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
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Photography: © Oleksandr Klymenko

 

Published in Photo Gallery Balkans

 

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

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