After Kosovo’s breakaway - right-wingers ravage Belgrade

We are publishing an eyewitness account from Belgrade of the violence that broke out after Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia. In spite of the media footage the vast majority of the masses ignored the small number of demonstrators! The working class responded quietly, treating the rioters with nothing but fear and disgust! Hardly anyone is prepared to come out and support the Serbian bourgeois... Its credibility is wearing as thin as the patience of the masses.

On Sunday, 17th February 2008, the Parliament of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (under NATO protectorate since the 1999 war) adopted the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo, thus founding a new, and quite unique, state in Europe, named Kosova. This event had been expected for a while now and its reasons and causes have been analyzed in previously published articles. The topic of this article is not another analysis but rather to give the facts on the ground, concerning the Kosovo-related situation in Serbia.

Nationalist riot in Belgrade after news of Kosovar independence
Serbian nationalists rioting in Belgrade after Kosovo's declaration of independence
Hours after the Kosovo parliament had declared independence a campaign of ethnic rage was launched by the Serbian bourgeoisie. Mass riots, apparently inspired by synchronized media frenzy, as well as mostly aggressive speeches made by Serbia's leading bourgeois politicians, ravaged the centre of Belgrade, targeting mostly what they saw as symbols of the policy blamed for the event: McDonald's restaurants, embassies of the United States and EU countries (first of all that of Slovenia, which currently presides the European Union), and also Albanian (or presumed to be Albanian) bakeries. The attempt to burn the Belgrade Bayrakli Mosque was prevented by special police forces that clashed with the rioters. The author of this text was incredibly lucky to leave the crime-scene-to-be - the Terazije Square, where the largest McDonald's lies - just minutes before the mob arrived. Passers-by ran as fast as they could to avoid being injured or killed.

The following day, 18th February, a mob of about a thousand right-wingers gathered at the square between the Faculty of Philosophy and the Rectorate of the University of Belgrade, singing chetnik (Serbian World War Two collaborators) songs and chanting slogans such as: "Kosovo je srce Srbije" (Kosovo is the heart of Serbia) or "Ubij, zakolji, da Šiptar ne postoji" (Kill, slaughter, until the Albanian is no more), causing fear and trepidation among the students inside the Faculty, as we watched them from the windows of the building.

Apart from chanting the above mentioned, some of the people in the mob were seen giving the Nazi salute, while some others - apparently enraged by the fact that most students showed no intention of joining their rally - threw stones at the windows we were looking out from.

Some of the Faculty's left-wing activists imprudently responded to the provocations by signalling certain insults with their hands. At one point, a group of fanatical nationalists burst into the Faculty building and physically attacked several prominent leftists on the third floor, but were soon repelled. The mob then continued to march through the centre of Belgrade.

These right-wing riots are the result of a bourgeoisie in panic. Facing inevitable economic decline and growing social discontent with the effects of the so called "transition", the ruling class of Serbia reacted in the only manner it knows how to. The only thing it could do was to channel all the social frustrations into a racist frenzy, with leading capitalist "clerks" imposing themselves as its vanguard.

This was by no means a spontaneous outburst of popular discontent! Even in such a tense atmosphere, with millions grieving over the loss of an imaginary beacon of national identity, the number of participants in the mob was proportionally small, and could be characterized as being led by the lumpen elements, with some mostly confused high school students, brainwashed by the official bourgeois propaganda, also taking part.

There should be no doubt that those events had been previously orchestrated by certain circles within the capitalist State - most mainstream newspapers and leading television stations in Serbia mounted a simultaneous and synchronized propaganda campaign to demonize Albanians and present the Kosovo issue as the most vital of all issues forced upon the backs of the working class in today's Serbia. Almost all government and opposition officials (except the neoliberal Liberal Democratic Party and its satellites) joined the chorus about Kosovo being a "false state" which "Serbia will never recognize, or stop fighting for".

The main argument of these reactionaries - who found their loudest and most zealous spokesman in the ultra-conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica - was the conservative argument of "international legal order", i.e. the eternity and invariability of the current political system. Two silent messages were thus directed at the public: that capitalist order is not to be changed, especially when it comes to the sanctity of imperialist control over ethnic minorities and that the any non-national form of struggle is secondary and will be viewed by the orchestrated lynching mobs as sedition or treason (and, presumably, be dealt with in their own recognizable fashion). Even the Church stepped in, invoking Serbia's holy right to hold Kosovo. The ruling class had unleashed its reactionary machine to its fullest!

And yet the vast majority of the masses ignored it! Despite the loudness of the capitalist-bought lumpen elements and a few thousand brainwashed youngsters who will live to be ashamed of their role in this sad event, the working class responded quietly, treating the rioters with nothing but fear and disgust! Sure, we all watched this "dog and pony" show very carefully. Some people may have even felt appalled at the loss of this symbol of medieval Serbia, but hardly anyone would come out and enlist in the bourgeois line-up... The credibility of the bourgeoisie is wearing as thin as the patience of the masses.

The same can be said of the Albanian workers in Kosovo - now officially a colony of EU/NATO imperialism. As some comrades have stated in previous articles about Kosovo, and Yugoslavia in general, they are in for a rude awakening. The farce that we witnessed in their bourgeois parliament was nothing but a case of "bread and circuses" for the people of a country where over 50% of the population is unemployed, where crime and corruption are rampant and where only imperialist troops assure the short term survival of a gangster run police state, the main export of which is its strategic position. It will not be long before Kosovars put their daily bread before their national colours! When they do, this must be done by a mass organization that reconciles and mobilizes the proletarians of all ethnic groups - a goal that only a Marxist workers' party will be able to do.

The main task of all left-wing groups at this point should be to offer a serious alternative to both neoliberal submission and nationalistic outbursts and work towards founding a genuine party of the workers, to defend their main and vital interests.

We call upon all workers in Serbia and Kosovo to resist ethnic frenzy. As the founder of the old Serbian Social Democratic Party, Dimitrije Tucović realized long ago, the enemy of the Serbian people is the same as that of the Albanian people and this can be recognized by its property, not its ethnicity! Only a united revolutionary movement of all workers in the Balkans, regardless of their nationality, can insure freedom and a better life for all! For an end to ethnic hostilities and to imperialist control of the region! For a Balkan Socialist Federation!

No more deluded by reaction,
On tyrants only we'll make war!
And soldiers too will take strike action,
They'll break ranks and fight no more!
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride,
They soon shall hear the bullets flying,
We'll shoot the generals on our own side!

So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale
Shall free the human race!


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