Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Transcripts of “Milosevic Conversations” Auctioned

Controversial documents are sold on Serbian internet auction site.
By Zoran Glavonjic
Transcripts of phone calls allegedly made by late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic were sold in an internet auction for around 200 euro this month, despite questions over their authenticity.



The phone conversations appear to have been recorded between 1995 and 1997, and if genuine, include accounts of conversations between Milosevic and his circle, as well as with world leaders.



The transcripts were offered on Serbian website Limundo with a starting price of 500 dinars (about six euro) from a seller identified as Aleksandra Muric. The seller, who received over 50 offers in the few days of the auction, was reluctant to talk to journalists.



The seller was not willing to tell journalists how she came to be in possession of the transcripts.



All she would say is that they were of authentic phone conversations recorded by the Croatian intelligence services while Milosevic was staying in his hunting lodge in the town of Karadjordjevo, close to the Croatian border.



From the end of 1995 to May 1998, the Croats reportedly tapped the phone of Milosevic, recording more than 700 telephone conversations that he made during his stay in the northern Serbian town. He was apparently unaware that all of his phone conversations were being recorded.



In 2002, alleged excerpts of these were sensationally revealed in Zagreb weekly Globus. The day they were published, Croatia's Office for National Security demanded an investigation into how the tapes were leaked and who removed the “top secret” tag from the material.



(More details on the transcripts can be found in IWPR report from February 2002, Milosevic’s Personality Disorder –

http://www.iwpr.net/index.php?apc_state=hen&s=o&o=p=bcr&l=EN&s=f&o=250605.)



Jelena Smiljkovic, administrator of the Limundo website on which the latest documents were sold, said that significant numbers of people expressed interest in them.



“People wanted to see what this was about,” she said.



One of the transcripts was apparently of Milosevic's conversation with Serbian officials in which he gave clear instructions on how they should act against certain opposition figures in Serbia. Smiljkovic said that while she had not checked their authenticity, she believed them to be genuine copies of the original documents.



Milos Vasic, a reporter with Belgrade weekly Vreme, which has already published parts of the leaked Karadjordjevo conversations, also told IWPR he believed this to be the case.



He said that despite warnings issued by his security advisers, Milosevic regularly used an unprotected phone line in the lodge when talking to his associates and family members. According to Vasic, that was not very smart, since Karadjordjevo is just 15 kilometres from the Croatian border, where a station with a high-tech US-made device for intercepting phone calls was set up by the Croatian secret services.



“Of course, they intercepted and recorded all Milosevic’s phone conversations. I had an opportunity to hear several of those recordings and the audio quality was perfect,” said Vasic, who did not reveal how he came into possession of these.



“It’s quite possible that one of the persons manning that station kept a copy of these conversations for himself with the intention of selling them one day. I believe the transcripts that were auctioned are authentic,” he said.



Among those people said to be featured in the recently sold documents are members of Milosevic’s family, and his party colleagues Milan Milutinovic, Goran Milinovic, Zoran Lilic, Zivadin Jovanovic and Uros Suvakovic.



Hadzi Dragan Antic, former editor of the important pro-Milosevic daily Politika and a close friend of the Milosevic family, who apparently featured in a transcript, was dismissive of them.



“I’m not worried. As far as I'm concerned, they can publish it all,” he told IWPR.



“We don’t even know whether the transcripts are authentic, although, personally, I have no problem with that. I just don’t understand what the purpose of auctioning these transcripts was.”



Prominent Belgrade lawyer Rajko Danilovic said the contents of the transcripts – with titles such as “Troubles over Radovan Karadzic”, “Serbs are not Kurds”, and “Plot against Serbia” – did not interest him at all.



“That is not even history any more, nobody's interested in that. These transcripts have been so over-used that they’ve lost all their value and are now being sold for peanuts,” he said.



Zoran Glavonjic is an RFE reporter and IWPR contributor in Belgrade.

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