Is a tour of Karadzic's old haunts dangerous?
Radovan Karadzic is currently under lock and key in The Hague, awaiting his trial, which was adjourned yesterday, until 29 August. His spirit still lingers in the streets of Belgrade however, where a tourist company is launching a tour around his old haunts. Read more and see the tour itinerary...
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The teaser poster for the Karadzic tour.
Radovan Karadzic is currently under lock and key in The Hague, awaiting his trial on war-crimes charges. His spirit still lingers in the streets of Belgrade however, where a tourist company is launching a tour around his old haunts.
Karadzic is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s - including the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men at Srebrenica. However, after his arrest on July 21, thousands of Serbs took to the streets in Belgrade to demonstrate against his capture, resulting in violent confrontations with the police. The event showed that the Serbian capital is far from settled.
Nevertheless, tourist agency Vekol Tours has decided to launch a tour around Belgrade that will allow visitors to follow in Karadzic's footsteps by visiting places he frequented in his disguise as an alternative healer. Here are some extracts of the itinerary posted on their website:
"New Belgrade, where last Radovan Karadzic residence was - Block 45 and Jurija Gagarina St. First, we will follow Karadzic morning and go to the bakery shop for a breakfast - home made potato pie, which was his favorite morning meal (...) we will say good morning to the local kiosk and buy some newspaper. (...) we will visit grocery shop where Karadzic was favorite customer. After a short break in a park, checking newspaper and chat with his neighbors, maybe with one cold beer on foot, we will end up in front of the building where he used to live as well as bus station of 73 city bus line and take some photos for a memory. Luda Kuca local pub is waiting for us as a best part of a tour. So, in this rustic ambient, we will try to enjoy like he used to, maybe catching some memories and moments of his stormful life (...). We need to check famous pancakes in Pinocchio pancake shop (...). Of course, specialty that waits for us is Karadzic pancake. On our return to the city center, we will have panorama sightseeing of Special Court, where, after he was captured, Karadzic stays before going to Hag."
"One of the places they’re planning to visit is a café that’s very nationalist"Viktor Marković runs a site and blog for foreign tourists coming to Belgrade, Belgrade 2.0.
To me it seems like the idea won't gain much attention because it's too obscure. I think there's a danger in running the tour too. One of the places they're planning to visit is a café that's very nationalist. The authorities have tried to shut it down before but the owner, who's known as a big Karadzic supporter, fought against it and in the end it stayed open because it only has about ten regular customers. It's more like a private apartment and not very spacious. I don't know how foreign tourists will manage there!
I can't imagine who would actually want to take the tour. Maybe it's just a way of creating attention for themselves [the tour operators]. Why would foreign tourists want to walk in the footsteps of a war criminal? It's completely idiotic. With the Milosevic tour, I don't think it's that successful anyway, but at least you can go into his apartment. You won't be able to go into Karadzic's. What's the point in going to the bakery and the grocery store?
It was a surprise to everyone in Belgrade to know that Karadzic had been living exactly the same life as us. I probably passed by him sometimes - it's a bit surreal.
I don't think his capture will be that significant in tourist numbers, but it will be positive for our image. It's true that there have never been so many tourists in Belgrade. However, there are more and more each year, so I don't think that this happening is that significant."
"Of course there’s no danger (…) the tour is totally non-political"
One of the staff at Vekol Tours told us about Pop-Art Radovan tour. She wants to remain entirely anonymous.
Of course there's no danger in taking part of this tour. We only take foreign tourists, not domestic tourists, because we're a company that only deals with foreign tourists. The tour is totally non-political; we don't even have a guide. We just lead them from place to place with an itinerary. But the information given out is very basic. Just what he liked to eat and which bakery he went to in the morning. We never include politics in any of our arrangements. We also run a tour for Tito and we have the same policy there. It's not because we're scared of attacks, we just don't want to speak about Karadzic like that. We will not answer any political questions in any way."