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A statement of Pobunjeni um editorial board
date: 13/03/03

The Powder Keg

Two years after the overthrow of Milošević, Yugoslavia remains the firecracker burried in the center of the powder keg known as the Balkans. Hopes that the post-Milošević era will be the one of "normal" political life and relative prosperity, definitely ended yesterday. If anyone here still had any illusions in the back of his mind , after the dictator has fallen, that the country will become more stable and the state aparatus will begin to function more smoothly like the "normal" western democracies, they certanly don't have them any longer. It seems like a tradition now - since the late eighties nobody is allowed to sleep because every few years a great political shock hits the country and stirs things up again.

Yugoslavia was not in the main focus of the world media since the people stormed the streets in October of 2000 and put an end to the rotten rule of Milošević’s bureaucracy.[related article] Since then, occasional news were put out concerning the political fights within the ruling coalition, the Hague tribunal or numerous scandals, and to a casual observer, it seemed that all this was happening within the safe boundaries of democratic parlamentarism and that the new political oligarchy was taking root, it seemed Yugoslavia was firmly on the road of tranasition from a workers state to capitalism.

However, during the last two years, contradictions were piling up under the surface. From the beginning it was obvious that the new ruling structure that took power over the backs of the masses that toppled Milošević, will never be able to hold such a firm grip on power as Milošević once did. The new ruling circle was weak, rotten and shaky from the start at least as much as Milošević’s clique was in it's last days. The recent Serbian presidential elections, where no candidate received enough votes to be elected[related article], was a clear indication of the crisis of the ruling structure and the weak foundations on which it stands. The government installed after the fall of Milošević has no popular support and is torn from inside by numerous fraction fights and various conflicting interests.

The Assasination

All of this contradictions finally culminated today as the governments prime minister and the leader of the Democartic party - Zoran Đinđić got assassinated in front of the back entrance of government building in the center of Belgrade just few hours ago. We don't have full and reliable information at this pont, however the assassination seems to have been done in a professional maner with two sniper shots to the chest from the roof of nearby buildings sorrounding the backyard of the serbian government building. Đinđić passed away two hours later despite the surgical intervention. As I'm writing this, the whole downtown traffic is blocked by the police roadblocks and thousands of people are returning home on foot from work. People and cars are stoped and searhed randomly. Police says two sniper rifles were discovered thrown away at the nearby rooftop. As the eyewitnesses state, two young man at the spot starting to shoot in the air from their pistols, just few seconds after the sniper shots, creating panic and apparently allowing the snipermen to escape. Three people were arrested so far, but there is no indication yet that they were involved in the assassination. Just a few minutes ago the state of emergency was caled - any kind of assembly, strikes or street gatherings are prohibited form this moment on, the government has free hands to limit the scope of free distribution of information. All buses and airplane flights from Belgrade have been canceled.

It is important to note that this assassination does not come out of blue. Over the last two years unresolved assassinations of state functionaries and crime lords in the streets became common as the power structure was shaking with scandals. Just two weeks ago there was an incident on a highway when a truck suddenly crossed a lane in front of convoy of Đinđić’s security cars escorting him to a trip, but without any damage. Speculations were going on to this day whether it was an accident or a failed assassination atempt. Đinđić was also still recovering from recent accident (he was supporting his walk with sticks making himself an even easier target for the snipers).

"Yugoslav Blair"

Zoran Đinđić was born in 1952 and finished Belgrade University studying philosohy where he got involved with the dissident circles. He finished his studies in Germany under the guardianship of Jurgen Habermas at the university of Konstanza where he was attracted to leftwing ideas, flirting with anarchism, and reamined active in the dissident circles after his return to Belgrade. He was sentenced to one year of prison for these activities. As the titoist bureaucacy started loosing power and the one party system was abandoned, he was one of the founders of the first oppositional party in Yugoslavia in 1989 ( Democratic party). In 1994 he managed to climb to power within the party ranks, toppling his mentor and the founder of the Democratic party - Dragoljub Mićunović. Đinđić followd the path so typical for many of the former late sixties/early seventies activists from ultraleftism to new yuppie type of liberal bourgeois politicians. He was a serbian equivalent to Tony Blair or Joshka Fischer.

During the 90's Milošević rule, he was never able to win over mass support for his party and position himslef as the main leader of the opposition movement. His openly pro- western political platform never granted him much popularity within the working class. Đinđić's image was further damaged by his notorious Macchiavely type tactics and his alleged connections with the shady serbian bussiness elite. During the mass anti-Milošević protests in the winter of 1996 it was discovered that Đinđić (one of the leaders of that movement) was negotiating with Milošević behind the closed doors the whole time! He became the mayor of Belgrade for a short time after these protests. Then when the NATO aggression started Đinđić left the country under the bombs claiming his life is in danger. All of this created a lot of scepticism towards him. To this day Đinđić scored low marks in the public opinion polls. However, despite the lack of mass following, he was a brilliant organizer and an oppositional leader with numerous contacts and connections. His well organized party structure and connections with the people from the state security - who once stood behind Milošević - made him an important player though. After the fall of Milošević he was the only oppositional leader with the capacity and infrastructure to take over the state aparatus and run things. During the last two years he held almost all power tools in his hands leaving other leaders within the DOS (the ruling coalition) with spoils.

Who did it?

It almost became a cliché, whenever you don't have a plan or don't have anyone to blame, or don't want to stir things up by pointing the finger - you accuse the ones with no name - the crime and the mafia. The government almost immideately called for an all out war against the organized crime. They say this is the revenge of the mafia for the pressure they have put on the criminal circles in the last few months. Of course, mafia is not out of the picture, but not because of the hypocritical "war on crime" the government has been conducting . Since the days of Milošević the criminal cartels have been/and still are an integral part of the sebian ruling oligarchy. Đinđić had deep connections with the powerful gang cartels and it is quit possible that he came into interest conflict with his sponsors. However, the whole operation seems too big for mafia acting on their own. Even if they were the executioners there must be someone from the powerstructure standing behind.

Foreign media at the moment also speculate on the possibility that the murder was ordered from the nationalist camp in connection with the Hague Tribunal and the extradition of ex-serbian politicians and army officers and Đinđić’s pro-western reforms. This is also highly unlikely. These circles don't have the capacity and logistics for such ambitious action. If we wish to go this way, the most probable pick would be the part of the ruling oligarchy that jumped into the DOS camp just prior to/or after the October 2001. Their business interests and privileges have been endangered with the inflow of foreign capital and the opening up of the yugoslav market. These layers found their political expression in/ and put their money on Vojislav Koštunica - Đinđić’s main rival. Since Koštunica proved impotent to take the power away from Đinđić’s claws through political means (the serbian presidential elections where he failed to collect the number of needed votes-being the final lost batttle in this war that has been going on since the fall of Milošević) it is quite likely that the matter had to be setled by other means.

What no one mentions however is a sharp political turn Đinđić made in the last few months. Đinđić built his whole carreer on the pro-european platform of capitalist restoration, an average Yugoslav looked at him as a mere western puppet (which he was no doubt) and just up to few months ago he seemed to be serving his foreign masters obediently. But Đinđić was a man of many faces with napolenic features. He seems to have collected too much power in his hands within the state. This gave him some manouvering space. For example, a firm believer in the western capitalism and its institutions came to a position to criticise the IMF for it's lagging of promised money few months ago. Of course everybody recognised this move for what it probably was - a mere tactic bargaining, but then came his initiative for Kosovo. Đinđić seemed to be surprisingly reluctant and has been sending diplomatic initiatives in the last few weeks for what he called "the final solution of the status of Kosovo". Even though he hit the brick wall with almost all of his appeals (The US and the EU told him this is "not the right moment" since they are occupied with Iraq) he kept pulling this issue even starting to circulate the prepostion for the "partition" of Kosovo into Serbian and Albanian part.

This initiative from Belgrade stired things up in the south again. The Albanian leadership in the Kosovo's parliament voted a resolution for independence and sent it the EU and U.S. - guerilla actions have been reprted once again and already two albanians and couple of policemen have been killed in the Preševo - Bujanovac area where there is a mixed population. Also indicative is that the official Belgrade, unlike other sorrounding regimes, did not give it's support for the intervention against Iraq. It seems Đinđić was a little bit too much "off the hook" these days.

Also note that right after the failure of the serbian presidential elections, Miroljub Labus (Đinđić's pick) and a group of other "experts" from the Đinđić's government gathered around the G17 group (many former members of the Democratic party) decided to transform the G17 NGO into a political party which would take the lead from the Democratic Party as the "champions of the reforms".

What is clear is that the failure of the presidential elections paved the way for a major change in the political landscape of Serbia. The west is not satisfied with the tempo of the restoration of capitalism in this country. Đinđić represented the champion of the "reformist wing" and obviously a new line-up of reformist leaders has already been prepared to take his place. Đinđić's days were numbered anyway. This assassination will only help speed up the process. Heads will continue to roll here, both the people of Yugoslavia and the imperialist powers had enough of the crooked present time nomenklatura - they are caught up in the clutch and can not satisfy the interests of their own people nor their foreign masters - the only question is who will get them first?

What now?

It would be a waste of time to continue banging our heads over who did it. For the working class of Yugoslavia that is not of prime importance. Just like numerous times before they will not find the murderers, or even if they do find the executioners it will be impossible to trace the shot callers. We must keep our heads cool and not get caught up in trivia. What we certanly know is that this murder will not benefit the working class, but a particular fraction of the ruling bureaucracy. With his death the proces of restoration of capitalism in Yugoslavia will not slow down, on the contrary. New "reformists" will fill his shoes.

As marxists, we strongly condemn this act. Not because we had any simpathy towards Zoran Đinđić, on the contrary - we recognized him as one of the main enemies of the yugosav working class and of the achievements brought by the Yugoslav revolution, but because we are afraid this action will only benefit the ruling aparatus. First and foremost this action gave them an excuse for the introduction of the dictatorship known as "state of emergency", it will be used in the future as well to curtail basic human rights and surpress the freedom of speech and press in this country. Already the main editors of all daily newspapers have been called up to a meeting to discuss the content of tommorows issues.

The state of emergency has been called in a few minutes with no real discussion in the parliament. There is no constitutional basis for this measure. The State of Emergency is being called when the country is attacked from outside and it's people are in danger. What happened here is a showdown within the ruling bureaucracy. People are not in danger, it is them who are in panic and in danger from each other. That is why we call for the state of emergency to be lifted at once and al the constitutional rights returned.

Secondly this will give them an opportunity to promote Đinđić (who never enjoyed much support) into a martyr for the "cause" and there is a possibility that the people will unite for a short period of time under the government propaganda and give their support to repressive police measures out of insecurity that they feel at the moment. This will give the ruling oligarchy a chance to take a firmer grip on power and a good pretext to deal with any opposition. Once again the govrenment will be able to "bail out", putting the blame for the catastrophical situation in the country on organized crime or quarels at the top instead of the course taken.

The ruling structure and it's police agencies in Yugoslavia today are in no position to resolve this murder! Every single politician in Serbia is, in one way or another, caught up in these rival clashes. Nobodys hands are clean. It is impossible to rely on these same people who get financed by the mafia to fight against it or bring peace and stability to our country. Instead of bothering ourselves with their internal vendettas we must focus on a creation of an alternative to this madness. Only a new political structure, that has no connections whatsoever with the present ruling circle, basing it's support on the working class, instead of the criminal nouveau rich, would have free hands to take the needed measures and guarantee safety to the Yugoslav people.





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