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Balkan Report: August 20, 1997

20 August 1997, Volume 1, Number 4

A Police Drama among the Bosnian Serbs. The power struggle between Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and Radovan Karadzic's followers in Pale entered a new and potentially violent stage this week when each side moved against the other's police units. On August 17, Plavsic's security chief Maj. Dragan Lukac took over the Banja Luka headquarters of the police loyal to Interior Minister Dragan Kijac, whose sacking by Plavsic in June set off the current row among the Serbs. Karadzic pays Kijac and his force with profits from Karadzic's cigarette and gasoline monopolies.

Lukac's men found 200 tapes and piles of documents in the building that prove that Kijac's police had bugged the phones, faxes, and offices of Plavsic and opposition leaders. UN police took over the investigation and found proof that Kijac's men intimidated some of the judges on the Constitutional Court. The court ruled on August 15 that Plavsic was wrong to fire Kijac and dissolve parliament, but already the day before Judge Jovo Rosic was so badly beaten that he landed in the hospital.

SFOR troops prevented a clash between the rival police units on August 17 and told them that NATO will not tolerate violence. Two days later, however, Kijac's men arrested Milan Sutilovic, Plavsic's freshly appointed Banja Luka police chief. They freed him after he refused to resign, but tensions that could explode into violence remained.

RFE/RL Expands Role for the Elections. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service examined the role that war criminals play in the run-up to the 14 September local elections, particularly in regions where one nationalist party or another is so strongly ensconced in power that the election results are a foregone conclusion.

RFE/RL broadcast on August 12 that Karadzic continues to appear on posters in the Serbian Democratic Party's strongholds in eastern Herzegovina, even though he is supposed to have left public life. In Croatian-held areas of central Bosnia, voters can see posters featuring Dario Kordic and Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, both of whom have been charged with war crimes.

Leaders of non-nationalist opposition parties told RFE/RL that there will never be free and fair elections as long as such war criminals remain on the loose. One Social Democrat charged on August 17 that the entire Republika Srpska will be Karadzic's hostage until he is caught and sent to The Hague.

RFE/RL also described how NATO has put controls on the paramilitary police forces that protect Karadzic. The question now seems to be one of when and where SFOR troops will go after him, not if.

And in Serbia, RFE/RL will be reaching more listeners in the runup to the September 21 elections with its new partner station, Radio Kragujevac. RFE/RL also will be on the air with Radio Boom in Pozarevac, the home town of the Milosevic family.