spasich said. "We found bodies in mass graves and the mountains. But the fate of many other Serbs was unclear until several facts later came to light. I first spoke with Ponte about this in 2001 in Belgrade. We gave her a list of 1,300 kidnapped individuals and the letters that were dropped over Kosovo by NATO planes signed by Tachi.

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They called all the Albanians to leave the country before the bombings began. The Albanians left in masses guarded by KLA soldiers. Our kidnapped Serbs were seen among them. The Albanian's used this maneuver to get the kidnapped Serbs out of the country under false pretenses as refugees." "Why?" we asked. "To take their organs before killing them," Spasich said. "I know this is why over 1,000 people were taken to Albania. Ponte only mentions 300 Serbs. In 2004, I received a call from The Hague that all the Serbs who were on the list were killed." "Did you know that the Serbs were kidnapped for their organs?" we asked. "I assumed so," Spasich said. "We received information in this regard. I learned from military personnel that this happens in western Macedonia, too. When Ponte told us the Serbs on our list had been killed, she knew that their organs had been stolen. We're preparing a lawsuit against her for masking these crimes. We could have punished the guilty four years ago. But Kosovo's independence was dearer to The Hague than some Serbs. They were willing to close their eyes to the horrors committed by the Albanians. It's a big political game. If everyone knew about the brutalities committed against the Serbs, no one would have recognized Kosovo's independence."

Dmitry ROGOZIN

A Call to Brussels Dmitry ROGOZIN, Russia's Representative in NATO:

"IT'S REAL-DEAL POLITICS"


"The international community always knew about the organ trafficking as described in Ponte's book. These are things that everyone knows who's ever been involved with Kosovo's problems. There is serious evidence discrediting Tachi, the KLA's head, who's still respected in the West. Everyone knew that the KLA is a terrorist organization financed by drug trafficking. For the West, acknowledging these facts meant breaking their plans for dividing Serbia, changing the power scheme in the Balkans and weakening Russian influence. My partners in Brussels call it 'real-deal politics.'"

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS

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SEPARATIST MOVEMENTS SEEK INSPIRATION IN KOSOVO


Kosovo is turning out to be a huge source of conflict, both in the Balkans and across Europe. Six EU member states are against recognizing Kosovos independence, because they fear it could lead to problems with their own ethnic minorities. It was probably the most important day of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thacis term in office. After issuing the new countrys declaration of independence on Sunday, Thaci announced in the capital, Pristina, that his country is now an official member of the European family. But in the excitement of that historic moment, it probably didnt occur to him that it is sometimes a rather moody and divided family. Only a few hours later, Europes lack of unanimity over recognizing Kosovo revealed what a heterogeneous entity Europe still is. It also raises the question of whether such a divided Europe will ever be capable of conducting an effective joint common foreign policy. Serbia withdrew its ambassadors from Germany and Austria Wednesday, after Berlin and Vienna recognized Kosovo as an independent nation. Then, on Thursday, Serbian protesters rioted in Belgrade, While Denmark, Austria, France and Great Britain hold similar positions on Kosovos independence, the EU countries that have minority conflicts of their own are opposed to Kosovos secession from Serbia. They fear that their separatist groups could choose to emulate developments in the Balkans. SPAIN: THE BASQUES AND THE CATALANS AND The Spanish central government in Madrid fears that Basque separatists could see Kosovos declaration of independence as a precedent and as new fuel for their cause. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Spain was one of the first EU countries to announce that it would not recognize the independence of the small Serbian province. In early 2008, the Basque terrorist organization ETA announced that it intimidation campaigns as its preferred tools. The groups struggle has already claimed more than 800 lives. Another minority group in Spain, the Catalans, also wants more than the autonomous status it was granted in 1978. About 7.2 million people live in the Catalan region in northeast Spain, which has the countrys strongest economy. Catalonia has had autonomous status since the 18th century. It wasnt long ago that Josep-Llus Carod-Rovira, the head of the Republican Left party and the deputy of regional President Jose Montilla, demanded a referendum on independence by 2014. But the difference between the Basque country and Catalonia, on the one hand, and Kosovo, on the other, is that these regions, despite their continued efforts to gain independence, already enjoy substantial rights of autonomy. In Madrid, the governments decision not to recognize Kosovo could also affect domestic politics -- general elections will take place in Spain on March 9. CYPRUS: THE TURKISH CYPRIOTS CYPRIOTS While Kosovo celebrated independence on Sunday, the same day brought new hope of reunification for Cyprus. In the Greek southern part of the island, President Tassos Papadopoulos, whose isolationist policy has seriously damaged relations with Turkish Cypriots in the north and with the European Union, was voted out of office. The candidates to succeed him have indicated a willingness to resume negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots, raising new hopes that reunification is possible. The two ethnic groups on the sun-baked island have been separated since 1974. In 1983, the predominantly Turkish northern part of the island declared itself an independent state, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However Turkey is the only country that recognizes it. The Greek Cypriot southern part, where three-quarters of the islands roughly 1 million inhabitants live, is known as the Republic of Cyprus and has been an EU member since 2004. Traveling across the border has becoming easier since then, but there are still no direct contacts between the ethnic groups today. A barbed-wire fence marks the border between northern and southern Cyprus. United Nations troops monitor the line of demarcation. In 2004, an attempt by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to achieve reunification through a referendum failed when the majority Greek Cypriots voted against it. Turkey has a special interest in a unified Cyprus, because it would represent a milestone on the road to its own EU membership. A runoff election next Sunday will decide who is to become the next president: Dimitris Christofias, the 61-year-old chairman of the reformed communist Akel party, or conservative Ioannis Kasoulidis, 59. While Christofias is one of the few Greek politicians who are respected in the north, voters see Kasoulidis, a member of the European parliament, as being more likely to improve the countrys troubled relationship with the EU. But whoever wins the election, reuniting the conflicting parties will remain tremendously difficult. The Turkish Cypriots, who voted for reunification in 2004, are disappointed, because they feel that they were never rewarded for their willingness to compromise at the time. This defiance could reinforce a tendency to emulate Kosovo and seek public recognition for independence for the north. The change in the administration could be coming at just the right point, in that it could help prevent this. ROMANIA: THE MAGYARS IN SZKELY LAND "The independence of Kosovo is a precedent that all EU countries with an ethnic minority should pursue, said Bla Mark, the chairman of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR). His words only confirmed the fears of the Romanian government that their countrys Hungarian minority could see the developments in Kosovo as a model for their own efforts to secure independence. In a special session, the Romanian parliament voted 357 to 27 to refuse to recognize an independent Kosovo. Romanian President Traian Basescu even characterized Kosovos declaration of independence as illegal. Romania, a country of 22 million, has minorities of 1.4 million ethnic

Basque nationalists demonstrate in the Basque city of Bilbao. Spain is worried the separatists could be inspired by the example of Kosovo.
would make its future actions dependent on the situation in Kosovo. ETAs goal is to liberate the Basque region from what it calls Spanish occupiers and to establish an independent, socialist Basque nation. It was established in 1959 as a military resistance group against Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who had banned the use of the Basque language and done everything in his power to suppress the Basque minority. There are 3 million Basques today, 2.5 million of them living in the northwest Spanish Basque region and the rest in the southwestern tip of France. The conflict, however, has transpired mainly on Spanish soil. In 1979, after the end of the Franco dictatorship, the Basques were granted substantial autonomy. But this wasnt enough for ETA, which continues to fight for complete independence using bombings and

PARALLELS AND QUESTIONS


Hungarians, or Magyars, and hundreds of thousands of Roma. The Hungarian minority is large enough to ensure that it regularly exceeds the 5 percent hurdle required to secure seats in parliamentary elections. In the first elections since Romania joined the EU in January 2007, the UDMR captured 6.2 percent of votes, securing it seats in the European Parliament.

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Ethnic Hungarians in Romania have long been interested in independence from Romania. Kosovo's declaration of independence has whetted their appetite.
The UDMR demands the removal of the term unified country from the Romanian constitution, campaigns for better educational facilities for ethnic Hungarians and wants the government to return Hungarian church treasures that were confiscated in 1918. A more radical arm of the UDMR, the Hungarian Citizens Union, which formed in 2004, is pushing for closer relations with Hungary and autonomy for Szkely Land, a region in eastern Transylvania home to about 700,000 Hungarians. The territory is the cultural heartland for Romania's Magyars; in some towns, more than 90 percent of residents speak Hungarian. Szkely Land was once an autonomous region, between 1952 and 1968, and parts of Transylvania belonged to Hungary until 1920. But even if the Hungarian minority is now pushing even harder for separation, the fact that 90 percent of the Romanian parliament voted not to recognize Kosovo strongly suggests that it also opposes an autonomous territory in Transylvania. BULGARIA: THE MUSLIM POMAKS Even before Kosovo declared independence, Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov made one thing clear: Without a unified stance within the EU, his country would not recognize Kosovos independence. Only if it could be guaranteed that human rights would be protected in the new Balkan nation and the Ahtisaari plan would be implemented, would Bulgaria consider establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo, Parvanov said. Parvanovs hesitation has a lot to do with the situation in his own country. By seceding from Serbia, Kosovo and its ethnic Albanian majority could encourage Bulgarias Turkish minority to do the same. About 700,000 Turks live in Bulgaria, and they even form a majority in many cities and regions in the countrys north. In southern Bulgaria there are about 200,000 Muslim Pomaks of Slavic origin, who are represented in the Bulgarian parliament by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party -- and yet they are not even recognized as an ethnic minority in the Bulgarian constitution. After many years of oppression and displacement -- most recently under communist rule -many have immigrated to Turkey, while those left behind often live in abject poverty. Even before Bulgaria joined the EU, there were efforts to grant more rights to the minority. One minority group has long called for introducing Turkish as a second official language and establishing a Turkish national university. Could these demands turn into violence? Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin has warned against the threat of a rise in separatist groups,

although he was referring to the entire Balkan region. Kosovos independence, he said, would destabilize the situation in the region and could trigger a return to violence. Of course, such violence would also affect Bulgaria, as an immediate neighbor. But other motives could also be behind the Bulgarian governments hesitation on Kosovo. Because Russia already made it clear that it would not recognize Kosovos independence, the Bulgarian president was eager to avoid receiving a slap in the face from the heavy hand of the Kremlin, as the Bulgarian paper Dnevnik put it. GREECE: THE TURKS OF WESTERN THRACE Dora Bakoyannis, the Greek foreign minister, has also warned that Kosovo could become a precedent for Europe, and that its declaration of independence could send a signal to ethnic minorities in many European countries. If the European Union recognizes the secession of one ethnic group, Bakoyannis argued, perhaps it would have to do so repeatedly in the future. Until the First Balkan War of 1912-1913, the region of Western Thrace in northeastern Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire, but most of it was under Bulgarian control. Following failed efforts to install a Provisional Government of Western Thrace, the region went to Bulgaria in 1913 -- but not for long. After World War I, the balance of power shifted again and Western Thrace was awarded to the Entente powers of Britain, France and Russia. Under the Treaty of Svres, the region was finally ceded to Greece in 1920. But what happened to the mainly Turkish-speaking inhabitants of Western Thrace? They were granted special minority rights under the Treaty of Lausanne, signed three years later. As a result, lessons in Thracian schools are still conducted in Turkish, and the enclaves residents are under special protection. Despite these special rights, there are tensions in the region, and the Thracian Turks have become a popular diplomatic pawn in negotiations with Istanbul. Even if the secession of Kosovo is not as likely to causes tensions in their own country, the Greeks view the Balkans with concern. As a direct neighbor, they too would be affected by a re-ignited conflict. SLOVAKIA: THE HUNGARIAN MINORITY HUNGARIAN For years, Slovak populists have raged against Hungarian-speaking Slovaks in their country. Chief among them is Jn Slota, the leader of the Slovak National Party (SNS), who, with his racist remarks about the Hungarian minority, has managed to become one of the countrys most popular politicians. Slota has a fondness for spouting polarizing statements like: The Hungarians are a cancer in the body of the Slovak nation. Ethnic Hungarians represent about 10 percent of the Slovak population, living predominantly in the countrys south. The unofficial border between ethnic Slovaks and Hungarians, which still exists to some extent today, was pushed northward in the 16th and 17th centuries when the Turks occupied what is now Hungary. At the time, many Hungarians moved to the cities of Bratislava, Trnava, Kosice and Krupina. The Party of the Hungarian Coalition represents the Hungarians politically. Until a change of government in 2006, the party was represented in the government. New tensions have arisen since it lost power. On the whole, the ethnic groups in Slovakia, including many Roma, live in relative peace with one another. Nevertheless, disputes flare up periodically. Education has been one of the bones of contention. With its plan to print only the Slovak names of cities and towns in schoolbooks, the Slovak coalition government of the leftist populist Smer-Social Democrats, the nationalist SNS and the populist Movement for a Democratic Slovakia met with severe criticism from Hungarians. Now Slovakia fears that its Hungarian minority could rebel once again. Kosovo could spark renewed efforts to secure independence by Slovakias Hungarian population -- or even encourage it to push for a union with Hungary to the south. Stephan Orth, Nadine Michel and Maike Jansen, Spiegel, February 22, 2008

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