Berserkistan Navigator Where’s Ratko Mladic?
Tending a Goat named
Madeleine Albright

General Ratko Mladic While Belgrade media reported he was clinging to life following a stroke, Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic was celebrating a Serb holiday, safe in his well-protected compound. A rare visit with the General and how Mladic spends his days.

CRNA RIJEKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina, June 29 (AP) - Here in eastern Bosnia’s dense pine forests, the Bosnian Serb military commander passes the days caring for his bees and goats. Each of the 23 goats carries the name of a foreign dignitary Gen. Ratko Mladic doesn’t like. One is called Madeleine Albright, after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Others are named after former U.N. commanders in Bosnia and current German and American leaders.

What bothers Mladic most is not the fact that he’s a wanted man, indicted by the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague for planning genocide during Bosnia’s 3½-year war. What bothers him most, his security guards say, is the noise of the heavy vehicles and tanks of the NATO-led peace force nearby, which "often disturbs his bees."

During the first-ever visit by foreign media to his compound in Crna Rijeka, a village some 6 miles south of Han Pijesak, reporters from The Associated Press and APTV saw Mladic celebrate both the fourth anniversary of the founding of his Bosnian Serb army and St. Vitus’ Day, the anniversary of the Serb defeat by the Turks at Kosovo in 1389.

The compound, where Mladic lives with his wife, Bosa, is the center of a vast military installation built for former Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito that was designed as his last refuge in case of foreign invasion.

Manhunt After passing a big "No Trespassing" sign just off the main road from Sarajevo to Serbia’s capital Belgrade, the AP crews entered pine forests heavily patrolled by security guards cradling AK-47 assault rifles.

A dirt road led to Mladic’s complex consisting of several gabled, Alpine-style resort houses. The compound has a single checkpoint, but the area is no doubt surrounded by electronic surveillance equipment.

Mladic, who like Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, reviewed an honor guard as part of the celebration of the founding of his army. The burly, sun-tanned general then broke a traditional cake baked for St. Vitus’ Day and was addressed by the leading Serb Orthodox priest in the region, Metropolitan Nikolaj.

The 1389 defeat marked the demise of the Serbs’ empire and the start of their 500-year struggle to keep their Orthodox Christian faith alive under the rule of the Ottoman Turks.

"You fought the war of liberation, and Friday what I wish you a more peaceful time," the metropolitan said. "As a soldier, don’t ever forget your holy duty: to stand up for your people and their rights if need be." Mladic solemnly bowed his head without saying a word.

After weeks out of the public eye, Mladic seemed to be staking a strong claim to continued leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. Hearings in The Hague on Friday about his alleged war crimes went unnoticed. Karadzic, too, has ignored calls for his resignation. Carl Bildt, the top international official monitoring Bosnia’s peace, said Friday that Serb-led Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serbs faced sanctions if Karadzic doesn’t step down by July 1. Karadzic praised his own leadership and party in response.

Karadzic’s Serbian Democratic Party re-elected him as its president on Saturday, the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA reported. Karadzic ran unopposed, receiving 353 out of 354 votes.

The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia has said it would arrest Mladic or Karadzic if it comes across them in the course of its ordinary duties, but that hunting them down is not part of its mandate. One of the NATO-led force’s bases, in Vlasenica, is only 12 miles by road from Mladic’s compound. The area around Han Pijesak has for decades been plastered with large signs saying that it is illegal for foreigners to stop along the road.

Still, the AP was allowed inside the compound on condition that it not interview Mladic or take "wider shots" of the location.

To learn more...
Berserkistan, June 28 · U.S. Downplays Reports of Mladic Stroke
Berserkistan · Manhunt! How Much Can NATO Do to Capture Mladic, Karadzic?

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