Vecernje Novosti - August 24, 2003

In March 2001, I was accused of imaginary crimes, so I could be arrested and delivered to The Hague.

These new accusations in 2003 have the same purpose: The Hague. Only this time, their goal is to try to prevent, or at least minimize, the obvious fiasco of the false Tribunal, which is serving as the weapon of war against our country and our people. This time, unlike 2001, they have also begun to terrorize my family, fiendishly persecuting my wife and my son. The criminal campaign against my wife and my son is being mounted solely because of my struggle here.

It is absurd and shameful that they are hounding a woman, a spouse of a long-time head of state, a University professor; the author of ten books, translated into 30 languages and printed worldwide, so no one will be able to destroy or cover up her weekly testimonies on the Yugoslav crisis. Their worth has been time-tested and proven, to Mira’s honor and our pride. No other intellectual has raised her voice more against war, violence, primitivism, exploitation, and slavery and in favor of peace, freedom and equal rights.

They are hounding a young man who with an open and clear heart decided to make his way in life independently, through his own labor, intelligence and abilities, and has done everything to help others and make his town more beautiful and more humane.

A crime is being committed against two people who have treated others with nothing but goodness and humanity.

Their only crime is being my family.

People of Serbia and freedom-loving people throughout the world send me messages of support and wish me victory. It seems that only the Belgrade regime cheers on the Hague Tribunal, so much so that it does not balk from terrorizing women and children.

I have told the two men who came to interrogate me – five months after I publicly requested it – that only cowards attack women and children, that there is no greater shame. The political, media and police campaign against me and my family is the greatest infamy for any country; an infamy that will grow greater for its participants, but also those who witness it in silence, with time.

Legija and the Red Berets

Regarding the “reasons” for which the judge and the prosecutor came to The Hague, I wish to make it clear that:

Neither I nor my entourage ever had any connections with any criminal groups.

No “Zemun Clan“ existed while I was President. It is the direct result of the current governments’ behavior, the role certain groups and individuals had in the October 5, 2000 coup, and their mutual arrangements.

Neither I nor any of my entourage had personal contacts or acquaintances with members of the Special Operations Unit, popularly known as the Red Berets. I believed it was an elite anti-terrorist unit, common to any Security Service. I still believe that most of that unit’s members were true to this description. Those who had a criminal past or inclination thereto are certainly better known to the present regime, as they used them on October 5.

My visit to the Kula facility in 1997 was ceremonial, a gesture of appreciation for the Service chief Jovica Stanisic, whom I respected as a professional and a man who endeavored to do his job in accordance with his position. That the visit was ceremonial, and that everything there was new to me, should be obvious to anyone who reviews the entire tape and pays attention.

The officer who reported to me on the parade grounds was unfamiliar to me. Now I know his name was Lukovic, “Legija.” When he came to arrest me in March 2001, I mistook him for the officer who during my visit drove Stanisic and me from the headquarters to the outdoors gymnasium, which they also wanted to show me. By the way, even today I cannot recall any of the names of officers who reported to me on various occasions before an honor guard. This goes even for the commanders of Yugoslav Army Guard units.

The first time I talked to Lukovic-Legija was when he came to arrest me, on March 31, 2001. Given that I had never been in any contact with him before, or even conversed with him, the only thing I could have “ordered” him would have been my arrest.

Clearly, those who used the “Red Berets” members for my arrest (and others, who jumped over the fence into the residence with stockings on their heads) have also used them before and after. I clearly could not.

Rumors that this unit also worked as my security detail are not true. Plain lies. My security detail at all time was the public security unit (not State Security), commanded by Senta Milenkovic.

Ivan Stambolic

I have been a friend of Ivan Stambolic for many years. We parted ways at the 8th Session of the Serbian League of Communists’ Central Committee, in 1987. We never quarreled personally.

After he was relieved, he came to me and asked for one of the best jobs (in both our opinion) in the SFRY: President of the Yugoslav bank for international economic relations. And he received it, staying in that position for over 10 years despite the practice of rotating the management, until his retirement – for which he was eligible long before, on grounds of both work experience and age.

He had been completely forgotten as a politician for many years. Thus the story of how he represented a potential challenge in the elections is a blatant lie, since he was never in the running. He was not even a candidate. Besides, in those ten years, has any harm befallen any other candidates?

It is absurd to claim that I rushed to kill him as a threat, after I’d enabled him to hold a position of his choice for 10 years and he retired!

Especially puzzling for me is that his family has readily accepted this shallow lie. It seems they care more to blame me than find out the truth about the fate of their father and husband.

Ivan Stambolic was a forgotten politician, and at the time of his disappearance, a forgotten banker as well. No one in the state or the political apparatus had mentioned him for years. He belonged to the era of the former SFRY, and things have unfortunately changed since 1990.

No offense, but no one cared about Ivan Stambolic any more. There was no persecution of those who supported his position at the 8th Session. Desimir Jeftic, the chairman of the Serbian government who was also relieved, was for many years the Ambassador to Romania. Ivan’s best friend and neighbor Dragan Tomic, the CEO of ”Simpo” furniture company, remained a member of the Party and state leadership. I am certain he would confirm that I had told him, after Ivan was relieved, that I would think of him the worst if he’d renounced his friend and turned his back on him. So, the truth is quite the opposite from the story fabricated by several pathetic creatures.

I was informed of Ivan’s disappearance over the telephone, by interior minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic. I told him to use all the available resources to find him. He told me that Ivan’s wife and son reported his disappearance in the afternoon, though he went jogging that morning, which would make the investigation more difficult.

All border posts were notified, and Vlajko Stojiljkovic told me later that evening that several hundred police were engaged in the investigation. I insisted that all resources be used to find him [Stambolic] as soon as possible. Certainly most of these officers are still employed by the interior ministry, and can testify to that.

From what Stojiljkovic told me, everything that could have been done was done.  

Draskovic, Pavkovic and the Budva Incident

Since the investigator, during the introductions, mentioned my alleged connection to the “attempted murder of Vuk Draskovic”, I wish to say a few words about that as well.

I never believed that what happened in Budva was a real murder attempt, because it seems improbable that someone could shoot up all the bullets in a small room like that and miss with every one of them. Even Vuk Draskovic, with his talent for the dramatic, could not have turned into a fly or a mosquito. I believed that either someone tried to scare him, or that he made the entire incident up to gain attention and promote his role as the “victim of the regime.” It is not hard to see who could have benefited from such an incident, but it is abundantly clear that it did not serve the government. Quite to the contrary, in fact.

I am not aware that the Serbian Security Service had any activities in Montenegro apart from gathering information about cigarette smuggling into Serbia. Rade Markovic even showed me aerial reconnaissance photos of an area known as Mehov Krs, on the Serbian side of the boundary with Montenegro, and explained that according to his information, that was a major warehouse for smuggled cigarettes. He was preparing a raid to catch the smugglers and seize the contraband, when the timing was right. I do not know whether the photos were made from an airplane or a helicopter, police or military, as these details did not interest me.

I never talked to Pavkovic about transporting “assassins” and “agents” from Montenegro. It is incredulous that the Commander in Chief would be involved in shuttling some alleged secret agents, especially through the entire chain of command starting at the Chief of the General Staff.

Truth is, I’ve always insisted that services should cooperate and abandon their rivalry, as they did not serve me but the state, and they were supposed to work for the state, in accordance with the law. General Aleksandar Vasiljevic testified about that in this illegal court, as a witness of the prosecution, no less. And Rade Markovic testified both here and in front of two parliamentary committees that he was illegally coerced into trying to incriminate me.

The only helicopter incident I ever remember concerned a low-altitude flyover of one helicopter over the White Palace (which was illegal), when a Yugoslav Army officer in charge of White Palace security kept his calm and prevented it from being tragically shot down. Later that day it turned out that the helicopter was evacuating a seriously ill person from the [Bosnian] Serb Republic to the Academy of Military Medicine [VMA].  

Are you not ashamed?

I demanded of both the investigator and the prosecutor that my interrogation be public, and that they could even bring an open telephone line, so anyone could ask me whatever they wanted. They explained that this was not allowed by law, as long as the investigation was ongoing. I accepted that, but requested that the recordings be made public at the end of the investigation – since there would be no danger of potential interference at that time. They rejected that as well, even though they had the full legal authority to approve it. Neither I, nor they, nor my legal representatives disputed that.

Today’s government uses the law as an excuse for lawlessness and tyranny. Nothing new!

Montestquieu wrote as early as 1742 that “There is no crueler tyranny than one perpetrated under the shield of law, and in the name of justice.”

In this entire dirty operation of trying to save this illegitimate Hague court from a fiasco, the most shameful element is surely the persecution of my wife and son. I told the investigating judge that his investigation should include the phantom gold bars, foreign currency reserves, villas in Switzerland and whatnot, because they were all mentioned in various statements and extensive newspaper stories, only to be “forgotten” later.

I asked him “Are you not ashamed?” He did not answer.

To my wife and son, Mira and Marko, who have been separated from me in this heinous way, I wish to say: “Life is too short to thank you for your goodness.”

The Hague, 17 August 2003.
Slobodan Milosevic

Copyright 2003 Vecernje Novosti
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