Friday, August 31, 2007

Must be a full moon out or something....

UPDATE: I have decided, perhaps against better judgement, to reply to at least some of Zlatan's nonsense below. His comments I have decided to italicise to make reading easier.


Well, it seems that our friend Satan, er Zlatan, has nothing better to do than claim that he and I are having a "debate" (we aren't), and to attempt to "fisk" me by posting my comments that have been in response to his in the "(not so) Loyal Opposition" thread. Of course, he handily edits mine in at least one case to make it say what he wants it to say, then takes and does a whole bunch of schizophrenic "translations" (evidently he has learned well from the "Master"-no not The Doctor's enemy, but rather "La Gorin") of what I actually and quite clearly said on the others. I love guys like him....the fact that they have "more balls than brains", and hence continiously keep shooting themselves in the foot, tends to make my job easier. :D

For your enjoyment (and so you won't accidently boost his visitor counter any higher), I've opted to post his attempted "fisking" here. It's the deserve a good laugh!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Analysing An Albanian Author

Since my high school days I have used public debates to show (the people interested in the topic at hand) what my oppositions true agenda is. Unfortunately the person who I am about to analyse is somewhat clumsy at hiding his agenda (or his sheer contempt) as some of my teachers and (debating) opponents; he does nonetheless express what most peoples’ opinions on Serbs and Serb related topics. I also must apologise to those of my readers who are sick and tired of hearing about our Albanian friend here but he must be exposed for the Serbophobe he is.

The debate can be found here.

I find it interesting that you claim to have used "public debates" to show what your opposition's "true agenda" is. It's a very poor debater indeed who must rely upon distorting their opponent's words to begin with, and an even poorer one who claims they are uncovering their "true agenda", when both by their words and actions they have "put it all out on the table", so to speak, from the beginning.

I think I got your point with the post about Weird Al just fine. Care to have me translate it? Though I wouldn't necessarily bet a month's wages on it, I'll bet your point, without too much reading between the lines, goes something like this: "Weird Al, being the son of a Serb immigrant, would have been taught by his father instinctively about Albanians, what they are, what they're like, etc., and so when the appropriate time came, he decided to work some of this knowledge into the lyrics of one of his songs". (So, how close was I? Pretty damn close, I'll bet.)

Translation: It is obvious to me that Serbs teach their children to hate other ethnic minorities even though I do not know anything about Serb culture or the mainstream religion that is prevalent within the Serb culture; if I did then I would know that it is against Serb mentality to hate someone because of their ethnicity.

Well, actually, I probably know more about Serbian culture (both the "normal" kind and the National(Social)ist pseudo-culture) than you think for (or want to admit), to say nothing of human nature to begin with. If anything, I get the impression that it is you, sir, who instead knows nothing (or at least nothing accurate) of Albanians, Kosovar or otherwise. But given your positions, to say nothing of your general disingenousness when dealing with those who do not "see the light" (or rather your light, which may in fact be all part and parcel of your holding those positions), that is not surprising.

I find it interesting that you indirectly accuse me of generalising about Serbs, then you go on to do the same thing yourself (albeit with a positive slant). And to be honest, I'm sure there are a great many Serbs who do not teach their children "the old hates"-Serbs who are looking towards the future, not attempting to recreate a dead past (that may never have really existed to begin with). But I am even more sure that, contrary to what you say, that there are Serbs who do teach their children hate for those of other ethnicities. Indeed, how can it be otherwise, when they have held up to them as "heroes" people like Njegos, Seslj, Plavsic, and so forth? And you speak of "Serb mentality". Sadly, the "Serb mentality" I see far more often is the mentality of those aforementioned personalities, as opposed to people trying to make a positive change for the future, like Natasa Kandic.

As to your church, it is only "mainstream" in the sense that Eastern Orthodoxy in general is considered "mainstream". (For many years I was involved in interfaith dialogue on a local level as well as in amateur press publications, and a great deal of my personal library is devoted to the topic of religion, both Christian and otherwise. Add to that the fact that I have several friends and acquanitances that are EO, including clergy, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I know a little something about the subject.) And as to what it officially preaches as doctrine, the Serbian Orthodox Church seems to be in line with all other churches aligned with the Bishop of Constantinople. But as far as practice goes, and what Serbian Orthodox believers have been instructed and/or influenced to believe, that is a different story. From the priest Njegos, to Velirimovic, to Artimije, what Serb "believers" have been encouraged to believe about being a Christian with regard to one's "neighbors" (which often as not seems to also equate with one's "enemies"), appears to be far different from anything to be found in the teachings of Christ, or even St. Paul.
Now as to what you said in that post....OMG, you must really take people for idiots, don't you? I mean, do you hold your position that mindlessly? Or are you just very disingenous? (Or both?) Unless you're redefining ALL Albanians as members of UÇK automatically by virtue of being Albanian, then your comment is utterly ridiculous. Every one of the blogs and sites I've cited constantly and consistantly slams the Albanian people AS A PEOPLE (i.e. AS A WHOLE). Especially the "Oh-So-Godly Christian" Svetlana Novko. The only one who hasn't, I'll grant, is La Julia, but then again, on the VERY rare occasions when she has had anything "positive" to say about anyone who's Albanian (like her post on "MJAFT!"), she shows her true colors by making it clear that her "compliments" are ultimately of the "left-handed" sort. So please, go pull someone's leg somewhere else, Zlatan-it won't work here.

Translation: You talked about ‘Albanian National( Social)ists’ so I naturally assumed that you were talking about all Albanians.

Nice try, Zlatan. Just too bad you had to "edit" my comment in order to make a point that clearly has nothing to do with what I actually said (not that that seems to be unusual for you).
What I originally said, as was clear in my comments, was that you had claimed in a post that you made in my old blog

"Those links you have given are not anti-Albanian. They are anti-KLA/UCK."

To which I responded that not only were you leaving a comment in my old blog which I no longer update, and that in the future I would request you leave any comments on the current blog (i.e. this one). I also said, pertinent to the subject, "Unless you're redefining ALL Albanians as members of UÇK automatically by virtue of being Albanian, then your comment is utterly ridiculous." The clear meaning being that those sites can and do make scurrolus claims and generalisations against the Albanian people as a WHOLE-not just against the UÇK. In short: You were clearly not talking about "Albanian National(Social)ists", you were talking about my Anti-Albanian blog list on my old blog. You were claiming that the sites only dealt with the KLA. I stated basically that you're full of it. The blog is still there-and all of those links and more can be found here on this site. Let the visitors to this site decide who is right.
As to your harping about Albanian Nationalism, sir, and why I'm not spending time on this blog engaging in condemnations of it, I have an answer I am preparing for you, but in case it hadn't occurred to you, as important as this blog is to me, it is NOT my life. Believe it or not, I actually have nice, normal, boring everyday stuff like job, family, etc. that has to come first. I don't live my life around this blog. And I will post my responses when they are good and ready to be posted-on MY schedule, sir, NOT YOURS.

Translation: I am concerned that someone is not surrendering to my ‘infinite knowledge’ so I shall now claim that I have a family and a job while you are nothing but a bum with internet connection who has devoted his life to internet blogging… that’s right; your goals are not to gain a bachelor's degree in medicine but to blog.

Oooohhh....nice ad hominem there, Zlatan! Again, the actual context, which you convieniently edited out, was about my having not yet answered at the time your question as to why I had not explained why I lump Kostunica in with Karadzic, Mladic, Seslj, Nikolic, etc. I told you why, in very plain, open words. It was you who then, among other things: Made some sort of non-sequiter comment about "someone (you) not surrendering to my 'infinite knowledge'" (which I have never claimed to have, and is a completely irrational, to say nothing of borderline schizoid, accusation to make-I do not hide or try to "buy time" because of someone challenging me on my statements or the evidence I give), then went on to make insinuations that I'm a liar, and am hiding behind some sort of evidently ficticious home and work life, and on top of that, that I accused you of being a bum who has nothing better to do than blog. IMO, only a paranoid, schizoid personality would earnestly draw all that out of my original comment to you. If anything, it appears that you are trying to infer quite the reverse: By pointing out (or perhaps trying to impress people) that you're currently going for a medical degree, as well as insinuating that my claims of the everyday, normal responsibilities of most people coming first in my life before blogging are a prevarication , it seems that you are trying to insinuate that it is I who am a "blogging slacker", or some such nonsense.

First, I am not convinced that all crimes committed against Serbs in Kosova (and no, I will NOT call it by YOUR name for it, sir-though if it bothers you so much, I will be more than happy to refer to the area in the future by it's ancient name: DARDANIA) are committed by Albanians. The evidence in many cases is somewhat lacking to make such an assumption (of course, I am using American standards of what constitutes "reasonable suspicion", though I believe they are the same in Australia as well), IMO.

Translation: I am grateful to the ‘Kosova’ Police for their incompetence (or there lack of will) concerning the investigations into the crimes against non-Albanian minorities and Albanian loyalists; for it has given me the opportunity to say that just because I cannot find a pro-KLA news source stating that that the expulsion of 250,000 non-Albanians and thousands of Albanian loyalists is the fault of former KLA members then it is not happening.

Well, evidently to you, any "news source" that does not outright support with no objective evidence to back it up claims by those of a Serbian National(Social)ist bent that a given crime was ethnically/religiously/"hate" motivated, and/or part of some grand scheme on the part of all the Albanians of Kosova to cleanse the area of non-Muslim non-Albanians is "pro-KLA". How nice. And given the history of the last 95 years, since the First Balkan War, why on earth would any Albanian ever want to be "loyal" to Belgrade anymore? Belgrade sure as heck hasn't proven to be very loyal to them as citizens (or demi-citizens, more like).

As to those 250,000 plus "non-Albanians" that you claim were ethnically cleansed, usually claiming some crap like that the Albanians were allowed to stream back in and have their way with them, while the NATO troops stood there like friends of a bully ringing the bully and his victim to keep others from interfering? Sorry, but objective journalism and reporting are most definitely NOT on your side. Try more like (and this was shown on TV screens around the world, from many different news services-of course, you can try if you like to go scream "MSM! MSM!"-that always seems to help, doesn't it?) that as the Albanians were streaming back in, those 250,000 "non-Albanians" (lets' be honest here: they were mostly Serbs and their allies, the bulk of which were Roma who decided it was better to throw their lot in with the MUP and the paramilitaries than with the Albanians, despite the fact that Belgrade has never had any particularly great love for them either) were streaming out. The two groups were separated by NATO troops, baracades, and vehicles.

Why was it like that? Well, gee, I dunno....I guess if I had stabbed my neighbors in the back by pointing them out to people who wanted to wholesale kill them or at least drive them out, people who maybe had been my neighbors for generations, who I'd actually even maybe claimed to be friends with, and then on top of it took their home, their land, their cattle and claimed it for my own, and then realised that despite what I earlier thought, that they were coming back after all, I tend to think I'd be leaving too! I know I wouldn't be stupid enough to assume that they would come back, embrace me, and say "all is forgiven!"; on the contrary, I'd expect them to be highly pissed off. But then Albanians put a high value on trust; and even more so than most people, they don't like when that trust is betrayed, especially by someone they thought was a friend. And I suspect that most Serbs who live in close proximity with Albanians know this about them. (And no, this in no way justifies "Albanian on Serb" violence, nor have I ever condoned it, not even when someone has done it soley to take back something that is rightfully theirs. But I certainly can say that while not condoning it, and on the contrary condemning it, I have less than no problem understanding the feelings one might have that could eventually, given the right circumstances, lead them to possibly express them in a violent fashion against those who have wronged them.)

Second, even in the cases where one CAN prove conclusively that the criminal act was perpretated by an
Albanian, I'm not sure that the evidence always suggests automatically that what here in America would usually be referred to as a "hate crime" has been committed, just as not all crime by African-Americans on Whites or Whites on African-Americans is automatically racially motivated.

Third, I am not necessarily convinced that even if the first two things can be proven true, that in every event they signify an an attempt, either ORGANISED and IDEOLOGICAL/POLITCAL in nature or not, by Albanians to rid Dardania of it's Serb or other ethnic minorities.

Translation: If 250,000 non-Albanians and thousands of Albanian loyalists are being expelled then it is not because of political or ethnic cleansing that Albanian National( Social)ists are committing but rather they are issues between individual people.

See my comments above to the lie that Albanians personally physically, or with the tacit help of NATO, "ethnically cleansed" those 250,ooo "non-Albanians". Some of the assaults by Albanians on Serbs in the days after the conflict were in fact issues between individuals (see again my comments above). Some were also doubtless "revenge" motivated. Both are still probably the case today in most of the incidents that can be proven to be in fact Albanian on Serb violence. And yes, there is the possibility of Nationalistic motivation in some of the harassment that is allegedly taking place today, though I would still hold that even then, if that is the case, then it is in most instances likely the action of individuals, not some kind of
"highly-organised, political-ideological" entities. There may be some entities who are feeding the hatred of these individuals, but I see no evidence of those assaults, even the "proven" ones, being systematic; not the way that Serb on Albanian violence (where far greater numbers of Albanians were assaulted and/or and killed than is claimed is happening to Serbs today) and harassment was during the period 1989-1999. Now are such assaults wrong? Of course they are, no matter who is committing them. Are they worthy of being condemned? Absolutely. Are they part of an organised, systematic, attempt at ethnic cleansing? If they were, there probably wouldn't be a single "non-Albanian" living anywhere in Kosova today, Mitrovica included. (Of course, the fact that there has been no attempt at any sort of reconciliation mechanism, similar to the "Truth and Reconciliation" committees that were set up in the post-Apartheid South Africa, has not helped matters.) Bottom line, though: Most of the "non-Albanians" claimed to be "ethnically cleansed", basically "cleansed" themselves, by leaving the province instead of facing up to what they did. (BTW, I'd be curious to know why, if as you lot like to say, the Albanians leaving Kosova during the war did so to escape the NATO bombing and not the MUP and paramilitaries, then why did not the Serbs living there do the same? Why did we not hear even from Tanjug any sort of claims for mass exodus of the Serbs living in Kosova during the war?)

Fourth: In the event that there's enough evidence from OBJECTIVE, IMPARTIAL sources to suggest that the criminal act in question had as one of it's primary motivations an attempt to ethnically cleanse from and/or terrorise Serb or other non-Albanians in Dardania, then you can bet your Doc Martens I'll speak up against it, Zlatan. I in fact did speak up against the inflaming of passions in the Albanian community by minor but politically opportunistic groups in Dardania in March 2004, both on moral (such acts do not reflect traditional Albanian values as reflected in the Kanun and other cultural sources), and practical (they also needlessly cast Albanians as a whole in a bad light in the eyes of the rest of the world) grounds.

Translation: I really don’t care about the minorities in Kosovo but rather how the Albanian people look to the rest of the world. I have also just admitted that there are “political opportunistic groups” in Kosovo who are controlling the Albanian community; as such I have destroyed my credibility to claim that there is no organized cleansing of Kosovo. Though if it is mentioned again then I will claim that those “political opportunistic groups” have disappeared even though Serb Churches and Schools continue to be attacked and destroyed by (apparently unproven) former KLA members and other Albanian National( Social)ists.

Actually, I care a great deal for all the people of Kosova, minorities included. I want Kosova to be a safe, modern, democratic European state where all may live in freedom, and with prosperity. But I know that won't happen as long as it is a "limbo state" as it is now, and it sure as hell won't as a part of Serbia, where it would be nothing but a cash cow from the Trepca mines, and a perpetual source of National(Social)ist aggravation.

And I admitted no such thing as "'politically opportunistic groups' are controlling the Albanian community" in Kosova. What I said, clearly and transparently, was that some such groups evidently managed to manipulate some people to engage in negative and destructive action within a certain "crisis" situation, and that in some cases, possibly, some people committing violent acts may be doing so because they have been influenced by their ideological stances, none of which supports any of your assertions of what I've actually "said". And yes, I do in fact deny that there is any systematic attempt at ethnically cleansing "non-Albanians" from Kosova, but that's only for the simple reason that the objective evidence does not support such a conclusion.

But you know something, Zlatan? I'm not about to let you try to hijack this blog, or define the debate. You still have never explained those lovely little passages I posted from your so-called "manifesto", for example. You still have not have not explained the links you provide on your site to Nationalistic (or National(Social)istic, as I prefer to call it) websites, including the Serbian National Front. No sir, I have no intention of giving any further answer to your insane and irrational accusations and attempts to twist my words. You will answer MY charges now, or this so-called "debate" is over.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Don't blame the world for Milosevic's crimes"

Great comeback from Arben Avxhiu, Editor of "Illyria" Newspaper (the main Albanian language newspaper in the US) to the idiotic op-ed published in the WSJ on 16 August that was written by Alan J. Kuperman! (Taken from

The following is the publishing letter that Arben Avxhiu Editor of
Illyria Newspaper in New York sent in Wall Street Journal.

Don't Blame the World for Milosevic's Crimes

August 27, 2007; Page A9

In regard to Alan J. Kuperman's Aug. 16 op-ed ("The U.N.'s Flawed Kosovo Plan"): He got it all wrong. Bloody ethnic wars in the Balkans did not happen because the "the international community prematurely
supported the independence of a former Yugoslav territory before addressing the concerns of its Serb minority."

Blaming the world for the consequences of the fascistic ambitions of the Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, is a wrong approach to the Balkans' recent history. If anything, the contrary of what Mr.
Kuperman wrote is true. Had the world recognized immediately, without public hesitation, the right of the former Yugoslav nations to secede, it would have discouraged Milosevic from using force and many Serbs from believing that it was fair game to deny the right
of self-determination to the other Yugoslavs.

Furthermore, Mr. Kuperman's amendment would push the Ahtisaari Plan further in creating an ethnic segregated Kosovo, instead of inspiring and institutionalizing integration and an interethnic
future for its citizens. Worst of all, an autonomous northern province -- within the former province -- would only encourage Kosovo Serbs to believe that a new secession is feasible and tacitly approved by the world. It would be also a signal to secessionist aspirations of the Serbs of Bosnia and Montenegro, Albanians of Serbia and Macedonia, and so on.

Instead of closing the last chapter of the Yugoslavian dismemberment, Mr. Kuperman's proposal risks opening a new one, a phase of territorial exchanges that not only would provoke the revision of many borders in the Balkans, but that would end up accomplishing Milosevic's nation-state project.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Strange bedfellows

Well, I guess this must be my couple of days to stumble upon interesting stuff I thought I'd never run across! This webpage is about some Anti-NATO demonstrations held in '99. It's interesting to note that the demonstrators include not only members of the Serbian diaspora, but also peace advocates, far lefties, and far righties (Freepers). It's interesting because many from the right try to imply that support for the Serbs when it comes to Kosova has always been the purview of the right, and that the left has always been on the side of the Albanians (and by their extension, the side of Islam, Jihadis, etc. etc.) Guess as George Gershwin might have put it, "Tain't Necessarily so".

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Normal" Serbs

My compatriot and frequent contributor of valuable material to this site, François, often differentiates between Serbian National(Social)ists (who he prefers to call "false-nationalist" or "pseudo-nationalist") and non-Nationalist Serbs by referring to the latter as "'normal' Serbs". Even though it seems at times like the National(Social)ist ones are on their way to becoming the "norm" in Serbia (witness the last parliamentary elections), the fact is that there are Serbs who are willing to actually take a public stand for decency, true morality, and bringing their country and their fellow Serbs into the 21st century, instead of letting them languish in dreams of a lost 14th. I just gave one example in my latest post. Here are a couple more.

One such is the Serbian branch of the woman's peace group Women in Black. Despite opposition, these brave ladies quietly stood up against the cults of Milosevic, National(Social)ism, and for peace and justice for all. Another example is the brave civil rights advocate Natasha Kandic, who stood by the Albanians of Kosova and tried to defend their rights against the brutality of Milosevic and his henchmen, despite police harrassment and threats.

Of course, these are only two examples-there are many, many others as well. We need to be hearing more about and from them, and less-FAR, FAR less-from the Haters.

Where are your Americans now??

Even after over 10 years on the 'net, it never fails to amaze me just what sort of things one can run into when doing a netsearch. In this case, I was doing a simple search on for "Albanian blogs" when I came across not an Albanian one, but a Serbian one. And a surprising one at that: One that for a change didn't defend Serbian National(Social)ism, but condemned it. One that didn't say "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia", but more like, "It's lost and gone-let it go, for pete's sake". One that didn't try to claim that all the folks killed at Srebrenica were "enemy combatants", based on the so-called "fact" they were Muslim, and according to most of the Haters, it's taught clearly and unequivocably in the Koran, the Hadith, and according to all orthodox Islam religious judges since the beginning, yada, yada, yada that ALL Muslims are to kill or enslave ALL non-Muslims (especially Jews and Christians), hence making ALL Muslims by definition (in sort of a weird reversing of Bin-Ladin's famous fatwa against America) "non-civilians", but rather claimed them as fellow human beings. One who doesn't consider Natasha Kandic a traitor, but a hero.

This amazing blogger's name is Jasmina Tesanovic, and she has been described as an "author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker." She primarily blogs at b92's blogsite (they're in Serbian there), though her blogs are in English at Of course, I wouldn't doubt she's probably not very popular with the "Haters" (though I also suspect most of them are probably unaware of her, too-otherwise, you'd see her being vilified along with Nicki Fellenzer, Brad Staggs, Ed Alexander, and others who the "Serbia Truthers" call "dupes" and worse). But then those who speak The Real Truth never are with that sort of folk, no matter who they are supporting, or for what reason.

Anyway, here below is one of her blogs, an entry from last fall called "Where Are Your Americans Now?", all about the war crimes trial from last fall in Belgrade where several Serbian MUP members (MUP is the Serbian state police, but they are-or at least were-more like the Gestapo than your friendly local neighborhood State Trooper) were tried and convicted of the murder of a family named Berisha, killing not only men, but even fetuses (guess they are not considered "sacred" if they're Muslim and/or Albanian?) and a 100 year old grandmother. Now, without further ado....



Today , in the special court for war crimes in Belgrade, eight paramilitary police were indicted for torturing, killing, looting and dispersing the Albanian civil population in March 1999, when the NATO bombings against Yugoslavia under Milosevic started.

This specific trial is concerned with 48 members of an unlucky family named Berisha, who were executed in a couple of hours in a village called Dry River. The dead included women, children, the elderly: from yet unborn babies to a 100-year-old grandmother. The Dry River is bloody and full of tears.

The eight out of ten indicted (two others died in the meantime) are sitting in the courtroom in front of us. They look so normal and common that, compared to them, their lawyers seem like freaks. They are men, along with one young curly haired blonde with a gypsy skirt like mine.

This morning I thought twice when I dressed in order to be admitted in the courtroom. My clothes are simply not proper for this country and its dark history; the best I could find was a black T shirt with the English word REVOLUTION written on it in big letters of hot pink.

[Continue reading this essay after the jump: 2500 words.]

One of the lawyers looks like Albert Einstein, and the other like Seselj, the ugly indicted war mongrel currently in prison in Hague. The chief defense lawyer, who presided as Milosevic’ s judge against many imprisoned Albanians, looks like a priest and acts like a God. This lawyer tries to impeach the judge, and to throw Natasa Kandic, the representative of the victims, out of the court. This tactic is deliberate legal obstruction, so we wait the whole morning for the three judges presiding to make their way through the legal jungle.

While we wait in the smoking room, two waitresses comment on some other terrible massacre, which they know about because the bodies were transported in a refrigerator truck and buried in the outskirts of Belgrade. They are appalled but they have to whisper.

My gay icon Milos, who recently dared to publicly apologize to Albanians for the loss of unborn Albanian children, has befriended a young Albanian law student, gosh how cute he is... But my girlfriends are clustering around an incredibly handsome tall Albanian whose four sisters and mother were executed. He looks like a movie actor and smiles constantly. I am afraid of him, he is too handsome and kind and he is in Belgrade. In his place I would be a beast by now.

I feel painfully guilty and I know life goes on, but he said: we used to be a merry family dancing and playing music, now we are telling our children the stories of the past.

Here in Serbia we are still obstructing the justice and telling lies to our children about our history.

In the court hall we are socializing like a cocktail party. I notice a modishly-dressed woman: she nods at me seriously. Lord, I recognize that woman from the park where I spent years with my small daughter. She used to be a judge. Her husband used to be the main legislator for Milosevic’ s criminal state. Now she is here in the court playing a hostess to the criminals and their lawyers.

I remember how her daughter, the age of mine, came to school in fancy clothes, driven by a chauffeur, while other children were fainting with hunger. I remember how the teacher asked her kindly to stop that practice because her child was so hated by other children. I remember how I felt sorry for that child, whom I saw as an innocent baby burdened by her parents' immorality. Now I wonder, why is this woman still haunting Serbian courts? Is that democracy, is that reconciliation of truth and justice?

The first indicted is pleading NOT GUILTY, saying he expected to get a promotion to a general but instead he got arrested 11 months ago. He already won many medals and his family had given blood for the state in World War Two, says he. So he tells us his version of history: Albanians were against Serbs, and NATO in the name of all the world was also against the Serbs. So he was fighting the whole world.

In the indictment, one of the soldiers is quoted as saying, while executing the Albanians, "AND WHERE ARE YOUR AMERICANS NOW TO DEFEND YOU. WE WILL EXTERMINATE YOU ALL"

They're in Iraq, right now, but they did try to defend the Albanians during those years of Clinton. The Americans certainly couldn't protect all of them, and only now, years later, are the massacred people of Kosovo getting their own state as a recompense. It's a traumatic loss for nationalist Serbia.

The indicted says proudly: Everything is public now, as it was then. We fought a clean and just war and we never touched a civilian. Our orders were: better to die than hurt ordinary people.

How on earth can the man say such things after the mass graves were excavated? Just as I wonder: how can the American Congress vote for legalizing torture and placing American soldiers above all civil laws? They are simply legalizing a future host of tortures and crimes to be done against Americans and Americans people.

The failed general is proudly describing the fashion details of his paramilitary cop uniform, his bullet proof pocket-wise vest, his fancy cap, chemo change... He says: I want to tell you who I really am.

We are bored to death besides disgusted by his extremely plain small talk. Are these the guys still running my country and ruining my life? He speaks like Milosevic and is proud of his dead leader and his phantom state. The phenomenon of Milosevic clones all over Serbia beats the Napoleon mania. The other cops in the courtroom, who are guarding the eight indicted have sour smiles on their faces listening to this ramble.

Our almost-general proudly claims how his state-organized troops in the early nineties were also in charge of repressing civilian demonstrations in Belgrade.

At the time we protesters did know that the cops beating us were from south, Serbian refugees from Kosovo, paid very well and dressed to kill.

They are all younger than me, yet they look twice their age. Crime is not good for your looks in a uniform.

The handsome Albanian guy says to me: if somebody saves Serbia, it will be these women who are judges.

Yes, almost all the women in these political trials seem young and rather good looking. Where do they all come from, I ask myself? They are trying to prove that it was state-organized war crime, and that the rot is still there because Serbia has never managed a clear cut with the criminal past. I hoped these other women knew what they are doing, because I myself was about to faint.

So I left the court and went out for a beer.

October 3 2006

When it comes to his pride, and the duties which brought him handcuffs instead of a general's rank, the first indicted colonel in this Dry River trial never speaks of "Serbia." Instead, he speaks of Yugoslavia.

Slobodan Milosevic, his leader, started the troubles in Kosovo, declaring in a rally, "Nobody will beat Serbs here." Yugoslavia lost all the wars at that same battlefield, and was reduced to nothing but a name.

As the eight indicted enter the courtroom again, we sit again next to the victims' family. One of the killers smiles and nods his head at a member of the family.

I am amazed, asking all around me: did he do that on purpose, did he do it spontaneously? Why? The man who nodded back, whose forty-eight family members were killed by that guy, says: We were neighbors. We knew each other for years.

For all those years they lived next to each other, sometimes even living together, and then Milosevic, by coining one slogan, makes one man kill the whole family of his neighbor. Am I missing something?

The first indicted is finishing his interrogation today: he repeats strongly and solemnly: he heard from satellite TV and Boris Yeltsin that NATO bandits were bombing Serbian Kosovo.

That’s what he knows about the war: he never saw any Albanian refugees, or the long shuffling floods of people between borders, terrorized by the Serbian police, whom he himself commanded.

He never uttered that order, the death sentence, for which he is indicted here in this court: burn, loot, kick them and kill them... What are you waiting for , for me to do it? He steps down from the bench with a big sigh, louder than his speech in his own defense.

He never mentioned the name of Milosevic, not even once.

His lawyers are cat-fighting the general prosecutor: the temperature is rising and the trial is becoming a political battleground, where the wounds and passions are personal and dangerous. Like these hot days in Serbia, whose parliament wants to pass a new constitution for "Serbs" and "Others Living in Serbia," including Kosovo.

The second indicted was the local police commander. He is directly accused of having given the orders for executing the above mentioned sentence.

His first words: I believe in this court and its justice, which will not be political. I expect a fast and clear verdict of my innocence. Everything I did in those days was written as a record, as a diary.

As I listen, it strikes me that in those days I was also writing my "Diary of a Political Idiot," which started when the first Kosovo riots began. He and I wrote parallel diaries.

He claims he knew nothing of the massacre that happened in his village, next to the police station of in his charge. He claims he knew the ex-mayor of the city and other members of his family. He says the killing was done by some madman, now dead, that he didn’t meddle and that everything is written in his diary, which he neatly handed to his superiors when it was all over.

My "Diary" was published in many languages, yet his diary is still a top secret in this country where General Mladic is still in hiding, maybe in my own street. The chief of the local police admits that he collected the bodies and buried them -- properly, with due honors. He admits that his work may have been neglectful, since he never asked how many bodies were buried in mass graves, but he denies that he ever committed a crime.

The family member sitting next to me is now sighing heavily.

October 4, 2006

I always like when people in this court utter some sentence that gives me the title of my text. It breaks the tedium of sitting in that stuffy courtroom listening to details of horrid crimes, enduring the disgusting audacity of the blatant lies of the indicted, which ridicule our presence in this world and their own, this world where people kill for fun and never regret it.

These Serbian policemen from kosovo would do it all again, with even more vigor, even when not ordered to do it. Their only regret is not having done more and better. That their regime lost the war. They had to flee instead of killing all the Albanians. As 10 percent of the Kosovo population, they had to leave their property to the 90 percent majority. They were Orthodox and Serbs, the superior race in their holy land, living in paranoid agression for centuries on end.

The third indicted ex policeman today said this: "He was a NOTHING. Just like a woman."

He referred to his college policeman, a young “kind and tender guy” ( his words) who is the protected witness of this trial, who gave them in, who could not live on with the crime on his conscience.

In the corridor, I heard a lawyer saying to his wife, while patting her on the shoulders: Step by step, we will destroy the witnesses’ credibility. She smiled, protected: I wonder if she, as a woman, realized she was nothing?

Other relatives from the audience cannot restrain their hatred when Natasa Kandic, that heroine of our dark times, interrogates the witness and makes him stammer and look stupid. Natasa simply asks him common sense questions. She is not even a lawyer, but a human rights activist.

These guys don’t need the law to get indicted. They and their relatives look poor and ignorant. They've been reduced to miserable, criminal refugees by a criminal regime which waged its war against the entire world. And yet, they would do it all again, especially today, since they now have nothing to lose and nowhere to go. The whole world should shiver at them, and be afraid of them.

The father of a murdered girl is here: silent, proud, white haired gentleman in a dark suit. I marvel at his patience and composed behavior. The indicted salutes him -- again, as a provocation .

The arrogance of the blatant falsehoods is killing us all in the courtroom: well prepared, well organized lies endorsed by a loud set of lawyers.

The guy today claims he was not there, knew nothing, saw nothing... so WHAT ABOUT THE BODIES in the small village where he lived and worked as a deputy chief of police? A house full of people was burned in front of him.

He didn’t notice that, he claims, talking of the many details of his busy day, the food he ate, some petty thoughts he had. All that in the first days of the heavy bombings of Kosovo, when we all remember very little but the panic in each other's eyes?

He starts his speech by declaring: as a parent, I swear on the life of my children that I had nothing to do with the crime.

After that, I am tempted all the time to believe him, until I realize he is talking for hours about the wrong day, citing wrong, hours skipping in a few seconds over the time of the massacre, as if it never occurred.

His trauma on that dire day was that his commander shouted at him. The same commander who, only two days ago, claimed in this court that he was not there at all.

Because the commander also saw nothing and did nothing during the massacre that never happened.

When Natasa reminds us of the bodies patiently transported to Serbia, one of the judges loses his patience as well, saying: I just can’t understand how dare you testify like this! The presiding judge replies: it is still a legal defense.

The special troops were never used in Kosovo, claims the Number four indicted, except to secure the concert of a minor turbofolk star in Kosovo. And that singing star was a little nothing of a woman -- she was not even Ceca, the consort of Arkan, warlord of Tigers and eminence of Scorpions.

Draza, we hardly knew ye....

Lately, the big cause celebre in the Serbian National(Social)ist community (well, besides trying to regain complete control over Kosova so they can most likely finish under SRS party leadership the job they started in 1912-1913), fueled by the posthumous awarding of the Legion of Merit that was originally unfortunately ordered by Harry S. Truman, has been the attempted rehabilitation of the legacy of Dragoljub Mihailovic, aka Draza Mihailovic, a minor officer in the Yugoslav army who was promoted to General and given command over the so-called "Yugoslav Royal Army in the Fatherland" during WW II, and who was eventually captured trying to escape Yugoslavia in 1946, was tried on war crimes, colaboration, and treachery charges, found guilty, and executed.

Now doubtless, given the fact that it was Mihailovic's political and wartime adversaries, the Communists (former Partisans), who tried him, probably some of the charges against him were "trumped up" to some degree, in order to make sure that the rest of the world could not simply accuse them of convicting him in a "kangaroo court". However, if that was the case, it was hardly necessary, as there is plenty of evidence that he was indeed guilty of either ordering or being responsible for the murders of many non-combatants (many of the Bosniaks), as well as colaborating with the Nazis and Italian Fascists, when it suited him.

My take on it is that Mihailovic probably wasn't a Nazi sympathiser per se (though there is evidence that he was not merely a racist who wanted a "pure" Serbia, but also was anti-Semitic as well) the way that say, Dimitrie Ljotic was, but that he was an unreconstructed Royalist, dedicated soley to the return of the Karageorgevic family to the Yugoslav throne. So dedicated in fact, that basically he would "play" anybody he could, if he felt it would further his goals. If that meant working with the Fascists or the Nazis, he would do it. If it meant working with the Allies, he would do that, too. In other words, he was perhaps the most ignoble form of traitor-the opportunistic kind.

Our good friend and tireless worker for the truth, François, sent me this great article on Mihailovic, which I'm happy to pass on to you, dear readers! Read, and be enlightened, so you won't be mislead!


Adding Insult to Injury: Washington Decorates a Nazi Collaborator
By Marko Attila Hoare, 11th June 2005

The sixtieth anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany is not, one might imagine, the time when one would expect the US government to decorate Nazi collaborators. But one would be wrong. Last month, a delegation of US war-veterans posthumously presented the Legion of Merit to Serbia's General Dragoljub 'Draza' Mihailovic, leader of the 'Chetnik' movement during World War II; a convicted war-criminal and Nazi collaborator. The award was originally made to Mihailovic in 1948, two years after his execution by the Yugoslav authorities. Yet it is only now that the US has decided to hand over the award to Mihailovic's daughter. It is as if the US had chosen the anniversary of VE day to present an award to Marshal Petain, or to the Dutch policemen who arrested Anne Frank. The US action has provoked sharp protests from Croatians, Bosnians and Kosovars. To understand this bizarre decision, the tangled threads leading up to it require some untangling.

Yugoslavia entered World War II as an ally of the Third Reich. On 25 March 1941, Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic and Foreign Minister Aleksandar Cincar-Markovic signed a protocol making Yugoslavia a member of the Tripartite Pact, and therefore an ally of Nazi Germany. The Yugoslav government was bullied into signing this protocol by the Germans, despite the pro-Allied sympathies of most mainstream Yugoslav politicians - Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and others alike. Indeed, the Germans made it very clear to the Yugoslavs that the alternative to joining the Pact was war - one in which Yugoslavia would be easily pulverised by the Wehrmacht. Like other European statesmen since, Hitler had an exaggerated perception of Yugoslav military capabilities, and was ready to offer Belgrade relatively lenient terms: Yugoslav membership of the Pact would be a mere formality, not requiring actual military collaboration. This would have kept Yugoslavia effectively neutral during the impending German assault on Greece, forcing the Germans to attack the Greeks along the latter's well-defended border with Bulgaria - the so-called 'Metaxas Line'. Such was the price Hitler was willing to pay to keep Yugoslavia quiet.

At this point, Winston Churchill and British intelligence carried out one of the most cynical Allied crimes of World War II: they conspired with a clique of Yugoslav air-force and army officers to carry out a coup against the Yugoslav government, in the hope that this would bring Yugoslavia into the war on the Allied side. On the night of 26th - 27th March, therefore - as demonstrators in Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities marched under the self-consciously suicidal slogans 'Better war than the Pact; Better the grave than a slave' - the British-backed air-force and army officers seized power. The officers in question were scarcely anti-fascist: the coup organiser Borivoje Mirkovic kept a signed photograph of fellow aviator Hermann Goering on his desk; the new government released Serbian fascists imprisoned under the previous regime; and appointed the former chairman of the German-Yugoslav and Italian-Yugoslav friendship associations to be its new foreign minister. Their coup was motivated in large part by Serb-nationalist hostility to the concessions made to Croatian autonomy by the previous regime. Such were Churchill's chosen allies.

The Americans, for their part, had attempted before the coup, through both diplomatic and unofficial channels, to push Yugoslavia into a confrontation with Nazi Germany. In this context it was - in ironic contrast with the 1990s - the liberal interventionists in American politics who lauded and exaggerated Serbian military valour, deceiving themselves and others with their estimates of the Yugoslav Army's ability to resist foreign invasion. American diplomacy systematically pressurised Yugoslav statesmen in order to deter Yugoslavia's entry into the Pact, culminating with the freezing in March 1941 of Yugoslav assets in the US. Although playing a junior role in relation to the British, the Americans were nevertheless closely involved in encouraging the Great Serb elements that staged the fateful coup. The American press's euphoric reaction to the coup, as a blow against the Germans, may have helped convince the latter to attack Yugoslavia. Yet the US did not provide any actual military assistance to support the country its own diplomacy had placed in jeopardy: Roosevelt's hands were tied by the anti-interventionist climate of opinion in the US, which neutralised effective American opposition to the Nazis.

Ever since the coup, its apologists have claimed that it involved the 'repudiation' of the Pact. On the contrary: once in power, the new Yugoslav government reaffirmed Yugoslavia's loyalty to the Tripartite Pact, assuring the Germans that the coup had not been directed against them, but merely represented the settling of internal Yugoslav scores. Yet Hitler, aware of British involvement in the coup, no longer trusted the Yugoslavs. Up until March 1941, Hitler had supported a united Yugoslavia; he now moved to destroy the country. The Wehrmacht invaded its Yugoslav ally on 6th April and, with some assistance from the Italians and Hungarians, totally defeated the Yugoslav Army in a mere eleven days and at the cost of a mere 151 German dead. Yugoslav resistance collapsed ignominiously. The predominantly-Serb Yugoslav generals subsequently sought to blame the disgraceful defeat on the 'treachery' of Croat troops: in fact, the Yugoslav command had anyway planned to abandon the Croatian and Slovenian north to the enemy and retreat into the interior, leaving the Croats and Slovenes in the lurch. Moreover, the Germans captured Belgrade by invading Serbia from the eastern Balkans and Hungary, not by going through Croatia, and captured the Yugoslav capital without a struggle: the Serb troops on this front proved to be as 'treacherous' as the Croats in the north. The reality was that neither Serbs nor Croats were particularly willing to die for the rotten and brutal Yugoslav state.

Churchill and Roosevelt therefore succeeded in dragging Yugoslavia into the war - at an eventual cost of one million Yugoslav dead, including about half a million Serbs and eighty percent of the Yugoslav Jewish community. The coup leaders of March were not among the dead: they fled Yugoslavia, leaving their fellow countrymen to bear the consequences of their actions. Yet Churchill had shot himself in the foot. The Wehrmacht, now able to attack through Yugoslavia, invaded Greece along an extended frontline, crushed Greek resistance and pushed the British Army in Greece into the sea. Various Greek and Yugoslav historians have since claimed that the German invasion of the Balkans resulted in a delay of several weeks to the launch of Operation Barbarossa, meaning that the Wehrmacht could not reach Moscow before winter set in. Ergo: Germany lost the war because of Greek and/or Yugoslav resistance in 1941. In fact, as historians such as Martin van Creveld and Bryan Fugate have shown, Barbarossa's launch was delayed due to logistical problems unrelated to the Balkans; the campaign there did not affect it. Not only did Yugoslavia's entry into the war speed the Greek defeat, but it allowed the Germans to transport their troops back into position for Barbarossa more quickly, across Yugoslav territory.

The Serbs, like other nations occupied by the Axis, were divided between resolute anti-fascist resisters, committed ideological quislings, and opportunists ready to collaborate with both Axis and Allies in pursuit of their own interests (this, of course, applied to the political classes: the mass of ordinary people sought above all to survive). Among the Serbs, the resisters were the Partisans under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia; the quislings were the followers of the puppet prime-minister General Milan Nedic and of the fascist leader Dimitrije Ljotic; and the opportunists were Mihailovic and the Chetniks. In practice, there was very little difference in behaviour between Nedic's and Ljotic's outright quislings and Mihailovic's Chetniks, who collaborated with the Nazis while seeking to crush the real resisters - the Partisans - and exterminate Muslims, Croats, Jews and others, into the bargain.

Mihailovic was a Yugoslav Army officer and member of Borivoje Mirkovic's conspiratorial circle of 26th - 27th March, who had taken to the hills following the Yugoslav capitulation, intending to continue the resistance. Yet his version of 'resistance' meant essentially waiting for the Allies to win the war on Yugoslavia's behalf, then to fall upon the Germans after they had already been defeated. It was the Partisans who launched a genuine guerrilla resistance while the Chetniks were waiting in the wings. Faced, by the summer of 1941, with a rival and genuine resistance movement in the shape of the Partisans, Mihailovic turned the Chetniks' guns against his fellow Serbs, starting a civil war that would result in tens if not hundreds of thousands of dead. At the same time - already in the autumn of 1941 - Mihailovic began making overtures to the Germans, seeking to reach an accommodation with them for joint action against the Partisans. This would have placed the Chetniks in the position of German anti-Communist auxiliaries, helping to suppress the genuine Yugoslav resistance while waiting for the Great Powers to determine the outcome of the war amongst themselves. That Mihailovic failed to reach an agreement with the Germans at this time was not for want of trying on his part, but merely due to German unwillingness to deal with someone they considered a 'rebel'.

Tito and the Partisan leadership were driven out of Serbia by the combined attacks of the Germans and Chetniks, and retreated to the neighbouring puppet-state, the 'Independent State of Croatia' (NDH - Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska). Hitler had supported a united Yugoslavia until March 1941, but following the Belgrade coup, he decided to set up a Great Croatian puppet-state - one that would include all of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Even so, he was less interested in Croatia than he was in Serbia - so Serbia was placed under exclusive German control, while the NDH was made an Italo-German condominium; a buffer state between the two Axis allies. The existence of the NDH is sometimes used by certain historical ignoramuses to 'prove' the existence of a traditional German interest in Croatia, one that supposedly explains the 'German plot' to engineer Yugoslavia's break-up in the 1990s, in order to establish an independent Croatia as part of Germany's 'sphere' in the Balkans. Pace such fantasies, the German establishment of the NDH was testimony to Hitler's lack of interest in Croatia and Bosnia, and was to have serious repercussions for the development of an anti-fascist resistance.

Tito and Mihailovic both mistakenly assumed that Serbia would form the epicentre of the Yugoslav resistance. In fact, Croatia and Bosnia turned out to be the epicentre while Serbia became something of a backwater, and this for a number of reasons. The Nazis were unable to attract any mainstream or popular senior Croat politicians to serve as their quislings - the leadership of the principal Croat party, the Croat Peasant Party under Vladko Macek, refused to collaborate. Consequently, the Nazis were forced to rely on an extremist fringe movement, the 'Ustashas', under the leadership of Ante Pavelic. This was equivalent to placing the Ku Klux Klan in power in the USA. The Ustashas embarked on a genocidal policy of exterminating the Serb, Jewish and Gypsy populations of the NDH, killing hundreds of thousands and manufacturing a powerful Serb resistance virtually overnight. At the same time, the lighter German military control in the NDH than in Serbia meant that the rebels were not subject to such effective reprisals: simply put, it was more dangerous to remain passive in the NDH than in Serbia, but safer to resist.

The third reason for the Partisans' success in the NDH was their championing of the national liberation of both Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, enabling them to win the support of Croats and Muslims as well as Serbs. Supporters of Slobodan Milosevic have sought - with considerable success - to sell to the Western public the idea that it was only Serbs who fought as Partisans. The reality was very different. At the start of their uprising in 1941, the Communists appealed to the 'freedom-loving Croatian nation, that has for centuries struggled against its oppressors' to 'expel the fascist occupiers and destroy the hateful puppet government of the traitor Pavelic', promising that 'from the ruins of the tyranny of the occupiers and the Frankists [Ustashas] will rise a free and independent Croatia in which there will be no trace of the Frankists' and occupiers' tyranny, plunder, evil chauvinism and racial insanity'. Similarly, the Communists referred to their Partisan forces in Bosnia-Hercegovina as the 'People's Liberation Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina', which was 'composed of Muslims, Croats and Serbs' and which was fighting a 'decisive, ferocious struggle for the national liberation of Bosnia-Hercegovina'.

The Croatian Communists were the most powerful wing of the Yugoslav Communist movement; Tito himself was a Croat from the Croatian heartland of Zagorje. By the end of 1943 - shortly after Tito and the Communists had proclaimed a new, federal Yugoslavia - the western Yugoslav lands were dominating the Partisan movement: of ninety-seven Partisan brigades then in existence, thirty-eight were from Croatia, twenty-three from Bosnia-Hercegovina and eighteen from Slovenia. Of the thirty-eight Croatian Partisan brigades, twenty had an ethnic-Croat majority, seventeen an ethnic-Serb majority and one an ethnic-Czech majority. In Bosnia-Hercegovina, at this time, the Partisans were approximately two-thirds Serb and one-third Muslim and Croat, while the Slovene Partisans were overwhelmingly ethnic-Slovene. At the same time, the whole of eastern Yugoslavia (Serbia, Vojvodina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia) was contributing only eighteen Partisan brigades. Half a century later, Partisan veterans would lead Croatia during its transition from Communism and in its war of independence: Franjo Tudjman as President, Josip Manolic as Prime Minister, Martin Spegelj as Defence Minister and founder of the Croatian Army, Josip Boljkovac as Interior Minister and Janko Bobetko as Croatian Army Chief of Staff. This did not prevent Milosevic supporters from denouncing Croatia as 'Ustasha' - even as they resurrected the policies of Serbia's own Nazi collaborators.

While the Partisans fought the occupiers, the Chetniks collaborated. Mihailovic's officers in the NDH served as the auxiliaries of the Italians who, unlike the Germans, had no qualms about collaborating with rebels. Furthermore, various Bosnian Chetnik commanders signed treaties of cooperation with the very Ustasha state that had exterminated hundreds of thousands of their fellow Serbs. Mihailovic himself was careful not to put his signature on incriminating documents of this kind, but he never repudiated his own officers who did so. Meanwhile, under the military umbrella provided by their Italian allies, the Chetniks engaged in a genocidal campaign of their own against Muslims and Croats, in order to lay the foundations for a 'Great Serbia'. Petar Bacovic, Mihailovic's commander for eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina, reported in September 1942, that 'our Chetniks - greatly embittered by the misdeeds committed by the Ustashas against the Serbs - skinned alive three Catholic priests between Ljubinje and Vrgorac. Our Chetniks have killed all men aged fifteen years or above. They did not kill women or children aged under fifteen years. Seventeen villages were entirely burned... We shall soon, God willing, attack Fazlagic Kula, the last Muslim stronghold in Hercegovina. After that in Hercegovina there will not remain a single Muslim in the villages.' Pavle Djurisic, commander of the Lim-Sanjak Chetnik Detachment, reported to Mihailovic on 13th February 1943 the results of the Chetnik actions in the Pljevlja, Foca and Cajnice districts: 'All Muslim villages in the three mentioned districts were totally burned so that not a single home remained in one piece. All property was destroyed except cattle, corn and senna.' Furthermore: 'During the operation the total destruction of the Muslim inhabitants was carried out regardless of sex and age'. In this operation, 'our total losses were 22 dead, of which 2 through accidents, and 32 wounded. Among the Muslims, around 1,200 fighters and up to 8,000 other victims: women, old people and children.'

Mihailovic's Chetnik movement was viciously anti-Semitic. Bacovic claimed in October 1942 that 'the Jews, associated with much of the scum of the earth, fled to our country and began to propagate such a better and happier state of affairs in a Communist state.' Dobroslav Jevdjevic, Mihailovic's political representative in eastern Bosnia and Hercegovina, claimed in June 1942 that Partisan units were largely made up of 'Jews, Gypsies and Muslims'. The following month, he accused the Partisans: 'They have destroyed Serb churches and established mosques, synagogues and Catholic temples.' A pamphlet distributed by the Chetniks around Sarajevo in the autumn of 1942 spoke of 'the Communists, whose leaders are Jews and who wish to impose Jewish rule on the world'. A Chetnik proclamation of September 1942 claimed that 'an Ustasha, German, Jew or Gypsy may become a Partisan; in other words anyone willing on behalf of the foreigner to participate in the slaughter and killing of the best Serb sons.' A group of senior Chetnik commanders issued a proclamation in February 1943 to the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia, claiming that 'since we have cleansed Serbia, Montenegro and Hercegovina, we have come to help you to crush the pitiful remnants of the Communist international, criminal band of Tito, Mose Pijade, Levi Vajnert and other paid Jews'. They called upon the Partisan rank-and-file to 'kill the political commissars and join our ranks right away', like the 'hundreds and hundreds who are surrendering every day, conscious that they have been betrayed and swindled by the Communist Jews'. The 9th March 1943 issue of the Chetnik newspaper Vidovdan described the Partisans as 'bandits led by the Zagreb Jew 'Tito' and the Belgrade Jew Mose Pijade'.

Mihailovic himself informed his subordinates in December 1942: 'The units of the Partisans are filled with thugs of the most varied kinds, such as Ustashas - the worst butchers of the Serb people - Jews, Croats, Dalmatians, Bulgarians, Turks, Magyars and all the other nations of the world.' On a previous occasion, he stated: 'I have never made a genuine agreement with the Communists, for they do not care about the people. They are led by foreigners who are not Serbs: the Bulgarian Jankovic, the Jew Lindmajer, the Magyar Borota, two Muslims whose names I do not know and the Ustasha Major Boganic. That is all I know of the Communist leadership.' Nor did Chetnik anti-Semitism stop at words. As Israel Gutman's Encyclopedia of the Holocaust notes: 'There were many instances of Chetniks murdering Jews or handing them over to the Germans.'

Chetnik chauvinism and genocide were motivated by the desire to create a Great Serbia. A Chetnik pamphlet issued in 1941, endorsed by Bosko Todorovic, Mihailovic's most senior commander in Bosnia, explained the Chetnik goal: 'When it achieves freedom, a golden Serb freedom, then the Serb nation will - freely and without bloodshed, by means of the free elections which we are accustomed to in the Serbia of King Peter I - take its destiny into its own hands and freely say, whether it loves more its independent Great Serbia, cleansed of Turks and other non-Serbs, or some other state in which Turks and Jews will once again be ministers, commissars, officers and 'comrades'.'

As early as the autumn of 1942, Colonel Hudson, a British agent sent to make contact with the Yugoslav resistance, reported that Mihailovic had agreed 'to adopt the policy of collaboration with the Italians pursued by the Montenegrin Chetniks'. Another British agent, Colonel Bailey, reported that Mihailovic had made a speech in his presence in February 1943, at which he (Mihailovic) complained that the 'Serbs were now completely friendless' and that the 'English were now fighting to the last Serb in Yugoslavia', with no intention whatsoever of helping them. Consequently, 'so long as the Italians remained his sole adequate source of benefit and assistance generally, nothing the Allies could do would make him change his attitude toward them', i.e. cease collaboration. As far as Mihailovic was concerned, 'his enemies were the Partisans, the Ustashas, the Muslims and the Croats. When he had dealt with them, he would turn to the Italians and Germans.' In the crucial Battle of the Neretva that took place at this time, at which the Partisans succeeded with great difficulty in breaking out of Axis encirclement, the Chetniks fought on the Italian side. On this basis, the British gradually shifted their support from the Chetniks to the Partisans, finally ending all contact with Mihailovic in 1944 and designating Tito the sole leader of the Yugoslav resistance. Conversely, following the Italian capitulation in the summer and autumn of 1943, the Germans shifted their policy and began to collaborate directly with the Chetniks.

Apologists for Mihailovic and anti-Communist conspiracy theorists have claimed that the British decision to drop him was the work of Communist moles in British intelligence. Churchill's decision was based, not only on the reports of his agents in the field, but on his own interception of German intelligence information that used the Ultra code. The conspiracy theorists allege that the intelligence reaching Churchill was filtered by Communist moles to create a false picture of which Yugoslav group was resisting and which was collaborating. Yet, although there were undoubtedly Communists in British intelligence at the time, the conspiracy theorists have so far failed to unearth a single shred of evidence in support of the existence of an actual conspiracy to skew Churchill's perception of events in Yugoslavia. Indeed, Stalin was, in this period, mortally afraid of engaging in any kind of subversive activity that might alienate the Western Allies, and was consequently deeply wary of Tito's revolutionary actions. As the American historian Walter R. Roberts writes: 'The Soviets showed surprisingly little interest in their Communist allies in Yugoslavia, and because they did not wish unnecessarily to disturb relations with the British and US Governments, they supported the [royalist] Yugoslav Government-in-Exile until well into 1943'. And the ubiquitous Communist moles were hardly likely to annoy Stalin by pursuing an independent pro-Tito policy of their own: James Klugman, the conspiracy theorists' favourite culprit among the Communists in the British intelligence establishment, became one of Tito's most virulent critics following the Tito-Stalin split of 1948. The irony is that it was Churchill, not Stalin, who took the lead in shifting Allied support to Tito. On this occasion, Churchill's hardheaded anti-Nazi realism and his romantic identification with the Partisans combined to trump his anti-Communism. Had the Chetniks won the Yugoslav Civil War, they would have plunged Yugoslavia into a bloodbath as they sought to exterminate non-Serbs in their efforts to create a Great Serbia. Churchill, therefore, redeemed himself somewhat, following his earlier blunder in dragging Yugoslavia into the war.

Mihailovic continued his opportunistic game of seeking to collaborate with both Axis and Allies. In this context, he assisted the US airborne evacuation of about two-hundred and fifty airmen from Chetnik territory in August 1944. This simply meant that the Chetniks allowed the Americans to use their airstrip for the evacuation - scarcely a particularly heroic action - while at the same time, Mihailovic sent a delegation along with the departing US planes in a fruitless effort to win back Allied support. Yet it was for the rescue of US airmen that Mihailovic would posthumously receive the Legion of Merit. On other occasions, however, Mihailovic's Chetniks rescued German airmen and handed them over safely to the German armed forces - were he so inclined, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder could follow Washington's example and decorate Mihailovic for saving the lives of his country's servicemen. Yet none of Mihailovic's intrigues saved him or his Chetnik movement from destruction at the hands of the victorious Partisans: the revolution in the western Balkans - Europe's second and last successful Communist revolution - succeeded thanks to British and American military intervention, which enabled the reestablishment of Yugoslavia. This is a fact that Milosevic's left-wing supporters usually prefer not to mention.

The Americans, with a weaker intelligence presence in the Balkans than the British, were less in touch with the realities of the Yugoslav Civil War. They were consequently less than enthusiastic about the British abandonment of the anti-Communist Mihailovic, and more reserved toward the Partisans. On 29th March 1948, at the height of the Cold War, US President Truman posthumously awarded Mihailovic with the Legion of Merit for his role in rescuing American airmen. This was at a time when Tito was still Stalin's loyal henchman in Eastern Europe, and pursuing a confrontational policy toward the Western powers in Greece and elsewhere. Within months, however, the situation had changed: Stalin broke with Tito, whom the Western powers once again began to support - this time as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. Consequently, the Americans refrained from making public their award to Mihailovic until 1967, and refrained from presenting his daughter with the award until this year.

The Bush Administration's readiness to overturn American diplomatic tradition in this way should perhaps come as no surprise from an administration that has made a habit of overturning diplomatic tradition, for better or for worse. One of the Administration's first diplomatic initiatives, following Bush's recent reelection, was to recognise the Republic of Macedonia under its rightful name, delivering a well-deserved slap in the face to Greece, thanks to whose merciless chauvinistic bullying, Macedonia has been forced to labour under the clumsy official denomination of 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' since its independence in the early 1990s. The Bush Administration thereby rewarded a loyal ally, and may have felt that the presentation of the award to Mihailovic was a similarly harmless gesture of solidarity to the post-Milosevic regime in Serbia-Montenegro, whose Foreign Minister, the endearingly comical Vuk Draskovic, has combined a quixotic attachment to the Mihailovic legend with a sincere desire to improve relations with the West. Yet, so far as the peoples of Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo, and indeed many anti-nationalist Serbs are concerned, the US has thereby rewarded an architect of the same genocidal Great Serbian project that brought them such misery, in the 1990s as in the 1940s. As on previous occasions, an ill-thought-out piece of realpolitik has had negative results - in this case, an insult to add to the grievous injuries of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia.

WHY they fought!

Doing a little websearching today, I happened upon this article, which was originally published in the November/December 1994 edition of the scholarly journal Lingua Franca, back when Kosova wasn't even a blip on the map of most people's conciousnesses, save for Albanians, Serbs, and a few supporters on each side. For those who wonder what conditions over time led the Albanians of Kosova to abandon the avowed-peaceful resistance ways of Ibrahim Rugova, and side with the KLA, this article gives some very good reasons. The only thing I can imagine a decent, moral person thinking upon reading this article is "I'm amazed they held out as long as they did before supporting a non-peaceful solution" (and one forced deliberately upon them by the Milosevic government, I might add).

BTW, a note to our Serb readers (and I know you're out there!): I challenge you, any of you, to PROVE that this article, or any other on this site, is a lie. And by prove, I don't mean come up with some histronic screed about "Anti-Serb propaganda", or shout "MSM! MSM!" ("Main Stream Media, for those of you not familiar with the term....) like Gomer Pyle running after Barney Fife screaming "Citizens arrest! Citizens arrest!", or give me some "Yeah, well what about....?" (Fill in your favorite criminal, violent, or racist action, real or imagined, supposedly committed by Albanians.) This is not "opinion" I've printed here, it's facts. And I can back it up. If you're going to rebut it, I want to see your FACTS. PERIOD. Whether it's a rebutting piece, or a "fisking", doesn't matter, so long as you have facts, and can back them up. I'll be waiting. Though I suspect it'll be a long wait....


The Parallel University
A Journey Through Kosovo's Secret Classrooms
By Masha Gessen

Theme: Post Cold War Politics

THE THING ABOUT CONFLICT zones is, there is never any toilet paper. A journalist usually resorts to the work of colleagues. But in the bathroom of the Kastrati household in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, a province in the former Yugoslavia under the control of the Serbian government in Belgrade, I find no familiar triangles of newsprint. Instead, there is a hose that comes out of the wall and stretches through the back of the toilet, turning it into something like a bidet.

"I'm sorry, we ran out of toilet paper," says Arben "Benny" Kastrati, at twenty-six the oldest male in this family of four and a budding movie star -- he had a supporting role in the film Before the Rain, which won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival this year. He apologizes as if someone had just used the last piece a minute or two ago. A more plausible explanation, however, is that like almost all Albanians in Kosovo -- two million people, or 90 percent of the province's population -- the K astratis have run out of money to buy toilet paper, three kinds of which are for sale at a nearby store. Since 1990, when the Serbian regime imposed a policy of apartheid, enforcing it through an extraordinarily visible police presence, regular arrests, a nd killings, more than 80 percent of Albanians have lost their jobs. Most of the rest work for wages that do not allow for such luxuries as toilet paper.

Benny's mother, Lidia, makes forty German marks a month as a primary-school teacher (German marks are the hard currency of choice here), an amount that will buy you twenty hamburgers with nothing on them or about one hundred rolls of toilet paper. In the old days she made 300 marks -- and that was before wartime hyperinflation drove prices up. Like all Albanian teachers, she lost her job in 1991. Now she gets paid by the government of the Republic of Kosova -- a shadow government formed by Albanians afte r the Serbs usurped all official positions in government, industry, and education. (Kosova is the land's Albanian name.)

Led by a fifty-year-old president, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, a former literary critic who was voted into office in 1990, and a parliament that never gets to meet, the Republic of Kosova is an extraordinary enterprise: a full-blown "parallel society," not dissim ilar to the one outlined in a key pre-glasnost document, The Parallel Polis, by Czech dissident Vaclav Benda. Instead of taking on the Serbs directly, Kosova's Albanians have chosen to create an entire clandestine civic infrastructure, including we lfare, medical care, and taxation -- Albanians all over the world voluntarily contribute 3 percent of their income to the Kosova treasury. The mechanics of this vast underground operation are largely kept secret, but its most successful enterprise is repu ted to be a comprehensive educational system that has primary schools, secondary schools, and a state-college-sized university with 25,000 students and more than 900 instructors.

IT TAKES SEVERAL PHONE CALLS from the headquarters of the Democratic League of Kosova, the leading of Kosovo's three or four active Albanian parties, to locate the room where the first-year archaeology and second-year ancient history exa ms are to be given by Edi Shukria, the vice-dean of the parallel University of Prishtina's faculty of philosophy and a member of Rugova's government. Half the undergraduates didn't know where the exams would be held, either: two places had been announced, and after Shukria made her final selection, a student who'd been waiting at the spot that had been chosen was dispatched to fetch the group that had gathered at the other site -- a full hour away by foot. Shukria based her choice of locale on the most pr agmatic criterion imaginable: there were more police near the other classroom.

Of all the basements and storefronts in private buildings where university classes are now held, Shukria's choice is one of the better ones: not too small, not too dirty, not too damp, though it is dark. In Prishtina, windows are not a source of light but a way for the police to see in. Still, the space is not large enough to hold all the students, so about twenty of them are waiting in a nearby garden for their turn to take the tests. They are the quietest twenty-year-olds in the world. I don't notice th em until I am at the gate.

The delicate art of becoming invisible is now one of the most important elements of a Kosovo Albanian's education. Vjosa Dovruna, a thirty- nine-year-old pediatrician and human rights activist, tells me what she overheard while driving a friend and the fr iend's six-year-old daughter to the girl's first class. "Now, little Dita," the mother said to her daughter in the backseat, "if the police come to beat you today, don't you say anything and don't you cry. You show them you're brave." At the school buildi ng, Dovruna witnessed an entire crowd of parents dispensing the same instructions.

Serbian police have shown that they are not above killing children: In July, one of the victims of police violence in Kosovo was a six-year-old boy, shot in what Serbian authorities have called an accident -- the boy was riding in his father's car, and th e police mistook the father for a smuggler. (The father survived.) Kosovo Albanian human rights activists, who have been logging similar "accidents" at an average of two a month, dismiss that explanation with an incongruous laugh. Such "accidents" happen to Albanians whether or not they violate laws, but since Kosovo's parallel education system requires that 400,000 people trans- gress against the new Serbian laws, the police maintain a terrifying degree of pressure on everyone. According to the Albanian Teachers Association, 3,300 teachers were detained and interrogated by the police and at least two directors of primary schools were killed over the past two years. "It's a very hard way to get educated," Dovruna tells me in the deadpan manner Kosovo Alba nians seem to have adopted to overcome the inadequacies of language. "Every beginning and end of the school year they get beaten up by police daily."

Serbian authorities make no attempt to hide their efforts to crack down on the parallel education system. Some acknowledge it in a tone of exhausted resignation; others, like Kosovo's Serbian secretary of education, Marinko Bozovic, derive a certain glee from it. During my visit with him, he shoves the grade reports and diplomas confiscated from students at me as though they were damning evidence in a murder case. "Look!" he exclaims in happy outrage, his entire bald head having acquired an aroused glow. "They have their own stamp! They write 'Republic of Kosova'!"

VERA KASTRATI, BENNY'S twenty-two-year-old sister, takes me on a tour of Prishtina's secret classrooms on the joyous day after she passed her last exam. (She now has one of those offending "Republic of Kosova" diplomas: a degree in Engli sh language and literature.) "This is the worst part of town," she explains as we start on a winding street up a steep hill. The people in this neighborhood are poorer than in the rest of Prishtina, but the advantage, she says, is that there are fewer Ser bs and fewer police. "Also," she adds, "it's more like a labyrinth."

Prishtina's narrow cobblestone streets hark back to five centuries of Ottoman rule -- most Kosovo Albanians converted to Islam during this period, like their neighbors in Bosnia. There are also a couple of the too wide central avenues that testify to deca des of communist rule. Five times a day, the straining voice of the muezzin carries through the streets around the mosque, which sits across from a sprawling government building, now guarded by several Serbian policemen armed with machine guns. Next to it is the city's most obvious landmark: a group of lonely-looking, faceless stone figures crowded around an obelisk. It is the Monument to the Friendship of the Turkish, Albanian and Serbian Nations.

Students walk to school alone or in pairs, so as not to give away the location of classrooms, Vera explains. She apologizes for taking me on such a long and grueling journey, one that leads through dust-filled streets under the merciless mountain sun. Wal king is another major part of becoming educated these days: buses don't travel the cobblestone labyrinth, so it is not unusual for students to walk an hour or two to get to class.

Our tour includes the best and worst of the parallel university's classrooms. The first one is the best, says Vera: "When I hear that we have an exam here, I jump for joy." The classroom is a storefront in a brick building, quaintly tidy on the outside. L ace curtains cover the windows, concealing a room about fifteen feet square. Students' seats are low benches stretched along the walls: long gray boards placed over clay bricks. The only desk is the professor's -- a simple table decorated with a tableclot h and a nondescript flower vase. The light fixtures are set in bare cement. "It gets very cold here," says Vera. Kosovo has the most severe winters in the former Yugoslavia, with temperatures reaching minus forty degrees Fahrenheit. Vera didn't manage to attend class that often; the cold made it hard to concentrate.

She's never skipped an exam, however -- a feat sometimes difficult to accomplish. As she unlocks the door to another classroom -- about a fifteen-minute walk up the hill from the first, and in worse condition -- Vera tells me that "the smell is [often] so bad that when I had an exam here I could barely stand it because I could not breathe." It's the mold. The space, which may also have been a storefront once, is a dark room, about ten by twenty feet. At the far end of it gapes a doorless bathroom, crawlin g with unidentifiable insects.

We are at the edge of Prishtina now: about 300 yards down the street, the buildings end and the mountains begin. Across the street is what Vera says is the worst classroom; it's the darkest one yet. The windows are concealed by a rickety wooden fence. We unlock a steel gate, then unhinge a side door that's built not to be noticed, and squeeze into a run that is about 2 feet wide -- the space between the fence and the storefront's glass doors. There are two classrooms side by side, as long and narrow as th e last place we visited. The benches are pushed so close together that even small children could not use them comfortably; they are made of the same long boards, this time placed over cases of empty bottles that are covered with dust.

On the far wall there are three large sheets of cardboard; each holds about forty glossy photographs of recent graduates in French and philology. The men are in suits, the women in traditional white blouses and red vests; the teachers, who stand on an ele vated platform, look on proudly. Every photograph is captioned with a name, and at the top of the philology board I spot Vera and Benny's uncle, Agim Vinca, a leading Albanian poet. We saw him at a café earlier that day; he was in a bad mood, havin g just been sentenced to thirty days in prison for going across the border to Albania, where he bought Albanian-language books (no longer available in Kosovo) and met with the translators of Sartre and Camus. He received his sentence by post in the mornin g, and was waiting to be picked up by police.

Isn't it dangerous to hang these pictures here? I ask Vera.

"Yes," she shrugs. "But they have to be hung somewhere. Before, they used to hang them in the shops." Now, Albanians have lost many of their shops. Hanging such images in public would be too risky, anyway.

THE STUDENTS IN EDI SHUKRIA'S classroom are eager to explain just how risky their lives are. Frashër Demaj, a lanky twenty-one-year-old with close-cropped dark-brown hair and eyes so dark they look damp, relates in painstaking Engli sh that on his way to Prishtina from Peja, a town twenty-six miles away, the bus he was riding was stopped by police, who demanded the passengers' documents. "They know I am a student because of my age," explains Demaj; he was afraid they might guess that he was going to Prishtina to take an exam -- which was, in fact, what he was doing. "They asked Demaj, 'Why do you study when you have no university? This is not your town.'" Demaj had already been beaten once by the police, so he preferred to avoid a co nfrontation. Besides, he wanted to protect his "index," a notebook in which a student's grades are entered. "I do not study anything," he answered. "I am in a computer course." Other times, when he cannot deny that he is a university student, Demaj inform s the police that he is studying biology, "because history is very dangerous," he tells me.

Shukria nods. History -- particularly local history -- is an explosive subject for the Serbs. The original historical dispute over this land goes back to the legendary Battle of Kosovo, in 1389: the Serbs believe they won it, while most of the rest of the world thinks they lost it. (That Turkey proceeded to dominate this former Serbian territory for centuries does lend credence to the world's version.) In any case, Serbs consider Kosovo to be the cradle of their civilization, and their most important hist orical site. The versions of history put forth by Albanians -- who believe, for example, that they are descendants of the Illyrians, a people indigenous to the region -- upsets Serbs to no end.

A second student from Peja, Din Kastrati (not one of the Prishtina Kastratis), a red-haired twenty-six-year-old with a tired, colorless face, tells us his story. With Shukria translating, he explains that he is the president of the town's youth organizat ion. "I was called to the police station three times," he says. "On October 17, 1993, I was mistreated for three hours. They asked for guns, they asked about my activity in the Youth Forum, and about the university and about studying, and they asked, 'Why are you studying? Nobody recognizes your degree.' They asked for my index. Then, after letting me go, they came looking for me again, and for three months I did not live at home. I went underground." He eventually fled to neighboring Macedonia, then trav eled across the mountains and made his way back to Prishtina: "I want to study, and I didn't want to lose a year at the university, so I came only for exams."

"So why are you studying?" I ask, and it is all I can do not to echo the police and add, Your university is not recognized. And then to come out with the questions that nag at me throughout my visit here: What will you do as a 30-year-old in hid ing with an unaccredited diploma in Albanian history? And who has put into young people's heads the idea that the best response to being beaten up by the police is going to class?

"'We recognize our university,'" is what Din Kastrati says he told the police. "After that, the police started to beat me up. One of the ways they did this was to lay me on a big table and beat me with one-and-a-half-meter canes."

It's as simple as that: Kosovo Albanians not only recognize their university, they recognize themselves in it. Everywhere else they look -- on TV, for example, where all the broadcasts are in Serbian -- they see themselves represented as subhuman. Serbian rhetoric has portrayed the Serbian-Albanian conflict as the struggle of "a people with nonpeople." Or, as a distressingly beautiful twenty-one-year-old Serb woman I meet on the University of Prishtina campus tells me, "They are Muslims, you understand?" Batting translucent eyelids, this second-year library-science student also says: "Prishtina is big, big shit. [The Kosovars] are peasants, but don't live in a village -- they are bad people. They don't want to go to our schools -- I don't know why. They d on't want to go to school because they are very stupid, believe me. What can they do? They can work in a bar and make coffee, they can work in the toilets and clean. They don't live like people. They don't take water and wash themselves."

I realize that the hose in the Kastratis' toilet is testament not only to one family's wartime ingenuity but to the desire of all Albanians to prove themselves better than the Serbs' image of them, perhaps better than the Serbs themselves.

SRETEN UGRETIC MAY BE the most open-minded Serb I meet in Prishtina. A thirty-three-year-old professor of philosophy at the Serb-occupied University of Prishtina, he also works at George Soros's Open Society Fund, a charitable organizati on that the Belgrade government has made every effort to disable. He calls the thirty-six-year-old Albanian Juljeta Vuniçi, the secretary of the Open Society Fund, one of his closest friends. Ugretic came here two years ago from Belgrade, where he could not find an academic post. He feels bad for the lone, constantly harassed Albanian professor in his department. Ugretic teaches ethics, so we talk ethics.

Teaching "is a strictly professional kind of work," he tells me, reclining in a swivel chair, his foot on the back of the desk where Vuniçi is sitting; she remains stone-faced throughout this conversation. "When I came, the 'cleansing' of the Alban ian staff was done," Ugretic continues. "It was a very clean situation -- only Serbian staff was there. I only hear about what it was like before. So I don't have this [ethical] problem, because I just came here to work. Sometimes I ask myself how I would react. These people [doing the 'cleansing'] were just little parts in big machine. It would have been dangerous for them to do anything different because they would have been afraid to lose their jobs."

I ask Vuniçi what she would have done in Ugretic's shoes. "I would have a big moral problem," she replies reluctantly but firmly. "I can say that I would never do it."

"If all our Serbian colleagues thought the way you and I do," Ugretic objects, "there would be no staff left to teach the Serbian pupils."

"If there was unanimity, maybe the system would think, 'There is something wrong; we must do something differently,'" Vuniçi ventures.

"That is utopian thinking," Ugretic says, fuming in a mild-mannered way. "If the Albanians were in the place of the Serbs, they would react the same way. I am sure of that."

Utopian thinking is a prerogative of the oppressed -- and the moral high road is theirs for the taking. According to the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Prishtina, a group that documents the abuse of Albanians by the Serbian police , the tally for the first six months of 1994 was 4 deaths; 5 people wounded; 77 sentenced to prison; 420 police interruptions of educational and cultural activities; 525 attacks on activists; 1,719 cases of torture and police abuse; 2,068 arrests and inte rrogations; and 6,154 property searches. Serbian persecution of the Albanians is not particularly new: it dates back at least to 1981, when Communist Yugoslavia imposed martial law on Kosovo to quell a rash of Albanian student demonstrations -- a developm ent that went virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world, preoccupied as it was with similar events taking place in Poland.

But since 1990, Kosovo has remained in what Albanian journalist and philosopher Shkelzen Maliqi has termed a state "neither of war nor of peace but also of more war than peace." Four years ago, the Albanians seemed to choose peace spontaneously; thwarting all prognoses of war, they responded to the violent Serbian takeover with silent marches through hundreds of miles of snow-covered mountain. In an essay on the nonviolence of the Kosovo Albanians, Maliqi wrote that they have "proved not only that the Alb anians have been defamed but more significantly that they have collectively changed for the better and indeed become better and more civilized than their tormentors."

EJUP STATOVCI, DOCTOR OF JURISPRUDENCE, lives in the high-rise apartment building directly opposite the University of Prishtina campus, though, of course, he no longer works there. From his window, he can see the university library. Doub tless the most remarkable structure in the city, the library resembles a dozen mosques squeezed together, and it is also closed to Albanians. Professor Statovci can also see University Square, which has become a desolate construction site: the largest Eas tern Orthodox church in the Balkans is to be built in a space originally cleared for several university buildings. He can also observe the arrival and departure of the new Serbian professors, imports from Belgrade delivered daily by bus from the Hotel Gra nd, their temporary quarters. Up one street, a complex of 240 apartments and 40 single-family homes are being built; they will eventually house the new teachers. It turns out that the construction project is of such an urgent nature, so very important, th at it kept the Serbian rector of the university too busy to meet with me.

Professor Statovci is busy, too; as the rector of the underground university, he spends his days faxing colleagues throughout the West, publicizing the school's fate and issuing pleas for help. Statovci says that some European universities have been quite generous with help, including fellowships for visiting parallel University of Prishtina professors. He has written to American university associations many times, but, he tells me with exaggerated politeness, "I'm afraid to say that I never got any answe r."

The process of forcing Albanians out of the education system began in 1989, when primary and secondary schools -- which until then had been teaching about 90 percent of the students in Albanian and 10 percent in Serbian -- were further segregated. Serbian and Albanian children now have to study in shifts and in different classrooms. In March 1990, about 7,000 schoolchildren showed up at medical centers around Kosovo, complaining of stomach cramps. The Serbian authorities claimed that it was a case of mass hysteria, while Albanian human rights organizations believe the children were poisoned. The following school year, the Serbian authorities decreed that all instruction had to take place in Serbian; 70,000 teachers were fired for refusing to comply, and 3 45,000 Albanian schoolchildren stopped going to school altogether.

The "cleansing" of the University of Prishtina began in earnest in the summer of 1991, when the Serbian authorities imposed so-called emergency measures, replacing all Albanian university administrators -- including the elected rector and deans -- with Se rbs. In the first few months of the 1991-92 school year, all but 15 of the more than 900 Albanian university instructors lost their jobs. Here, the reasons were more varied. Shukria, for example, lost her job for refusing to administer a Russian oral exam ; she speaks no Russian. Agim Hyseni, a professor of sociology and now president of the Union of Education, Science, and Culture in Kosova, lost his job when he failed to show up once. Isa Bajcinça, an Albanian-language teacher who had worked at th e university since it was founded in 1970, lost his job because too many students signed up for his course -- 250 instead of the planned 40.

Serbian officials insist that the Albanians abandoned the official education system voluntarily. Albanian students are welcome to apply to the University of Prishtina, the officials say -- as long as they are willing to study in Serbian. Actually, Albania n students don't have this option because university rules, posted in the lobbies of the hollowed-out campus buildings, clearly state that only graduates of Serbian-language high schools may apply. Bozovic, the zealous Serbian secretary of education, admi ts that graduates of parallel high schools cannot enter the university: "For three years, they have been studying according to their own program. It's a bad program." In fact, it is the same program Kosovo schools used before 1990, and back then it was go od enough to allow them to gain university admission not only in Prishtina but throughout the former Yugoslavia.

By the late fall of 1991, Kosovo's ethno-political quagmire, never having reached the boiling point of war, had congealed into the hideous solid it is today, and Albanians grew convinced that they would never see the insides of their school buildings agai n. The parallel education system, like the Kosovo Albanians' entire resistance effort, seems to have organized itself spontaneously, with teachers, students, parents, and the owners of the many private homes that would hold the schools coming together at no one person's initiative.

According to the Statovcis, theirs was the first household to host classes for the first classes of the parallel system. The Statovci's middle daughter, Brikena, now twenty and a student in the parallel University of Prishtina's electrotechnology departme nt, says she started them. "One day we would have math and the teacher would come here," says Brikena, gesturing around the none-too-opulent living room. "And the next day we would have biology."

Ejup Statovci, a civil-law expert educated at the universities of Zagreb, Ljubljana, Oxford, and Harvard, was elected rector of the University of Prishtina on November 26, 1991. One of his first actions, in January 1992, was to petition Serbian authoritie s to grant Albanians access to the university. At about the same time, thousands of university students staged two days of peaceful protests, demanding entry to the university. Benny Kastrati, who, in his capacity as a student dean, was a leader of the de monstrations, recalls that time: "The first day a lot of journalists were there. The first day was okay. The second day we got beat up -- all of us -- and split." Was anyone killed? Benny wrinkles his forehead. "It's hard to remember. It was two years ago . A lot of people were getting beaten and killed."

Ejup Statovci's first arrest followed the petition. "They said I disturbed the order, and apparently I frightened the Serb students and professors," he recalls. He was sentenced to sixty days' imprisonment but was released after eleven, following letters of protest from officials of various European universities. This did not stop the authorities from arresting Statovci three more times, once detaining him for thirty-one days. They always ask the same questions, he says: "Why am I rector, why do I do this kind of work?"

Why would he have wanted to become rector, when his eighth book, a manuscript on human rights laws, remains pointedly unfinished? "Because I like very much my university," Statovci explains. He speaks and moves slowly, creating the impression of a very ol d man who has only now found his calling. His genuinely obsessive passion and the sheer horror he describes make the affected heroicism of his old-fashioned speech painfully touching. "If I have to, I am ready -- if I may say so, madam -- to sacrifice for the university. Myself. For the students, for the faculty. I think my university should be called, madam, the University of Peace -- or Peace of University. My university has kept the peace in this area, has taught civilization, democracy. We do exactly the work a university should do."

AND THEY DO IT, apparently, exactly the way a university should do it. Professors insist that the quality of education has hardly been affected, its content barely changed. Well, sometimes a little: one professor of psychology, Pajazit N ushi, the vice president of the human rights council, shows me a thick photo album filled with snapshots of open wounds and faces of the dead, swollen from beatings, and reluctantly admits that lately he has begun to focus on the subjects of trauma and fr ustration in his psychology classes. Still, he sends me to the university's historians and sociologists for juicy quotes on how the content of an Albanian's university education has changed. They insist that there's nothing to say: it's just education as usual. Shukria says, "It was in 1981 that my Serb colleagues asked me not to teach the history of the Illyrians" -- a people indigenous to this region, whose relationship to the Albanians is disputed. "And I taught it then and I teach it now."

Incredibly, the university has even launched an academic press and two departments since going underground. Statovci proudly demonstrates the first book, The Basics of Electrotechnology, Part II. Then there are the seventy-two titles by parallel-un iversity professors, privately printed last year. Meanwhile, the administrators of the parallel education system are careful not to divulge the details of their work. I learn only that the budget is drawn from voluntary taxes and direct aid from foreign e ducational institutions; that university professors are paid 102 marks a month; that books are passed on from student to student; that funding for new titles is allocated on a triage basis; and that all communication is strictly word of mouth. The adminis trators stress that the system is extremely well organized -- possibly, notes Statovci, better organized than ever before.

Of the people I meet associated with university, only one, a former instructor at the parallel university, criticizes it. Afërdita Surroi, who was an associate professor of German, argued unsuccessfully for shutting the German department, one of the two new ones, because it could not deliver a good education. "Maybe I was too optimistic," she says, "but I did not have the strength to go on.... [The students] have the desire to study, but they study literature -- and they don't have books. They don't have a library, so they have to order books from Germany, but they're too expensive.... I had to walk one and a half hours, so three hours a day I walked, and I was always depressed." She quit after one semester.

Some parts of the university have suffered more than others. For example, the medical school has a hard time, deprived as it is of laboratory facilities and cadavers. But as more and more Albanian doctors have opened back-alley private practices or gone t o work at the city's Mother Teresa Hospital, they have clandestinely taken on student interns.

Vera Kastrati, who attended the old University of Prishtina for her first year of schooling, admits that her studies suffered after the move underground, when she no longer had access to a native speaker with whom to practice her English or to necessary b ooks. "In the first year, I worked harder and I had ambitions and my grades were better," she says as we huff and puff our way up the hill. "Now I don't have any ambitions."

AT THE END OF MY interview with Kosova's president, Ibrahim Rugova, he points out that he is a structuralist who studied semiotics in Paris with Roland Barthes. Not one of the former Eastern bloc's many reluctant intellectual politicians , Rugova has a clear appreciation for politics, but he likes to underscore his intellectual roots. The Parisian theoretician in him manifests itself in the ever-present silk maroon paisley scarf, one end tucked behind the knot of his proper, matching tie, the other draped over the shoulder of his charcoal pin-striped suit. The flamboyant fashion accessory makes an appearance in all the photos lining his office walls, depicting him with various leading politicans around the world. "The French structuralist slogan is, 'Savoir, c'est pouvoir,' " he pronounces as he rises to shake my hand. "That means, 'Knowledge is power.' That is where my knowledge of power comes from."

Entrancing as that sounds coming from a head of state, it is less than convincing as an explanation for the Kosovo Albanians' sustained passion for education. After all, Lenin, who could not have heard of semiotics, declared "Znaniye -- sila," ("Po wer is knowledge"), and he built a society in which power was consistently used to suppress knowledge. Kosovo Albanians are intimately familiar with this form of repression. Following the imposition of martial law in 1981, more than half of all political prisoners in Yugoslavia and 70 percent of those whose sentences exceeded one year were ethnic Albanians. The populations has since established a custom for greeting political prisoners after their release: the doors of the person's home are opened to anyo ne who wants to visit, and all his relatives prepare sweets for the guests. I learn this at Vjosa Dovruna's house, where I am treated to the cakes left over from the celebration for the release of her uncle -- a historian who served eleven years for advoc ating discussion of a future Kosovo republic.

"Uncle is confused," laughs Dovruna. "He hears us talking and he says, 'I spent eleven years in prison for talk like that!' " Uncle does not understand that, nowadays, talk is cheap. In taking away almost everything else Kosovo Albanians had, Serbian pres ident Slobodan Milosevic unwittingly gave them freedom of speech, and it has resulted in a powerful resurgence of intellectual openness. The random nature of the terror makes self-censorship pointless. Instead of the sort of oblique omissions that used to characterize Albanian speech, everyday conversation is now replete with the frank and open expectation of violence. When I note that someone failed to show up for an interview, Dovruna immediately suggests, "He must have been arrested -- our people are n ot so irresponsible." The next day, when the staff at the council office fail to get a particular professor on the phone, a theory is immediately proffered: "He was probably evicted and the apartment given to a Serb."

Adult Albanians can take satisfaction in such talk: every violent incident is further proof of their moral superiority. But younger people, by all accounts, are not sustained by such righteousness. Says Edi Shukria, "I don't know what to explain to my thi rteen-year-old. Sometimes she says, 'What are you doing? It's better to fight. We are human beings. It's better to be dead than to live in this way.' I don't like to talk to the girl, becuase she is at that age where she does not understand nations and pe ople yet."

President Rugova offers the obvious answer: it would be suicidal for Kosovo Albanians to attempt to fight. "Education is the most powerful weapon in the world," he says. "Jews [during World War II] could have picked up arms, but they would have been extin guished immediately. Instead, they created a strong spirit. We have been creating a 'solidarity culture,' just like the Jews."

And just like the Jews, they may face the scorn of a future generation that will see them as having walked obediently toward humiliation and death. What will today's Albanian students tell their children?

Edi Shukria's classroom falls quiet at this question, until a twenty-two-year-old woman offers: "We have to explain that -- " She trails off. "We hope they can understand."

Masha Gessen is a contributing editor of Lingua Franca. She lives in Moscow.