Serbia: Anglophone Bloggers Continue Discussion of Karadžić's Arrest

Global Voices Online
Saturday, July 26, 2008

From one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, Radovan Karadžić - aka Dr. Dragan David Dabić - has turned into one of the world's most talked about detainees. Below are snippets of some of the discussions that have taken place in Anglophone blogs in the past few days.

Serbian author and activist Jasmina Tešanović was not surprised to find out that Karadžić had been living his life on the run in Belgrade. On BoingBoing, she wrote:

[...] To judge by the chatter on my B92 blog and the phone messages I get from my friends: as I long suspected, "Europe's Osama bin Laden" and I have been neighbors. We shared the same food, saw the same beggars in downtown Belgrade where he had been hiding all these years, a genocidal butcher disguised as a New Age quack.

[...] As we all suspected, or as some of us surely knew: Karadzic was hiding from justice behind our names and our daily lives, using the Serbian population as his living shields. [...]

In another post on BoingBoing, Tešanović wrote more about "the street of war criminals":

[...] We lived with Dabic for 13 years, he was one of us, among us, in the shadow half-life of Serbia.

Two war criminals lived in my own street. Biljana Plavsic, the former leader of Republika Srpska, took power after Radovan Karadzic left in 1996. She pled guilty in the Hague and is now serving her sentence in Sweden. General Pavkovic was in charge during the pogrom of Albanians in Kosovo. He is sick of cancer.


Dabic spent his time in one of the coolest cafes in Belgrade, where you have free Internet and free books. I go there often. He also used to eat in a very good and cheap restaurant where I went often with my friends. We all spent long nights drinking and talking; us, about his crimes and our suffering; him, about selling alternative medicine and how to improve his website. [...]

Viktor Marković of Belgrade 2.0 reviewed some of the most immediate questions about Karadžić's resurfacing. Owen, a UK-based reader, noted in the comments section that the focus of the discussion should instead be on the crimes that Karadžić was being charged with:

[...] We’ve had extraordinary coverage in UK reminding us of what Karadzic actually did. Of course we occasionally wonder how he got away with it that long but I think we got the message that he had a friend or two. Is it really still that impossible for people to look at the elephant instead of the coffee table?

Victor responded:

You might get that impression as we all forgot what this man is charged of, but I don’t think that is the case.

For us here it’s not so important to cover what he did, because everyone knows what he did, and those who do not know it, simply refuse to accept it, and there’s no help with that.

Sorry, but right now I’m more occupied about how he managed to live right next to me so to say without any trouble in the world. This turns the whole idea about Mladic hiding in-some-woods-god-knows-where upside down.

Another Belgrade resident and Karadžić's former neighbor, Jelena Marković, wrote this on her blog, Invisible Sights:

[...] The idea of Karadzic enjoying his time in my city quarter, Vracar, was giving me creeps all night, wouldn’t let me sleep: the monster was just by my side, in a way, doesn’t even metter for how long! And I, his enemy, who have made large efforts to denounce him to local nationalists, to moderate democrats, and to the world, as my obligation by simply being a Serbian citizen, I who have been publicly requesting Karadzic’s capture and delivery to the Hague, I still cannot celebrate. Yes, I shead a tear of joy on the big news. Yes, a little bit of justice has just taken place by the arrest. Yes, I think of a piece of relief most probably felt by Karadzic’s victims, and some I met in person, and I share their feeling. Yet, celebrate - I cannot! For, what has changed in the minds of my neighbours, of my parents, of most Serbian citizens, same ones I named just some lines above? I would say, by protests all around town, and outside the Special court (again the place I put trust in, again place I am familiar with), nothing changed in their minds! They are just furious, feeling betrayed! [...]

Samaha - "Bosnian American Muslim in the Chicago Area" - examined the media and public reactions to Karadžić's arrest in Serbia and elsewhere:

[...] This past weeks news of Karadzic’s arrest in Serbia has news stories full of reactions of Bosnian Muslims along with the contrasting reactions of Bosnian Serbs (and yes there are few exceptions). [...]

A few stories have come out of Serbia regarding Serbian reaction which range from a couple of hundred to several hundred protestors outside of the Belgrade court where Karadzic is being held and their violence against the press. It would so seem that Serbs in Serbia are more enamored of Karadzic’s transformation into a health guru hiding out in the open, writting articles, public appearances and speeches at conferences, his frequenting a local pub with his picture on the wall and his alleged mistress than they are about the arrest.

It still struck me as strange that Serbs weren’t a little more elated about the capture of Karadzic, after all, this is a significant step towards EU integration and this is what they wanted (so be it that it was a slim majority) they did afterall vote in the government that made this all possible. I decided today that I wanted to see the Serbian reaction to the news that Mladic handed over Karadzic.

Talk about denial. The overwhelming comments to the article referencing the Telegraph were full of conspiracy theories and anti-American sentiment is rather scary - I think I’d be safer traveling through RS or Serbia with a Bosnian passport. Get passed all the conspiracy theories though and one begins to realize that these men are really heros to many Serbs and one has to ask where is the debate? [...]

On Srebrenica Genocide Blog, a reader calling him/herself "Dr Dragan Dabic" posted this comment on the post about Karadžić's capture:

I want to draw your attention to the fact that Dr Radovan Karadzic has only been ACCUSED of crimes.

Everyone has the right to be considered innocent until they are found guilty by a proper court of law. [...]

Another reader, Vincent Jappi, responded:

The presumption of innocence is a rule which only applies to criminal courts.

Others who know the truth have the right, and indeed the duty, to call a mass murderer a mass murderer whether he has been convicted or not.

U.S.-based Nebojsa Malic of Gray Falcon wrote that Karadžić's arrest has "occasioned an orgy of Serbophobia in the Western press":

[...] I've actually survived the war in Bosnia, inside Sarajevo no less. It was terrible enough without presstitutes, pseudo-diplomats and NGO scum making up preposterous stories, as they have for the past 16 years. Everyone claims to be championing the "victims," but they don't; they use the victims to achieve their own ends, be that greater circulation/ratings/awards, conquest and domination, or simply money. [...]

Eric Gordy of East Ethnia caught a media mention of the "good things Karadžić has done":

Ummm .... made Dutch people feel less guilty?

The link in this laconic item is to an article in International Justice, an online publication of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Guy La Roche of A Fistful of Euros wrote more on the subject:

It seems self-proclaimed guru Dragan Dabic aka Radovan Karadzic may possess some healing powers after all. At least, that is what some Dutch Srebrenica veterans hope [...]:

Former Dutchbat soldier Johan de Jonge is elated about Mr Karadzic’ arrest. He hopes there will be less focus on the former Dutchbat soldiers now that one of the lead actors of the period has been brought to justice.
“I hope that people’s eyes will be opened now. That they will know we were not to blame. But that there are people who had preconceived plans to exterminate certain population groups”.

As we all know the Dutch government at the time resigned over the Dutch peacekeeping troops’ failure to prevent the massacre of Srebrenica and both Dutchbat, the Dutch military in charge of protecting the Bosnian muslims in the enclave, and the UN were dealt a heavy public relations blow. To say the least. [...]

Kirk Johnson of Americans For Bosnia noted that "Russian Foreign Ministry needs better maps":

Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Karadzic arrest is an internal Serbian matter. Considering that ALL of the indictments against Karadzic concern events in Bosnia, which--despite the best efforts of Greater Serb nationalists--is not part of Serbia, this is a very strange position to take.

Of course, I know why the Russian Government is saying such a thing, I just wonder if they have even bothered working out the tortured logic it would take to justify this assertion.

Fedja of Rants of a Hyphenated Researcher linked to a YouTube video of Karadžić giving a guided tour to one of Russia's opposition leaders Eduard Limonov during the siege of Sarajevo:

[...] In fact, he seemed to reach almost orgasmic levels of pleasure in boasting about the horror his troops were visiting upon the city of Sarajevo. In this Youtube clip, Karadzics hosts the Russian ultra-nationalist poet Limonov on the hills above Sarajevo, recites his "Sarajevo" poem from the 1980s in which he had "predicted" the massacre, and even invites the poet to shoot the sniper at the civilians in the city. [...]

Limonov (who is known better for his prose, not poetry) said in a recent interview (RUS) that he "wasn't sure Karadžić would have been safer in Moscow than in his motherland" and that "he had all the reasons" to fear the current Russian regime.

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