Arberi

Some trucks that blocked the roads in the north belonged to the "Standard" company, where Rakiqi is the director

Among the heavy machines, with which the Serbs in the north of Kosovo erected barricades and blocked almost all the roads leading to the two border crossings with Serbia, Jarinje and Bërnjak, according to the research of Radio Free Europe, there were also vehicles almost identical to those used by the Serbian municipal services in the municipalities in the north of Kosovo.

These services, like the "Standard" Public Enterprise from North Mitrovica, are under the control of the Serbian List, the leading party of the Serbs in Kosovo that is close to the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić.

On July 31 and August 1, Radio Free Europe's cameras also recorded the presence of "Standard" company employees, who were in work uniforms at the barricades.

The director of this company is Goran Rakiq, chairman of the Serbian List, who is also the Minister for Communities and Return in the Government of Kosovo.

Radio Free Europe has tried to contact Rakiq, but he has not responded. REL has also addressed Aleksandar Trajkovic, whom the local media presents as the "leader" of the "Standard" company. To the question of what the workers and trucks of that company were doing at the barricades, Trajkovic answered that: "You should ask the director of the company that question, I really cannot answer this question for you."

He said that he is "only a manager of the economic sector".

On the official website of the company "Standard" it is stated that this company is in charge "of performing municipal activities in the territory of the municipality of Mitrovica".

Radio Free Europe also tried to contact Aleksandar Spiriqi, the mayor of the parallel Serbian municipality in North Mitrovica, regarding the presence of Serbian municipal service trucks at the barricades, but he did not respond.

In addition to the parallel municipalities of Serbia in Kosovo, which are considered illegal institutions by the Kosovo authorities, there are also municipalities with a Serb majority that work according to the laws of Kosovo, but in which the officials of the Serbian List are also in leading positions.

For example, Zoran Todić is the mayor of the Municipality of Leposavic, which operates according to the Kosovo system, but he also leads the parallel Serbian municipality.

Masked drivers and trucks without license plates at barricades

Many of the trucks at the barricades were unmarked, some even without license plates.

However, a tanker truck that could be seen in the footage of Radio Evropa e Lire in Rudare, had Belgrade license plates. A yellow stripe was also visible on the side.

On May 16, 2019, the Public Enterprise "Gradska cistoqa" (City Hygiene) from Belgrade donated an identical vehicle to the representatives of the parallel Serbian municipality of Zubin Potok.

The company itself reported on this on its website.

Also, in one of the photos, a tank similar to the one at the barricade can be seen, but the license plate number is not visible, as the photo was taken from the side.

REL has addressed the Kosovo Customs with the request to obtain the license plate number of the tanker that was imported to Kosovo from Belgrade as a donation on May 16, 2019, for the purposes of the parallel municipality of Zubin Potok. However, Customs has not responded.

At the barricades, the REL team also filmed a white garbage truck with the logo of the Public Enterprise "Gradska cistoqa" (City Hygiene) from Belgrade. The photo is of the right side of the truck and the license plates are not visible, but the company logo is visible.

This company donated such a truck to the "Standard" company in North Mitrovica on June 18, 2020. This was announced by the Belgrade City Administration on its official website, along with photos from the solemn ceremony in North Mitrovica. .

As can be seen, the then vice president of the capital, Goran Vesić, also participated in the ceremony, who took a photo in front of the donated truck.

Radio Free Europe has contacted Goran Vesic, now the former vice-president of Belgrade, through Viber, but he has not responded.

REL has also sent to the Public Enterprise "Gradska cistoqa" (City hygiene).

Request for access to information of public importance, related to license plate numbers of vehicles donated to municipalities in the north of Kosovo, REL has also sent to the Public Enterprise "Gradska Çistoqa" (City Hygiene). This institution has not responded either.

In addition to the vehicles, which are connected to the local municipal services, the roads in the north of Kosovo are also blocked by trucks of some private companies from Serbia. A red truck had the logo of the company "Srbija autoput" (Serbian Highway) at the barricade near Zubin Potok.

It is a private company based in Belgrade, which deals with the construction of roads and highways.

The director and owner of this company is Zhelko Jankovic. In the last two years, this company has won about twenty tenders for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of local roads in Serbia.

Radio Evropa e Lire has sent a request to this company for providing more information about their trucks at the barricades, but has not received a response until the publication of this text. No one has answered the phone calls either.

Radio Free Europe has also contacted the Office for Kosovo in the Government of Serbia, regarding the use of municipal vehicles, but has not received a response.

Otherwise, the truck drivers who blocked the roads in the north of Kosovo on July 31 and August 1 mostly wore masks on their faces.

In Jarinje te Poshtme near the border point with Serbia, in the footage of Radio Free Europe, two men with masks on their faces, armed and wearing bulletproof vests were standing near the barricades.

Barricades as a symbol of tensions in the north of Kosovo

The latest tensions in Kosovo started on July 31, before the start of the process of re-registration of Serbian license plates with the names of the cities of Kosovo in those of the RKS (Republic of Kosovo) and the establishment of reciprocal measures related to the document, which should replace Serbian identity cards during the visit of these persons to Kosovo.

That day, local Serbs in four municipalities in northern Kosovo blocked roads with trucks and other vehicles in protest, and Lista Serbe thanked them for this and encouraged them.

The chairman of the Serbian List, Goran Rakic, in an extraordinary press conference with the director of the Office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic, in Belgrade on August 1, said that the barricades were "a reaction, not an action, to the unilateral actions of Pristina." .

Meanwhile, the Government of Kosovo, at the request of international partners, has decided to postpone the implementation of the decisions for 30 days, until September 1, precisely, due to misinformation coming from Belgrade about the situation on the ground.

On the other hand, the north of Kosovo is filled with posters with the inscriptions "We don't give up, Serbian identity cards remain" and "We don't give up, KM remains".

Previously, on August 1, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, Xhelal Sveçla, said that the barricades in the north of Kosovo were placed by "illegal Serbian structures, 15 minutes after the sirens were released and they were placed in nine different locations in the north of the country ".

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, in an interview for Radio Free Europe, said that in the northern municipalities of Kosovo, on July 31, there was a risk of the situation escalating into an armed conflict, "due to the fear injected by Belgrade and due to of the plans made in Raska and Belgrade".

"At least, nine barricades were erected within 10 minutes. It is about an organization and a preparation that cannot be just civic, but is state. This was cooked up in Belgrade, which for more than a month had campaigned on how to on August 1, the so-called 'Storm' will start in Kosovo, similar to the one in Croatia, and hell will follow in Kosovo," he said.

"These barricades that were erected on July 31 are a novelty because in terms of their character, they are not simply barricades to obstruct traffic, but also to shoot at the vehicles coming," Kurti added.

Meanwhile, Lista Serbe confirmed that the vice president of that party, Milan Radoicic, was also at the barricades, who is wanted by the Kosovo authorities due to his involvement in the "Brezovica" case, in connection with which the former mayor of the municipality of Shtrpce, Bratislav Nikollic.

Radoicic is suspected of having "intimidated the witnesses during the criminal procedure".

Previous barricades in the north of Kosovo

This is not the first time that barricades have been erected in the north of Kosovo to prevent the Kosovo authorities from implementing their decisions.

They were also decided in September of last year, when the Government of Kosovo presented reciprocal measures to Serbia regarding license plates.

The border points with Serbia, Jarinje and Bërnjak, have been blocked for two weeks and members of the Kosovo Police have been there all the time, while Serbian military planes have flown near the Jarinje border point several times.

At the time, official Belgrade announced that Serbian army units are on increased combat readiness in the garrisons of Rashka and Novi Pazar, near the border with Kosovo.

Barricades were also erected in 2011, against the establishment of Kosovo's power in the north. In 2011, KFOR identified Zvonko Veselinović as the person who organized the setting up of barricades and causing riots in that part of Kosovo.

Zvonko Veselinovic, a businessman from the north of Kosovo, together with the vice president of the Serbian List, Milan Radoicic, are connected to several criminal activities and against whom several procedures have been conducted before the judicial bodies in Serbia.

Veselinovic and Radoicic are also on the US blacklist due to their involvement in international organized crime, and the Kosovo authorities also link them to the murder of the Serbian opposition politician, Oliver Ivanovic./REL