January 09, 2004
ERP KiM Newsletter 09-01-04
Holkeri condemns incident in Decani, UNMIK police report denies any incident
Short Editorial by Fr. Sava Janjic
Stones or Snowballs ..... No, actually, stones in snowballs
ErP KIM Info-Service
The stoning of an UNMIK police escorted bus with Russian aid workers and Senator Scheblygin was in many ways a contradictory event, at least in reactions of the UN Mission and UNMIK police. For those who were in the bus and had to change a vehicle on which a large window glass was smashed into pieces this was an immediate experience of intolerance and vandalism of a number of Kosovo Albanian citizens in Decani town. The Albanians were waiting for the arrival of the bus with Russian pilgrims and showered it with stones in the main square "decorated" by a flag of Republic of Albania, one of the largest of a kind in Kosovo Province.
Anyway, no one in UNMIK was sure that the incident occurred for at least 24 hours although the square was supposedly secured by "strong security forces of different police units and KFOR". While BETA news agency (Belgrade) already in the evening reported that Mr. Holkeri condemned the incident, UNMIK police report claimed next morning that nothing occurred. Very soon unofficial information came that it was not 30, or 300 Albanians but only 3 Albanians who were throwing snowballs. Since the Russians luckily made the video footage of the incident and confirmed that it was stones after all and not so a small group of Albanians, UNMIK police chief Mr. Stefan Feller found a "Solomon solution" - the bus was attacked by stones within snowballs.
In any case this sad
incident in which no one was hurt and for which no Albanian leaders
(either municipal or Kosovo political leaders) made any apologize was
one more proof to the Russian journalists that Kosovo Province is still
ruled by ethnic discrimination and religious intolerance.
Holkeri condemns incident in Decani, UNMIK police
denied it in its report
This newsletter is available on our ERP
condemns incident in Decani, UNMIK police denied it in its report
Professor Dr. Ljubisa Folic told ERP KIM: "We set out in three UNMIK minibuses with a strong escort of UNMIK police consisting of Poles and Frenchmen from Visoki Decani Monastery after the end of Christmas liturgy and lunch, which was also attended by the UNMIK chief, Mr. Harri Holkeri. At about 12,30 hours we arrived in the center of the town of Decani, where we observed a larger group of Kosovo Albanians who we assumed were there awaiting the arrival of the UNMIK chief so they could greet him. However, they suddenly began to whistle [in disapproval] and swear, and stones were directed at the first minibus, where I happened to be. A large stone hit the window of the bus which shattered in a million pieces. Two female Russians sitting next to the window threw themselves on the floor in fear. They sustained only minor scratches. We had the feeling that we would be publicly lynched. The UNMIK police driver, however, increased speed and the column of vehicles continued in the direction of Pec without stopping. Only near Belo Polje, close to Pec, did the column stop and the police told us to move to a military transporter due to the cold in the bus with the broken window. The UNMIK policemen saw the damage and we informed them of everything that had occurred. The Russian reporters filmed the moment of the attack and the footage has already been broadcast on Russian television," said Professor Folic, an eyewitness of yesterday's incident.
According to a statement by Belgrade theatre actress Ivana Zigon, also an eyewitness of the incident and chairman of the Russian-Serbian Friendship Society, during visits to various locations inhabited by Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija there was always a large group of Albanians of obviously inimical disposition waiting for them. "We had the impression that they were informed beforehand of our itinerary," said Ms. Zigon. "The UNMIK escort was truly professional and did everything possible to provide us with safety of movement. We publicly thanked Mr. Holkeri for this at the formal luncheon in Decani Monastery, giving him a medallion of the White Angel as a gift," said Ms. Zigon, adding that everyone regretted the incident.
The brotherhood of Visoki Decani Monastery also expressed its protest against the attack on guests of the monastery: "This was not only an attack on Russian pilgrims and journalists but an attack on Visoki Decani Monastery where they were our guests," the Monastery said in a report to the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.
Immediately following the incident (or according to some other reports in that very time), Mr. Holkeri visited the municipality of Decani, which is only a few hundreds of meters away, and spoke with the mayor appealing on tolerance towards Decani Monastery. It was only on his return to Pristina that Mr. Holkeri issued his statement condemning the incident, which was published in Serbian media (BETA Agency). However, UNMIK Police until January 8 persistently denied that there was any incident and the UNMIK police report from January 8 clearly states that "According to the report there were no incidents or disturbances due to strong security forces of different police units and KFOR".
On Thursday morning UNMIK municipal chief Luis Perez visited Decani Monastery and also stated that neither UNMIK police nor KFOR had any information regarding an incident although the chief of UNMIK had already condemned the incident the previous night According to Mr. Perez' statement, the local UNMIK chief was in the very center of town at that time and "did not see anything". Obviously coordination between local UNMIK with its HQ as well as local UNMIK police with Pristina completely failed on this occasion.
The Church is surprised that appropriate security measures were not undertaken by UNMIK police in Decani and KFOR forces when an Albanian group gathered in a public square around a flag of the Republic of Albania provocatively placed there on the very eve of Orthodox Christmas holidays. An unnamed UNMIK representative confirmed that Mr. Holkeri requested from the municipal administration in Decani that the flag of a foreign country (Albania) be removed but this still has not been done. Local sources in the municipality say that the Municipality does not intend to remove the flag at all, despite Holkeri's appeal. What is even more paradoxical, the roundabout in the center of which stands the flag of Republic Albania was made also thanks to Decani Monastery which willingly gave a little part of its property in the town center, on the location where stood a house belonging to the monastery which was destroyed by the order of the Municipality in summer 2001.
The fact that this incident occurred on Orthodox Christmas Day demonstrates that the Albanian population which participated in this incident respects neither the Christmas holiday nor any Christian values. What is more, they used one of the greatest Christian holidays to display rabid nationalism and intolerance to the international guests of the monastery, despite the presence of the chief of UNMIK and the KFOR commander for that part of the Province.
Even though Beta News Agency reported that UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri had condemned the incident, international media and information bulletins failed to confirm any incident until January 8, when the condemnation was published by Voice of America and other media. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren has still not received, by the way, any official statement by UNMIK and learned about Hokeri's reaction from the Internet.
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren expects the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Federation's mission in the United Nations to lodge a sharp protest to the UN Secretary General in New York as a result of the attack on their citizens by Kosovo Albanians in Decani.
Today UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri most strongly condemned an incident occurring yesterday in Decani involving the stoning of a bus transporting Russian and Serbian visitors returning from Christmas liturgy at Visoki Decani Monastery.
Albanian residents of Decani
yesterday stoned a bus transporting a delegation of the Russian Foundation
of St. Andrew the First-Called, which has been visiting Kosovo since
January 4 on a humanitarian mission. No one was hurt in the
UNMIK police denies any incident occurred
7th JANUARY 2004
Serb Orthodox Church in no mood to leave Kosovo
(Russian Information Agency)
Orthodox Church will side with its Serb parishes in Kosovo. This was
stated by Bishop Artemi of Rasko-Prizren, who heads the Kosovo diocese,
at a meeting with a delegation from Russia's St. Andrew foundation.
Bishop Artemi met his Russian guests at the ancient Gracanica monastery
not far from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.
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the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska
and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop
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