The January 14th issue of the Serbian weekly newspaper NIN comes with a gift in the form of a book titled „Oliver, kao brat za brata“ (“Oliver, amongst brothers”) dedicated to the memory of Oliver Ivanovic, who was assassinated in North Mitrovica on January 16, 2018.
The Serbian weekly newspaper publishes the book „Oliver, kao brat za brata“ on the eve of the third anniversary of the assassination of the Kosovo Serb leader. Not only is the trial for Ivanovic’s murder not over, but it is also practically at its beginning, as the latest indictment was filed on December 11th.
Marko Rosic, Nedeljko Spasojevic, Silvana Arsovic, Zarko Jovanovic, Dragisa Markovic, Rade Basara are accused in the trial led by the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office before the Basic Court in Pristina. Milan Radoicic and Zvonko Veselinovic are accused of being the leaders of a criminal group.
A decision by the Court of Appeals in Pristina in September returned the case of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic to the beginning. In the pre-trial proceedings, only one hearing was held on the 11th February when the accused pleaded not guilty. A month ago, a hearing was postponed indefinitely.
The author of the book is journalist Milan Radonjic – whose (part of) interview with Oliver Ivanovic came out posthumously. Radonjic spoke with Ivanovic in October 2017 when the topic of Kosovo’s local elections was discussed at length.
According to the author and editor of the book, the book is a „testimony of life in a hijacked society“. The book raises several questions for now – „until they are finally answered by an independent, international investigation into Ivanovic’s murder.“
Some of the questions refer to the identity of the person who broke into Ivanovic’s family apartment in September 2013, the author alleged that it is „the same man who appeared and moved freely around Mitrovica on several occasions after the incident.“ Other questions refer to grounds that, as the author further states, „the VBA (the Serbian Military Security Agency) indirectly supported the allegations of the EULEX indictment against Oliver Ivanovic“; which reflected the conflict between Ivanovic and the authorities, and how the „media campaign led against Oliver Ivanovic was coordinated“, in which, according to one of the questions, „the President of the Republic became indirectly involved with on 18. October 2017.“
Below we publish a part of the interview Radonjic conducted with Oliver Ivanovic. The entire interview can be read in a book available with the latest edition of the NIN weekly.
Oliver Ivanovic: „My opponent is not the candidate of Srpska Lista for the position of mayor. My real opponent is an entire structure that is criminogenic, but unequivocally, so is the Government of Serbia. How dare they say that we will have continuity of cooperation only if the SNS list wins? It is unconstitutional, meaningless, and extremely harmful. I am quite disappointed with their stance, and I was not aware of that since I was in prison the entire time. It seemed a little different to me from there.“
Milan Radonjic: How would you describe the current pre-election atmosphere in Mitrovica?
Oliver Ivanovic: „Unhealthy. I expected an invitation from the head of the Kosovo Office, the prime minister, or President Vucic along the lines of ‘citizens of Serbia, elections are being held in Kosovo, I invite you to go to the polls in large numbers because that is the only way we can get the best people in positions of authority.’ And, of course, I would add that no one should threaten anyone because of the elections and that whoever does so will have to deal with the authorities of the Republic of Serbia. No one should force anyone to go to the polls, much less force them to vote one way or another. If one does that, he is breaking the law because that is a criminal act punishable under the law of Serbia, as well as Kosovo. They must say that, and not what they said. If I were in Vucic’s place, I would do that.“
Milan Radonjic: What motivates you to continue?
Oliver Ivanovic: „Today, I am the only one who can put this town into order and the fact that there are so many people in it who are dear to me. In the end, I do not want to underestimate that, I want to live in this town, but not in a town like this. The town must be put into order. If someone had offered to me to be a candidate for mayor thirty years ago, I would have been overjoyed and really excited about it. I am not excited anymore, but I see it as a huge responsibility. I have invested much more in this town than others did, especially those present here today…
… After the war, I was part of a group of people who thought in a very constructive way, who opposed Belgrade’s policy at the time and managed to establish a bridge of cooperation with foreigners as the key to survival and protection from dangerous Albanians, and there were such people. In May, we joined the DOS (United Serbian Opposition) as the Serbian National Council North – the only respectable or legitimate force of the Serbian community from Kosovo, which was very important because at the end of that year there was a battle on what to do with Kosovo.“
Milan Radonjic: Do you believe that the strategy that yielded results back then can be applied today?
Oliver Ivanovic: „Yes, it is applicable because it has outlived all others. Our government and authority are an irreplaceable factor and partners, regardless of who is in power. And if there is a regime change in Belgrade, we do not have the luxury of not having the best possible relationship with someone new. Serbs from Kosovo must have the best possible relationship with any government in Belgrade that is legitimate and legal, of course. It is not about affinities, but about the necessity necessary for survival. No government can make a difference between our and their people, neither can the current one. And I openly told them so.“
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