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news 01 Nov 13

Kosovo Serbs Tear Down Election Posters

Hardline Serbs in northern Kosovo, angered by Sunday's 'historic' Kosovo-wide elections, can be seen on YouTube ripping down election material.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

A video showing an action called "Cleansing Northern Kosovo” - of election materials for the forthcoming local elections in Kosovo - carried out by a group of Serbs called “Self-organized citizens”, has appeared on YouTube.

It shows dozens of Serbs in the north of Kosovo removing election posters, telling people to boycott Sunday's local elections in Kosovo and waving Serbian flags.

Kosovo Serb leader attacked

Masked persons have physically attacked Krstimir Pantic, the candidate for mayor of northern Mitrovica.

The incident took place at 10pm on Friday night as he was entering the building where he lives.

Pantic suffered light injuries and was released from hospital soon after.

Belgrade officials have strongly condemned he attack and dubbed it attack on the republic of Serbia.

The words "Traitor" and "Shiptar" - a derogatory term for an Albanian - were scrawled over the election poster of Krstimir Pantic who is running for mayor in the divided northern town of Mitrovica.

Pantic hails from Serbia's ruling party, the Progressive Party, which has called on Serbs in Kosovo to take part in Kosovo elections for the first time.

The group of protesters is believed to be close to the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, the only mainstream Serbian party urging a boycott of the elections.

Meanwhile, a Belgrade-based think tank, the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, CEAS, has called on the Serbian government to proactively demonstrate its genuine interest in the success of the local elections.

"Such an atmosphere painfully recalls the period of demonstrations in Jarinje," it said on Friday, referring to militant Serb protests that took place on the Kosovo-Serbia border in 2011. 

These, it continued, "were also allegedly the work of 'self-organized citizens', even though the gravel used for the barricades was brought by trucks belonging to Serbian public enterprises, and a labour obligation to take part in the barricades was in force, with a shift schedule issued by Serbian institutions".

Recaling the April EU-mediated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, which paved the way to the latest elections, the think tank noted: "It should by no means be forgotten that holding local elections in Kosovo is, as the first major step towards advancing relations, also the first time that a mutual agreement has been reached between Belgrade, Pristina and Brussels."

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