Events in the Balkans are again much talked about in the world community. The Milosevic trial, the latest developments in Kosovo and Macedonia, and Serbia have again reaffirmed the region’s reputation as being one of most explosive. The command of the Serbian Red Berets special force said last night that it would not participate in detaining persons accused by the Hague Tribunal of military crimes and demanded that Serbia’s Interior Minister Dusan Mihailovic be dismissed.
It was mentioned at an urgently convened news conference near the twon of Kula that the special force demanded to suspend arrests until a special law was adopted dealing with the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and the minister’s resignation to ensure that “this minister’s officers act within the law.”
Lack of legal norms of Serbia’s cooperation with the Hague Tribunal has long caused smoldering discontent not only with the population but also at the power ministries. Slobodan Milosevic’s humiliating handover and the subsequent trial has only exacerbated Serbs’ negative feelings towards the Hague trial. The impartiality of the procurators who are, for some reason, focusing on crimes committed by Serbs at the time of the civil war in the region.
Therefore, the smoldering discontent has finally found a vent. The protests were triggered by the arrest of the Banovic brothers, Nenada and Predraga, who were then handed over to the Hague Tribunal. The arrest was carried out by an order given by Mr. Mihailovic and Goran Petrovic, the cheif of state security. The order contained the names of the people who had allegedly committed grave criminal offenses. The Red Berets called this arrest a “disgraceful act.” According to the special force’s command, the units were deceitfully led to perpetrate an “illegal and anti-constitutional act.”
Since a law of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal has not been adopted, the Red Berets consider any step in the direction illegal and refuse to follow such orders.
Before journalists came in, armed and masked rangers, using armoured vehicles, blocked the road leading to the Red Berets’ training center. The first reaction from the Internal Ministry has also become known. Minister Mihailovic says that “police should to keep out of politics.”
Goran Petrovic regards the refusal by the special force unit to follow orders as an “emotional and, to some extent, political move.” According to the Interior Ministry, the detained Banovic brothers are war criminals who committed their crimes at the camp they were guarding at the time of the civil war in 1992.
What will the Serbian government’s actions to be in such a situation? Will it try to suppress the mutiny or will it challenge the Hague Tribunal? The majority of Serbs are discontented. They are not at all happy about what is going on in Kosovo and Macedonia. Many are starting to recall Mr. Milosevic’s rule with nostalgia.
Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/10/33652.html