22 March 2007

Serbian family in Klina targeted by KLA veterans from Drenica region

Targeted by Albanian extremists only because they wish to live peacefully in their home in their home town - Vladimir and Bosiljka Radosavljevic, Dec. 29, 2006

KIM Info Service, December 29, 2006

Yesterday's attack on the Serbian returnee family of Radosavljevics in Klina, which was temporarily staying in the house of another Serbian returnee family is just one in a series of attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists in Klina against Serb returnees with the intent of pressuring them into selling their property and leaving Klina. At the beginning of autumn this year the Pavlovic family was also attacked with the same intent when a strong explosive device was tossed into their apartment. Some 60 Serbian returnees to Klina town are among few Serbs who have returned since 1999 in urban areas.

Last night, December 28 just before midnight unknown attackers fired a round of automatic gun fire at the house temporarily housing Vladimir Radosavljevic (68) and his wife Bosiljka (60). At the time of the attack the Radosavljevices were sleeping in the upper story of the house. Since the house does not have regular telephone service, Vladimir Radosavljevic had to use his cell phone to first call another Serb man in Klina, who then used his telephone to call police, who arrived on the scene 30 minutes after the attack had occurred. While searching the house they found 23 bullet casings among the broken glass on the ground floor and empty chargers in the street. The police believes the attackers used a Kalashnikov AK-47. However, police also found two undetonated hand grenades in the kitchen of the house. The attacker apparently believed that the elderly Serb couple was in the ground floor at the time of the attack.

After police evacuated the Radosavljevices to the apartment of their relatives in downtown Klina the mayor of Klina visited the targeted house the following day. Police have made a statement that an investigation is in progress.

Targeted house where the Radosavljevices were temporarily staying

The Radosavljevices own a house in downtown Klina located immediately across from the municipal assembly building. In summer 1999 when the Radosavljevices fled to central Serbia together with the other Serbs from Klina, their house was illegally occupied by a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army from the neigboring Drenica region, as was the case with most other Serb property not destroyed in the first wave of destruction, looting and torching. The illegal "owner" then rented the house to two other Albanians. A certain Mr. Morina now claims to be the owner of the house, saying he bought the house legally in Montenegro. However, according to international police sources in Klina this is one of 12 cases of falsified transactions in which Serb owners allegedly sold their houses to Albanians. The Radosavljevices never sold their house in downtown Klina but are insisting through the Housing and Property Directorate (HPD) that their family home be returned to them and that they be permitted to live a normal and peaceful life after their return to Klina in November 2003. Unfortunately, these cases involving false sales of houses have been collecting dust for months in the filing cabinets of the municipal court in Klina and no one has the desire to resolve them. Similar cases of false sales of Serb houses also exist in Istok and Pec and despite many complaints, Serbs whose property has been thus sold still cannot realize their ownership rights.

Moreover, the most recent illegal owner of the Radosavljevic house in Klina, Mr. Morina, has converted the ground floor into a restaurant which is a regular gathering place for the members of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK - led by Hasim Thaci, former KLA leader) and KLA veterans. These two groups act in unison in Klina as the so-called "Drenica lobby" and are locally in conflict with the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which is presently acutely split into two wings (Sejdiu's and Daci's). There is a strong possibility that in the event of an actual schism in the party, local government in Klina and in other locations where the LDK is in power will fall under the rule of the competing PDK or AAK (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo), i.e., the parties of Hasim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj, respectively.

Radosavljevic family home in downtown Klina has been converted into a "headquarters" for Drenica gangs and Albin Kurti's Self-Determination

It is not in the least surprising that the aforementioned illegally occupied house recently also became the home of the office of Albin Kurti's organization, Self-Determination which is known for its aggressive position against Serb returnees. This radical youth organization in Metohija (Western part of Kosovo Province) works hand in glove with extremists belonging to the organization of KLA veterans. Veterans in this region operate openly as a paramilitary organization and are behind most of the attacks on Serb returnees, as well as members of the LDK. They are also involved in various other criminal activities and extortion. Municipal authorities and international police are well aware of the situation but in the clash with competing political and paramilitary groups they do not care much about the Serbs. That is why not one case where Serbs in Klina have been attacked has been resolved: it would mean that the municipality would have to declare open war on the Drenica gangs who are gaining an increasingly strong foothold in Klina. Recently activity by the Front for Albanian Unification (FBKSh) of Adil Gafuri and its paramilitary (terrorist) wing the AKSh, i.e., the Albanian National Army has been increasingly visible on the territory of Klina municipality. Viewed generally, it is difficult to imagine the situation being any worse than it is.

The attack on the Radosavljevic family, which is determinedly seeking to reclaim the house which currently serves as a headquarters for extremists, obviously had the purpose of liquidating and terrorizing this family. But as matters stand it is hard to expect that the rule of law and justice will be established in Klina. International representatives are primarily concerned with preventing a large scale confrontation among Albanians, which in this region also has a religious undertone because the newcomers from Drenica are Muslims and largely members of the PDK, whereas most Albanian natives of Klina are Roman Catholic and belong to the divided LDK. Under these conditions the survival of Serbs who wish to live peacefully is highly uncertain and it is not improbable that they may all end up as collateral damage in the furious frenzy to claim Serb property.

The situation in Klina is just one of the examples of the situation in parts of Kosovo and Metohija where Serbs are trying to return to their homes. The situation is somewhat better (or more accurately, less bad) only in more compact Serb settlements and villages where Serbs live in groups in a single location. Keeping in mind the highly unstable political situation among the Kosovo Albanians themselves, the exceptionally high level of organized crime and the unobstructed operation of armed and masked gangs which are also looting the impoverished Albanian population with increasing frequency, the Serbs of Metohija are entering the new year with fear and dread.