The stunning town of Mostar on the river Neretva was ravaged by the Bosnian war in successive campaigns. First a siege by the Yugoslav army left it badly damaged. Then came the bitter conflict between Croat forces and local defenders, loyal to the government in Sarajevo, on the eastern bank of the river.

When the war finished across Bosnia in 1996 the scars were visible everywhere in Mostar, and little was known about the fate of Serb civilians in the area. In these pictures you see UN peacekeepers visiting the Serb village of Lakat, before they return home themselves to face an unknown future in their native Ukraine. Oleksandr Klymenko was there with his camera.

Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym
Mostar Klym

Photography: © Oleksandr Klymenko

Published in Photo Gallery Balkans

The Republic of Serb Krajina (Република Српска Крајина) was a self-proclaimed Serb entity within Croatia. Established in 1991, its separatist government engaged in a war for independence from the Republic of Croatia. The main part of the RSK was overrun by Croatian forces in 1995.

Some of the photos here also offer a rare glimpse into the refugee camp Batnoga. This chunk of Serb-held territory offered sanctuary to thousands of Bosnian Muslims from another enclave, just across the border. Their leader Fikret Abdic, once a wealthy businessman and politician in Sarajevo, was now fighting his own war of territory in neigbouring Velika Kladuša. Batnoga had been the chicken farm of his pre-war company with operations across Yugoslavia. Some of the refugees here lived in disused chicken coops before the UN provided tents and other shelter.

Do you remember Batnoga or the involvement of the Ukrainian UN soldiers in the area?

Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina
Serb Krajina

Photography: © Oleksandr Klymenko

 

Published in Photo Gallery Balkans

Scenes from traditional jumping from the Stari Most bridge in the old town of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Leaping from the bridge into the Neretva river is a rite of passage for the town's young men, and continues on despite the bridge's destruction during the Croat-Bosniak War in 1992-1994.

Shot on location for ESPN

Published in Balkans

A document of its time, a pop video from the frontline.

It was easier to teach Croats and Serbs to shoot at each other by mixing pop music and history.

Jura Stublić, Zagreb 1992

Published in Balkans

 

9th October 1934. A Bulgarian citizen assassinates King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseille, one of the earliest terrorist attacks in France of the 20th Century. Аlso killed was one of Europe's most distinguished politicians, the French Foreign Minister and ex Prime Minister, Louis Barthou. The assassin, Vlado Chernozemski, was himself killed straight afterwards.

Chernozemski was a conspirator who saw himself as a Macedonian revolutionary. He was born Velichko Kerin in 1897 in the village of Kamenitsa in south western Bulgaria, and joined the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization IMRO in 1922.

In 1928 Chernozemski was sentenced to death for murder, but was granted amnesty in 1932. He was responsible for the murder of yet another Macedonian activist on the order of IMROs leader Ivan Mihailov.

Chernozemski was said to have planned to enter the League of Nations in Geneva and blow himself up as a sign of protest against the League's  failure to act over the situation in Vardar-Macedonia (then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia).

Until May 1934 the IMRO had de facto control of Bulgaria's south western part, raised "taxes" and acted as a state within a state, with the unofficial support of the political and military establishment in Sofia. The IMRO also established close links with Mussolini's Italy and with the Croatian Ustasha (Ustaše) fascist movement, sharing what they saw as a common enemy in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

During the 1920s and 1930s numerous assassinations were carried out by IMRO across Europe and in Yugoslavia. Often the logistics were organised by Croat supporters who were more worldly and experienced in travelling through Europe than IMRO's agents. Croats usually provided forged passports, escort and shelter, like they did in Marseille in October 1934. The assassination in Marseille is still not included in the school curriculum in Bulgaria.

King Alexander was buried in the Memorial Church of St. George in the Oplenac Royal Mausoleum, near the town of Topola. This newsreel shows King Alexander's widow, the Queen consort Maria of Yugoslavia (the daughter of Queen Marie of Romania) and Alexander's 11-year son Peter, later King Peter II Karadjordjevic.

Also seen here is Hitler's deputy Hermann Goering in conversation with Marshal Pétain, then France's Minister of War. In the next shot is Prince Kiril of Bulgaria. King Boris III, who had shown King Alexander around his royal palaces in Bulgaria only a few days earlier, (28-30 September) expressed condolences, but sent to the funeral his younger brother.

9 октомври 1934, пристанището на Марсилия, Франция. Български гражданин, Владо Черноземски, застрелва крал Александър І на Югославия. Убит е и един от най-почитаните европейски политици, външният министър на Франция и бивш министър председател Луи Барту, далеч от балканската политика и аспирации. Атентаторът е убит незабавно.

Владо Черноземски ("Шофьора") е конспиратор, който се възприема като борец в полза на българска кауза в Македония. Роден Величко Димитров Керин на 19 октомври 1897 в село Каменица, сега част от Велинград. През 1922 той се влючва във Вътрешната македонска революционна организация ВМРО.

През 1928 година Черноземски е осъден на смърт за убийството през 1924 на народния представител и левичарски македонски активист Димо Хаджидимов, но през 1932 година е пуснат на свобода при амнистия. Владо Черноземски е отговорен и за убийството през 1930 в София на македонския деец Наум Томалевски по нареждане на водача на ВМРО Ванче Михайлов.

Черноземски говори за желанието си да влезе в сградата на Обществото на народите в Женева и се самовзриви. С този си акт той иска да обърне внимание към бездействието на организацията-предшественик на ООН по повод на обстановката във Вардарска Македония (тогава част от Кралство Югославия).

През 20-те и 30-те години на ХХ век, освен в България, ВМРО провежда многобройни атентати в Западна Европа и особено в Югославия. Най-често подготовката се поема от хърватски активисти. Те обикновено осигуряват фалшиви паспорти, ескорт и подслон, както преди конспирацията от 9 октомври 1934 на кея в Марсилия.

В България атентатът в Марсилия все още не се изучава в училище.

Published in Bulgaria

 

This report by Mark Urban shows the effect of operation 'Storm' ('Oluja') on the civilian population of the town of Knin. It was a joined operation of the Croatian armed forces with the Bosnian Army.

Broadcast on 8 August 1995, BBC2 / Newsnight

 

On 5th August 1995 Croatian forces entered Knin. In Croatia 5th August is celebrated as a national holiday, 'Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day', in Serbia it is marked by commemorations to the killed and exiled. Operation 'Storm' led to the displacement of the entire local Serbian population.

The Croatian government estimates that around 90,000 Serb civilians had fled, Serbian sources claimed that there were as many as 250,000 refugees. The UN puts the figure at between 150,000 and 200,000, the BBC at 200,000. Hundreds of Serb civilians were killed - mostly elderly people who stayed on after their families had left.

The Hague War Crimes Tribunal indicted 3 senior Croatian commanders: Colonel General Čermak, Colonel General Markač and General Ante Gotovina. They were said to have had personal and command responsibility for war crimes carried out against Krajina Serb civilians.

Čermak and Markač were handed over to The Hague Tribunal, but Gotovina fled in 2001. He remained on the run for more than 4 years, his whereabouts surrounded by mystery.  The issue was a major obstacle for Croatia's application to join the EU. At the end of 2005 Ante Gotovina was captured by Spanish police in a hotel in the Canary Islands and transferred to The Hague.

 

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Published in Balkans

Bosnian Serbs celebrate St. George's Day. Mount  Romanija, near Sarajevo - May 1991.

In the intoxicating atmosphere of gunfire, nationalist euphoria, Balkan grill in the forest, a prayer and a blessing.

Indicted war-criminals Radovan Karadzic and Vojislav Šešelj with a group of Chetniks. Vojislav Šešelj announces his 'Karlobag-Ogulin-Karlovac-Virovitica' line.

It's a hypothetical boundary often used to describe the western extent of Serbian aspirations. Vojislav Šešelj often claimed that all of the population of these areas are in fact 'ethnic Serbs, of Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Muslim faith.'

Amateur footage, Bosnian Serb collection. 

Published in Balkans

This Newsnight film shows the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) getting ready for action: politically and militarily, through its armed wing HOS, the Croatian Defence Forces, Hrvatske obrambene snage.

A right wing political party, the HSP, Hrvatska stranka prava, is the oldest in Croatia, tracing its origin to the 1860s. Often embarrassing for the Zagreb leadership, and better equipped than the Croatian army, HOS included among its ranks Croats, Bosnian Muslims and many foreign volunteers: ethnic Croats and non-ethnic Croats alike. In August 1992 its leader Blaž Kraljević, who had spent decades in exile in Germany and Australia, was ambushed in Herzegovina and killed, together with eight other HOS members.

Croats_HOS_1.jpg

Prosecutors at the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) have implied that Kraljević was murdered by Croat leaders because his HOS believed in a "multi-ethnic Bosnia of the Croats and Muslims working together..." After Kraljević's assassination HOS dissolved into the Croatian army and into the Croat armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina / Herceg Bosna - the HVO.

December 1991, David Sells

Blaž Kraljević can be seen on:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcy7HQlv4as&feature=related

Published in Balkans