13 March 1995
A Face from a Photograph
Numerous photographs in the collection called "9 March 1991" are perhaps the best testimony of events which shook Belgrade four years ago. In the crowd of anonymous demonstrators, a man with a beard (first on the right) stands out. He can be recognized on several photographs taken from various angles, but always in places where the police hit hardest. The man is Belgrader Goran Savic Cobi, who died this February, not yet thirty years old. His fate symbolizes the tragedy of an entire generation of young, intelligent and talented people who wanted to change the world but were not allowed to.
In the early Eighties, this young man was one of the best known informal leaders of Belgrade's "new wave", a movement which covered rock and roll, photography, journalism (later theater, film and literature). In Belgrade's "new wave" Goran Savic Cobi played the role Jerry Rubin or Abby Hofman had in the late Sixties in the hippy movement in America - he was the founder of a new style which mercilessly exposed hypocrisy, pathos and authority. During those years all was reexamined and suspect, except the absolute freedom of the individual. In order to get a feeling of the atmosphere of the times, it is enough to read one of the numerous studies by regime (and other) sociologists and psychologists who couldn't explain what was happening to "Belgrade's golden youth" and "what is that the youth want, when we have given them everything".
With the passing away of "new wave" energy, great social changes took place in the country, so that Goran Savic Cobi, like many other urban youths, joined those political circles which promised fast and radical changes. He was the Serbian Renewal Movement's (SPO) rally organizer, advisor, street fighting man, and one of those most responsible for that bit of urban glamour which managed to keep up the spirit of this, at the time, intolerably conservative and nationalist party. When he saw the way things were going, he left the opposition (and politics) before the general grab for apartments in the city center. He died suddenly, without a medical explanation, perhaps because he was disappointed in the left and the right, in the reds and the whites, those outside and those here. His generation is dying slowly, abroad, or in Belgrade where they are fighting to survive, often agreeing to play by the rules they once despised.
A three-day conference on the topic "Developing the talents of young people through summer schools" was held in the Vrnjci Spa near Ljig in late January.
The sponsor was the Ministry for Youth and Sports and it was attended by assistant minister Aleksandar Mijuskovic, while the realization was entrusted to the Institute for Pedagogical Research. Some fifty odd participants, mostly school directors and other proven cadre were greeted at the beginning by student and Youth Alliance of Serbia activist Vesna Sofranac, who of course, has nothing to do with the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). The comrades were occupied with drafting a program and the training of cadre in managing the camp in Karatas, Djerdap. They deliberated on "how talented persons were treated at state level", which through various foundations was making janissaries out of our children. The result of this historical meeting was a competition in the Belgrade daily Politika in which the Club of Talented Children and Youth of Serbia called on all those interested to apply for a free stay at the youth camp in Karatas. All applications are to be addressed to the Ministry of Youth and Sports. All that is missing is the information that the Club of Talented Children is the collective member of the Youth Alliance of Serbia, which as we have already said, has nothing to do with the ruling SPS.
Everything was ready for the opening of the exhibition "The Valjevo district and citizens of Valjevo in the I and II Serbian Uprisings" in February in the Museum, on the anniversary of the death of Princes Aleksa Nenadovic and Ilija Bircanin. But the opening was postponed indefinitely because the Minister of Culture Nada Popovic-Perisic, who was supposed to open the exhibition, had to leave for India. Everybody waited for the Minister to return. It was nice to hear that "things are nicer with culture and that Mme Minister supports enlightened absolutism, and that during her term in office, she wishes to leave a personal stamp on Serbian culture.
Every so often somebody repaints an old graffiti on a wall in Banja Luka which says: "I love Yugoslavia, but a happy one". The citizens of Banja Luka consider only those who survived the 1969 earthquake as true citizens of Banja Luka. There are three versions of the current situation in Banja Luka. One: Why are the citizens of Banja Luka complaining that they are not present in bodies of authority in Pale (Bosnian Serb political capital) when they aren't even in Banja Luka; Two: A citizen of Banja Luka is most likely to run into another person from Banja Luka at a funeral or somewhere abroad; and Three: The citizens of Banja Luka meet in the morning hours at the Banja Luka flea market.
On the eve of 8 March (Women's Day), the news agency IPRESS conducted a survey for the Belgrade daily Borba on the situation of women in Yugoslavia. Three-fourths of those polled believe that the major decisions in the family are "made together", 12.4% believe that the wife is the one in charge, while every 50th person thinks that the man is the one who makes the most important decisions.
By far the most popular personality in Yugoslavia (according to the survey) is Mira Markovic (Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife), far ahead of folk singer Lepa Brena (24% compared to 4%), while Bratislava Buba Morina takes third place (she recently received the Atalos award from Greece, an award given to women in recognition of their activities in science, politics and art).
Margit Savovic is fourth, while Danica Draskovic (opposition leader Vuk Draskovic's wife) takes fifth place.
The researchers underscored that the polled had full freedom of choice (they weren't given a list of names to choose from), which means that Mira Markovic's triumph is a clean victory. Women aged 40-59 with a secondary education voted mostly for Ms Markovic.
The House of Cats
The Belgrade secretariat of economy established on 20.6.1990 on the basis of the veterinary inspector's report, that Radovanov Radmila, living at Terazije 6, Belgrade, possessed a number of cats: "3 cats three years old, 13-14 cats older than 4 months and the remaining number of cats were 6 weeks to three months old, so that the smell from Radmila Radovanov's flat was unbearable. The veterinary inspector's report of 5.9.1990 ordered Radmila Radovanov to remove all the cats except the allowed number of two cats from her flat, and have the remaining number vaccinated against rabies."
Five years later the case of Radmila Radovanov's cats reached the papers, while she was sent off to the "Laza Lazarevic" hospital for the mentally sick. The cats (47) were taken away. The protagonists of this story are two old women (Radmila and her daughter), numerous cats, one president of the house council, one shop, the "Business Premises Company", the police, the doctor working in the Laza Lazarevic hospital for the mentally disturbed, the "Ateks" shop, relatives and numerous neighbors, customers and passersby.
"Mrs. Radmila moved here about twenty years ago", said Vera Radivovic who is president of the house council of the building in Terazije 6. "She was a manicurist and a very nice woman, nicely dressed and clean. She had a daughter and there were no problems until about ten years ago. She first fed pigeons, there in the building, and then it all started with the cats. That's when this unpleasant smell started. One of the neighbors was forced to move out".
Vera Radivovic said that she had gone to the Ateks shop and talked to Ljuba the manager, and that their ceiling (in the shop) was really black from the damp. She said that Mrs. Radmila had a manicurist's salon in Vasina St. 5. "It was all very nice and clean, and there were a lot of customers".
The salon is now a dump with boxes, clothes, planks, bugs and plastic sheeting covering the entrance.
Mrs. Slavka Kojic (Radmila's daughter) is retired and does water colors. Standing in front of the half-demolished salon in Vasina St., she said that this was the second winter she and her mother were living there, behind the plastic sheeting, that it wasn't true that the cats had rabies, and that the man who wanted to take over their salon had broken down their door and window, and the whole matter was in court... Towards the end of her story, some relatives who had come from Sremska Mitrovica to show that Radmila was not without roots, appeared and said that the old lady had been released from the Laza Lazarevic hospital.
The salon in Vasina St. did well until hyperinflation, when one manicure cost as much as an egg, and when Mrs. Kojic's pension amounted to the same - one egg. The salon stopped working and the Municipality reclaimed the premises. The person to whom the Municipality leased the premises then tried to break in, so that Radmila Radovanov and her daughter decided to leave their apartment and moved into the salon, in order that the Municipality might not get hold of it. They filled it up with their belongings for the same reason. Since March 1994 the whole case has been before the courts.
After leaving the hospital Radmila Radovanov spent the night in the salon. She didn't go to the flat with no cats.
"I don't have a tv set, just a broken down radio and a broken down transistor. But I have curtains and furniture, I have to find a Gypsy who'll white-wash the place. I'll rent the flat, and get rich."
And the cats? "I was seven days late. I'd just found them a place and then I caught a cold. My daughter found one in the street all wet and muddy, and it was dragging its hind feet on the carpet and it said 'ma-ma' to me."