Former Yugoslavia

Espoo mall shootings

Aamulehti has some background on the gunman who carried out the shootings at the shopping mall in Espoo, Finland, today:

The suspect, Ibrahim Shkupolli (born 1966) is a Kosovo Albanian who according to Aamulehti’s information came to Finland via Norway in 1990. He was placed in the reception center at Mikkeli [Eastern Finland], which he later left to live in Espoo, Finland.

In the early 1990s he already had a Finnish girlfriend who is one of the victims of the Sello tragedy. Aamulehti understands that Shkupolli later separated from this girlfriend and married an Albanian woman. He also had children in common with her. The whole family lives in Finland.

The suspect’s wife and child as well as his parents and brother live in Finland.

So far, unconfirmed reports suggest a triangle as the background to the shootings. Shkupolli may have been driven by jealousy of his former, Finnish girlfriend’s new life.

The Stockholm speech

It’s now starting to be time for all the Western commentators, the op-ed writers, journalists, political analysts, academics, businesspeople and sundry Kremlinologists who acclaimed the “New Russia” that supposedly emerged after the fall of Communism to publicly admit that they were wrong – that what really took place was a co-ordinated attempt at a gross deception intended  by a cynical post-Soviet elite to make the world believe in a manifest falsehood. There were reasons for this willingness to be duped. The liberated nations of Eastern Europe, the states of Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were genuinely liberated, able to begin the return to the democratic traditions of their pre-1939 existence, and many people in the West rightly greeted this with relief. In Russia, however, no such return took place, for the simple reason that there had never been any democratic traditions in Russia to begin with. A euphoric mood of “let’s make believe” took hold of many Western observers of the Russian political scene.

Yet if they took a closer look, they could see that in essence nothing had really changed in the halls of power within the Kremlin. Sixteen years ago, on December 14 1992, Andrei Kozyrev, the foreign minister of the newly-fledged Russian “successor state”, made a speech in Stockholm – in connection with the then newly developing Balkan crisis – which outlined the true nature of Russia’s foreign policy. Though Kozyrev treated his audience to a theatrical turnaround in which he claimed that his statement was a “rhetorical device”, intended to show the power of those who opposed the supposedly “liberal” tendency of the new government, experienced observers realized what was afoot. The speech went as follows:

I am obliged to introduce corrections in the general direction of Russian foreign policy. I wish to inform you briefly about these to the extent that they concern CSCE problems.

First: While fully maintaining the policy of entry into Europe, we clearly recognize that our traditions in many respects, if not fundamentally, lie in Asia, and this sets limits to our rapprochement with Western Europe.

We see that, despite a certain degree of evolution, the strategies of NATO and the WEU, which are drawing up plans to strengthen their military presence in the Baltic and other regions of the territory of the former Soviet Union and to interfere in Bosnia and the internal affairs of Yugoslavia, remain essentially unchanged.

Clearly, sanctions against the FRY were dictated by this policy. We demand that they be lifted, and if this does not happen, we reserve our right to take the necessary unilateral measures to defend our interests, especially since the sanctions cause us economic harm. In its struggle, the present Government of Serbia can count on the support of the great Russia.

Second: The space of the former Soviet Union cannot be regarded as a zone of full application of CSCE norms. In essence, this is a post-imperial space, in which Russia has to defend its interests using all available means, including military and economic ones. We shall strongly insist that the former USSR Republics join without delay the new Federation or Confederation, and there will be tough talks on this matter.

Third: All those who think that they can disregard these particularities and interests – that Russia will suffer the fate of the Soviet Union – should not forget that we are talking of a state that is capable of standing up for itself and its friends. We are, of course, ready to play a constructive part in the work of the CSCE Council, although we shall be very cautious in our approach to ideas leading to interference in internal affairs.

It’s time now to go back to the history of those early years of the Yeltsin government and to discover what really happened in them.

A “Difficult” Situation

Radio Free Europe notes that after the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, Russia called for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to cease its activities. An Academy of Sciences representative, Artyem Ulunyan, is interviewed on his view of the matter:

RFE/RL: What’s the reasoning behind Russia calling for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to cease its activities?

Artyem Ulunyan: Russia doesn’t want it to be possible for former high officials to be tried in foreign or international courts that are not under Russian control.

RFE/RL: But isn’t the ICTY only concerned with crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia?

Ulunyan: What we seem to be talking about here is a precedent for the tribunal to be used by organizations not under its control. Russia most likely sees this as dangerous.

RFE/RL: What will Russia’s position be regarding the trial of Radovan Karadzic?

Ulunyan: I think this will be multifaceted. On the official level, there won’t be any actions or announcements. But at the semiofficial level, Russia’s dissatisfaction will be made clear. Pro-Kremlin youth organizations will be mobilized. Sections of the public will be fed propaganda arguing that Karadzic himself was not right, but his ideas were.

Read the whole thing here.

Cross of Shame

A Serb group plans to build a huge, illuminated cross on a hill from which Serb artillery shelled Sarajevo during the 1992-96 Bosnia war, AP reports:

On Wednesday, the Sarajevo Association of War Victims criticized the plan to build the cross, calling it shameful to build the memorial in a location from which the Serb artillery pounded the city, killing thousands of people. The association issued a statement calling the planned monument a “provocation for the citizens of Sarajevo.”

“It is an illegal, immoral and shameful act, especially because it will be erected in memory of Serb soldiers who kept the city under siege, committing crimes for which their commanders have received long prison sentences at The Hague Tribunal,” the group said.

The association said it will urge Bosnia’s international administrator, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, to bar the cross on the ground that it could threaten the country’s peace.

Sarajevo’s mayor, Semiha Borovac, said the monument would enrage people in Sarajevo.

“This is not contributing to reconciliation. It is not in the tradition of Sarajevo to build such monuments. We build churches. … But this I cannot support,” she said in an interview.

Serbs Attack US Embassy – 2

From RFE/RL:

As night fell, parts of the crowd broke away and marched to the U.S. Embassy. Black smoke and flames were soon billowing out a front window.

The same group also vandalized the neighboring Croatian Embassy, a McDonald’s restaurant, and several other stores. Elsewhere in the city, police beat back crowds who tried to attack the Turkish and British embassies.

Television images showed hundreds of people surging through the streets as anti-riot police arrived and fired tear gas canisters as crowd control.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns had telephoned Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic to convey the message that they had not adequately protected the U.S. Embassy.

——

On February 17 and 18, crowds threw stones at the U.S. and Turkish embassies in Belgrade and damaged the mission of Slovenia, which currently heads the rotating EU Presidency.

Infrastructure Minister Velimir Ilic, who heads the New Serbia party, said on February 20 that the action was “just Serbian youth expressing their protest” over the “dismembering of Serbia,” adding that such incidents are part of “democracy.”