News agencies distributed information yesterday that Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were arrested. The President of Yugoslavia, Voislav Kostunica, statted this to the Kosovo agency UPI. The US special services arrested Karadzic and Mladic (these people are charged of the crimes against the humanity) after the Belgrade government informed them of their locations; the procedure of delivering the arrested Serbs to the Hague Tribunal has allegedly been started.
It was not reported, however, where the arrests had actually taken place and where they were being kept at present moment. Kostunica himself rejected the information afterwards, saying that he had made such a claim and that he had not given an interview to any Kosovo agency. The White House press-secretary, Ari Fleischer, confirmed that he did not have any information pertaining to Karadzic and Mladic’s arrests.
The Russian Echo Moskvy radio station reported that the reason for the misunderstanding was a mistake of a translator, who wrote that Mladic and Karadzic had been arrested. As a matter of fact, Kostunica gave an interview to UPI in which he said that the civil authorities of Belgrade were cooperating with the Hague Tribunal and that the American special services were going to arrest those two men.
However, as the Yugoslavian Beta news agency reported, there is no such UPI agency in Kosovo. The Kommersant newspaper published some very curious information today. In particular, it was said that “the information pertaining to Voislav Kostunica's statement to the Kosovo news agency was delivered to the office of the ITAR-TASS news company in Rome by the representatives of the leader of the Kosovo Albanians, Ibragim Rugova, in Italy. The office confirmed their connection with Mr. Rugova.
The statement made by the Yugoslavian president to the Kosovo news agency was most likely not only a joke. It was clear from the very beginning that Kostunica could not deliver the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs to the Americans, and then he made statements on the subject to the Albanian agency. Therefore, the “statement” can be referred to as black propaganda on the part of Ibragim Rugova’s representatives. If it turns out that the American special services nabbed Rugova Karadzic and General Mladic, then it will be very difficult for Kostunica to prove that he did not participate in their capture and did not say anything to the Kosovo agency.
In addition, it was not the first time when false information regarding Karadzic and Mladic has been distributed. This is psychological pressure on Belgrade to try to force the Serbs to deliver the Bosnian leaders to the Hague. It is also definitely pressure on Mladic and Karadzic to make them yield to the Hague Tribunal.
There was an attempt in the past to bring down Radovan Karadzic’s reputation in the eyes of Serb society. There was information distributed saying that Karadzic was going to testify in court against Slobodan Milosevic, the ex-president of Yugoslavia.
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
CNN photo: Bosnian Serb leaders Mladic, left, and Karadzic, right