serbia

“Biljana Srbljanovic, a leading playwright who once considered running for office herself, said, “How would you feel if elections in the United States were like some nightmare scenario where Bush was always running against Clinton? That’s how it is in Serbia: Tadic/Nikolic, Tadic and Nikolic,” like some hellish replay of a political version of the ever-repeating movie Groundhog Day, said Srbljanovic.”

http://www.independent.com/news/2012/may/02/serbian-elections-groundhog-day-all-over-again/

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Well well. The old team has reformed. The band is back for a last concert. The war hero is brought out of retirement to save the war.

The mafia state of Kosovo has hired none other than Tony Blair’s former chief of propaganda to help them spin their way into legitimacy now that the truth of the KLA’s brutal Serb butchering ways has become public knowledge thanks to the Dick Marty’s report, which alleged that not only was there murder and kidnapping of Serbs in 1999 (after the Serbs withdrew)  but that victims organ were smuggled to illegal markets and sold. It is further alleged that the Prime Minister of Kosovo – Hashim Thaci  – as head of the KLA, was involved.  Now an international investigation into allegations of organ trafficking by the Kosovo Liberation Army in northern Albania will be led by American John Clint Williamson.

These lurid allegations address just one of the incidents of murder, kidnapp, assault and intimidation waged daily against the few remaining Serb and other non-Albanian minorities by Kosovo Albanians. Most have already been ethnically cleansed by pogroms and constant intimidation.

Kosovo does not need more spin, propaganda and obfuscation. It needs the truth, transparency and openness. Campbell and Blair have done enough damage falling for the KLAs lies the first time around and convincing the witless Americans to bomb Serbia. Now, with 10 years of hindsight, anyone even passingly familiar with the region knows that the great lie is that all is well in Kosovo. Its economy is n on-existant. It cannot and will never be able to sustain itself. It is run by the mafia. It is a the main Balkan mafia staging ground. It is the European centre of people trafficking (slavery), gun running and narcotics  smuggling. And to cap it all of sectarian Albanians have waged a 10 year war of violent aggression against minorities and there is no let up.

Whilst the vast majority of Kosovan’s are decent people (a visit there will leave you with a lovely impression of the kindness and hospitality of all the communities), the government is made up of ex-KLA gangsters with blood on their hands. That government should not be getting propaganda help from the British Council and Alastair Campbell. They do not have an image problem. Theere is no misunderstanding. The are thugs and gangsters who need to be exposed to the truth.

More:

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/uk-funds-kosovo-pr-campaign

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038602/Real-charmer-Alastair-Campbell-brought-advise-Kosovan-government-spin.html

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Serbia Receives 3 Billion Euro IMF Loan

by Limbic on March 27, 2009

Everyone thinks this is great news. They are dead wrong. It may well lead to chaos and instability.

A Fistful of Euros explains…

What more can I say? The Eastern crisis is extending rapidly, more rapidly than we are deploying means to contain it. I don’t have time to go into this much more at this point, but I thought it might be worth reproducing a dialogue that went on over a mail thread this morning, between two people with a strong interest in what is happening in Serbia.

Mr A: I still don’t understand if this is a good news for Serbia…

Mr Z: No it is a terrible news, Basically as so far Serbia is unique in the way that now cannot apply either fiscal or monetary measures to kick off the recovery

Mr A: That’s my fear as well. And it is true, there is absolutely no space for fiscal or monetary measures. Moreover, I just got now an info that European Union accession funds for Serbia will not be distributed this year to NGOs/civil society projects/IDPs and refugees associations, but given directly to the government budget. Another sign that the situation here is really getting bleaker than I thought.

BTW, as Edward knows, I am not an economist and I am more interested in the social and political consequences of this crisis. In relation to Serbia, I am quite frightened. If the economic situation rapidly worsens, I will not be so surprised to see a serious political turmoil in Serbia… Hope I am wrong.

Mr A:Yeah, but you know people response is: “Crises, what crises? We have been in a crisis for last twenty years?”.

Politically I hope that there are some changes since the ruling coalition is very much a bizarre motley crew. The leading party in the coalition is the hostage of smaller parties crazy ideas. Unfortunately the same would apply for the leading opposition party – they too have too depend of forming coalitions with smaller “crazy” political parties.

Mr Z:Yep, I hear this story on a daily basis…

My question is anyway: what kind of consequences will possibly have the IMF loan on the Serbian economy?
– devaluation of the dinar?
– higher inflation?

Bizarre is the right adjective to describe the Serbian govt coalition. The problem is that unfortunately I don’t see any possible alternative. But that’s another topic 🙂

Mr A: Well, they will have to tackle competitiveness of the economy.

Basically an erosion of wages and depreciation of the currency.

It will not be pretty and particularly it will be hard in cities.

In conclusion, let’s just remember my little causal chain (with feedback loops, of course).

Financial Crisis -> Real Economy Crisis -> Political Crisis

From  Serbia Receives 3 Billion Euro IMF Loan | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion

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I recently came across a super interesting article by Serbian, writer, journalist and cultural critic Vuksa Velickovic. Published in the Institute for Human Science’s “IWM Post“,  it explores a seldom discussed theme: the fact that Belgrade’s famously “cool” clubbing scene is in fact retreating in the face of the unrelenting cultural (and occasionally physical) attack of  Turbofolk and its shock troopers, the “Silicones”. The continuing rise of Turbofolk, a decade after the cultural conditions of  civil war, extreme nationalism, isolation and government propaganda gave rise to it, is a worrying trend in 21st century Serbia.

I happen to believe that Turbofolk culture – not the music, but the lifestyle and ideology it speaks for – represents the very worst of Serbia (just as rap culture celebrates some of the worst of black culture):  Glorification of criminality and thuggery, obsession with the superficial (cheap signalling), unapologetic materialism, violent bigotry, deluded nationalist exceptionalism and volkisch quasi-fascist politics.

Here is Vuksa’s article in full, excerpted from the PDF available online here. It is a very well written and important article on a very important subject.

Imagining Cool By Vuksa Velickovic

Wrestling between the rock of  the “urbanities” and the neofolk of “peasant urbanities”: Belgrade’s club culture is an ongoing identity crisis

“Belgrade rocks!” states a New York Times article from 2005, just one in a series of many, describing the buzzing atmosphere of Serbia’s capital. Almost a decade after it was bombed by NATO, the recent Western military target is now labelled the new Eastern European “capital of cool”, as stories are written about its vibrant nightlife, “the electric energy of youth and a nonstop music scene.”

However, despite the occasional odd journalist impression that every once in a while rear from this corner of Europe, things get a little more complex. Underneath the casual hipness seen by Westerners, there are teeming and contested social forces that are not new, but have expressed themselves over decades of Serbia’s cultural life. As any protagonist of the local scene would acknowledge, the case of Serbia’s pop-culture is as problematic as it were during the 90’s authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Only the circumstances have changed. Alongside various political and economic strains that have grasped the country since the October 2000 “democratic revolution”, the issue of its “non stop music scene” remains somewhat unresolved.

Music has a special place in the history o flate 20th century Serbia – from the liberating sounds of rock and new wave in Tito’s Yugoslavia in the 70’s and 80’s, all the way to criminally infused turbo folk and the decline of Serbian urban culture in the turbulent 90’s. The long lasting conflict of modern and traditional Serbia, urban and rural, cosmopolitan and nationalist, can be followed through its music development. The social practices of electronic dance music in Belgrade nightclubs today, reflect the city’s ongoing “identity crisis”,   halfway between a fantasized, metropolitan underground culture and the prevailing social realities oflocal mass entertainment.

Svetlana Ceca Raznatovic, queen of Turbofolk. Ceca was married to notorious Balkan mafioso and militia commander Zejko Arkan Raznatovic of Arkans Tigers notoriety.  (Photo by Michael Manske via Wikipedia. Click Image for original)

Svetlana “Ceca” Raznatovic, queen of Turbofolk. Ceca was married to notorious Balkan Mafioso and militia commander Zejko “Arkan” Raznatovic of “Arkan’s Tigers” notoriety. (Photo by Michael Manske via Wikipedia)

Ever since the early 70’s, Belgrade had been wrestling between the predominantly rock culture of the ‘urbanities’ and the neofolk culture of’peasant urbanities’. In such a climate, music taste became a key indicator in defining social identity. The social importance of music paved the way for generating an urban rock and roll culture that, at least in the minds of local fans, was on a par with the pop scenes of Western Europe. Local rock bands recorded their albums in studios of London, Paris and Amsterdam with topnotch producers, backed with high recording and promotion budgets. There was a stable music market, along with specialized music press and a palette of subcultural styles: the punks, the rockers, the new wavers, the “sminkeri” Cmakeupers’) … This was something that never existed in other East European countries, part of the Soviet bloc. There was no pop culture in Bulgaria, Romania or Poland before 1989. At the same time in .(3elgrade, as journalist Dragan Ambrozic put it, it was not only important which group you liked, but which particular records by that group.

Soon, the bloody break up of Yugoslav Federation was about to change everything. The emergence of nationalist-authoritarian regimes in Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo brought a significant cultural shift throughout the region. In 90’s Serbia, war and culture became inseparably intermingled. Backed by state controlled media, turbo folk culture promoted the ideology and lifestyle of the new criminal elite, consisting of nationalist politicians, wartime businessmen and gangsters supporting the regime. Stylistically, it was a hybrid of Serbian neofolk musical idioms and the emerging dance culture ofMTV; combined with symbols of western consumerism and glamour, as imagined by the “peasant urbanities”.

Turbo folk’s rise to prominence in the 90’s showed the degree of social and cultural recomposition that would change the Serbian culture landscape for years to come. By the time its rock scene got utterly marginalized, harmless and depressive, the streets and clubs of Belgrade were occupied by the newly established “Diesel” subculture, made of vicious looking men with cropped hair, gold chains on their bare chest, and a preference for trainer sweat shirts tucked in a certain model of ‘Diesel’ jeans. Embodying the regime’s militant nationalist ideology, the Dieselers’ taste in music was obviously, turbo folk.

Yet, the wartime 90’s saw the rise of another subculture in Belgrade. First clubs were opened that featured only electronic dance music: “Soul Food” and “Industria”, the latter being immortalized in local club culture mythology.

“In those early days, there was a strange chemistry between completely apart social groups” recalls Gordan Paunovic, one of the pioneer Belgrade Drs and former Industria resident. During its glorious heydays, the club was frequented by an odd mixture of people: alongside the Dieselers were young fashionable kids, flamboyant men dressed in stockings and high heels, a congregation pretty much unimaginable today.

Industria also witnessed the birthplace for Belgrade’s first superstar DJ outfit – Teenage Techno Punks, a trio of 18 year olds playing music for 18 year olds. Alongside turbo folk, the hard pumping techno of ITP became the soundtrack of a generation shaped in isoiation, poverty and violence.

By the mid 90’s, the political potentials of club cultures were already recognized in other countries. In the UK during the Acid House era, clubbers who stood up for their “right to party” were challenging the dominant discourses of a rigidly purist society for the sake of individual and collective pursue of pleasure. On the other side, in an internationally isolated Belgrade, club culture represented not that much of a jouissance-type escapism, as much as a gateway to normality. Going to certain clubs, alone, was a political act. Under a repressive regime, the people were dancing for their right to live. But after the October 2000 revolution, once the “evil Babylon” was ousted, without its subversive edge, the Belgrade techno scene fell in the hands of an unstable local market economy, depending on mass, corporate-sponsored entertainment.

Years of authoritarian regime have left their undistinguishable cultural marks in Serbia’s capital. The present case of “Silicone Valley” (an ironic reference to a fashionable club area in downtown Belgrade, known by its clientele tough looking guys and women with enlarged breasts) points to a specific subcultural practice evolved directly from turbo folk, retaining some of it’s core style elements, but more suitable to new sociopolitical realities. As media theorist Ivana Kronja observes, Silicone Valley is “the dominant youth culture in Serbia today”. Though rid of open displays of criminal preferences, it has nevertheless fully integrated turbo folk’s ideology of national-patriotism, mass consumerism and gender stereotypes.

Yet, both the techno and Silicone Valley subcultures have come surprisingly close to each other in their signifying practices – their members often frequent the same clubs, take the same drugs, use similar fashion codes and quite often enjoy matching music tastes. This paradoxical “symbiotic bipolarization” of youth cultural space corresponds to the bipolar shrinking of Serbian media landscape after 2000, currently split between two commercial enterprises – the populistic, ex-regime TV Pink, and the ex-revolutionary B92, both competing for the same mass audience. With most of the independent radio stations such as Venus, SKC and 94.9 well off the air, with no specialized press aside from one website (Popboks) and one low circulation magazine (Huper), little room is left for developing a competitive local music scene. Instead, this kind of media overlapping breeds new conflicts within the subcultures.

Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of “distinctions”, Sarah Thornton states that club cultures are taste cultures, operating on the same hierarchical lines as “high cultures” do. In such a hietarchy, one’s social status depends on the amount of “right taste”, that is – subcultural capita!, gained through complex relationships including knowledge, information and various media-communication channels. This way, taste in music reveals itself ideological by its very nature, becoming the means by which clubbers “imagine their own and other social groups”.

The bearers of Thornton’s subcultural capital in Belgrade are the so called “influential minorities”, or the city’s self-perceived underground elite, “cool people” who share discriminate music tastes, while considering the majority of clubbing population a mass of “urban peasants”. However substantial it mayor not be, this capital fails in its own self-Iegimitisation: with no proper media to articulate, its “authenticity” seems provisional, or in the eyes of the “mass”, downright fake. In such an atmosphere, violent conflicts are often the outcome, as with the case of a recent VIP (but nevertheless, all-entry) event in club “Plastic”, when the resident female DJ from the local “underground elite” was physically attacked and entire portions of the club demolished in a violent outburst from the “Silicones”.

This kind of events are usually left out of the official Western stories, apparently not fit for the “Capita! of cool” narratives. What the Western media representations of Belgrade’s “vibrant nightlife” really signifY today is the global ubiquity of an overcommodified pop culture. Drained of meaning, searching for it’s long lost soul, the raw, “uncorrupted” subcultural experience, this time in remote corners of its backyard – the gloomy Balkans. However, the Western reflexive quest for authenticity doesn’t do much justice to the subculture in question, leaving the unpleasant reality intact behind media images.

In the eyes of Western passersby Belgrade may appear as the “Balkan Berlin”, but in reality, it is still waiting on the true winds of change. By the time they arrive, the “Capita! of cool” may have cooled down completely …

Vuksa Velickovic is a Serbian journalist, and also author of the science fiction novel Gulva (The Crowd) published in” 2003. He graduated in International Relations at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Belgrade, and is currently at postgrade in Culture Theory. From July to October 2008, he was Milena Jesenska Fellow at the IWM.

This article was scanned from issue 99 of IWM Post, any errors and typos are inevitably due to scanning errors not the original publication.

You can download this and the other articles in the publication here: http://iwm.at/publ/nl-99.pdf [PDF 1.8Mb]

I would like to thank Professor Peter Gundelach of the Sociology faculty at the University of Copenhagen, for alterting me to this article.

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It would appear that the UK’s Metropolitan Police service is now formally investingating the conspiracy theory that the Serbian secret service killed Jill Dando in 1999.

I suspect is is more to do with the police having something to say as the 10th anniversary approaches rarther than a seriouse effort to solve the crime via what can be described as tenous evidence (at best).

Jill Dando murder: Police investigate Serbian hitman theory | UK news | guardian.co.uk

See also a previous post on this at Limbicnutrition.

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