Housewifery during Serbian History: Mladic Arrested
I avoid political discussions on this blog, but it feels ridiculous to ignore the biggest (non-sports) news story to come out of Serbia in a long time. If you have shunned all media before reading my blog, a hearty thanks and a thump on the head for not hearing that Ratko Mladic, Europe’s most-wanted suspected war criminal, was apprehended yesterday in a town outside of Belgrade. If you don’t know his accused crimes, click here.
I won’t try to improve on the numerous reports of the situation. Rather, I’ll let you know what I heard and felt. I was surprised, like everyone else I suppose, by reports that Mladic had been arrested. My first thought was that I’d have to stop joking that my “work plan” this year was to find Mladic and collect the 10 million euro, $5 million dollar reward for his capture. Speaking of which, I wonder who gets the big prize, and if that person would rather remain in silence than risk the wrath of Mladic supporters. But I digress…
I knew that after Milosevic was arrested, there were protests in the streets and Americans were encouraged to stay
home. (The Milosevic arrest occurred close to a U.S.-imposed deadline to detain Milosevic or face economic hardship.) The Mladic arrest was under different circumstances, but there were calls for a protest in Trg Republike, not far from our home. We didn’t think that anything bad would happen, but protests can escalate quickly. I usually buy meat for dinner in the early evening hours, but I decided not to take any chances and stay at home. We ordered Chinese food, but it was terrible. At least I had some strawberries left…
I did go out earlier in the afternoon, and life seemed pretty normal on the streets. No one was honking (more than usual), shouting, or waving flags, though police presence had noticeably increased. I saw military forces by government buildings and along the main downtown street, Kneza Milosa. Yet this was not completely unusual; other government protests and major soccer games incur a similar increase in police presence.
We spent most of our evening online or watching the news. The CNN international reports were disappointing, to say the least. BBC was not much better; they certainly chose a bad time to leave the region. Al Jazeera is setting up here, but I don’t have that channel if there is one. So we watched the local news, trying to decipher as much as we could.
The protest in Trg Republike looked modest. Reports showed several dozen men glaring into the cameras. There was some shouting and chanting in the background, but the police force was large and seemed to have things under control. It didn’t seem menacing, but perhaps that’s because we were watching it from the comfort of our living room. Here’s BIRN TV-You Tube video of last night’s protests. According to Belgrade Insight, the chant is encouraging the current President to kill himself and save Serbia.
Larger protests in Novi Sad were suppressed as well. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard about any protests in southern Serbia, an area considered to be more nationalistic than Belgrade or Vojvodina. I’m sure there will be a few outbursts and a LOT more political graffiti to come out of this, but it seems that the worst reaction to the arrest (which wasn’t so bad) is over. So not to worry, RHOB friends and family, we feel very safe here and things are under control.
If you’re interested in an English timeline of events and reactions after the arrest, I suggest checking out the Belgrade Insight blog.