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August 3, 2001
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 502
Search for a Psychiatrist, a Poet and Wartime President of Republika Srpska

Radovan Has Just Left the Building

by Dejan Anastasijevic

The situation is quite different where Radovan Karadzic is concerned.  The founder and first president of Republika Srpska lost Milosevic's support back in 1994 and did not manage to find new allies in Belgrade, despite brief flings with Djindjic and Kostunica.  Besides this, Karadzic continues to exercise his influence on the Serbian Democratic Party despite the fact that according to the Milosevic-Holbrook agreement he withdrew from politics and public life five years ago.  Representatives of the international community believe that Karadzic's influence behind the scenes is still the cause of many problems in Bosnia.  Finally, the media in Sarajevo come out with sensational news about Radovan every one to two weeks, and he is beginning to outdo Elvis Presley in the number of "spottings": supposedly he regularly drives along the Foca-Trebinje highway in an orange Yugo, then he visits cafes in Lukovica ("Serbian Sarajevo"), then he shaved his head and grew a beard and disguised himself as a priest and is living in a monastery...

In Pale, the former capital of Republka Srpska, Karadjic has not been seen in the past five years, even though his family is still there.  His wife Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic works as a humanitarian, as president of the Red Cross for Republika Srpska; his son Sinisa has his own private business, the nature of which no one is willing to talk about, while his daughter Sonja is nurturing two of Radovan's grandsons and is managing a commercial radio station called "St. John."  Besides this Sonja also has a private medical office equipped with a modern scanner, which she opened after graduating medicine at the Medical Faculty in Foca.  Karadzic's former residence, surrounded with high protective walls and lit at night is completely vacant: Sonja, Ljilja, Sasa and the rest of the family moved out because they could not endure the invasion of journalists and other fans whose number rose enormously since a Sarajevo tourist agency came up with a program of "trips to Radovan Karadzic's house in Pale."

Reliable sources in Pale claim that Karadzic is no where near his former capital: in the past several months the number of SFOR soldiers increased dramatically in that area, while persons who are assumed to be in contact with the former president are being openly followed.  The same sources claim that for the second time Karadzic changed all his bodyguards and reduced their numbers: the earlier group of bodyguards who protected him since 1992 have become too familiar to everyone.  Those who know Radovan say that stories about his having disguised himself as a priest are mere rubbish:  he has too much respect for the Church in order to do something of the sort.  The Church, for its part respects Karadzic also, because during his rule he made a church in every village, instituted religious education in schools and included priests in his parliament and government.  That is why the possibility should not be ruled out that Karadzic is really hiding in the numerous monasteries on the border between Serbia, Montenegro and East Herzegovina.  SFOR representatives do not want to comment on this supposition, but they do admit that an order to conduct a search of a monastery would be politically sensitive, especially if it turns out that Karadzic is not there.  "We do not have such a great problem of establishing where Karadzic is presently located," our SFOR source tells.  "The problem is to establish where he will be tomorrow."

Going further along the Karadzic trail toward Foca, it is easy to see the difficulties facing the hunters after the most valuable head in Republika Srpska:  bad roads, mountain terrain with scattered settlements in which everyone unfamiliar is easily spotted and a population which unanimously supports its former president.  In the office of the humanitarian society "Benefactor" held by the Church in Foca, Karadzic's picture hangs next to the icons of St. Sava, St. Nicholas and Archangel Michail (Radovan's saints day).  Besides love there is also solidarity: according to reports made by international ngo's which investigate crimes in Bosnia, Foca is considered a sanctuary for many suspected war criminals, of which many are officially or unofficially in important positions in the police or community government.  This small town in which Muslims were the majority until the war, today is entirely Serbian and has been renamed Srbinje.  There are no jobs in it except for drug dealers and prostitutes, with destitute people walking the streets aimlessly, while local hotels have been filled by shaved local criminals.  The shadow of murdered neighbors, killed during the first years of war, hangs above the town like a dark cloud, and it should be no surprise that attempts by this reporter to initiate conversation with anyone there ended in failure.  Wherever Karadzic is physically located, his spirit is certainly alive in Foca.

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