Oliver Ivanovic, Kosovo Serb politician - obituary

Casey Dawson
January 17, 2018

In January 2016, EU Kosovo judges sentenced him to nine years for allegedly committing crimes during the Kosovo 1999 war. "We can't rule out that someone had been planning this for a long time, and wanted to delay the process of the normalization of relations, now being held in Brussels, as well as postpone the creation of a Serbian municipalities association in Kosovo".

Ivanovic, 64, was shot dead by gunmen firing from a auto as he arrived at the headquarters of his party in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica at about 8:15 a.m., according to police.

According to Ivanovic's lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic, the attacker used a pistol and shot Ivanovic five times.

Kosovo Assembly President Kadri Veseli on Monday spoke at a gathering to honor the victims of "the Racak massacre", the website KoSSev has reported.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called for an emergency national security meeting over the killing.

The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic on Tuesday. Investigators are on the scene, ' Shyqyri Syla, a state prosecutor in Mitrovica, told Reuters.

Police found a burnt-out Opel vehicle in the town after the shooting and suspected it was linked to the attack.

Ivanovic, who was married with three children, had enemies both among Kosovo Albanians and nationalist Serbs because of his moderate policies. He had been president of the SDP (Freedom, Democracy, Justice) Civic Initiative that ran candidates in local elections in Kosovo a year ago.

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In May, the social-democrat politician and father of four told AFP his private auto had been torched in front of his home, describing it as an attempt to silence him.

He was in October elected as a deputy on northern Mitrovica's municipal council, running against a Belgrade-backed party. Ivanovic entered politics and became known for a pragmatist stance advocating dialogue and compromise with Kosovo Albanians, though still rejecting Kosovo sovereignty. "Serb people are afraid to raise their voice" against Belgrade's policy.

Ivanovic was considered a moderate who maintained relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union officials after Serbia lost control of northern Kosovo following NATO's 1999 bombing to stop a deadly Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Ivanovic, the 64-year-old head of the Kosovo Serb Freedom, Democracy, Justice party was due to attend EU-mediated talks between delegates from Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels.

After the assassination, the Belgrade delegation walked out.

"The Albanian majority in the southern part of Mitrovica has long hoped for Kosovo's independence but continues to struggle with the resulting economic and social problems", Crowder wrote.

Predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Serbs oppose the establishment of an independent Kosovo state because they perceive Kosovo to be the very heart of Serbian history and culture.

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