Leader of Kosovo Serbs killed in Kosovska Mitrovica


A leading Serb politician in Kosovo has been gunned down in front of his party’s office in Mitrovica. The killing of Oliver Ivanovic sparked outrage in Belgrade, which suspended talks with Pristina in protest.

Ivanovic, 64, was fatally injured by an unidentified assailant in front of the office of his Citizens’ Initiative Party, Serbian state television reported. “Unfortunately, I wish it weren’t true, but doctors declared Oliver dead at 9:30 this morning,” Nebojsa Vlajic, Ivanovic’s lawyer told AP by phone.

In protest over the killing, Serbia announced it would cut EU-mediated consultation with Pristina. The head of Belgrade’s Office for Kosovo and Metohijam, Marko Duric, called the killing a “terrorist attack” targeting the entire Serbian people, TANJUG news agency said.

In the meantime, following Ivanovic’s assassination, the EU-mediated talks between Serbia and Kosovo have been suspended. The negotiations were scheduled to resume at a technical level on Tuesday after they stopped in March 2017, when then-opposition leader Ramush Haradinaj, was detained on a Serbian arrest warrant by French border police. Paris released Haradinaj, now prime minister, a month later despite Belgrade’s calls for his extradition to Serbia.

The EU said it “strongly condemns the murder” of Ivanovic and it expects authorities “to spare no effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has called a national security council meeting to discuss the killing of Ivanovic. He is scheduled to deliver a televised address later in the day.

The Kosovo authorities condemned the killing, saying it was a challenge to the rule of law in Kosovo. “Violence is unacceptable, without taking into consideration where it comes from and toward whom it is directed,” the government in Pristina said in a statement.

Kosovo, once the core of the medieval Serbian state, experienced increasing tension between the Serbian and Albanian populations, escalating into a civil war in 1998-99, in which NATO intervention ensured the defeat of the Serbs. The southern province declared independence in 2008, which was never recognized by Belgrade.

Ivanovic served for several years as State Secretary in the now-downgraded Serbian ministry for Kosovo affairs.

In 2014, he and four other ethnic Serbs were arrested by Kosovo authorities over alleged war crimes. The verdict in the case was passed in January 2016. Ivanovic was sentenced to nine years in prison. The verdict was overturned in February 2017. The politician remained under house arrest till April 2017, when he was allowed greater freedom of movement.

  • jj

    The Serbian government has been traitorous and foolish to do these “negotiations” in the first place because it is all generally the Serbian government betraying the Kosovo Serbs by giving over the last vestiges of power Serbs have to the K-Alb terrorist NATO/UN protectorate.
    The Kosovo Serbs and Serbia has received nothing important in return: there have been no genuine and substantial returns of K-Serbs to Kosmet; no returns of Serbian property; no solving of past murders of K-Serbs; former KLA murders and torture camp operators (such as Ramush Haradinaj) now holding the reigns of power, etc.

    • Macedonian1

      Welcome to the Macedonian nightmare. We have been fighting this same injustice for the last 100 years – against the greeks, Serbs, bulgars, and now the shiptars

      • jj

        Serbs have been fighting this for longer. The Macedonian Serbs were massacred by Turks and ethnically cleansed by the Albanians. Even the Serb who started the original Chetnik movement was born in Macedonia to parent who’d been born in another part of Macedonia but were pushed out by the Albanians.
        Further, the famous writer Rebecca West spoke of the “Bulgarization of Macedonian Serbs” for “generation after generation”. She says it was financed by the “Tsardom” which was Russia.
        Russia favored Bulgaria and was very involved in that country (up until the Bulgarians kept jumping to the German side in the World Wars), so they were likely trying to expand Bulgaria as a way to expand their own control. In WWI a Bulgarian general and his aid discovered which people were Serbs by asking who had a Slava. Then proceeded to murder them.
        The communists pressured hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs out of Bulgaria at the end of WWII.
        There used to be a much greater percent of Serbs in Bulgaria, and they are oppressed today.

        • Macedonian1

          The Macedonian Serbs??? Now i’ve heard it all. Macedonians may have been classified as ‘serbs’ as forced religious affiliation, but there is no such thing as Macedonian Serbs, just as there’s no such thing as Macedonian greeks. We know our Macedonian history, we don’t need serbs or greeks to try and write it for us

          • jj

            Are you saying there’s no ethnic Serbs in Macedonia?
            What about people from there who DO claim they are Serbs?
            And what about the originator of the Chetnik movement – are you saying he is Macedonian?

          • Macedonian1

            Of course there are Serbs in Macedonia. Your wording sounds similar to your orthodox brothers to the south of us who deny our existence outright, that is all.

          • jj

            I don’t deny your existence. I know your people were massacred by Turks the same as Serbs. But I am saying that the ethnic Serb population used to be larger. And Serbs are much more targeted and hated by the west/NATO countries than the Macedonians.
            The ethnic Serb population was reduced and ethnically cleansed while the ethnic Albanians pushed themselves in more.