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(en) Alt. Media (ZNet) Post-Yugoslavia from anti authoritarian point

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A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Post-Yugoslavia & the Exceptional State of Serbia-Montenegro
Tamara Vukov Interviews Andrej Grubacic about the Serbian
State of Emergency
by Andrej Grubacic and Tamara Vukov
April 22, 2003
Translated by Tamara Vukov

"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state
of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the
rule." - Walter Benjamin

TV: On February 4th of this year, the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia was replaced by the new state of Serbia and
Montenegro. Following the assassination of Prime Minister
Zoran Djindjic on March 12th, 2003, this new political
entity has undergone the majority of its existence in a
state of emergency. While the imposition of the state of
emergency has largely been presented as a progressive
opportunity to install true democracy and restore order to
the nation, can you describe what these emergency measures
look like and what is actually being done in their name?

AG: The state of emergency represents the insane attempt of
a small group of people to take the house in which they live
and expand it into a nation-wide prison. Even stranger, this
insane attempt has succeeded. The government reacted to the
murder of Zoran Djindjic by introducing a state of
emergency. The police were granted the right to arrest and
imprison people for 30 days without the customary judicial
proceedings, while the arrestee is left without any right to
a lawyer. The police have acquired the right to enter homes
without a warrant, the unfettered right to tap phone
conversations, to follow, to spy, and to search. The
minister of police can now detain whomever strikes him as
suspicious. Strikes and political assemblies have been
outlawed, and the right to movement had been seriously
restricted. Censorship has been introduced, while any public
debate on the reasons for the introduction of the state of
emergency and its eventual repeal have been outlawed. Human
Rights Watch has already reacted, warning the Serbian
government that such authoritarian behavior is in
contravention of European Union directives, not to mention
ethical ones.

The second serious aspect of this state of emergency is that
no limits have been set around it. Based on the decision of
the parliamentary president, the state of emergency is about
the hunt for those guilty of the assassination, but also for
other guilty parties of several other crimes. It was
introduced for a completely unspecified and indefinite
period of time. It is difficult to determine when all the
parties guilty of some unspecified crime will be captured,
and which crimes need to be resolved according to the
government before "adequate conditions" are attained for the
withdrawal of the state of emergency.

Consider the conduct of the constitutional procedure for
which the national assembly was automatically convened
during the implementation of the state of emergency. The
gathering that was called in the house of the National
Assembly was not an assembly of sitting members. No one ever
tried to determine how many members were present, and the
electronic system for recording attendance was disconnected,
according to several members themselves.

In short, post-Yugoslav society has had its freedom revoked
without any clear indications or promises regarding when it
will be returned. And whether it will be returned at all.

TV: What are some of the domestic impacts of the state of
emergency politically and in terms of the police crackdown
you referred to? Is it limited to the targeting of organized
criminals, as has been largely portrayed in the media? Or
are broader constituencies and forms of political dissent
being targeted?

AG: Minister of Justice Vladan Batic has claimed that a
modern Serbia requires modern prisons with a minimum of 2000
places. It seems that we have arrived! Modernization in
contemporary Serbia seems to mean the construction of modern

However, I don’t know if there will be enough room in these
prisons for the 7,000 working people who have thus far been
detained and imprisoned under the state of emergency. They
include anarchists, retirees who publicly rejoiced over the
murder of the premier, a few folk singers, newspaper
columnists, as well as so-called "direct criminals," to
borrow the minister’s jargon. The former are all "indirect
criminals." They are guilty of opposing the so-called
"Europeanization of Serbia."

TV: So if the measures being taken under the state of
emergency have not been restricted to the reasons for which
it was implemented, i.e. tracking down Zoran Djindjic’s
murderers and targeting organized crime syndicates, is there
a broader political agenda at play? Is it being recuperated
politically at all, and if so, in what sorts of ways?

AG: There is no question that the murder of premier Djindjic
is a hideous crime. But does that justify such a broad and
total seizure of freedoms of the entire society? I think the
answer to this question is a resounding "no." You cannot
jail a whole society – yet the implementation of a state of
emergency does in effect put the entire society in jail. The
simple fact that the state of emergency has not be withdrawn
after several days shows that it is being used to conduct a
"power-turf" war between different interest groups. The
interest group in power is using its own weapons – terror
and violence - to eliminate another interest group.

The Serbian government is clearly attempting to criminalize
all opposition, all competition, or any dissident, political
option. It is employing a method of martyrization of the
murdered premier, with the help of the disciplined media and
intellectuals who are granting legitimacy to such an assault
on human rights and logic, to maintain power even after the
withdrawal of the "state of emergency," which is likely to
become permanent in Serbia.

In a recent interview given to a well-known Belgrade daily,
minister of justice Vladan Batic presented his own
particular categorization of "evil suspects" in response to
the question of who the murderers were. To begin with, the
minister indirectly put the majority of citizens into
question as possible suspects in the murder of the premier.
He then went on to declare how "thankful the citizens are,
smiling, in high spirits" and, in general, "grateful to the
government for the introduction of the state of emergency
which has allowed them to feel more secure." Is this really
the case?

Why, for instance, have strikes been outlawed? What could
the connection between a strike of discontented workers and
the murder of the premier possibly be? Strikers didn’t kill
the premier. According to official accusations, the murder
was the work of criminals who were in secret negotiations
with the premier.

Furthermore, Batic expressed an intense animosity towards
"journalists, analysts, and columnists." Where does such
animosity come from? Batic considers them to be a third
category of criminals to be fought. All critics of the
reforms are likewise equated with murderers. Particularly
journalists and dissidents.

An incompetent government is spreading panic in order to
hide their own responsibility. Could this murder have been
prevented? After the murder, no one tendered their
resignation. No positions were shuffled. The same people are
leading us through a state of emergency. One party is
misusing a tragic event. The declaration of a state of
emergency has squelched public debate, tied the hands of all
free-thinking people while ordinary state functionaries
basically lynch all non-conforming thinkers throughout the
media. Is this democracy? It seems that it is.

A few days ago, the vice-president of the government
announced that we should not complain that there is no
opposition. Now we are a democracy, so opposition is no
longer - necessary we are so democratic, that no opposition
needs to exist. This is so-called "total democracy." A
situation in which democracy, in its total self-fulfillment,
abolishes itself. They are so devoted to democracy that they
no longer need it.

TV: In such a context of criminalization and suppression of
dissent that you describe, has there been any organized
reaction or overall response from so-called civil society?
I’m thinking particularly of the burgeoning NGO sector often
funded by Western organizations that massively expanded in
post-Milosevic Yugoslavia, and whose mandate it is to
monitor "human rights."

AG: It is interesting to note how this suspension of
elementary human rights is being viewed by the so-called
non-governmental organizations (NGO), an exceptionally
powerful factor in the political life of Serbia, along with
a large number of "rent-a-dissident" types.

Prior to the current situation, they knew how to vehemently
protest even the smallest of incidents in which the rights
of a citizen belonging to an ethnic minority were
endangered, when it came to criticizing "nationalism" (which
is the issue from which these organizations profit the most,
since the foreign aid that sustains most of them is based on
this). Now when citizen’s basic freedoms and rights are
denied, not for one individual, not in one community, but to
the entire society, the NGOs and rent-a-dissidents are
supporting it, promising complete loyalty to the Serbian
government. There is a constant stream of televised
exchanges between state intellectuals and "dissidents" who
discuss how Djindjic’s death is "international," or how "the
state of emergency is finally severing the umbilical cord
from the east." Or in a somewhat more morbid tone, how
"Djindjic’s funeral was a plebiscite for a public in need of
faith and hope," or how the "political murder of the premier
is a terrible thing," because "we have to pay in tears for
every joy," so that we might one day attain a "catharsis, a
catharsis of the ordinary citizen". . .

TV: Given that open media criticism of the state of
emergency is forbidden and censorship is in effect, what has
been the impact on wider public debate and the many
questions raised by the state of emergency?

AG: The public is being bombarded by unbelievable
stupidities. Ministers promise that there will be regular
provision of water and electricity. Why wouldn’t there be?
Has war broken out? Images of maternity wards are being
broadcast in the media, with promises that they will defend
children’s nurseries. They proclaim that water sources are
not polluted. Food provisions have been normalized. Public
transportation, they say, is running on time. Police curfews
have not yet been introduced. Economic reforms continue full
steam ahead. The vultures from international bureaucracies
have also started arriving, promising accelerated entry into
the European Union.

Why didn’t this government arrest organized criminals
immediately after the October 5th "revolution"? Who was
stopping them? Journalists? Columnists? Analysts and
commentators? Why didn’t they confiscate the property and
riches of the Milosevic-era elite? Why did they allow them
to get even richer and to acquire everything through
accelerated privatization? Who are they financing? Why is
there greater and greater poverty in an already devastated
economy? Ultimately, these are all questions that the
current government, gripped by a collective neurosis, will
have to answer one day.

TV: I want to turn a bit to the wider context of power and
rule that led up to the current state of emergency.
Regarding Djindjic’s assassination, Sonja Biserko of the
Helsinki Committee (a vocal NGO) recently proclaimed that
"the abject act marks the beginning of liberation from
Milosevic-era pathology" offering an unprecedented
opportunity for reform. To what extent do these current
measures represent a real break from the prior regime as
claimed, and what has (or hasn’t) changed in the transition
between the former and current political systems?

AG: In fact, in order to fully understand the current state
of emergency in Serbia, it is necessary to go back for a
moment, to Milosevic’s Serbia, and provide a short analysis
of what we might call "Milosevic’s system."

Milosevic’s regime was authoritarian. There existed parties,
elections, and a parliament, but not true democracy. The
constitution and many other laws were seemingly democratic
in nature, but in fact were nothing more than a screen for
the rule of one person.

Milosevic, however, was not a dictator. His style of rule
was very particular, and could hardly be called
totalitarian. He tolerated, or was forced to tolerate, some
independent press and a few very influential local
television stations. Likewise, Milosevic did not try to
create some sort of Stalinist cult of personality. It is
striking how rarely he appeared on television; many mention
his ascetic simplicity, the lack of a need to show off his

Finally, though Yugoslavia is rightly considered to be one
of the most corrupt countries in Europe, it is not at all
the case that Milosevic ruled solely in order to enrich
himself. When NATO air-bombers dropped "smart" bombs on
Belgrade, they also dropped flyers and leaflets. I still
have a copy of one in particular – on which they printed a
photo with text explaining that Milosevic had a yacht and a
villa "just like these" (in the picture). The inability of
the CIA to acquire a photo of Milosevic’s possessions speaks
for itself.

Ultimately, Milosevic is not, as is commonly claimed,
primarily turned towards the East, Moscow, and Orthodoxy. He
speaks English fluently, and does not speak any Russian. In
an earlier phase of his career, he visited New York
regularly, and has said that he considers it his favorite
city. At one time, Milosevic had the impression, not
entirely unfounded, that Washington would accept him despite
his authoritarianism in the same way that they accepted
Tito. After broken promises to both sides, both reckless
nationalism and interventionism, led to the wars in
Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, one after the other,
the situation obviously took a different course.

In any case, Milosevic enjoyed a certain legitimacy in
Serbia, and had a certain amount of support for his
political project.

In time, however, that amount of political support dwindled
to 20% of the electorate. But with that 20% support,
Milosevic was able to retain 100% rule. Firstly, thanks to
his control over the major media, he confused and
demoralized a dissatisfied and disoriented citizenry. When
it would come time for elections, they would stay home, or
would give their votes to the so-called "fake opposition."
On top of that, the existing electoral system allowed 30%
electoral support to translate into 50% parliamentary
representation. All that one required was to find a suitable
coalition partner, and one would achieve stable rule. And
coalition partners were never in short supply, because power
and rule in Milosevic’s Serbia brought great riches.

That is how Milosevic arrived at a parliamentary majority
and domination of rule. That is why he did not need to
resort to any exceptional, dictatorial measures. All
political projects and decisions were carried out by formal
parliamentary means.

The foundation of Milosevic’s power was based in his rule of
his own party. The Socialist Party of Serbia was the true
seat of political rule controlled by Milosevic. As the total
master of the Party, he achieved control of the Parliament
as well. By constant changes to electoral laws (1992-1997),
he built a system in which, at any moment, the party could
switch its representatives and replace them successively.

Control of the legislative branch of the government in
formulating laws, also gave Milosevic full control of the
executive branch, in other words of the government in
general (as the legislative and executive branches were not

Once he gained full control over both legislative and
executive power, Milosevic only had to establish control
over the judiciary. According to the Constitution of Serbia,
judges were permanently appointed, but were elected and
dismissed by parliament. Because he controlled the
parliament, Milosevic was also able to control the
judiciary. According to a law that came into effect on July
30, 1991, all judges (2,939) and prosecutors (619) were to
undergo purges through so-called "reelection" in parliament.
These purges, however, were very selectively and sloppily
carried out, so that many who were not doing their jobs
according to basic principles or professionalism retained
their positions simply because they were following orders
and directives coming from the top of the Government. This
resulted in a situation in which many of the other judges
opposed the judicial theft of the local elections of 1996.
>From then on, Milosevic proceeded with a rearrangement of
the state of the judiciary. In 1997, when Milosevic further
consolidated his rule, he also set out to further "resolve
the state of the judiciary." This effectively meant the
firing of around 60 "unsuitable" judges, who were guilty
only of upholding the principal of an independent judiciary.

That is how ultimately the entire political and judicial
elite was put in a position of dependency on Milosevic. The
same was true for the police and law enforcement elite. With
the passage of a 1995 law on the appointment of members of
MUP-a, the Serbian police force, Milosevic consolidated the
exclusive right to promote police officers to military
generals and appoint senior cadre in the Police. Under
another set of special rules, Milosevic took over the direct
supervision of the Department of Interior Security. This
allowed him to not only become one of the main masters of
the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina, but also to control the
Serbian opposition.

Particularly important for the functioning of Milosevic’s
rule was the direct political supervision of the economic
elite. In Milosevic’s Serbia, the primary means of capital
accumulation did not take place on the market. To the
contrary, the major financial profits to be had were
achieved via state intervention - in other words through
state monopoly, systematic privileges, monetary speculation
and shady financial transactions, generalized larceny and
appropriation of property, illegal imports, backroom deals
and bribes. It was a given that, in such a system, the power
elite could not only easily convert their own "political
capital" into real, financial gains, but also to control and
influence the flow and direction of the entire economy.

That is how Milosevic succeeded in constructing a tight
clientalistic net around the entire national economy. It was
a net that spread out to encompass anywhere that capital was
being produced, starting with himself and his family, all
the way down to factory workers and vendors on the street.
Entry into this protected net meant guaranteed financial
gain. The most powerful members of that net, the economic
elite, could count on rapid accumulation of riches thanks to
the market monopoly, from rigged participation in state
"barter arrangements" (the import of oil and gas), to the
illegal trade of cigarettes, weapons and other goods. This
was achieved via the granting of import-export permits, on
the acquisition of foreign currencies based on a rigged,
lowered exchange rate, in the privileged granting of land,
etc. The middle members of this privileged net could count
on unrestricted trading (even on a small scale), on
good/full employment, and high state salaries, on the right
to buy state-owned apartments at an exceptionally low price,

In the 1990s, a unique structure of power was installed in
Serbia. I have called such a structure a kleptocracy. The
dominant paradigm of the "Milosevic doctrine" is what we
might call, from this historical perspective an
"authoritarian isolationism."

TV: So how did the context change in the post-Milosevic era,
with Djindjic’s ascent to power? What was the legacy of this
"authoritarian isolationism," and what was brought in to
replace it?

AG: With the "petooktobarska revolucija" (the "October 5th
revolution") and the overthrow of Milosevic, many hoped for
real, progressive change. However, instead of any meaningful
step towards economic and participatory democracy, for which
many true Yugoslav leftists had hoped for, a new system was
installed, with a new authoritarian doctrine: that of
Djindjic. Djindjic’s system might be called an
"authoritarian modernism." Neoliberalism with a local

Djindic constructed a chancellery system, to his misfortune,
simultaneously paralyzing the presidential system,
marginalizing the parliament, and building his own
sub-ministries within the official government ministries.
One Yugoslav historian has called this "Djindjic’s naive
cunning." It was also his biggest mistake. He should have
sought to reduce his rule, and to increase the role of a
coordinator or negotiator who would not take absolute power.
Such a strategy might have held a better future. Instead of
that, he accrued more and more control, combined with less
and less popularity and authority. He was not respected even
by the so-called elite. Had he pursued a somewhat different
strategy, he might have been able to say – "I’m not popular
amongst the people, but ‘intelligent’ people, judges,
business people, the press elite, and well-known
intellectuals are on my side." That is one possible form of
power politics. I do not want popularity but authority.
However, he had neither popularity nor authority, yet
accrued greater and greater power.

Djindjic’s system really showed its true colors in the
“junski udar,” the June Take-over, which could be considered
the crucial watershed in the political life of
post-Milosevic Serbia. It should be noted that this
take-over was very skillfully executed. Djindjic, in other
words, was not a Milosevic, who reacted with much greater
and more open brutality towards his political opponents.

The take-over was initiated when the presidency of DOS (the
coalition of opposition parties that overthrew Milosevic),
which consisted of the presidents and key ministers of the
various coalition parties, passed a motion on May 24th, 2002
to revoke the mandates of 36 DOS members of parliament who
were "most frequently absent from the regular sittings of
Parliament." The parliamentary majority passed this motion
on June 12th.

At first glance, the motion seemed innocuous – “the aim is
to establish order in the country, so that elected members
of parliament actually work sufficiently to merit their
pay,” explained premier Djindjic. In actuality, however,
such a motion was completely illegal. Among those 36
unseated members, the majority were from the DSS, the party
of Vojislav Kostunica, the Yugoslav President and most
serious political rival to Djindjic in his role as Prime

In fact, it was understandable that DSS members had
abstained from these regular sittings of parliament, given
that the DSS had decided to boycott these sessions in
protest over Djindjic’s political maneuvering. What was all
the more humorous, the DSS wouldn’t have been able to
replace its 36 unseated parliamentary members with other DSS
members even if it had wanted to, because their member’s
list only had 13 remaining names on it. Because the DSS was
unable to replace its revoked seats with their own members,
those seats went to other parties from the DOS coalition –
first and foremost to the Democratic party of Zoran
Djindjic. Outraged by this ridiculous theft of parliamentary
seats, all the sitting members of the DSS, the strongest and
most popular party in Serbia, resigned from parliament.

This is how Djindic successfully employed an
anti-parliamentary take-over to significantly increase his
political power. For a significant period, he threw his
major rival, Kostunica’s DSS, out of the game and thereby
seized a parliamentary majority that would neatly and
efficiently control the passage of governmental laws.

So that is how the question of parliamentary quorum was
effectively resolved in Djindic’s favor. Soon after, the
rules were further altered to include an exceptional
expansion of the parliamentary president’s power. He gained
the power to punish elected members for "disrupting order in
Parliamentary sessions" by revoking their parliamentary
seats for up to 90 days.

The third important advantage gained by premier Djindjic in
the June Take-Over was his unchallenged rule of the
remainder of the DOS coalition. From that point on, not one
of the remaining parties in DOS had enough sitting members
to challenge and oppose the government.

Why didn’t Djindic’s political take-over arouse a serious
public outcry? Firstly, because it was skillfully executed
through a preplanned and complex procedure that most
ordinary citizens did not fully grasp. Secondly, and more
importantly, because Djindjic in the meantime succeeded in
gaining control of the most influential mass media in
Serbia. When the first open showdown between Djindjic and
Kostunica took place in August 2001, the extent to which
Djindjic had succeeded in tipping the balance to his
advantage in all the media was clear. In addition to the
most watched commercial television station, TV Pink, the
influential TV Politika and TV Studio B, the daily
newspapers Novosti and Danas, along with Nedeljni telegraf
all clearly fell into line with his political camp. By June
2002, Djindjic had also gained control of the daily
Politika, the state television (RTS), and the other large
private television station (BK Telecom). So when Djindjic
executed his political offensive, no one had any reason or
interest in publicizing or even explaining it, let alone
opposing it for the patently anti-democratic takeover it

Basically, by mid-2002 Djindjic had easily taken over
Milosevic’s entire system of political control of society.
He had total control of his party. With the government and
parliamentary majority behind him, he easily secured control
of the boards of directors of the most important businesses
– from the oil industry to forestry. Likewise, the majority
of the middle management elite as well as a portion of the
social elite harboring political-management ambitions rushed
in to put themselves at his service.

That is how a new post-Milosevic clientalistic network was
secured by Djindjic. Moreover, economic "transition" and
"privatization" became the ideal excuses for its additional
expansion. Djindjic, exactly as Milosevic had, succeeded in
gaining control of the legislative, executive,
judicial-political, economic, and even partly over the
military-police elite. Milosevic’s system was thereby
transposed into a new, neoliberal Serbia.

I have already described how the executive branch ruled the
judiciary under Milosevic’s rule. The new regime continued
that practice. A new purge organized by the loyal minister
of justice, Vladan Batic, took place by precisely the rules
established under the authoritarian Milosevic regime, in
which the minister of justice acted as the direct head of
the judicial elite.

What was Djindjic’s successful expansion of his power based
on? His power base was never among the voters or the
electorate. Like Milosevic towards the end of his rule,
Djindjic and his party could not count on more than 20% of
the electorate’s support. But, like Milosevic, Djindjic was
able to seize 100% rule with 20% of the vote.

TV: Following his assassination on March 12th, much of the
western media participated in a kind of canonization of
Djindjic, framing him as the only forward-looking,
pro-Western politician in the region, as the only one able
and committed to bringing in progressive reforms, hope, and
a future for the country. You have already pointed out the
extent to which such a characterization is hardly neutral,
not to mention the accompanying agenda of political and
economic reforms that are being vaunted as supposedly
assuring the future of the country. What are the some of the
implications of such a characterization and the agenda of
reforms being implemented?

AG: Dindjic installed his own specific ideological monopoly
on neoliberal reforms and reformism. The notion that he is a
"pragmatic reformer," who is trying to "lead a dark and
backward Serbia into Europe" - such ideological nonsense was
quickly supported not only by Western governments, and all
sorts of analysts, but also the disciplined media, and
members of the local "fake" opposition: the influential
non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Neoliberals had been
overjoyed that "justice had been fulfilled" and that
Milosevic finally found himself "where he belongs” (i.e. the
Hague). Furthermore, domestic liberals were sympathetic to
the long line of laws and policies proposed by Djindjic’s
government (on privatization, work, taxes), in order to
bring Serbia into the world of "strict but just market

Such a logic of power recalls in many respects another
eastern European case, that of Slovak premier Vladimir
Mecijara’s (1991-1998) “pragmatic, pro-western reform,”
which very quickly showed itself to be nothing more than
reckless self-preservation. Mecijara took four years to
achieve clientalistic control over national resources and
the public media. Thanks to the already developed
clientalistic system that he inherited, the Serbian
chancellor hurtled down that path much more quickly. In the
few months prior to his murder, Djindjic held absolute power
in his hands. This absolutism cost him his life.

I have shown that there was no essential difference between
Milosevic’s and Djindjic’s system. The same outcry, from the
depths of Milosevic’s time, continues to resound in the
wasteland of transition. A similar, voracious logic of power
saturated both systems.

TV: Djindjic’s murder has also largely been portrayed in the
Western media as the terrible price paid by someone who was
valiantly trying to crack down on organized crime and
political corruption. Having long ignored and overlooked it,
it seems that much of the Western media have suddenly
discovered "organized crime" as a political factor for which
ordinary Yugoslavs have long paid a heavy price. What is the
word inside Serbia and Montenegro regarding the actual
circumstances surrounding Djindjic’s murder?

AG: Different scenarios have been proposed to explain the
murder of Djindjic. The one that seems the most realistic to
me says that Djindjic made "the wrong deal with the wrong
people," a deal that he himself probably broke. I believe
that Djindjic really did go after and tried to liquidate
some group of organized criminals, who likely had a good
deal of experience in war crimes gained in the Yugoslav
wars, and were linked to state security forces. But the
reason for this is not because Djindjic had clean hands or
that he was on a one-man crusade to rid the country of
organized crime. Rather, because he effectively established
absolute power, Djindjic was most likely trying to deceive
some of the very people with whom he himself had
collaborated to gain power, and whose names could be found
on the wanted list for the Hague "tribunal." Such people do
not forgive double-crossings in their agreements and

A not insignificant number of people also believe that
Djindjic was the casualty of a "great chess game," in which
the German chess piece – Djindjic himself, who was
particularly tied to German political circles – was simply
switched for a pro-American one. I consider this version to
not be very likely.

TV: To what extent might we be able to connect the current
state of emergency in Serbia and Montenegro to wider
geopolitics and the global state of emergency we seem to be
living under in the past few years with the advent of the
Bush doctrine?

AG: The social control through extreme panic that the
government is exploiting to keep the population under
control might be familiar to North American readers. This
assassination might seriously be considered a sort of local,
Balkan version of the September 11th effect.

After September 11, 2001, America was introduced to one type
of state of emergency, which was the starting point for a
permanent global state of emergency in which the whole world
lives today. It appeared in its full clarity with the
military order declared by the President of the United
States with the decree of November 13, 2001. That decree
concerned the status of non-citizens (those without US
citizenship) who are suspected of terrorist activity,
subject to a special court that employs indefinite detention
and the turnover of suspects to military commissions. The
American Patriot Act of October 26, 2001 had already granted
authority to the attorney general to arrest any "alien"
suspected of posing a danger to national security. The
innovation in the orders of President Bush lay in the
radical erasure of the status of these individuals, and in
the very production of an entity whose legal status cannot
be fully classified, officially described or named publicly.

One could argue by analogy that the state of emergency in
Yugoslavia in many ways resembles the recent American
clampdown. Terrorists (or in the Serbian case "organized
criminals") are not the only ones to suffer, but all those
who do not agree with neoliberal reforms are targeted. The
Serbian government has declared a local, preventative war on
all of its citizens. This war is permeated by explicit
tactics of psychological denunciation: citizens are
encouraged to regard one another as potentially suspicious
and to inform on one another to the police. This was a
post-World War II practice, a technique of social control
that was brought in to Yugoslavia after the break with
Stalinism in 1948, and that, in later Yugoslav social
history, unfortunately had very serious consequences.

TV: What do you think the future political impact of the
state of emergency will be in Serbia and Montenegro after it
is lifted? A partial repeal of the state of emergency is
currently being debated, yet several politicians have
indicated that certain measures may be retained even after
its lifting. For example, the police may retain certain
powers that they did not previously have. What are the
prospects for the near future politically speaking?

AG: This state of emergency cannot resolve the myriad social
problems that exist in today's Serbia. Current social
conditions are truly catastrophic. Poverty is deepening
vastly and spreading widely. The number of unemployed is
approaching one million people. Every day over 15,000
workers demonstrate. 70% of the population declares itself
to be below the poverty line. In one breath, the smell of
poverty and the smell of despair is spreading throughout
Serbia. The depth of citizens' discontent cannot be put down
with violence.

If Milosevic's system functioned under a doctrine of
"authoritarian isolationism," and under Djindjic we had
"authoritarian modernism," then this is a system of
authoritarian idiocy!

One well-known journalist wrote the following lines a few
months before the murder of Djindjic:

"In Tito's Serbia, it was dangerous to think because you
could always end up in prison. In Milosevic's Serbia, it was
dangerous to think because you could be declared a traitor.
The danger of thought in Djindic's Serbia is in creating
extreme feelings of loneliness and isolation, to the extent
that, if the coexistence of the post-Milosevic extremists
continues, leads one to the inevitable question: "Can I
retain my sanity?"

In post-Djindjic Serbia, it is dangerous to think because
you can end up in prison, you can be declared a traitor, and
in any case, you will be brought to the brink of total

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