On June 19th 2023, the Toplica district of the Republic of Serbia informed the public that this year’s “Car Lazar” charter, which this institution awards on June 28th, St. Vitus Day, will be given to the war criminal Vladimir Lazarević.

The Toplica district awards charters to respective individuals and institutions within the “Svetoplički Vidovdanski sabor”, which is held on June 28th in the court of the monastery of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, in Kondželj near Prokuplje.

The practice of Serbian state institutions to decorate convicted war criminals, including this year’s “Car Lazar” charter, is alarming. We see this decision as support of violence and politics of crime. Fighting against violence in Serbia includes the respect for human life and taking responsibility for crimes committed, especially when state institutions committed war crimes. By state recognition of a war criminal, the government of Serbia is humiliating Kosovo victim’s families, many of which still haven’t found the remains of their loved ones.

After getting out of prison in 2015, ministers of the Serbian government welcomed Lazarević at the airport in Niš, whereby the former Minister of Justice, today the Minister of Labor, Nikola Selaković, stated that Lazarević was a “role model for young people”. The Toplica district has announced the June 28th charter awarding Lazarević with an almost identical statement as one of Minister Selaković, pointing out that he “sets an example to younger generations of how to fight and defend their country”.

Like another war criminal Nebojša Pavković, Lazarević authored a book within the “Warrior” edition published by the Ministry of Defence, Government of Serbia, in 2018. In August of 2021, the Niš municipality Pantelej declared Lazarević an honorary citizen. The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, in a parliamentary debate on February 2nd of this year, called Lazarević “a great Serbian hero”. Vladimir Lazarević was present at the “Serbia of Hope” gathering organized by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party on May 26th this year in Belgrade.