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April 27, 2004

ERP KIM Newsletter 27-04-04

Revised list of Orthodox Christian holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija destroyed or damaged during the March pogrom

After verification of data on destroyed or damaged holy shrines on the basis of available information and photographs, we can state with certainty that at least 30 Orthodox Christian churches have been completely destroyed or damaged to some extent, most frequently by arson, or have been further damaged or destroyed (in the case of churches that survived earlier attacks since UN/KFOR arrival).

Burned ruins of St. Nicholas Church in Pristina, 19th century

ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, April 26, 2004

After verification of data on destroyed or damaged holy shrines on the basis of available information and photographs, we can state with certainty that at least 30 Orthodox Christian churches have been completely destroyed or damaged to some extent, most frequently by arson, or have been further damaged or destroyed (in the case of churches that survived earlier attacks since UN/KFOR arrival). As well, in addition to the churches in the monasteries of Devic and Holy Archangels, in Prizren, Djakovica and other locations dozens of church utility buildings were destroyed (parish homes, agricultural buildings and residence quarters), bringing the total number of destroyed Church owned buildings close to one hundred. Besides, thousands of valuable icons, crucifixes and other liturgical items have been either stolen or completely destroyed. Reliable police information comes from neighboring countries (Slovenia, Greece etc) church valuables from Serbian Orthodox Churches have already appeared on the black market.

The UNESCO special delegation which is touring the destroyed and damaged Serb patrimonial sites these days is expected to establish the extent of the damage to the Serbian Orthodox spiritual and cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. However, although the UNESCO will be visiting only the sites which were attacked last month, it is the firm position of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija that the destruction of these holy shrines in the month of March cannot be viewed outside the context of the complete destruction or damage of over 140 Orthodox Christian holy shrines since the arrival of the UN mission and KFOR in June 1999. This represents a continuous process of systematic wiping out of all traces of spirituality and culture of the Serbian people in this region, and the perpetrators have been and remain the same. Also all the attacks on the Serbian Orthodox patrimonial sites since UNMIK/KFOR arrival have occured after the armed conflict, in the time of "peace" and under the international protectorate which is obliged by the UN SC Res. 1244 which is obliged to protect all inhabitants of Kosovo and particularly the patrimonial sites.

Since the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija does not have free access to many of the destroyed or damaged churches for security reasons, the preparation of more detailed documentation on the state of the Serbian cultural heritage five years after the arrival of the UN mission and KFOR is progressing very slowly and with many obstacles. The latest information and photographs will be included in the new edition of the book "Crucified Kosovo" already in preparation.

Prizren

(All Prizren churches and other buildings owned by the Serbian Orthodox Church were destroyed on March 17-18. Further attacks, looting and destruction occurred in the days that followed.)

1. Church of the Holy Virgin of Lyevish  (14th century) burned interior, frescoes from 12-14 centuries heavily damaged, altar desecrated, Holy Table broken (photographs now: 1, 2, 3, 4)

2. Church of Christ the Savior (14th century) burned (photograph now: 1)

3. Cathedral of the Holy Great-Martyr George (1856) burned and dynamited (photographs now: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 )

4. Church of St. Nicholas (Tutic'c church, 14th century) burned interior (photographs now: 1 2)

5. Church of St. George (Runovic's church, 16th century) burned interior (photographs now: 1)

6. Church of St. Kyriake (14th century, later rebuilt) burned, Potkaljaja quarter

7. Church of St. Panteleimon (14th century, later rebuilt) burned, Potkaljaja quarter

8. Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (14th century, later rebuilt) burned, Potkaljaja quarter

9. Church of St. Kyriake, Zivinjane near Prizren, dynamited (KFOR/UNMIK report of March  19th: An explosion completely destroyed the Orthodox church in the village of Zivinjanje.)

10. Monastery of Holy Archangels (14th century), looted and burned in the presence of German soldiers who failed to protect it (photographs now: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

----------Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (photographs now: 1, 2,) (UNMIK/KFOR Report March 17 - Orthodox Seminary in town centre & 3 Orthodox churches set on fire)

----------Bishop's residence in Prizren  (photograph now: 1) (UNMIK/KFOR Report - March 18: Archbishop seat, Archangel Monastery, an Orthodox Church and Orthodox Seminary set on fire & destroyed) In addition to the Bishop's residence, another church building was destroyed which was inhabited by the sexton.

Orahovac

11. Church of St. Kyriake (1852), Brnjaca near Orahovac (UNMIK/KFOR Report: March 18 - Orthodox Church set on fire & destroyed in Brnjaca village). According to existing reports, the parish home was also set on fire.

Djakovica

12. Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God (16th-19th centuries), burned together with the old and the new parish homes on March 17, subsequently leveled with the ground (present appearance)

Holy Trinity Cathedral (Two bell towers that survived the dynamiting of the church in summer 1999 were leveled with the ground on March 17. In subsequent days the Albanians systematically removed the remains of the church and built a park in its location. UNMIK/KFOR Report March 18 - Rioters remove debris of destroyed Orthodox Church with trucks & trailers Approx 5,000 K-Albanians participate.) See more

13. Church of St. Lazarus, Piskote near Djakovica, damaged in 1999 and 2001; according to internationals on the scene, now completely destroyed together with the nearby cemetery. (photographs now: 1, 2,) Parish home was further damaged.

14. Church of St. Elijah near Bistrazina, damaged in 1999; according to Bishop Atanasije Jevtic, who passed by on the road near the church, now destroyed. 

Srbica

15. Devic Monastery (15th century) completely burned. The tomb of St. Ionnichius of Devic was opened and desecrated; the Albanians set fire to the inside of the tomb.  (now: fotografije1, fotografije2) (UNMIK/KFOR Report March 18: 2,000 protestors gather and move towards Devic Monastery, Five K-Serbian nuns evacuated from area, Violent protestors set Monastery on fire) In the monastery complex about 20 different monastery utility buildings were destroyed (residential quarters, warehouses, barns, etc.)

Pec

16. Church of St. John the Fore-runner (the so-called Metropolitanate with the parish home and priests' apartments), set on fire according to international sources on the scene. According to the latest available photographs, the church walls are intact even though the interior is completed destroyed. Signs of fire are visible.

17. Church of the Most Holy Mother of God, Belo Polje near Pec, set on fire in summer 1999. Restored at the end of 2003 together with about 20 returnee homes. Now again damaged by arson even though the church walls and roof have not sustained further damage. In addition to the church, the parish home was also set on fire.

Urosevac

18. Cathedral of the Emperor Uros, Urosevac, (UNMIK/KFOR Report: March 17 - 3 hand grenades thrown at Serbian Orthodox church – church set on fire, first time), at least 19 KFOR soldiers and policemen wounded defending the church, destroyed city cemetery (UNMIK/KFOR Report March 18 1,500 K-Albanians rampage – burn Orthodox Church & up to 5 K-Serb houses in townK-Albanian crowd attempts to set Orthodox Church on fire in K-Serb village of Talinovce Church was set to fire (1749 hrs) – 5 K-Albanian males arrested). According to the latest information, the church walls are still standing although most of the interior is damaged by fire. The church is currently closed behind massive metal doors and under KFOR protection.

19. Church of St. Elijah in the village of Nekodim, destroyed together with local cemetery after it was abandoned by KFOR soldiers (international sources on the scene)

20. Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Talinovci set on fire, Orthodox cemetery destroyed (see report above)

21. Church of the Most Holy Mother of God in the village of Sovtovic, destroyed together with Orthodox cemetery (international sources on the scene)

(On March 20, Athens media confirmed that three churches near Urosevac protected by Greek soldiers were left unprotected before an enormous mob of armed Albanians and that some Greek soldiers had been wounded in clashes with armed Albanians.)

Kamenica

22. Church in Donja Slapasnica near Kosovska Kamenica (local sources from Kamenica)


The Orthodox church in Kamenica was stoned and the glass on several windows was broken. Several nearby Serb houses were destroyed.

Stimlje

23.
Church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Stimlje, built in 1920 (on the hill above the town)
(UNMIK/KFOR Report: March 18: K-Serbian house & Orthodox Church set on fire) According to the latest information, the walls of the church are undamaged although the interior was further damaged and the icons destroyed. The bell tower was set on fire back in January 2004.

Pristina

24. Church of St. Nicholas in Pristina (early 19th century) (present state: 1, 2) (UNMIK/KFOR Report: March 18 - Rioters attack Old Orthodox Church in Taslixhe – automatic gunfire in area Orthodox priest & 5 K-Serbian families evacuated by KFOR from Old Orthodox Church SPU officer shot & injured during attempt to secure Old Orthodox Church Orthodox Church, UN Habitat office & 3 UNMIK Police vehicles set on fire). The church was set on fire together with the parish home; destroyed with it was a valuable engraved iconostasis, dozens of icons and the entire church archive (confirmed by Pristina parish priest Fr. Miroslav Popadic).

Kosovo Polje

25. Church of St. Nicholas in Kosovo Polje, interior burned and desecrated. The church was built in 1940. The church building is still standing although according to local Serb sources and testimonials, the interior of the church is completely destroyed. The parish home was broken into and looted.

26. Church of St. Catherine in Bresje near Kosovo Polje, broken into and desecrated. The church was recently also looted.

Vucitrn

27. Church of St. Elijah (19th century), looted and interior partially destroyed in June 1999, now completely burned. (UNMIK/KFOR Report March 17: Orthodox Church set on fire in Vucitrn town) The Orthodox cemetery next to the church was also destroyed together with the parish home and church utility buildings.

Obilic

28. Church of St. Michael in Obilic, newly built. Albanians set automobile tires on fire inside the church. (KFOR/UNMIK report of March 18: Obilic, Orthodox church, numerous Serb houses and apartments set on fire) The church walls remain intact but the interior is damaged by fire and high temperatures.

Kosovska Mitrovica

29. St. Sava Church in Southern Mitrovica (photograph: 2 ) was set on fire twice in a row (photograph of burned church) (UNMIK/KFOR Report - March 18: Molotov cocktails thrown into perimeter of KFOR-guarded Orthodox Church in South, Church & several neighboring houses set on fire Local Fire Brigade fight house fires but not Church, which is severely damaged). Photo gallery with pictures of the torching of St. Sava Church (galerija 1, galerija 2). In addition to the church, the attackers also set fire to the priest's home located in the churchyard.

Podujevo

30. Church of St. Andrew in Podujevo, built in 1929, destroyed on March 18. Czech media confirmed that Czech soldiers were forced to leave the church, which was destroyed together with the cemetery. A Czech officer confirmed in "The Prague Post" that he was deeply shocked by the fact that the Albanians dug up the human remains of the Serbs from their graves and scattered the bones. (KFOR/UNMIK report of March 18: Orthodox church set on fire in Podujevo) According to photographs, the east wing of St. Andrew was dynamited (photographs), and the bell tower was completely destroyed by explosives along with the wall enclosing the church.


In addition to churches and monasteries, thousands of rampaging Albanians led by their extremist leaders also desecrated dozens of Orthodox cemeteries during the period of March 17-20. Photo shows desecrated graves of Devic nuns with broken crosses.


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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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