The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) wishes to express its disapproval of the public panels and statements made within public institutions and public media service RTS where convicted war criminal Nikola Šainović has made guest appearances, and where facts about war crimes that affected Albanian population in Kosovo during 1999. were being neglected or made relative.

YIHR demands that Nikola Šainović issues a public and clear apology to the families of the Albanian civilian victims of the war in Kosovo for whose murders he was convicted.  Rather than deny their acts, war criminals must apologize to victims and publicly speak of their individual accountability and guilt, while media outlets such as RTS need to give a platform to victims’ families instead of those who celebrate, make relative and lessen the extent of human losses.

On Tuesday, March 26th, Šainović was a guest on the RTS talk-show “Upitnik”, where he was introduced as a “negotiator in Rambouillet who bore witness to the times”. Although it was mentioned in the show that he was convicted for war crimes, there was no mention of his crimes over civilians in Kosovo. Šainović is not a chronicler but a convicted war criminal who – especially since he is present on public service television, which is an issue in itself – must be confronted with his criminal past. Failure to do so on part of RTS and Nikola Šainović is a denial of crimes and a mockery of the victims. Nikola Šainović was also a guest speaker at a public panel on March 23rd themed “At the dusk of war, 20 years on” at the Aeronautical Museum in Belgrade, a public institution in state ownership. During this panel, he made relative his role in war crimes in Kosovo through a narrative of defense against state aggression, as evident from video footage of the event. Additionally, the Socialist Party of Serbia Board in Vrbas announced on its Facebook page that Nikola Šainović would give a lecture in the cinema “Yugoslavia” in Vrbas on the topic “Slobodan Milošević and the challenges of the Yugoslavia crisis“ on Thursday March 28th at 18h.

Nikola Šainović is the former Vice President of the FRY Parliament, who was found guilty of crimes against humanity and violation of the rules of warfare during the war in Kosovo in 1999 by the Hague Tribunal. Within the indictment are accusations of deportation and other inhumane acts, murder and persecution on political, racial and religious grounds with the intention of forcibly deporting Kosovar Albanians and altering the ethnic composition of Kosovo so that Serbian supremacy would be reinstated. Šainović was sentenced to 18 years of prison. Having served only two thirds of his punishment, he returned to Belgrade in 2015, where he was appointed to the Socialist Party of Serbia party governing board. Today he serves on the Chairmanship board of this party. 

The highest authorities, representatives of political parties and movements, state apparatus, public institutions, state-owned media and publishing houses have, for the past few months, embarked on a joint campaign of intensely promoting and legitimizing war criminals in public spaces in Serbia.

Supporting and glorifying war criminals is equal to supporting criminal politics and the justification of the crimes that have been committed.

War criminals are no tour heroes, and they must be silent so that the victims can be heard.