28 November 2002, Volume 4, Number 39
IS ORGANIZED CRIME THREATENING THE FOUNDATIONS OF BALKAN STATES?
A telephone roundtable hosted by RFE/RL's Rade Radovanovic.
RFE/RL: So, what did you find when you returned to your home in Bosnia?
Rezika Blazan: I found a poor man from Glamoc with his sick daughter, and, believe me, I was not sad at all that they were there. I was actually glad that the man, with all his problems, was living in my house.
I do not want to talk about the things that were stolen or carted off; I do not want to think about it. But this poor man was there -- and what was he supposed to do? You know what he told me? "Everybody has come back but you." I said, "Bosko, here I am now."
That was the moment when I stopped looking around and thinking about what had happened. I actually forgot about all the bad things that happened, since, right before that, I had gone to the cemetery to visit my parents' graves and find peace of mind.
RFE/RL: Are that man, Bosko, and his daughter still in your house in Banja Luka?
Blazan: Yes, we stay in touch and whenever we go there we even give him some money, some 100 German marks, euros, or whatever. What can this poor man do? He lost everything.
And do you know what is going on in Banja Luka? Ugly things happen there, too. And if he had not been there, my house -- all 350 square meters of it -- would have been carted off somewhere else, as is usually the case there.
In a manner of speaking, Bosko is taking care of my house, although it has all been ruined. We spoke recently, and he told me that someone cut down my trees. So I smiled and said, "My dear Bosko, what can I do about it?" He said, "Let's sue them." I told him, "Bosko, be careful, take care of yourself." He said, "Yes, a kid just told me: 'You won't last as long as you think.'"
All those who now live in my neighborhood are from the Glamoc region and have started to fight among themselves. It hurts to see people fighting over other people's property. And then, for example, they set fire to my cypress trees in order to get even with Bosko instead of trying to help each other, to survive together.... But, of course, who could expect them to do otherwise only five years after the war.
Milos Vasic: Before we continue, I must say that I was listening to your listener very carefully and am very impressed.
RFE/RL: Impressed with what?
Vasic: What Mrs. Blazan has just said, pointing to the very essence of the matter. It turns out that when a refugee meets another refugee -- like this woman from Banja Luka found this man from Glamoc in her own house -- they understand each other perfectly.
This is what the war is all about. He did not choose to go there, and she did not choose to leave Banja Luka; somebody else made them move. That is the very essence of these wars.
Let me quote [the late Croatian writer Miroslav] Krleza: "These were not wars; this is murder with robbery." In other words, the bandits ran out of cash, so they started to rob. Then they pitted two nations against each other. And now, when those people meet somewhere, they get along fine.
This is not the only case: I know several similar cases of [Serbian] refugees from western Slavonia who were sent to move into other people's homes in eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Backa. They were in touch with the Croatian former owners of those houses who were expelled and who later told them from somewhere in Croatia what tile of the roof needs to be repaired and what else had to be done. When ordinary people meet, there are no problems whatsoever.
But let us return to the theme of police infiltration of the underworld. Every police force in the world does it; they offer certain privileges to their informers and let them continue with their criminal activities....
Slobodan Milosevic -- the "great deregulator" as my friend and the founder of [the independent weekly] "Vreme" Srdja Popovic dubbed him -- deregulated everything. He deregulated the arms trade, as well as all moral standards, including the standards of professional police work.
But he is not the one who invented it. To be honest, it was late [communist-era security chief] Stane Dolanc who did it by hiring Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan to work for the federal security service, back in 1981-1982. This is when the security service started to use criminals instead of its own people [to eliminate the state's political enemies abroad].... And once the criminals got involved in politics...
RFE/RL: ...They became national heroes....
Vasic: Yes, they became national heroes instead of keeping a low profile, quietly spending their money, and [living out long lives].
But they wanted to show off, and that is how the problems started. Let me give you an example. When the Serbian government took over power [from Milosevic's people] in January-February 2001, they found some 660 kilograms of pure heroin in a safe-deposit box of Belgrade's Komercijalna Banka. Of course, intelligence agents had told them where to look.
We were interested in the story and found out that the heroin originated from two separate seizures on the Yugoslav-Bulgarian border crossing at Gradina. Furthermore, instead of destroying the heroin as the investigating magistrate from Pirot had ordered, Mihalj Kertes, who was then director of Customs, ignored the order. The heroin was handed to Jovica Stanisic, who was then head of state security (Rade Markovic later succeeded him).
Finally, the heroin was moved from a safe-deposit box in the [ruined] building of the former Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs into a safe-deposit box of the Komercijalna Banka. The last man who had the key was Branko Crni, who is now being tried for a murder committed on the Ibar highway.
The question is: What can a state security service possibly do with 660 kilograms of pure heroin? Heroin has only one purpose, which is to be sold on the street and make children die....
The only conclusion I can make is that some big drug dealers were running this country and that the state security service is a drug cartel with free use of some 660 kilograms of heroin they intended to sell....
RFE/RL: And when we add the arms trade, cigarette [smuggling], and alcohol trafficking, one can get a complete picture.
Vasic: We are talking about high-profit goods here....
The State Security Service, Milosevic's agency, is now called the Security and Information Agency. Nothing has changed except the name. They have also replaced several directors and sacrificed Rade Markovic, but everything else stayed the same....