In Belgrade, a fresco to the glory of Ratko Mladic sets the street on fire


This piece of sidewalk in the center of Belgrade suddenly became a symbol of the glorification of war criminals increasingly in vogue in Serbia. Every day, far-right thugs, including one of the assassins of Toulouse football supporter Brice Taton, who died in 2009 after a violent assault in the streets of the Serbian capital on the sidelines of a trip by his team, there protect a fresco to the glory of Ratko Mladic. The former Bosnian Serb military leader was sentenced in June to life imprisonment for his role in the conflict that tore the Balkans apart in the early 1990s.

Painted on a private building, it depicts the former general currently imprisoned in the Netherlands giving a military salute. “General, thank you to your mother for giving birth to you”, is it written on his face. Appeared at the end of July, a few weeks after the pronouncement of the final sentence of Mladic by international justice for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the mural shocked in this bobo district of the capital, while the frescoes glorifying Mladic are legion elsewhere in the country and among the Bosnian Serbs. At the request of the municipal authorities, the inhabitants of the building wanted to erase it, but no company dared to make the trip, complained the property manager.

“We communicated with them and offered to do it”, explains Marko Milosavljevic, director of the Serbian office of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, an NGO that fights for justice and truth throughout the former Yugoslavia. “We told the police that we were going to organize a rally for this purpose on November 9”, date on which Serbia celebrates the International Day against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, “To send the message to the whole country but also to Bosnia that it is possible to erase this type of paint which prevents reconciliation”. “But the police forbade us to assemble”, deplores this activist.


Despite this, several peace activists still gather on the scene, such as former MP Aida Corovic. This 60-year-old woman approaches the fresco with an artist and they throw eggs, before being violently pushed aside by several men dressed in black and without police insignia. “They tried to pull me into a street corner, I was very afraid that it was activists trying to hit me”, she says today. These men actually take her to the police station, where she will spend a few hours. Released without prosecution, she is still under threat of a fine for “disturbing public order”.

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