"Serbs in the eyes of the West - Russians in miniature": an interview with a Serbian filmmaker

"Serbs in the eyes of the West - Russians in miniature": an interview with a Serbian filmmaker

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Russian Journalist Alina Arsenieva interviewed renowned Serbian Filmmaker Boris Malagursky


famed Serbian filmmaker Boris Malagursky image riafan.ru

Boris Malagursky is a famous Serbian documentary filmmaker and TV presenter, author of a number of cult documentaries. For example, he shot “The Weight of Chains” – about the collapse of Yugoslavia and its subsequent enslavement with the help of neoliberal economic reforms imposed by the West, loans, predatory privatization and propaganda from non-governmental organizations.

Malagurski recently released the film “Montenegro: A Divided Country”, which focuses on the massive popular protests against the Law on Freedom of Religion, directed against the Serbian Orthodox Church. In accordance with it, the churches were to be transferred to the “equal” use of the unrecognized schismatic “Montenegrin Orthodox Church”.

In an exclusive interview with the special correspondent of the international edition of the Federal News Agency in the Balkans, Boris Malagursky explained why the victory of the forces opposing Djukanovic has not yet brought the expected results and did not lead to a turn in foreign policy, spoke about the mistakes made by the West in defending its interests in Serbia, and also about the need to activate Russia in the field of promoting its values ​​among Serbian youth.


1. Alina Arsenieva: You have carried out an extensive study of the socio-political situation in Montenegro in preparation for the filming of the film. How do you explain the fact that after so many years of silence, the people in Montenegro still rebelled?

Boris Malagursky: Well, Academician Matija Bechkovich, perhaps, best explained this silence, saying that “the people lived off this silence.” Montenegro is an example of the modern non-violent struggle “according to Gandhi” against the rotten system built over the last thirty years of the rule of one party and its leader Milo Djukanovic.

The system created by him and his “Democratic Party of Socialists” has not yet been dismantled – but at least there is a chance to demolish it. Throughout its history, the people of Montenegro have shown unity and heroism in the struggle against foreign conquerors. However, in the 20th century, when Montenegro finally freed itself from the occupying forces, local politicians decided to rule these people with the help of strife – dividing it into Serbs and Montenegrins, although they are actually identical.

The purpose of the adoption of the so-called “Law on Freedom of Religion” was to take away the last thing left from the people – Serbian Orthodox shrines. After the regime took away the identity of the people, took away the language, it now tried to take away the faith as well. And then the people revolted and said no. This led to further changes, opened the door for another path, and for changing the system.

2. Alina Arsenieva: At least a third (possibly more) of the country’s adult population took part in protest religious processions. Why, according to the results of the elections, the DPS were again one step away from victory?

Boris Malagursky: This result is explained by large-scale election fraud by the Milo Djukanovic regime. Many people were blackmailed, intimidated, forcing them to vote for the DPS. It should not be forgotten that the previous regime was in power for decades with the full support of Western countries. Djukanovic forcibly and without a referendum literally pushed Montenegro into NATO. For his repressive measures, Western politicians applauded him on the shoulder. Most of the people were convinced that there was no way to overthrow his regime.

Milo Djukanovic was extremely pro-Serbian and pro-Russian at the beginning of his career. But when he realized that he could stay in power longer with the support of the West, which would turn a blind eye to any criminal activity, he immediately “changed his shoes.” First, he began to advocate for the independence of Montenegro, then he pursued an anti-Russian policy, and so on. 

Many believed that the people could not prevail over the influence of the West. However, the election results showed that this is still possible. Yes, the victory of Djukanovic’s opponents was “subtle”. But if the elections were fair and democratic, this victory would be much more convincing. If the new government manages to improve the system at least a little, and at least democratize society, in the next elections the DPS will suffer a final defeat and go to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

"Serbs in the eyes of the West - Russians in miniature": an interview with a Serbian filmmaker

3. Alina Arsenieva: At the end of the film, the war in Ukraine is mentioned, where “people of the same faith, speaking the same language, kill each other.” There, an almost identical scenario turned out to be successful – the UOC-KP, created with the support of the West, even received a Tomos. Do you think that for Montenegro (and now we are seeing similar processes in Macedonia), the script was written by the same authors?

Boris Malagursky: The division of the people of Montenegro by national identity, language and faith began much earlier than the West became interested in Montenegro. This division was imposed during the Second World War, and under communism, and finally, by the regime of Milo Djukanovic. It is interesting that those politicians who imposed these changes, as a rule, took diametrically opposite positions during their careers.

For example, Sekula Drlevic, prime minister of the puppet government of Montenegro occupied by fascist Italy during World War II – under the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was a Serbian nationalist. But when he failed to get the post of Minister of Justice in the then SCS government (which he held in the Kingdom of Montenegro), he abruptly “changed his shoes” and turned into an outspoken Serbophobe, and later in one of his pamphlets called the Serbs a “degenerate race.”

Likewise, Milovan Djilas, a communist functionary who took part in the creation of the Montenegrin nation, after he lost his post, began to say: I am Serb because I am Montenegrin, and I am Montenegrin because I am Serb.

Milo Djukanovic was extremely pro-Serbian and pro-Russian at the beginning of his career. But when he realized that he could stay in power longer with the support of the West, which would turn a blind eye to any criminal activity, he immediately “changed his shoes.” First, he began to advocate for the independence of Montenegro, then he pursued an anti-Russian policy, and so on. So the divisions began, among other things, because of the political ambitions of politicians who were so mediocre that they could not rule otherwise with the help of strife and division.

Great politicians unite, weak politicians divide.

The victory of Djukanovic’s opponents is not a happy ending, but a happy beginning. Now opportunities are just opening up for the struggle against the rotten system and the past “NATO regime”, as I call it. Not everything has changed, but not everything has remained the same.

4. Alina Arsenieva: But why is the West so actively supporting the split in the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Balkans?

Boris Malagursky: The West, in particular the United States, perceives the Serbs as “Russians in miniature”. The anti-Russian policy of the West in the Balkans is reflected as an anti-Serb policy.

Some say that if the Serbs went to whatever the West demands of them, then such a policy would not be pursued against the Serbs. But we see that the Macedonians in North Macedonia agreed to all conditions to avoid poverty and separatist wars – as a result, they got a war in 2001, and now it is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

"Serbs in the eyes of the West - Russians in miniature": an interview with a Serbian filmmaker

I am sincerely convinced that the only way to be a strong state is not to accept divisions imposed from outside. The state must first of all take care of its own interests, strive for unity. You need to be a strong player, at least in the region, and not obey the dictates of the outside. It is in the interests of the West to separate Serbs, Russians, Iranians – everyone whom they consider opponents of the neoliberal world order. We must respond to this with unity, firmness, and dignity.

5. Alina Arsenieva: Recently your film premiered in Podgorica. The public reacted with applause to the appearance on the screen of the dismissed Minister of Justice Vladimir Leposavich, while the footage with Zdravko Krivokapich caused outrage. Did you timely announce a happy end to events in Montenegro, did you change your mind? Don’t you think that the results of more than six months of work of the new government give little reason to be happy?

Boris Malagursky: One Indian proverb says that “in the end, everything will be all right, and if something is wrong, then it is not the end.” The victory of Djukanovic’s opponents is not a happy ending, but a happy beginning. Now opportunities are just opening up for the struggle against the rotten system and the past “NATO regime”, as I call it. Not everything has changed, but not everything has remained the same.

Steps have been taken in the right direction. But, unfortunately, many problems remain unresolved. I would say that the main problem of the new government is disunity. Our people, when they remain united, can achieve a lot. When the people united before the elections, they succeeded in overthrowing Djukanovic’s party. But immediately after the elections, everyone began to quarrel. The people are disappointed not only by an individual minister or prime minister – I think people are disappointed precisely by this disunity, the inability to find a common language.

6. Alina Arsenieva: But none of the coalition “For the Future of Montenegro”, led by the Democratic Front, which brought Krivokapich into big politics and made him prime minister, but did not get seats in the government? How do you see the Future government?

Boris Malagursky:  I am absolutely convinced that representatives of this coalition, for which the people voted, should be in the appropriate positions and enter the government. This is undeniable. However, this should be resolved through agreements between all leaders, all functionaries of this government. They need to show unity, to show that state and national interests are higher than political ones.

7. Alina Arsenieva: Can we say that the new government continued the anti-Serb course just like the previous one? The decision to expel the ambassador of Serbia was not canceled, and on the advice of the embassies of Western countries, a resolution on the “genocide” in Srebrenica was adopted? Does this clearly show the continuation of the same policy?

Boris Malagursky: We must not forget a few very important facts. Firstly, this is the huge influence of the embassies of Western countries in Montenegro, primarily the United States and Great Britain. Montenegro, like most of the countries in the Balkans, is an American colony. I talk about this in my film as well. The situation cannot change in a short time without a violent revolution, which does not seem to me to be the ideal solution. This should be an expression of the free will of citizens in democratic and fair elections – to change the policy of their state, first of all to take care of their interests, and not NATO or anyone else. In the first place should be the interests of their people, their unity.

Secondly, we must not forget that Milo Djukanovic is still the President of Montenegro and has the ability to sabotage many changes. In addition, he is one of the richest politicians in the world. The president of small Montenegro, whose population is 600 thousand people, is one of the richest politicians on the planet! He has huge financial resources, and he can sabotage the actions of the government at every step, form protest movements. I am convinced that he is behind many protests against me personally and my film in Montenegro.

At the same time, in Montenegro, the West supports a man who ruled autocratically and rigidly for thirty years. Perhaps the West allowed the DPS at the moment – especially during the crisis, while the pandemic is raging – was temporarily overthrown so that one could say “look, Montenegro is a democratic country and there is a change of power”, and then again return all the levers of power Djukanovic.

The so-called “Komite-patriotic union” staged protests and thwarted the premiere in Niksic. Djukanovic’s traffic police prevented the premiere in Niksic, the second-largest city in Montenegro. They have tremendous opportunities to fight for power, and they play on discord within the new government. Then they will say: you see, they do not know how to run the state, we must return, we have many years of experience in managing the state. And, unfortunately, and for its plundering.

At the moment, it is unrealistic to expect global changes without hard work and citizen participation in these changes. If the people think that they will vote in the elections and the new government will solve all their problems, then they do not understand the concept of democracy. Democracy is not only in elections, it is every day. I always ask people who complain that this and that is bad – what have you done to change this? If the people are not satisfied with the actions of the government, let them come out to protests and force the authorities to listen to the will of citizens.

8. Alina Arsenieva: According to some experts, the West was satisfied with the defeat of Djukanovic in the elections – while maintaining his absolutely pro-Western foreign policy. Why is his party now being criticized by Western NGOs and even the US State Department?

Boris Malagursky: I think Milo Djukanovic, after 30 years in power, has become a very unpleasant topic for conversation in the West, where they stubbornly insist that they are in favor of a change of government and for democracy. At the same time, in Montenegro, the West supports a man who ruled autocratically and rigidly for thirty years. Perhaps the West allowed the DPS at the moment – especially during the crisis, while the pandemic is raging – was temporarily overthrown so that one could say “look, Montenegro is a democratic country and there is a change of power”, and then again return all the levers of power Djukanovic.

I would not be surprised if this was the goal of the embassies of Western countries. Therefore, they incite discord and disagreement in the government on all pressing issues. I think the only answer to that is unity. All people in power must find a solution that will suit everyone. It is impossible for everyone to be completely satisfied – but at least let them be equally dissatisfied.


9. Alina Arsenieva: In the second part of the film “The Weight of Chains” you showed the activity of Western NGOs in Serbia. What can Russia learn from them?

Boris Malagursky: I think that Russia is pursuing a wise policy on this issue, without directly interfering in the internal affairs of other states. By her example, she shows that she can survive in the most difficult circumstances. Despite the sanctions imposed to bring Russia to its knees, Russia is now a strong state, and its example shows that no country should kneel before the West in order to be prosperous and successful.

As for the influence on other states, I think it should be based on cooperation. It is necessary to support non-governmental organizations in other countries that will not interfere in domestic politics but promote the healthy values ​​that Russia preserves. And the promotion of these values ​​should be in the spirit of the times. This is what Western NGOs are able to do – they are focused primarily on young, popular people, full of energy.

That is, Russia could promote its values, in contrast to Western organizations, which directly support certain political forces in the elections.

10. Alina Arsenieva: Western NGOs also insist that they promote “European values”, does it makes sense?

Boris Malagursky: I think these “values” are just a mask behind which the deep political goals they pursue are hidden. All the non-governmental organizations that promoted NATO – for example, the CEAS (Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies) Elena Milic, and others – supported a certain political force in the 2008 elections.

It is necessary to separate politics from values. I think Russia Today is the best at this, informing the world community without censorship. I am sincerely convinced that Russia Today is doing a phenomenal job of showing the world community the other side – correct values, openness, healthy criticism, and everything that should be inherent in everyone in the 21st century. Non-governmental organizations could work in the same vein, using RT as a model of openness and transparency, as well as the ability to criticize negative manifestations in society.

11. Alina Arsenieva: What is lacking in Russian soft power in Serbia?

Boris Malagursky: Serbia is already very pro-Russian oriented. Serbs have a very positive attitude towards Russia. Serbs feel this in their hearts. This is the result of centuries of friendship, close relationships. Even in those historical periods when relations between politicians were tense, our peoples were always close, always turned to each other. This is what is inherent in all of us.

At the same time, we should learn more about each other. To do this, it is necessary to create programs that would make travel to Russia more accessible for Serbs, student exchange programs, and so that the best students would have the opportunity to see Russia. It is necessary to open centers for the study of the Russian language, as other countries do – for example, the Cervantes Institute, the Goethe Institute, and others. Moreover, such centers should open not only in Belgrade but also in other cities throughout Serbia.

This would contribute to an even greater rapprochement between our peoples. I do not even perceive it as “soft power” – it is rather a work to promote healthy values ​​and establish closer ties between our peoples. When Serbian youth ponders where to go on a trip – to Paris, Berlin or Moscow – I would like them to more often choose Moscow and other Russian cities. I think we should work in this direction so that direct connections are established between people, as well as that there are more joint cultural and artistic projects. For example, Milos Bikovic makes a great contribution by linking Serbia and Russia with the help of cinema. There should be much more such projects – they would play an exceptional role in bringing our two nations closer together.

Perhaps in Serbia, they have managed to raise the level of, shall we say, pro-Western fanaticism, but they will not succeed in making it dominant. Only with the help of electoral fraud, as it was in Montenegro. Only in this way, by force, without a referendum, can they push people into their camp who remember what NATO has done to them. I am saying that even if people feel it in their hearts, but the pressure is exerted on them – “if you lose your job, you will not be able to feed your family” – people are forced to vote as they are told. 

12. Alina Arsenieva: What mistakes have Western NGOs made in Serbia in promoting their values ​​and political ideas? Why, despite the huge financial investments, the West in Serbia has not succeeded in its intentions?

Boris Malagursky: One of such big mistakes is that the West bet on the wrong people. The best example of this is Elena Milich. Sometimes I even ask myself: is it really funded to promote NATO, or, on the contrary, is it being paid by other countries to completely discredit the Alliance.

If this woman begins to support Orthodoxy, the Serbs will begin to massively go to Catholicism, just to have nothing to do with Elena Milich (laughs). I am incredibly grateful to her. I think she is doing incredible work against NATO, although she declaratively supports the Alliance for a lot of money from Western NGOs. More than a million dollars, in her own words.

There are many non-governmental organizations that have received huge funds from the West. But the promotion of these values ​​was unsuccessful because they tried to impose them by force, extremely aggressively. They are trying to force us to accept “American democracy.” America bombed us to introduce this “democracy.” This is their biggest mistake.

They should have relied on worthy, respected people, patriots, and family men, and tried to act through them. I don’t want to tell them, but if Western NGOs did this, they would be a little more successful. And yet I think that even with the best candidates, it would be difficult for them to influence the minds of people. After all, we have experience with NATO bombing, including depleted uranium munitions. It left a huge mark, this is what we feel every day. Therefore, I think that no matter how hard they try, no matter how much money they invest, it is impossible to separate the Serbs from their historical memory, from what they did to us in the 90s, and they continue to do now, trying to impose economic slavery on us.

13. Alina Arsenieva: But in Montenegro, it succeeded. From NATO support at the level of statistical error at the beginning of the 2000s, this figure increased to 45%, according to Western studies.?

Boris Malagursky: If a democratic referendum on this issue had been held, Montenegro would not have joined the Alliance. Therefore, the referendum was not held.

14. Alina Arsenieva: But even 45% of support is a very serious indicator.

Boris Malagursky: Yes, but even here they did not succeed to the end. Perhaps in Serbia, they have managed to raise the level of, shall we say, pro-Western fanaticism, but they will not succeed in making it dominant. Only with the help of electoral fraud, as it was in Montenegro. Only in this way, by force, without a referendum, can they push people into their camp who remember what NATO has done to them. I am saying that even if people feel it in their hearts, but the pressure is exerted on them – “if you lose your job, you will not be able to feed your family” – people are forced to vote as they are told. But at the first opportunity to vote without pressure, democratically – they will make the choice that their hearts tell them.

15.   Alina Arsenieva: You are planning to make a film about the struggle for Republika Srpska (Republic of Serbia). Why are Western countries so harshly imposing the “genocide” narrative in Srebrenica?

Boris Malagursky: Srebrenica was taken as an example of all the crimes committed by Serbs in the 1990s, and they made a marketing product out of it. After all, if people who constantly talk about Srebrenica really wanted the crimes not to happen again, to pay tribute to the victims, then at least one day a year they would remember the victims of all nationalities – be they Serbs, Bosnians, Croats, Albanians and so on.

I consider it immoral to single out Srebrenica and to elevate the victims of this tragedy to a pedestal with the help of any labels because this diminishes the suffering of everyone else. 100 thousand people died in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Why is Srebrenica “more important” than other crimes and more than 90,000 dead? Every crime and every death is terrible. And Srebrenica is being used purely for political purposes to justify NATO’s intervention against Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and later colonizing it with the help of the IMF credit trap. Moreover, they want to use it as a pretext for the abolition of Republika Srpska.

Such an obsession with the label “genocide” to the detriment of victims of other crimes – just shows the political motivation of this story, there is nothing humane in it, as they try to present it.


The Russian version of the interview can be found here.


Author

Boris Malagurski is a Serbian-Canadian film director, producer, writer, political commentator, television host, and activist, his films include the documentary series The Weight of Chains.

Interviewer

Alina Arsenieva is a renowned Russian Journalist with a focus on Russian and European approaches towards the Post-Soviet Space.


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The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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