“The Clintons can blow us!” hundreds roar as we pass the US embassy in Belgrade. One of the Serbians marching turns to me with a proud smile: “this is our traditional saying since the war.”
Although the topic of NATO's aggression against Serbia is a common topic among its people. This demonstration was for a different kind of attack, a cultural one, with the left-liberal government of Montenegro as the catalyst.
They were passing a cleverly camouflaged “freedom of religion” law that was anything but, a legislation that will allow the government to seize control of century's old Serbian Orthodox churches and use them in whatever way they see fit. As with most things in the Balkans it's a complicated situation that requires taking a look at the ruling party of Montenegro to get a better understanding of why Serbian patriots are compelled to take to the streets.
The president of Montenegro is Milo Djukanivic from the DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists) which is just “facelift” of its original name, “Montenegrin League of Communists,” who have been in power since 1945. Unlike all its neighbors the Montenegrin League of Communists were never truly removed from power when the Soviet Union collapsed, they simply changed the name of their party and swore new allegiances to American capitalism. While they have put on a new costume, the petty and draconian totalitarianism remains in tact. The DPS has been accused of everything from voter fraud and blackmail to embezzlement, not to mention a slew of car bombings, driveby shootings and various other acts of terror used against those who dissent against the ruling class. That the controlling DPS has set its sights on the Serbian Orthodox Church is no surprise, with 7 out of 10 citizens saying they are a member of the Church, making it a major populist rallying point preventing the total omnipotence of big business, globalist interlopers and corrupt politicians dictating the terms of Montenegrin liberalism .
Following the arrest of 18 parliament members who tried to veto the law, the responsibility to protect this sacred institution has fallen on the people, who agree more with the ideology and values of the Orthodox church than they do the technocrats. Many consider the Orthodox church the last true bastion of Christianity for its heavy emphasis on traditional values and its hard rejection of the LGBT and liberal degenerate culture that many other sects of Christianity have readily embraced. This religious barrier to the cultural liberal maximalist project along with its defense of ethnic Serbs in regions where they are under attack (Kosovo, Montenegro, etc) has continuously put the government at odds with the church.
We continue our march through the busy center of Belgrade, blocking streets off. I'm lucky to have one of the best seats in the house for this demonstration being one of 12 in front holding up the banner that reads' 'REJECT'' in cyrillic. It's not being in the front of the march that makes this a great experience but the fact that I got to see the initial expression on the crowds of people that stop whatever they're doing to watch us pass by. Many just pull out their phones, the much older ones look on with a smile of approval as hundreds of Serbain flags wave above a determined people.
Not everyone was a fan. There were a few older people that shook their heads and turned away. Neither of these groups had an impact on me as both are too old or to set in their ways to make any meaningful change. What I did find captivating was the younger generation, some spilling out of the cafes to watch the flare lit march only to give us the 3-finger Serbian salute and then join in! The more we marched, the more young lads felt compelled to drop everything and join our ranks. The march ended at a 200 year old church where priests came out blessing a range of white radicals to more ordinary Serbian patriots. Sharing this blessing with a large group with one mind was a spiritually powerful moment.
After the demonstration I went back to a pub owned by the nationalist organization Kormilo. We spoke for a while, getting the uncensored history of Serbia and the revival of Chetnik sentiment (Chetnik is a term for radical nationalists who waged a guerrilla wawr against Ottoman invaders and continued to defend the Serbian people until 1945 through fighting partisans and invading Soviets).
We talked about what the nationalist scene Serbia is like and its tumultuous history . All the guys in the Casapound-style pub were either students or young working class men: “today the Chetnik spirit is growing in Serbia, nationalism used to be more for soccer hooligans or fringe personalities, but as you see today many of us are from the university or regular backgrounds'' although quickly another smooth faced younger kid chimed in “although some of us are still ultras!'' as he grinned and let me know which team he supported.
Political organizations like Kormilo are relatively new along with their ideas in the globally isolated country of Serbia. As one of the founders put it,“all people in Serbia are patriots for Serbia but now the idea of being patriots for the West as a whole is becoming more common.” That night was just one of many demonstrations taking place throughout Serbia and Montenegro, with some turning violent in Montenegro where riot police have been brutally beating protesters, including an Orthodox priest.
The events going on in Serbia represent a fairly recent reawakening, but it's easy to see how this can be a flame the reignites proud nationalist sentiment in the Serbian youth. i saw it that night.