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PRESERVING THE ITEMS THAT WITNESSED HISTORY

Serbian Radical Party SRS Volunteer Unit

Serbian Radical Party SRS Volunteer Unit

The beginning of disintegration of Yugoslavia also meant an expansion of nationalist ideas in all SFRY republics. Hence, a far-right Serbian Radical Party emerged in Serbia with its leader Vojislav Šešelj.

 

In early 1990s, Vojislav Šešelj stood out first as the president of the Serbian Liberation Movement, a marginal political organisation advocating the idea that all Serbs should live in one state. This organisation was very anti-communist and aimed to restore national, spiritual, cultural, economic and political unity of Serbs, for full mutual understanding and solidarity of Serbs believers and Serbs atheists, for brotherly harmony of Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Serbs, Catholic Serbs and Protestant Serbs.

 

Although small, this organisation did not last long. In March 1990, many members defected to the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), founded jointly by Vuk Drašković and Vojislav Šešelj. A few months after setting up the SPO, in June 1990, the party divided because of internal conflicts. One fraction, led by Vojislav Šešelj, founded a new organisation – Serbian Chetnik Movement. Their programme clearly specifies the lands that should be included in the territory of Greater Serbia: the whole territory of today’s Serbia and Kosovo with western border along the line Karlovac-Karlobag-Ogulin-Virovitica. 

 

The first conflicts on the territory of Eastern Slavonia, specifically in Borovo Selo, occurred in May 1991. Serbian Radical Party’s volunteers participated in this conflict. They came to the battlefield in Slavonia after being recruited through local committees in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. They came to the Slavonia battlefield with silent consent of the authorities of the Republic of Serbia. They were called “chetniks” or “Šešelj’s men”. In the majority of cases, they were part of the existing Territorial Defence structures.

 

In the statements he was giving to local and foreign media, Vojislav Šešelj was saying that SRS volunteers acted completely independently. However, he would occasionally make statements which indicated that he had direct links with the volunteers as he was visiting these units at the battlefield. On the other hand, Ljubiša Petković, head of the War Headquarters, had very close relations with Ljubomir Domazetović, at that time head of the Third Administration of the General Staff of the SFRY Armed Forces. Also, the SRS Crisis Headquarters had close links with the Commander of the JNA Novi Sad Corps Andrija Biorčević.

 

 

SRS volunteers received their training at the military barracks in Bubanj Potok, the “4 th July” military barracks (Voždovac) and the “Marshal Tito” military barracks (Topčider), as well as at the Training Centre in Prigrevica (near Apatin). The training was managed by Jovo Ostojić, close associate of Vojislav Šešelj and member of the Serbian Radical Party. At the military barracks in Bubanj Potok, volunteers were given uniforms, weapons and ammunition. Although SRS volunteers were integrated into the units of the local Serbian Territorial Defence and were under JNA command, as demonstrated in the documentation relating to the operations in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, statements made by SRS volunteers show that the SRS War Headquarters were issuing orders to them in some cases and exchanging operational information about participation in the battlefield. Besides Borovo Selo, members of these units in Croatia were involved in the battles in Tenja, Silaš, Voćin, Vukovar. In Vukovar, they operated within and under command of two local Serbian Territorial Defence units – Petrova Gora and Leva Supoderica, which were subordinated to the JNA until November 21 1991.

 

In 1991, on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the JNA was involved in the take-over of municipalities with Serb majority. SRS volunteers from Serbia, as well as local SRS members, together with other paramilitary units from Serbia, participated in the take-over of Zvornik, Bijeljina, Bosanski Šamac and Brčko.


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