Book Review: The New Cold War by Mark MacKinnon

Review by Michael Averko

The New Cold War book cover by Mark MacKinnonThe thought of a re-ignited Cold War can send a chill down some people’s spines. “The New Cold War” (Carroll & Graf, New York, 2007) is about a different kind of Cold War. It’s primarily about Western lobbying efforts to establish influence in the former Communist bloc and Russia’s opposition to it. The book’s secondary theme deals with the pipeline politics involving the former Soviet Union and the West. Blended in are some personal accounts by author Mark MacKinnon. His prose is crisp and easy to follow.

The book starts off with a “Dramatis Personae” section, providing a brief description of the involved lead players and organizations. In that segment, issue can be taken with the characterization of Vojislav Kostunica as a “previously anonymous lawyer, who Madeleine Albright convinced the Serbs to rally around” (a point contradicted by Doug Schoen on page 48 of chapter 3). Albright was never in such a position to influence Serb public opinion. Among Serbs, she has been generally viewed as having a bias against them. If anything, Albright championed Zoran Djindjic, who isn’t mentioned in the Dramatis Personae segment. As per my numerous Serb contacts in Serbia and elsewhere, as well as my own research of the man, Kostunica was relatively well known in Serbia before his democratic challenge to Slobodan Milosevic. This prior knowledge of him includes academics outside of Serbia, who study that country. Before Milosevic’s political fall, Kostunica’s accomplishments include his translation of the “Federalist Papers” into Serbian.

On Milosevic’s demise, MacKinnon pays great homage to the role Western (particularly American) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) played. He later on (in the book) follows their influence in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. His book emphasizes the Western NGO favorites among Serbs. In Serbia, the George Soros supported Otpor leader Marko Markovic has never come close to matching the popularity of Kostunica or Djindjic. Unlike Djindjic, Markovic is referenced in the Dramatis Personae section. When compared to Kostunica and Djindjic, much attention is spent on the half-Croat/half-Serb Markovic (he’s described as such in the book), who acknowledges (page 46) not being opposed to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, unlike a good number of his Otpor peers and the overwhelming majority of Serbs. Markovic’s popularity with Soros funded NGOs and unpopularity with most Serbs is one of several examples putting into question the enthusiasm of certain Western activity in some areas of the former Communist bloc. For a brief period, the Serbs and Western organizations involved with Serbia had an alliance opposing Milosevic. The post-Milosevic era has seen a decline in that cooperative spirit.

The book’s concentration is on the former USSR and not former Yugoslavia. However, the understanding of smaller nations related to Russia-West relations can be quite pivotal. Getting Kostunica right leads to the contentious Russia-West row over the disputed south Serb province of Kosovo. With a good deal of Serb support, Prime Minister Kostunica and Russia are going against Western efforts to see Kosovo become independent. The issue of Kosovo relates to other disputed former Communist bloc territories. MacKinnon stays off this topic. One which can be very critical when reviewing trouble spots on Russia-West issues.

It’s not easy for an American journalist to do an even handed accounting of the disputed former Communist bloc territories. Make no mistake about how the American mass media establishment prefers Kosovo to be spun. In its reporting and op-ed section, The New York Times (“the paper of record”) makes clear that Kosovo should be independent and that Russia is being hypocritical on the matter of disputed former Communist bloc territories. On this issue, The NYT reflects what most of the leading American foreign policy politicos desire (particularly Democrats, minus Brad Sherman and a few others). The NYT seems to periodically set the tone with how some other American newspapers cover a topic like the disputed former Communist bloc territories.

Canada sees itself as both independent of and a friend of the US. MacKinnon is a Canadian journalist, who writes in his nation’s market. Considering his Canadian standing, I think that he could’ve covered the disputed Communist bloc territories issue in detail. On Kosovo and other former Yugoslav issues, Canada has some progressive souls in journalist Scott Taylor, retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie and former Ambassador James Bissett – a retort to Roger Cohen’s comment about Roy Gutman and Christiane Amanpour. Peter Brock’s book “Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting” provides great insight on the faulty coverage of former Yugoslavia.

Pages 2-3 of the Prologue describe a series of apartment bombings as the pretext for the launching of the second Chechen war of the last decade. No mention is made of Chechen separatist incursions into Dagestan (a Russian republic bordering Chechnya). Incidents which were evident in the lead up to the second Chechen war.

In chapter 1, there’s the briefly stated view that Russian media has become restricted during Vladimir Putin’s presidency. This issue has seen its share of debate with several valid points: Russians continue to have a wide range of access to different political views, Russian media during Yeltsin’s presidency wasn’t perfect, Anglo-American mass media is far from perfect.

In the same chapter, the reference to symbols seems to suggest a Soviet like turn in Russia. Mention is made of some issued non-currency commemorative coins honoring Joseph Stalin, the return of the Red Star and Soviet era anthem. For clarity sake, it would’ve been nice to see further elaboration on these references. There’s no great effort to rehabilitate Stalin in Russia. Russian society has become far removed from Stalin’s totalitarian mindset. Adulation for Stalin isn’t widely evident at the annual May 9, Victory Day holiday, commemorating the defeat of Nazism. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged this after attending the 65th anniversary of the event in 2005. In the present, Benito Mussolini has a following in Italy. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a great concern of Italy returning to Fascism and there’s no valid reason for fearing a Soviet relapse in Russia. A Russian friend forwarded to me a news clip with this note on October 25: “The Memorial Foundation is conducting a vigil on October 29th, at the Lubyanka Square (where the old KGB was located) in Moscow to commemorate the victims of Stalin’s repression. About 2.6 million names will be read by volunteers. Today, there’re over 500 memorials in Russia to honor the victims of Stalin’s reign of terror.” There’re other examples which contradict the belief of a relatively popular Russian affection of Stalin. Anti-Stalin/pro-Putin advocates include Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nikita Mikhalkov, the dearly departed Mstislav Rostropovich and Paul Klebnikov. Legendary Soviet ice hockey men’s coach Viktor Tikhonov flopped when he returned to coach the post-Soviet Russian national team. It’s no secret that his totalitarian manner was rebuffed by the current generation of Russian ice hockey players. Russia’s recently crowned European men’s championship basketball team was coached by American-Israeli David Blatt. A Stalinist return to Russia isn’t on the horizon. Albeit limited, admiration for Stalin can be found in his native Georgia. Noting any popularity of Stalin in Georgia is problematical in some circles because Georgia is supposedly ahead of Russia in democratic development (more on this in a bit). During Putin’s presidency, the pre-revolutionary Russian Two Headed Eagle has become more utilized. In comparison, the Red Star’s return is considerably limited and its definition has been changed to a non-Communist one. The return of the Soviet anthem is greatly influenced by its stirring appeal over the comparatively drab Yeltsin era Russian anthem. Note that the re-instituted Soviet anthem has words praising pre-revolutionary Russian symbols. Post-Soviet Russia is seeking to establish its present and future by merging the positive aspects from its Imperial and Soviet eras.

When describing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s poor command of the Belarusian language (page 62 of chapter 4), it’s not mentioned that this is true of many Belarusians, who willingly converse in Russian and identify with the Russian Orthodox Church. This contrasts with Ukraine, where there’re many Ukrainian speakers and a good sized Ukrainian Orthodox Church, independent of the Russian Orthodox Church (keeping in mind that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate remains the largest church in Ukraine). When comparing Ukraine and Belarus, the lack of popularity for the Belarusian language and an independent Belarusian Orthodox Church corresponds to why Wales is less nationalistic than Scotland. Somewhat different histories play a key role.

MacKinnon does a good job presenting the politics and history of Ukraine. One can dispute his description of why Viktor Yushchenko was sacked as prime minister by then President Leonid Kuchma (page 81 of chapter 5). MacKinnon portrays it as the work of Moscow, which (as stated by MacKinnon) didn’t like Yushchenko’s blocking “a series of takeovers of Ukrainian companies by Russian firms.” In the lead up to Yushchenko’s firing, then Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Yushchenko sparred with influential leaders in the Ukrainian (not Russian) mining and gas sectors. The dispute came to a head in a 2001 no confidence vote by the Rada (parliament). The vote passed 263 to 69, resulting in Yushchenko’s removal from office. At the time, firing Yushchenko served as good public relations for Kuchma. Since the Soviet breakup, Ukrainian politics has seen shifting geopolitical moods among the leading Ukrainian politicians of this short lived period. Yushchenko is no exception. As prime minister, he approved a number of Russian business acquisitions. This point was stated by some pro-Yushchenko supporters in an effort to win the “Russian vote” during the 2004 presidential election.

In chapter 9, MacKinnon notes how Russian support for Viktor Yanukovych came after American NGOs started backing Yushchenko. That chapter ends with a discussion between MacKinnon and Russian political adviser Vyacheslav Nikhonov on who would win the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. MacKinnon cites Nikonov saying that Yushchenko wouldn’t win despite polls claiming differently.

Chapters 10 and 11 have among the fairest of North American mass media commentary to be found about the so called “Orange Revolution.” Western pro-Yushchenko and Russian pro-Yanukovych election observers each had biases clouding their respective claims. A Yanukovych aide expresses the view (page 170) that the advice of Russian “spin doctors” like Gleb Pavlovsky was counterproductive to Yanukovych’s presidential bid. In turn, the Russian spinsters are quoted (page 175) for believing that Yanukovych’s prison record made him a tough sell. Mackinnon sympathizes with this view and references hyperbolic anti-Orange remarks made by Yanukovych’s wife. On the other hand, Yanukovych’s prison record could be marketed as an example of someone resurrecting himself. The book doesn’t mention the negative past of Yushchenko and his wife. As prime minister, Yushchenko signed a statement calling protestors of beheaded Georgian-Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze “Fascists.” Yushchenko’s wife made insensitive remarks when she belonged to an anti-Russian organization. Two contributing factors relate to Yanukovych’s political comeback after the so called “Orange Revolution”: he’s not so negative as some make him out to be and the Orange side has its own shortcomings. MacKinnon correctly views Western support for Yushchenko as being more effectively implemented to the Russian assistance given to Yanukovych.

MacKinnon’s chapters on Ukraine end in the early part of 2005. Yanukovych’s 2006 political comeback to the role of prime minister came after he hired an American public relations firm. As MacKinnon suggests (page 176), the Russian spin doctors’ role during the so called “Orange Revolution” left something to be desired. I recall one of them providing commentary for a News World International (NWI) feature on Ukraine, shortly after Yushchenko’s presidential inauguration (now defunct, NWI was a Canadian Broadcasting Company television affiliate). When asked why the Orange government was counterproductive, Sergei Markov said that its Russia unfriendly elements served to provoke a nationalist backlash in Russia. From a Russian vantage point, this wasn’t good public relations, in addition to not offering the most accurate of thoughts on the subject. Markov’s emphasis on Russia conjures up the image of a Russian not concerned with how Ukraine feels and provides fodder for the faulty notion of Russia being collectively ripe with overly aggressive nationalists. The better answer to the NWI question would note that the newly inaugurated (at the time) Orange government’s not so Russia friendly members are an anathema to many in Ukraine, who don’t view Russia with hostility. This in turn could create instability within Ukraine, which in the long run wouldn’t benefit anyone. In any event, present day Ukraine is politically murky, with Russia and the West now taking a more hands off approach on that former Soviet republic.

The chapter 6 commentary about Georgia highlights the differences between Moscow and Tbilisi, without noting the examples of willing togetherness. In 1801, Georgia sought to become part of the Russian Empire. Russia has its share of prominent Russian citizens with Georgian surnames. On page 109, MacKinnon uncritically quotes Eduard Shevardnadze’s otherwise dubious belief that Georgia “enjoyed a more dynamic democracy than Putin’s Russia.” This is supported with an uncritically referenced cite from the politicized Freedom House. There’re examples showing that if anything, the reverse is true: Russia appears more democratic than Georgia. The first post-Soviet Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia was an authoritarian nationalist. How was he more democratic than Russia’s first post-Soviet president Boris Yeltsin? Shevardnadze, the second post-Soviet Georgian president fell out of favor for being associated with an undemocratically run corrupt environment. In 2003, the current Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili won an election with a Soviet like 96% tally. His governance has exhibited instances showing a less than democratically inclined state. This past September, former Saakashvili ally Irakli Okruashvili was arrested by the Georgian government. Okruashvili is no angel and his less than angelic demeanor was evident when he was allied to Saakashvili. In comparison, there’s outrage when the Russian government arrests a dubious figure of high standing. Of recent note, are the high profile protests against Saakashvili in Georgia. This has been interpreted as Georgia having an open society. There’s also the view that Russia under Putin has been comparatively more stable than Georgia.

The book’s take on Georgia matches the way it portrays George Soros, the billionaire involved with neo-liberal and neo-conservative political activity in the former Communist bloc (on former Communist bloc issues, the neo-conservatives and neo-liberals like Soros tend to agree with each other). Laura Silber, a Soros employed advocate offers the view of a caring philanthropist favoring the little guy (page 111). Soros’ detractors (whose views of him aren’t really mentioned in the book) stress the image of a wealthy billionaire seeking to get into markets (like Russia) where his views aren’t so welcome. Georgia and the Kosovo Albanians serve as a kind of base for Soros. A point that doesn’t appear so disagreeable with many pro and anti-Soros observers. Therein lies the reason why Soros is unsympathetic to patriotically mainstream Serb views, but sympathetic to the anti-Serb nationalism evident among a good number of Albanians and Bosnian Muslims. This matches how he unsympathetically treats patriotically mainstream Russian views versus his comparatively kid gloves approach to the Russia unfriendly nationalism exhibited in parts of the former Communist bloc. Is Soros more democratically inclined than Putin? The latter has won two multi-party presidential elections and is highly regarded by his nation’s population. The former prefers the Kosovo Albanian leaders over a noticeably more democratic and multi-ethnic tolerant Serb leadership. On several issues, Soros funded organizations like the Open Society Institute and International Crisis Group are very one sided in their utilization of sources.

On the book jacket, Lawrence Martin says that MacKinnon’s book is a wakeup call to an ongoing Russia-West squabble. There’re reasons for not being so alarmist. Post-Soviet Russia has been tame. It waited at least a couple of years from when it had a reasonable basis (as far as reasons for waging war go) to wage its first war in Chechnya. The vulgar aspects of the two post-Soviet Chechen wars stem from Russia having a weakened and not always so well disciplined armed forces, combined with the brutish manner of some of the Chechen insurgents. Russia’s need to have a relatively strong conventional armed forces has been acknowledged by some Western analysts. Russia is situated in problematical neighborhoods. It’s way too simplistic to portray Russia as the bully. Tatarstan, a predominately Muslim Russian republic enjoys a good deal of autonomy. Russia’s somewhat clumsy involvement with the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election was in reply to the intervention undertaken by Western NGOs. As for the accusation of Russia using its economy as a political tool: the US has a decades long embargo against Cuba and the European Union (EU) hints that Serb membership in the EU is linked to Serbia giving up Kosovo. Big powers carry on in this manner. There’s nothing particularly special about Russia’s purported use of using its economy for political reasons. The West and Russia have curtailed political competition in Ukraine. A pro-Russian business lobby exists with some Western corporations eager to embrace the Russian market. Former American National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski sees Russia eventually moving to the West out of a future fear of China. Another school of thought sees the significant peace time global interrelationship among the current major powers as a deterrent against a World War III/Cold War type setting.

I recommend “The New Cold War” with a few thoughts in mind. It’s a good exercise for all of us to actively engage views we find disagreeable. This shouldn’t be confused with talking over those views in a way that doesn’t fully address them. While bucking some of the conventional English language mass media stances, the book generally expresses how many influential non-Russian observers view the former Communist bloc. Like it or not, that’s a reality which should be addressed; along with how North American mass media at large doesn’t always practice what it preaches in its critiques of Russian media.

******

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. His commentary has appeared in the Action Ukraine Report, Eurasian Home, Intelligent.ru, Johnson’s Russia List, Reuters, Russia Blog, Serbianna, The New York Times and The Tiraspol Times.

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18 Responses

  1. Sinisa Lalic says:

    I appreciate each new analysis regarding global politics, particularly in a form of a good book. I do not understand, however, how can anyone who strives to be a serious analyst afford to make a beginners mistake like mentioning the name “Marko Markovic”.

    His name is Ivan Marovic, and if you have explored a bit more, such “mistakes” should not be here.

    This is yet another example of “collecting evidence” and presenting “a firm proof”.

    “Marko Markovic” is Serbian version of Anglo-Saxon “John Smith”. We use this in most cases to “name a person in everyday conversation”, when giving a real name is not of any relevance. In other words, I could say that I’ve been with American writer John Smith the other day. This is how this “wrong” naming becomes even more ridiculous, for a Serbian reader.

  2. Michael Averko says:

    He’s referred to Marko Markovic in the book.

    Likewise elsewhere:

    http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=Marko+Markovic+Otpor&go=Search&form=QBNO

    Kindly note that the most expert of analysts don’t get everything right.

    In the book, Mikheil Saakashvili’s first name is spelled in the English transliteration of the Russian “Mikhail.” I spelled it as the Goergian “Mikheil” in my review. Likewise, I spelled Zoran Djindjic’s name different from how it’s spelled in the book (Dindic).

    Among many others, Serb commentator Nebojsa Malic agrees with my spelling of Djindjic’s last name.

    http://www.antiwar.com/malic/m031203.html

    I hope this is a “serious” enough answer for you.

  3. Hi –

    Actually, there are two characters with very similar names involved in the story. Ivan Marovic is indeed the Otpor leader. Marko Markovic was a young student who took part in the protests against Milosevic and who later helped use that knowledge to train Pora in Ukraine.

    Thanks for your interest in the book.

  4. Michael Averko says:

    The Dramatis Personae section of “The Serbs” lists Marko Markovic and his Otpor affiliation without mention of Ivan Marovic. The latter is referenced later on in the book. Upon a quick perusal of the book’s glossary, I can’t find reference of Marovic being Otpor’s leader. His leadership role in that org. is confirmed upon looking elsewhere. Otpor definitely seems to have lost whatever clout it had in Serbia.

    Some additional thoughts on Milosevic’s political demise:

    The West initially considered the Milosevic-Kostunica election a farce. The West changed its tune when Kostunica won, with Milosevic deflating the margin of Kostunica’s victory for the purpose of having a runoff. Russia acted clumsily in that episode. Kostunica said as much. In turn, the West has IMO behaved badly in catering to Soros/neocon preferences for the repackaged KLA’s desire to have an independent Kosovo. Just prior to his being assassinated, I got the impression that Djindjic was tilting back to a more Kostunica like line (in the early 1990s, Djindjic was considered a “nationalist”).

    Of all the Western NGO involvement of former Communist bloc election/changes in government, I get the impression that Serbia’s changed political situation wasn’t as influenced by said Western involvement.

    Someone expressed to me these thoughts about the book:

    “More than that, the amount of criticism of the United States was more than I thought it would be, leading me to believe that — including that final passage in the book about the CIA using the NGOs for its own purposes — Mark is actually being very critical of America’s methods. He notes the complete hypocrisy regarding Georgia and Ukraine vis-a-vis countries like Kazakhstan because of the conflict between democracy policy and energy policy.”

    The above quoted reminds me of a recent blog entry by Paul Goble:

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2007/11/window-on-eurasia-kremlin-using-russian.html

    Excerpt:

    “Sergei Markov, a Russian commentator known for his close ties to the security services and the Kremlin, “openly admitted” during an interview with the Azerbaijani news agency Day.AZ that the appearance of negative articles about ethnic relations in Azerbaijan reflected Russia’s displeasure with Baku’s independence in foreign affairs. Because Azerbaijan continues to play an active role in GUAM, an alliance of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova that Moscow does not approve of, Markov said, no one in Baku should be surprised that this has led to ‘anti-Azerbaijani’ attitudes in the Moscow elite and those have been ‘directly translated into the mass media. And Markov’s acknowledgement of this represents ‘a sensation,’ Akhundov said. Hereafter all is ‘a member of the Social Chamber of Russia openly declaring that the Russian elite decides whether or not to promote ethnic separatism in Azerbaijan via the [ostensibly independent] media depends on the policies Baku adopts’!”

  5. Michael Averko says:

    Following up on some prior raised points:

    A few Serbs privately communicated the view that the Serb equivalent of “John Smith” is usually “Petar Petrovich” and not “Marko Markovich.”

    About a couple of years ago, Otpor apparently ceased functioning. As “The New Cold War” notes, political youth activity in the former Communist bloc is no doubt influenced by Otpor. I gather this to be true in relation to the pro-Putin Russian youth movement Nashi. Nashi’s creators no doubt had in mind Otpor and the Otpor assisted movements outside of Serbia.

    I came across this review of “The New Cold War.”

    http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1202

  6. Liz says:

    Mike Averko should be forgiven for the Otpor surname feux paux because otherwise he has provided a very detailed and well researched review.

  7. Liz says:

    Oops, I made a faux pas too.

  8. Michael Averko says:

    The bottom line is that Markovic and Marovic have never come close to matching the popularity of Kostunica. In Serbia, Otpor is a thing of the past unlike Kostunica and those sharing his views.

    The Soros/neocon domino like theory seems to have played out. Recall the last Moldovan presidential election, shortly after the last Ukrainian one. Dick Morris and others backed an Orange like Moldovan party as pro-Ukrainian Orange celebrity Ruslana supported the winning Moldovan Communist Party candidate.

    Otpor was at its best when involved with anti-Milosevic demonstrations and getting Western mass media attention. The latter no doubt related to its ties to Soros. In the present, the Soros preferred Serb views of Natasa Kandic and Dragana Solomon seem to get a disproportionate share of coverage in English language mass media.

    Otpor reminds me of the criticism levied against Politkovksaya and Kasparov. All three express broad views against tyranny. What they substantively offer as an alternative appears less clear.

  9. Sinisa Lalic says:

    Thank you for quick response on my comment. I will certainly read your book, and will not comment anything else until I finish my reading. That initial comment of mine was just something that appeared as yet another important detail missed.

    Otpor’s inital and ultimate goal was to cause a confusion by not pointing out any individual as a leader. Therefore Otpor never had an official leader indeed. This is why it is difficult to find more data on these persons.

    However, even Otpor’s web site is no longer active, I would suggest the following resource for very accurate and detailed info on Otpor and its activities (check “Serbian Case” for details).

    http://www.canvasopedia.org

    As for spelling of Zoran Djindjic last name, you have chosen a correct spelling. The original surname, in Cyrillic has six characters, but correct Latin spelling includes “dj” characters. A relevant and accurate spelling are available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djindjic

    However, if you are looking for an official proof, it is available at Serbian Government web site as well: http://www.srbija.sr.gov.yu/vesti/specijal.php?id=2153

    Once again, thank you for a brief answers and comments.

  10. Michael Averko says:

    Not that Wiki should always be used:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otpor%21

    Excerpt:

    “The biggest reason for Otpor’s lack of success in the post-Miloševi? years was their failure to formulate a coherent political program. Acting against Miloševi? earned them wide praise, but when the time came to channel all that popular support into a clear ideological position – a definite disconnect occurred. In short, it was always clear what Otpor was against, but it was not clear what this movement represented now that the former regime was gone.”

    ****

    I’m reminded a bit of the last scene of the American movie “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford. Upon winning the presidency, the character played by Redford is clueless on what to do in the role of president.

    The above Wiki entry notes the turn coating of sorts of some Otpor members from youthful innocents to hired politicos for foreign interests.

    The above Wiki entry gives Otpor great credit for Milosevic’s demise.

  11. Aleks says:

    Apparently when Otpor leaders were on an official visit to D.C., their hosts were less than impressed with their behavior – i.e. they were far more interested in partying and more importantly, wern’t very politically astute or offer anything new…

    This is one of the things that bothers me with such movements. They’re good on soundbites ‘Join the EU’, ‘Join NATO’ (whatever), but they don’t really know what this means or what either are, i.e. the nitty gritty and the certain fact that once they’ve done the dirty work, they are much less favorites with special treatment.

    The worst aspect is that it is really important that the citizens are properly informed in the Media and by their politicians with substantive information and arguments.

  12. Michael Averko says:

    It makes me wonder a bit about just how important they really were at their zenith.

    I recall seeing Belarusian demonstrations with the EU flag. If I’m not mistaken, Saakashvili is frequently seen on TV with that flag in the background.

  13. Sinisa Lalic says:

    As a matter a fact, the Wiki comment is quite true. Not only about Otpor, I would dare to say, but this phrase can be given as a general political attitude for Serbs.

    In Serbia, politics was and is full of opposing to this and that, while finding a strong supportive goal is rather a difficult task.

    For instance, Serbs are against independence of Kosovo, and you will hear thousands of reasons why. However, Serbs are not acctually supporting Kosovo’s integration back under Serbia. They will not be able to give too many reasons why.

    This is rather a mentality, I would say, than a true political stance.

    You should not question importance of Otpor, as believe me, if there was no Otpor, I would not be typing this now. Or I would, but from another country. Otpor managed to fulfill the ultimate goal in Serbia – to be a uniting point for the opposition. They forced the opposition to unite, through an open threat tactics. This worked out fine for Serbia.

    After it was all over, a group of Otpor leadership wanted to switch Otpor into a political party. The majority was against it, as sooner or later Otpor would become just another party to co-exist on the political scene.

    The main reason why it was never registered as the political party was because we who were there all those days wanted to keep it in the bright history page. Forever. Fortunately these voices prevailed. Those who wanted, they simply joined the existing parties and are now high state functioners.

  14. Michael Averko says:

    Among Serbs, there’s the view that Milosevic’s time was running out regardless of Otpor’s
    activity. Without doubt, the post-Milosevic era saw Otpor’s role in Serbia significantly diminished. As per the stated views of others besides Wiki, Otpor was essentially an anti-Milosevic org. seeking his ouster without concrete plans of its own for the future. The Marko Markovic’s within Otpor (not all of its members should be lumped together) preferred serving the interests of Soros over politically mainstream Serb views.

    Official Serbia does have a plan for Kosovo. Part of it is outlined in UN Security Resolution 1244. Unfortunately for the Serb advocacy, there’s strong opposition to it. The official position of leading Western countries seeks to override 1244 with a formal granting of Kosovo independence.

    ****

    “Those who wanted, they simply joined the existing parties and are now high state functioners.”

    As per the above quoted, please provide some examples with a background of their current political affiliations.

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