Protests Break Out in Three Municipalities in Northern Kosovo, KFOR secures the scene


Across three northern municipalities, thousands of residents have been rallying since early this morning in front of municipal buildings that have been occupied by heavily armed special units of the Kosovo police since Friday. Most of the protestors are employees of Serbian temporary municipal structures, accompanied by other workers, officials of former Kosovo and Serbian institutions, pensioners, unemployed and masked individuals.

At least one minor incident broke out this morning in Zvecan, when the protesters tried to enter the building, the police responded by using tear gas.

Protesting citizens are separated from the police by KFOR, primarily American and Hungarian troops, deployed in all municipalities. A convoy of over 20 heavy armored vehicles was seen in early afternoon hours at Mitrovica region along the main road between Mitrovica and Leposavic.

Both sides must refrain from actions that could incite violence and cause escalation, said KFOR today.

For now, KFOR has the situation completely under control, both through the presence of its troops and as well as direct negotiations with protestors.

On behalf of Serbs in Zvecan, leaders of Srpska Lista are engaged in negotiations, while protestors, in all three municipalities, demonstrate their clear dissatisfaction with the leadership of that party.

In a statement for KoSSev, the leader of GI ‘For Zubin Potok’, Milija Bisevac said that:

“Many citizens that have gathered here today share my feeling of personal disappointment. They tried to enter this morning and go back to their places of work, and that’s it. No paper or statement was given to the police outlining what we want. They didn’t address the citizens. We’re all waiting for something, but we don’t know what”.

Bisevac went further to say that believes that the demands of local Serbs, which are clear, should have been conveyed to the special forces and Kosovo authorities.

“It should be known what we’re asking for. We want the withdrawal of special forces, for employees to be allowed to return to their places of work, for the newly elected mayors to withdraw to offices in Cabra near here, in Bistrica down by Leposavic. Until a more long-term solution is found, they can even come here when they must complete administrative tasks or obligations”, added Bisevac.

In Mitrovica, a right-wing activist Nebojsa Jovic confronted former mayor Dragisa Milović, saying that he should be ashamed, and that the special units would not have been able to enter the municipal facilities if Srpska Lista had not taken the citizens to Vucic’s rally.

Criticisms about the people being left in the lurch have been heard several times since this morning. The situation is similar in Leposavic and Zvečan, albeit calmer.

In Zubin Potok, this morning, accompanied by former mayor Srđan Vulović, an employee in the municipality addressed the special units that did not allow these officials to go to their workplaces, saying that she had been going to her job for 35 years, that the Serbs „don’t protest that” your mayor” is going to work in Čabra, saying: „The mayor who is defended by the police and whom the police let into the building is rude.“

It was quiet in Leposavic throughout the morning, but KFOR unfurled barbed wire in front of the municipality. The president of the temporary authority, Zoran Todić, addressed the public in a similar tone, with a request to vacate the building and withdraw the special forces.

In all three municipalities, citizens sang and patriotic songs that were played over loudspeakers. Incidents that occurred included the spray painting of the letter Z and four ‘s’s’ on two armored police vehicles, placing a Serbian flag on a police van, and other similar acts.

Early this morning, American Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier met with two mayors – from Zvečan and Zubin Potok, who are from Hashim Thaci’s party, at the EU bulding in Pristina. Mayors from the other two municipalities, were not present, although Kosovo media reported late last night that all four received invitations, and all said that they would go to work today.

There is no confirmed information on the whereabouts of the other two mayors, who are members of Self-Determination.

According to some reports, the mayor of Leposavic was still in the office around 6 o’clock this morning, and another official of Self-Determination is there with him. Also, the mayor of Zvečan, who met with Hovenier this morning, according to some media reports, allegedly came to the municipal office during the day, although KFOR representatives on the ground denied this.

Immediately after the meeting, Hovenier continued to the neighboring building for a meeting at around 11 with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, but the two mayors were reportedly still seen in the EU building.

After these meetings the Ambassador said that he was very worried.

A message arrived from Belgrade that the army is „still in full readiness“ and that they will carry out the „complete deployment of units“ by 2:00 p.m., but also that they are hoping for a diplomatic solution. However, he directed criticism at KFOR, with which he confirms that the General Staff is in constant communication, that it took the side of the Kosovo police, guarding it instead of citizens.

Read more:

KFOR: Both Sides Must Refrain from Actions that Could Incite Violence and Cause Escalation

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