Whenever freedom of expression is mentioned, the first thing that comes to my mind is the so called “Dead Journalists Society”. The journalists that I will tell you about today are part of a longer list of people whose murders symbolically represented murdering the part of Serbia that opposed the nonsense of the 90s. This list is long, and some of the names on it include Ivan Stambolić, Zoran Đinđić, as well as many whose names we haven’t heard that often such as Srđan Aleksić, and many whose names we will never know. Milan Pantić (1954-2001) and Duško Jovanović (1964-2004) are also members of the Dead Journalists Society, who published reports about scandals, corporate crime and corruption in Serbia and Montenegro.
I don't like reading, and even less writing about the deceased because I feel that I am interfering with their peace and privacy. Still, I think that it is important for us to remember them and that those who are reading this blog know about them. I would like you to understand this tribute to them as a tribute to their courage.
Born in 1964 in Herzegovina, she finished her studies in Yugoslav literature and the Serbo-Croatian language in 1987. When she was 26, she started reporting about the beginnings of the civil war in Yugoslavia: from Bosnia, Krajina, through Slavonia and Sarajevo. In her independent but gloomy reports about the absurdity of war which you can still find online (in Serbian). Among other things she writes about how all the sufferings of people who lost everything in the wars will be made pointless by those who have decided to use them as a tool to enrich themselves and strengthen their political power. By the end of 1992 she decided not to go to the front anymore because as she said “I can’t write about how a city is destroyed and children are murdered.”
Instead of reports from the front line, she focused on writing about the connection of the then political elite and criminal gangs. She interviewed and analyzed the “life and times” of 90’s icons such as Karadzic, Arkan, Milan Babic, Seselj, Borisav Jovic and others. They say that after a series of killings in Belgrade she called Arkan and asked who’s next, to which he replied “You are. Feel free to write that.”
In the afternoon of April 7, 1994, she bought a bouquet of tulips. In the evening she chatted with a friend who was reading her texts before publication. The next morning she was found dead, with a shotgun wound in her chest. To today the official version says this was a suicide.
He was born in Zagreb in 1949, and graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade in 1978. In 1994 he started the first privately-owned magazine in Serbia, ‘Nedeljni telegraf’ (Weekly Telegraph), and two years later the newspapers ‘Dnevni telegraf’ (Daily Telegraph) and ‘Evropljanin’ (The European).
Both magazines were draconically fined several times for “undermining the constitutional order”, mostly for reporting on events in Kosovo, and in the fall of 1998 they were finally banned and closed, and their assets were confiscated. The printing of the newspapers was then moved to Montenegro, from where they were smuggled into Serbia. The last issue of the Daily Telegraph was on March 24, 1999 with a screaming front page title “Avert the war!”
They say that his murder was preceded by a heavy conflict and a fight with Mirjana Marković about the development of the situation in Kosovo. Only a few days before his murder a text was published in the pro-government newspapers in which he was accused of treason and wishing for bombing. Marković called him the state enemy number one at one of the meetings of her political party. Many see these events as a sort of verdict.
On Easter day, April 11 1999, Ćuruvija was shot dead in front of his apartment in the center of Belgrade. The 27 agents of State Security who were following him were withdrawn from their mission just before the murder. The killers haven’t been found or processed to this day.
I’d like to end this blog with a quote from Dada Vujasinović: “I only regret that I learned that beasts are actually people. How easy it is to turn a person into a beast. I regret that by the will of fate I was born here, when I could have easily been born somewhere else and spent my life in a happy fantasy about mankind.”
The article was originally written in Serbian and English.
Photo: Liu Bolin
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