Balkan Insight (87)

Mladic Verdict Highlights Bosnia's Ethnic Divisions

In a sign of continuing post-war divisions, Bosniak survivors of the conflict welcomed Ratko Mladic's life sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity, but Bosnian Serbs accused the Hague Tribunal of anti-Serb bias.

Ratko Mladic Convicted of Genocide, Jailed for Life

The UN court in The Hague convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic of the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Ratko Mladic Verdict: Live Blog

Follow us live for all the latest developments as the Hague Tribunal delivers its verdict in the trial of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic.

Belgrade's Auteur Festival Showcases Freshest Global Film Talent

As the weather cools off and the rain starts to fall, Belgraders know they can find a warm retreat from autumn at one of the best festivals in the region for connoisseurs of cinema – the Auteur Film Festival.

Romanian NGOs Fear Pressure as New Bill Passes Senate

Romanian NGOs are anticipating heightened political pressure after a ruling Social Democrat Party-backed bill that obliges them to declare their donors twice a year passed the Senate. 

Venice Commission to Insist on Serbian Constitution Changes

The Council of Europe's Venice Commission is set to take a firm stance on Belgrade's failure to adopt all the constitutional changes it recommended 10 years ago.

Romania Graft Watchdog Freezes Ruling Party Leader's Assets

Romania's anti-graft prosecutors have frozen the assets and accounts of ruling Social Democrat Party chief Liviu Dragnea and eight other people currently being investigated for fraud. 

Serbian Presidency Rejects Any Takeover of Bosnian Serb Land

Serbian officials have delivered another political blow to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, explicitly rejecting his "dreams" that Serbia could one day annexe Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity.

Romania Graft Watchdog Freezes Ruling Party Leader's Assets

Romania's anti-graft prosecutors have frozen the assets and accounts of the ruling Social Democrat Party chief Liviu Dragnea and other eight people currently being investigated for fraud. 

Bosnia Federation Govt Torn Between Police and Pensioners

The Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is stuck between a rock and a hard place – the retirement law currently under discussion risks angering either police or the region's retirees.

Ratko Mladic Awaits Genocide Verdict in The Hague

The Hague Tribunal will deliver one of its most anticipated judgments on Wednesday – the verdict in the trial of the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army's main headquarters, Ratko Mladic.

Political Pressures Taking Toll on Kosovo Journalists: Report

Some media owners are using their outlets for political ends, Kosovo's public broadcaster has been subjected to political interference, while working conditions for journalists remain poor, a new report says.

Vucic's Cabinet Declines to Annex Bosnian Serb Territories

Serbian officials have delivered another political blow to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, explicitly rejecting his "dreams" that Serbia could annexe Republika Srpska – Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity.

Yugoslav Troops Accused of Killing Croatian Villagers

Serbia's Humanitarian Law Centre filed a criminal complaint against Yugoslav People's Army troops and Serb Territorial Defence fighters for allegedly killing 48 Croatian civilians in the villages of Skabrnja and Nadin in 1991.

Bosnia Marks Dayton Anniversary Amid Growing Crisis

Twenty-two years after the Dayton peace deal, the exodus of thousands of families from Bosnia and Herzegovina is a sign of the uncertain future facing a country tormented by local divisions and international failures.

Local Chiefs' Financial Abuses Blight Montenegrin Costal Town

Investigations may be hanging over two local party leaders – but that prospect does not seem to threaten their years-long grip on power in the seaside town of Ulcinj.

Ratko Mladic: Genocidal Criminal or Innocent Protector?

During a four-year trial, the Hague Tribunal has heard powerful and strongly-contested arguments about whether Ratko Mladic is guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity or whether he simply defended Bosnia's Serbs.

Ruined Bulgarian Synagogue Awaits Belated Return to Glory

For decades, the once sumptuous synagogue in Vidin has crumbled into a roofless ruin, with one restoration project failing after another – so will the latest plan make any difference?

Failed Referendum Deals Blow to Moldova Socialists

The no-show by voters in the capital in a referendum against the city's pro-EU mayor has revealed the limits of support for the pro-Russian Socialists.

War Rape Victim Sues Croatian Ministry

A Serb woman raped in Kuline prison in the town of Sibenik in 1993 is suing the Croatian War Veterans' Ministry for refusing to grant her the status of a wartime victim of sexual violence, which would give her compensation.

Macedonia's Lonely Church Seeks Bulgarian 'Parent'

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, BPC, faces a dilemma over whether to accept an unusual appeal from the unrecognised Macedonian Orthodox Church to assume parental authority over it.

Ancient Street's New Cobbles Leave Serbs Stony-Faced

Rows over the restoration of Belgrade's much-loved Skadarlija street – which forms the main axis in the city's 'Bohomian Quarter' – show how the political temperature in the city is rising ahead of local elections in 2018.

Serbia President Holds Cordial Meeting With Soros' Son

Despite a continuing campaign in Serbia against rights groups linked to George Soros, Serbia's President held an apparently friendly meeting on Monday with his son, Alexander.

BIRN Probe Prompts Montenegrin Campaign Against Sex-Selective Abortions

Women's organisation in Montenegro have begun a campaign against illegal prenatal gender tests and sex-selective abortions, following BIRN's investigation into the reasons behind the country's marked gender imbalance.

Facing Up to Mladic After Surviving a Massacre

Grgo Stojic is the only victim of a wartime massacre in the Bosnian village of Skrljevita who survived to testify against former Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic in the Hague Tribunal courtroom.

'We Believed Mladic When He Said We'd Be Safe'

When Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, who faces judgment this week, met frightened Bosniaks after his forces took Srebrenica in 1995, he told them they wouldn't be harmed - but then the massacres began.

Serbia's IMF Arrangement Ends on High Note

Belgrade's 1.2 billion euro Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF is slowly coming to its end on a positive note, though experts warn that some serious challenges for the economy still lie ahead.

Experts Scorn Value of China-Serbia Trade Association

Given the hopelessly one-sided nature of China-Serbia trade, analysts doubt the proposed joint association of Serbian and Chinese companies will bring Serbia any real benefit.

Turkey's 'Iron Lady' Poses Challenge to Erdogan Regime

A new party led by Meral Aksener, a determined woman from a Balkan background, promises to shake up Turkey's politics and give President Erdogan a run for his money.

Religious and Ethnic Hate Crimes Still Rattle Bosnia

Twenty-one years after its bloody war ended, hate crimes linked to religious or ethnic tension are still unsettling the country.

Opposition Parties Make Gains in Kosovo Election Run-offs

The opposition Vetevendosje party and the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, both had cause to celebrate as the results came in from the second round of local elections - as did the Prime Minister's party.

Kosovo Votes in Second Round of Local Elections

Polling stations opened at 7am on Sunday in Kosovo for the second round of the local elections, in 19 municipalities where no one claimed victory in round one.

Global Shining Light Award Judges Honour BIRN

The judges of the prestigious Global Shining Light Award have honoured an investigation by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network with citations of excellence.

Croatia Commemorates 26 Years Since Vukovar's Fall

Thousands of Croatians, led by war veterans, victims' families and politicians, gathered in the eastern town of Vukovar to commemorate the 26th anniversary of its fall to Yugoslav troops and Serb paramilitaries.

Serbia 'Fostered Culture of Denial' by Hiding Mladic

Author and journalist Julian Borger argues that because Serbia was not penalised for shielding Ratko Mladic while he was on the run, it helped foster a culture of denial of war crimes and genocide.

Albania Red-Faced Over Soldiers Deserting in UK

Defence Ministry acknowledges embarrassing reports that four of the highest trained soldiers failed to return home from a training mission in UK, again exposing the problem of low salaries and hopelessness in Albania.

Kosovo Jails Vetevendosje Activists For Attacking Assembly

A Pristina court jailed four Vetevendosje activists, including an MP, for a total of 21 years and six months for firing a grenade at the Kosovo parliament building in 2016.

Bulgaria's Speaker Quits Over Row With Opposition

Bulgarian MPs have appointed Tsveta Karayancheva from the leading GERB party to replace Dimitar Glavchev as speaker, after the latter resigned on Friday over a dispute with the main opposition party.

Transnistria Orders Mobilizations Ahead of Vienna Talks

Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky has alarmed Moldova by ordering a general mobilization, just 10 days before new peace negotiations are due to start in Vienna.

How Ratko Mladic 'Blew Sarajevo's Mind'

Ratko Mladic faces judgment next week for allegedly terrorising the population of Sarajevo during the 1,425-day siege - including an 11-year-old who was shot by a sniper, and a 14-year-old hit by shell fire.

Romania's Biggest Christmas Fair Opens in Sibiu

Romania's best-known Christmas market opens on Friday in the city of Sibiu, Transylvania, and will remain in business until the beginning of January.

UN Mediator Schedules New Macedonia 'Name' Talks

The long-expected re-boot of the UN-sponsored name talks between Macedonia and Greece will take place on December 11-12 in Brussels.

Russia Lures Turkey From NATO With Missile Deal

Turkey's plans to buy Russian S-400 missile systems alarm its Western allies but form part of an ever-closer partnership with Russia that will have an obvious impact on the Balkans.

Hague Tribunal and Serbs Spent €2m on Mladic Trial

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic's defence team, plus his relatives' visits to the detention unit and financial aid to him personally, have cost the Hague Tribunal, the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia over two million euros.

Romania's Dacian Wolf Sends Wrong Message, Experts Warn

The choice of a Dacian wolf as Romania's logo for the presidency of the European Council in 2019 has caused controversy over whether it might send a confusing nationalistic message about the country. 

Serbia Wasting Millions on Early Elections, NGO Says

Ahead of a meeting of Serbia's ruling party, when a decision on potential new early elections is to be announced, a watchdog has warned that the country has already spent millions of euros unnecessarily on early polls.

UK Fears Romanian's Killing Could Spark Gang War

The brutal murder of a Romanian alleged gangster could be a sign that a 'turf war' between rival Balkan crime gangs in the UK capital is hotting up, media reports say.

Justice Hopes Fade for Victims of Devastated Vukovar

Lack of political will, inefficient prosecutors and poor cooperation between Belgrade and Zagreb means some families of people killed in and around the Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991 may never get justice.

Serb General Blames 'Terrorists' for Massacring Bosniaks

The defence team for Bosnian Serb general Novak Djukic, who was convicted of the 1995 Tuzla massacre, have blamed the attack on unknown terrorists' - a claim that was sharply criticised by human rights campaigners.

Serbian Security Service 'Deployed Arkan's Paramilitaries'

An expert witness told the Hague trial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic that the Serbian State Security Service, which they ran, was able to deploy paramilitary boss Arkan's forces - a claim rejected by the defence.