By Vladimir Gujanicic
Over the last couple of years we are witnessing anti-Russian hysteria in the Balkans, where Russia is allegedly involved in various coup attempts (Montenegro), assassinations (Azem Vlasi) or the destruction of the SFRY (General Grahovac). All of these alleged “attempts” by Russia always end unsuccessfully, with failed assassinations, coups or conspiracies discovered. Paradoxically, it is always the marginal second-rate politicians or states that are “targeted”. The Russian services, on the other hand, have been accused of poisoning their former agents with polonium by breaking through the defense rings of one of Britain’s best intelligence services, but in the hilly Balkans “everything goes wrong”.
General Grahovac, a former JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) pilot, was one of the main proponents of blaming the KGB for dissolution of the SFRY (former Yugoslavia) during the wars of the 1990s, even turning his “thesis” into a book called “The KGB Devil’s work in the Balkans” in which he, through the use of what could only be described as science fiction, connects people and events into a “logical” sequence. Even though it is quite clear that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West embarked on a crusade against the leaders of the Eastern Bloc, overthrowing them through the use of the concept of “springs”, and that Yugoslavia, with its numerous internal contradictions, could not find its place in new circumstances and was thus dismantled. Blagoje Grahovac offers us a whole new thesis about how nationalism in Yugoslavia was fostered by the KGB, which is, allegedly, the main culprit for the breakup of Yugoslavia. NATO smuggling in weapons from Austria and Hungary to Slovenian and Croatian separatists, imposing sanctions and threatening foreign intervention against the socialist authorities and the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army), all of these facts and the logical sequence of events mean nothing to General Grahovac. According to him, the KGB was trying to undermine Yugoslavia and even continues its “evil masterplan” in the Balkans to this day. On several occasions, Grahovac has pointed out in his broadcasts that the West should replace Gruevski (former North Macedonian PM), who is the last “disturbing factor in the Balkans”, and that it would stabilize the situation. “Incidentally”, Grahovac’s views “coincide” with those of America. Any alternative to the neoliberal control of the Balkans for Grahovac is heresy. However, he is not alone in “his” thesis. Events and personalities are virtually copied from republic to republic and from region to region, and the basic thesis is “Russians are guilty of everything”.
The alleged 2016 “coup” in Montenegro was also organized by Russian services according to General Grahovac, but the “unveiling of the coup” revealed that it was organized in such a ridiculous manner that it would be better executed by some third-rate mafia rather than the security service of a superpower. The “accidental” coup was organized before the elections in which Milo Djukanovic’s (NATO-supported mobster and dictator of Montenegro) government hung on the thread, which was formed only with the help of national minorities parties. Montenegro’s entry into NATO, which was supposed to prevent the “Russian” coup, ironically went almost unnoticed in America. Montenegro does not hold strategic value for Russia in its confrontation with the West any more than a crumb on the table in the context of global confrontation. It is irrelevant in comparison to Syria, the Middle East or Ukraine. In reality, Western-backed Balkan politicians are only trying to raise the bargain price for themselves. Russia and Russian citizens own considerable assets in Montenegro and also have a steady flow of people, goods and money and Milo Djukanovic’s power hangs on a thin thread. It is not impossible before the next elections that we will have a similar scenario of “foreign meddling” helping in the consolidation of dictator’s power in Montenegro.
Azem Vlasi is another one in a series of examples of the matrix of anti-Russian hysteria. A second-rate politician who began his political career as an Albanian member of the SKJ (Yugoslav Communist Party) by rising through the ranks in the provincial leadership of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia, was a victim of an assassination attempt in March 2017. Even though the suspects were caught and, as it turned out, they were Albanians from Macedonia, Azem Vlasi, during a visit to Sarajevo made a ridiculous claim that “Russian services were behind the assassination attempt”. Although it is known, and even by his own admission, that the assassination attempt was conducted by extremist Albanian groups aiming for a Greater Albania who want to eliminate all Albanian politicians who have fought for the so-called “Republic of Kosovo” since the 1980s, he (Azem Vlasi) insists that Russian services are behind these Albanian groups.
When it comes to the technical details of those alleged assassination and coup attempts by the “Russian” services, it is incredible how they always “fail” in the case of second-rate Balkan politicians or statesmen, while always having almost one hundred percent effect when hunting for their former agents protected by the best Western services. If we were to relate the Balkan story to the anti-Russian hysteria ranging from the Baltic States, via Ukraine and Poland, we find it is coinciding with the Cold War taking place globally between Russia and America, then we would see that it is the same matrix of information warfare and politicians which, like a broken record, reiterate the thesis of “Russian aggression”. Undoubtedly, Russia, like all other powers, has its economic and political interests in the Balkans, but unlike in European countries where anti-Russian politics can be defended by still sustainable living standards, in the Balkans, this is a completely different story. Kosovo and Metohia or the Azem Vlasi’s “Republic of Kosovo” has a 50% unemployment rate, Bosnia and Herzegovina officially 32% (unofficially 50%), with northern parts of Montenegro in the worst economic situation in recent history, and with Macedonia about 30% of unemployed. The basic infrastructure of these countries is mainly from the period of former socialist Yugoslavia. The big question is what exactly is that those politicians and “analysts” defend. It would be understandable to defend some form of a special status for the Balkans within the Neoliberal Empire if these countries had the living standards at least somewhat close to that of Poland or the Baltic republics, but the reverse is true. These individuals, who form only part of the matrix of anti-Russian hysteria in the Balkans, defend their political positions and maintain the desperate position most Balkan states find themselves in.
NOTE: This article first appeared at Fort Russ.