A day after the Serbian president presented new details in the Serbian Assembly about the presence of uniformed persons in the north of Kosovo on July 31st, Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Svecla, published a video last night showing the alleged „distribution of weapons“ in North Mitrovica that purportedly took place that day.
The video Svecla published on Facebook, with the description „Statements and actions of Serbia that remind us of the end of the 1980s and 1990s“, also includes parts of the recent introductory speech of Aleksandar Vucic in the Serbian Assembly.
While the Serbian president clearly underscored that uniformed but unarmed persons came to the north on July 31st, in the second part of the same video, under the subtitle – “What really happened between July 31st and August 1st?” Svecla claims that „the distribution of weapons took place in North Mitrovica“, but also that shooting broke out in Zubin Potok.
„For the first time, people wearing old and new uniforms are appearing, seeking to defend the north of Kosovo from the aggressors, from those who want to expel Serbs from Kosovo. When those young Serb men appeared, weaponless, all the people, all the women in the urban areas, came to greet them and say – ‘freedom, we welcome you’.“
He cited this as an indicator of „how fed up our people in Kosovo are with suffering the terror of Pristina.“
„There was not a single lady or woman who did not come out of their houses to embrace those people and say ‘thank you, you will fight for our freedom,’“ said Vucic.
Self-determination and Kosovo government officials from that party have been increasingly addressing the public – especially the citizens of the north of Kosovo – via short videos shared on social networks.
Svecla shared the video on the same day he held a press conference with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, at which he announced that Vucic had publicly confirmed for the first time that uniformed persons were present at the barricades.
Svecla reiterated that these are „armed and masked groups“ allegedly led and financed by the President of Serbia and the Government of Serbia. This minister also says that the Kosovo authorities have evidence of the presence of these groups on the territory of Kosovo on the night between July 31st and August 1st.
„We have continuously underlined that all groups that are organized to fight against the preservation of the state territorial integrity of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, are not only created, but also financed and led by Aleksandar Vucic and the Government of Serbia. We have evidence of the presence of armed, uniformed and masked groups from the night of July 31st to August 1st. Our institutions are working on identifying all those persons. I believe we are well on our way to doing that. This is the first time that even the President of Serbia himself confirmed something that we said some time ago, which was confirmed by our military and security sectors – that they are present here, that they came in large numbers from the territory of Serbia – gendarmerie soldiers who came to Kosovo or criminal groups living in that zone“ – reads part of Svecla’s address at the same conference, which is included in this video.
During a public debate organized by the civic initiative “Srpski Opstanak” on August 28th, local security experts from North Mitrovica, Veroljub Bata Petronic and Srdjan Simonovic from the Humane Center, also spoke about the alleged armed groups at the July 31st barricades.
Speaking of what is known about the so-called Northern Brigade, Petronic explained: “As for the word about the appearance of young armed men at the barricades, they are playing dumb, someone is using other people’s children.“
„It is our responsibility to stand up, speak out and call on all those who are doing this to first arm their children, then to push them there, to bring them to the barricades, and only then to arm other people’s children. Instead of shipping off their children to Belgrade, while pretending to be patriots and heroes. That’s not right,“ Petronic said at the time.
His colleague Srdjan Simonovic, a consultant at the Humane Center, said that if even three bullets are fired, a conflict would break out.
He presented data from the Kosovo MIA declaring that there are around 260,000 illegal weapons in Kosovo. KFOR, however, has findings that there are actually twice as many, he says.
The following day, however, in an interview with Radio Kosovska Mitrovica, Simonovic denied part of his own organization’s allegations about armed persons, while also accusing the media of spreading what he called “inaccurate, half-true or false information.”
„Creating bombastic headlines, taking certain sentences out of context can have disastrous consequences. Recently, we had a case where one of our media wrote that people here are arming themselves, which is absolute madness. A couple of sentences were taken out of one man’s statement, one was made up and a bombastic headline was created…“ Simonovic told Radio Kosovska Mitrovica a day after KoSSev published a news piece on this debate.
„What has been problematic in the past few weeks is the spread of incorrect, half-true or completely false information. Such behavior of the media, which is guided solely by its own interest, ignoring the possible consequences that inaccurate news can produce, is, to say the least, frivolous and irresponsible,“ Simonovic said, Radio Kosovska Mitrovica reported.
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