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News 06 Jan 16

Comedy About KLA Sparks Outrage in Kosovo

A short comic film about two KLA commanders has attracted condemnation and even death threats in a country where the independence struggle remains a sensitive topic.

Erjone Popova
BIRN
Pristina
Scene from the show: Two KLA commanders conspire to seize public property and influence. Photo: YouTube/Stupcat

A short comic film portraying two KLA commanders planning to unlawfully seize buildings and institutions after the 1998-99 war - while sending a comrade to an early death - has caused as much outrage as laughter in Kosovo, where the independence war remains a touchy subject.

Kosovo Liberation Army veteran organizations and several politicians have been critical of the 12-minute film, “Strategic Plan”, by Stupcat, the leading comedy crew in the country.

Xhevahire Izmaku, an MP from the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, was among the first to condemn the show after it was aired on KTV television on New Year’s Eve.

“You must apologise immediately or join the protected witnesses [in court] because you seem to possess facts that these [commanders] assassinated their brothers in arms,” Izmaku wrote in her Facebook profile.

The speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli, also criticised the comedians behind the show but - following numerous death threats issued on social media - warned that “in no way should they be lynched”.

In the short film, the two commanders order the execution of an idealistic fighter who is opposed to their plan, accusing him of cooperating with the Serbian army and later sending him to his death in a minefield.

Some politicians have been less uptight about the movie. Fisnik Ismaili, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje party, condemned the harsh attacks on the Stupcat comics, saying they were infringing the democratic right to free speech.

Satire was difficult to take, especially when “satire has a dose of truth, because truth hurts, it burns you”, Ismaili said.

Former KLA commander for the Llap region Rustem Mustafa said that while he had his reservations about the show, the glory of the KLA was not in danger.

Indeed, Mustafa noted that it was thanks to the war for independence that there was freedom of speech in Kosovo.

Several public venues in Kosovo are indeed used or occupied by former KLA combatants who often do not pay taxes and fees for using public property. “Don’t touch - KLA” is a common sign in the country.

The authorities have traditionally closed an eye to bars and other commercial venues run on an extra-legal basis by former commanders and fighters.

Meanwhile Stupcat itself, composed of Vedat Bajrami, Osman Azemi, Mensur Safqiu and Afrim Krasniqi, has insisted that it does not question the valour of the struggle for freedom.

“But heroes cannot be put on the same level as thieves. This house, this state, should be built on justice and truth,” they noted.

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