Indeed, the mood on the streets of Belgrade since Mladic’s arrest has generally been one of resignation among nationalists and relief among liberals, but most of all, of indifference. Particularly among the young, Serbia’s economic problems and its drive for EU accession take precedence over the past.
“It’s good that it’s happened, he has to be responsible,” said Dusan Petkov, a university student. “Only one person I know is going to the demonstration; it’s mainly nationalists. Really, Mladic is the least of our troubles.”
15 counts of war crimes
Mladic has been indicted on 15 counts of war crimes committed during the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. He is held responsible for ordering the Sarajevo Massacre, in which about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by VRS troops, as well as the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, in which 10,000 civilians perished.
The rally, sullen in mood but peaceful until the end, was attended by about 10,000 people, fewer than the organizers had hoped. Patriotic songs were broadcast over loudspeakers and party banners waved. Those attending ranged from disabled war veterans to teenagers in hooded tops.
One tall, moustachioed old man walked around holding aloft a paper plate with “Death to American and European Fascism and Hitlerism” written on one side and “Long Live Ratko Hero” on the reverse.
Many protesters wore badges depicting Mladic and Mr. Karadzic, and t-shirts with Serbian nationalist symbols were much in evidence. Speakers included SRS officials and Darko Mladic, the general’s son, who earlier in the day had visited his father in jail.
The speeches focused on attacks on Serbia’s Westward-leaning president, Boris Tadic, who was portrayed as a traitor, and on the legitimacy of the court in The Hague in which Mladic is likely to stand trial.