by Saker’s Johnny-on-the-spot in Belgrade for the Saker Blog
What started a few days ago as a vigorous grass-roots movement is slowly but surely being reconfigured (and not in the good sense) on the streets of Belgrade and other cities in Serbia.
Violent regime-infiltrated thugs and agents provocateurs are gradually gaining the upper hand around the parliament building in Belgrade, which is the focal point of the nation-wide protests. Their task is two-fold. Firstly, to provide a plausible rationale for the brutal response of regime’s police and gendarmerie. They pointedly taunt the police, throw flaming torches at them, and hurl bricks to cause as much damage as possible in order to elicit repression, and then move away. Secondly, their mission is to taint the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters by association. The few independent media outlets are doing a heroic job of keeping the public informed about the real situation. The director of one of them, srbin.info, Dejan Zlatanović received anonymous death threats yesterday in retaliation for his persistently truthful reporting from the embattled streets of Belgrade. The mass media are almost entirely regime controlled and their mendacious spin is enough to make anyone puke. The thrust of it is to cast the tyrant and his cronies as defenceless victims of a coup attempt (it will be recalled that at a later stage in the Romanian game, colleague Ceausescu was spewing similar insults at his judges, calling them “putchists”). To drive the point home, upon returning from Paris, Vučić announced immediately that the protesters are to be treated as „terrorists“ and will be punished accordingly. The police have taken the cue from their leader and bones are breaking bones pitilessly.
The partly violent turn events have taken confirms once again that “leaderless” and “spontaneous” protest is a fiction that little children might believe in, but not many knowledgeable adults. What undoubtedly began as a spontaneous outburst will lead precisely nowhere unless it is given political direction and form, and clear demands comprehensible and acceptable to all are articulated. Otherwise, the energy will be dissipated and the ogre will remain a bit longer astride his shaky throne. The bane of the revolutionary situation that is emerging in Serbia is that virtually all figures in public life have been or are in bed with the system, in one form or another. The legendary “man on the street” no longer believes anyone, and in particular not those who have ever been linked to any of the abominable regimes that have ruled the country or the ghastly, utterly corrupt system that has sustained them. The so-called “opposition figures” who showed their faces at the protests were silenced and ejected, many physically, by the annoyed crowds. While the total discreditation of the venal political class may be seen abstractly as a good thing, actually the absence of anyone in public life with even minimal credibility to speak on behalf of the multitudes and to give their discontentment a cohesive purpose is resulting in disastrous consequences. It is hampering seriously the incipient insurrection and may even extend by default the tyrant’s lease on life.
Sidebar: Tonight there are some interesting new developments that strongly suggest that Vučić’s position is deteriorating. Employees of the government broadcasting service, the regime’s principal spin factory, are threatening to go on strike. That would be a serious blow to Vučić, although he does have more options in the form of several «private» broadcasters whose owners are allied to his regime. Doctors and nurses in hospitals are also threatening to walk off their jobs, which would cause great embarrassment to the regime, regardless of whether the pandemic is real or phony. Furthermore, there is a visible ramping up of anti-Russian propaganda, with elements of the regime claiming that Russia is behind the disorders and trying to provoke a coup (a spin reminiscent of the phony “Russian coup” in Montenegro a year or two ago), while other elements of the confused regime are blaming UK and Western agents for fomenting the disorders. The Israeli involvement is still a mystery, but it may not be on the official level at this point. Rather, the «dancing» Israelis caught in Belgrade (and quickly released, as is the custom in such situations) may simply have been hired chaos specialists, put in place by one of the interested foreign factions. Tonight there will be another huge rally in Belgrade, but we still do not have a full background picture. Spontaneous popular reaction is the largest component of it, but foreign elements are undoubtedly also making efforts to exploit the situation to their advantage.
The Serbian Savonarola, Orthodox monk Anthony, addressed the crowd in front of parliament to persuade them to expel regime provocateurs from their ranks and advised them soberly to overwhelm the regime by their resolve and numbers, not by pelting with stones the uniformed police, who are also Serbs:
The thought that comes to mind is that Western intelligence and Soros groups are trying to ramp up tension in order to put additional pressure on Vučić to sign off on Kosovo (there is supposed to be another meeting in Brussels on Sunday which he will be attending). But at this point they don’t want him gone, just sufficiently scared to do what is expected of him. Once he does it, of course, he will be eliminated and probably in the ensuing chaos Western intelligence agencies would try to manipulate the outcome by manoeuvring in another team of their loyal agents to replace him.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s tin-pot tyrant returned from his 15 minutes of fame in Paris, apparently missing totally the real reason why he was summoned there in the first place. The visit had its low and (in his mind) some high points. One low point was the welcome organized in his “honor” by Serbian students in France, who gathered in front of the Serbian embassy in Paris flaunting rather uncomplimentary placards such as “Tu es la Covid de Serbie,” translation hardly being required. But for an insecure Balkan ruler with Vučić’s colossal inferiority complex, there were some high points as well, masterfully arranged by his sophisticated French hosts pour épater les paysans. After returning, Vučić gushed to his Belgrade constituency that the cordial Macron took him to “apartments [within the Élysée Palace] other than his office, so that I was able to view the special private rooms reserved for French Presidents.” [Yes, and one hopes that Mme Macron had the good sense to chaperon this tour or it is anybody’s guess what level of cordiality the encounter may have attained out of her and the reporters’ sight.] “He [Macron] remembered the emotions he experienced in Belgrade,” Vučić recalled fondly. The star-struck Balkan parvenu then continued, “He showed me extraordinary hospitality.” Oh là là, but the poor thing apparently has no clue that he was brought to Paris not for a palace tour, but to receive his marching orders for Kosovo.
In sum, Serbian unrest will continue on Saturday, July 11, gathering place in front of parliament at 6 pm as usual, and we will see whether the politically untutored masses have learned any lessons from the previous few days. Will they begin keeping a healthy Covid-19 social distance from Vučić’s thugs and provocateurs, letting them slug it out, the more viciously the better, with Vučić’s equally contemptible policemen and gendarmes? Will they finally start writing their placards in Cyrillic, their Parisian student-colleagues justifiably deserving a pass for not doing so? And will some clever young Gavrilo Princip among them at last receive inspiration from on high to set forth concisely the reason for their sacrificial vigils in plain Serbian, for everybody’s benefit: “Alexander Vučić, you pestilence, begone!”