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April 24, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 186


The baseball bat has become a very popular instrument for jogging the citizens' memory with the police when questioning suspects. The results are satisfactory, but occasionally result in unpleasant consequences. After being arrested for an attempted car theft, Belgrade police inspectors worked over Dragan Lukic with such fervor that he died after sustaining serious injuries of the kidneys, spleen, brain... The police have no comment.

Former Police Minister Radmilo Bogdanovic who wholeheartedly urges beatings as a punitive measure ("Whoever has a machine gun and a thousand bullets, must be beaten to admit if he has two more", R. Bogdanovic in the "Student", 15 March 1995) told the Belgrade weekly "Telegraf" reporter that he hadn't heard anything about Lukic, and that "he wasn't competent" and that Serbian Police Minister Zoran Sokolovic should be asked about the case.

Bogdanovic, who is believed to be very close to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, gets his statements mixed up sometimes and shoots himself in the foot ("It's always been my rule - when you get a man down to the police station - no beatings", R. Bogdanovic in the "Student").

But then, how to get the better of pensioners who "remain members of the Service to the end", as Bogdanovic likes to say of himself. One thing is sure, apart from the standard slapping, fist blows, tying the victim to radiators, our police inspectors have introduced the expression "home run" (beating the victim with a baseball bat) in their repertoire of investigative methods.



The editorial staff of the Valjevo-based "Glas Crkve" (Voice of the Church) has sent subscribers to the collected works of F.M. Dostoevski (they have published the third round of five books) -postcards informing them that they will send the books very soon.

The message contains an interesting bit about this-worldly affairs which priests must deal with:

"We regret to inform subscribers of something they know, see and feel. "Glas Crkve", as you know, imports all the printing material and pays for it in foreign currency. This is why the subscription price of 50 dinars which was valid when the dinar to German mark rate was 1 for 1, has now changed and adds up to 95 dinars for one round, which is still the value of 50 DEM. If, as the Government promises, a decrease in the dinar-German mark takes place, the price will be lower. Actually, the price of one round will always be 50 DEM."


Ravna Gora

The "Ravnogorski pokret" which continues the tradition of the WW2 movement under the command of General Draza Mihailovic, has been trying to register as a political organization for some time. All attempts so far have been turned down by the competent ministry. The latest attempt at registration met with the same fate. The explanation signed by Justice Minister Arandjel Markovic, reminds the applicant that "it is a fact of Yugoslavia's recent history that General Draza Mihailovic's headquarters were located in the area of Ravna Gora, and that later, during and after the war, the name 'Ravnogorski pokret' became synonymous with the Chetnik movement, and that the very mention of Ravna Gora today, brings back strong associations with the Chetnik movement".

The Ministry acknowledges the fact that the Chetniks cooperated at the beginning of the war with the Partizans, but goes on to say that "historical sources" show that they became collaborationists and that General Mihailovic was found guilty and sentenced to death because of cooperation with the occupying forces and the betrayal of the people. "Bearing all this in mind, the Ministry has found that the name "Ravnogorski pokret" insults the public moral of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia."

Faced with such a decision, members of the Ravnogorski Movement addressed opposition deputies in the Assembly and asked that they bring up the question of the movement's registration. The request was ignored. After this, movement members decided on an unusual step in the belief that they would thus resolve their problems with registration. The Movement's president of the committee for legalization Vladan Radosavljevic intends to contact Yugoslav United Left (JUL) Executive Committee most influential member Mira Markovic (Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife) and demand that they become a member of JUL, in which they would be the "right wing". Radosavljevic explained this move by saying that the Chetniks and the Partizans started the struggle against the enemy together, and that if Ms Markovic were to comply with their request, this would be the greatest contribution to national reconciliation in the jubilee year of victory over fascism.


American Express

Several citizens of the (not)recognized Federal Republic of Yugoslavia discovered that their Visa and American Express cards, issued in Yugoslavia, were not valid in Milan, Italy. This however, is nothing new. One of the men wished to buy his wife a leather bag, and a Croatian lady agreed to buy the bag with her American Express card, while the Yugoslav citizen gave her 130 DEM in cash. But when the Croatian American Express card entered the Italian computer, it turned out that Croatian cards weren't valid either, even though Croatia is not under sanctions. The bag was bought in the end - for 130 DEM in cash.



This year's bicycle season in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has started off rather messily. It was decided to start the season with a race called "Following King Nikola's Roads", organized jointly by Montenegro and Italy, but only half the race was covered. Even though incomplete, this race deserves to be mentioned because it isn't often that the participants of a competition on land end up with sea sickness.

The first two laps were run in Montenegro, and 70 odd cyclists from several countries had to battle against bad weather, and tacks which the children had strewn over the road, so that there were a lot of flat tires. The real trouble started when the caravan with the cyclists from Montenegro was supposed to go over to Italy and ride across King Nikola's roads. The Italians sent a fax on time, saying that the weather was bad, and that they allegedly couldn't organize the rest of the race. The cyclists boarded the "Liburnia" and crossed to the Italian side, claiming that the fax had arrived too late, and that the ship had already left Bar harbor. They didn't cycle in Italy, and after two days of wandering around they returned in stormy weather. According to some reports, the captain wasn't sure that they'd reach Bar harbor because the ship was overloaded with various goods. Official cars which followed the race were stacked with shoes, and officials couldn't explain how they had got there.

On returning from Italy there was no more racing on King Nikola's roads. The race was discontinued, and some malicious papers claimed that this was done so that the leading foreign cyclists would not get the money prizes. In spite of its disastrous beginning, this incomplete race did bring some unofficial records. Thanks to Liburnia's battle with the waves, most of the cyclists got sea sickness. A young cyclist from Cacak became the unofficial champion in retching overboard, he had to lean over the rails 15 times.



The "Beograd" Department Store executive board accepted general director Luka Mackic's resignation and named Ratko Maric acting general director. A public statement issued by this biggest domestic department store chain, said that the resignation had been made "for personal reasons" and that Mackic had decided on the move "because of an inadequate relation and slowness of external partners, with the exception of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, in the resolving of demands for ensuring the necessary turnover for the firm's work". It was said that Mackic believes that his resignation will speed up the finding of the missing finances, because this is a prerequisite condition for the recovery and stable business of the "Beograd" Department Store chain.

Daily papers carried this agency information, and by the middle of the week no public reaction has been recorded. The firm's management said that Mackic was on holiday, and that he is the only person who can give further information, since he resigned for "personal reasons". Everything is very quiet, in fact too quiet, considering that Luka Mackic held important posts in the Serbian economy and state apparatus. Not so long ago, Mackic agreed to try and put the Smederevo steelworks on their feet. This was a Sisyphean task because losses had piled up thanks to twenty years of building the steelworks. It will be remembered however, that Mackic didn't resort to tricks like today's management: he and his team never claimed that the steelworks were working successfully even under better circumstances than the present ones; whereas the present management is spreading success stories, while the steelworks will produce only 5% of what they are capable of this year.

There is no reason to doubt the reasons given by Mackic, even though Belgrade's political and business circles recall that the "Beograd" Department Store closed its door three weeks ago when the price of the German Mark doubled in one day only. Those with longer memories remember that in August 1993, practically only the "Beograd" Department Store observed Serbian PM's Nikola Sainovic's caricatural policy (freezing prices during a runaway hyperinflation), so that buyers practically cleaned out the "Beograd" Department Store chain, buying everything in sight. There are 35 stores in the country. The stampede lasted ten days, leaving empty shelves and a loss of at least 15 million dollars. At the time the papers recorded that those working in some Serbian Government departments were allowed to leave work early on a Friday, in order that they mighty issue as many checks as possible, since they would be totally valueless by Monday.

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