By Marko Djurica
He stood beside a jeep, wearing the Russian army’s tight, black boots and trousers, that most of the insurgents wear, and a green military jumper. A small compass and large hunting knife in a sheath hung on his belt, an AK47 was slung over his shoulder. He looked straight at me through a balaclava. As I approached, he seemed to get bigger and bigger.
I was in Ukraine again, where the West and Russia have taken opposing sides in a separatist war with the pro-Russians in the East.
YASYNUVATA Ukraine (Reuters) – With his face hidden behind a camouflage balaclava and an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, “Hunter” looks like other separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.
What distinguishes him from his brothers in arms in the Vostok (East) battalion, an irregular pro-Russian militia fighting government forces, is his American accent – and English is the only language he knows.
MAGLAJ Bosnia/KRUPANJ Serbia (Reuters) – Bosnia said on Monday that more than a quarter of its 4 million people had been affected by the worst floods to hit the Balkans in living memory, comparing the “terrifying” destruction to that of the country’s 1992-95 war.
The extent of the devastation became apparent in Serbia too, as waters receded in some of the worst-hit areas to reveal homes toppled or submerged in mud, trees felled and villages strewn with the rotting corpses of livestock.
MAGLAJ, Bosnia/KRUPANJ, Serbia (Reuters) – More than a quarter of Bosnia’s four million people have been affected by the worst floods to hit the Balkans in more than a century, the government said on Monday, warning of “terrifying” destruction comparable to the country’s 1992-95 war.
The floods extended across Serbia and Bosnia, where receding waters in some of the worst-hit areas are now revealing the extent of the devastation. Homes have been toppled or submerged in mud, trees felled and villages strewn with the rotting corpses of livestock.
OBRENOVAC, Serbia (Reuters) – More than 20 people have been killed in the worst floods in more than a century in Serbia and Bosnia, authorities said on Saturday, with thousands evacuated from towns still under threat from rising rivers.
The death toll in Bosnia alone reached 19, including nine found on Saturday when waters receded from the northeastern town of Doboj.
OBRENOVAC, Serbia, May 17 (Reuters) – Seven bodies were
pulled from flooded homes in Bosnia and the army rushed to free
hundreds of people stranded in a school in Serbia on Saturday
during the worst floods to hit the Balkans in over a century.
Soldiers steered huge amphibious vehicles through streets
under 2-3 metres of water in the town of Obrenovac, 30 km (18
miles) southwest of the Serbian capital Belgrade, trying to
rescue an estimated 700 people crammed into the top floors of
the Jefimija primary school.
OBRENOVAC, Serbia (Reuters) – Emergency services pulled seven dead bodies from flooded homes in Bosnia on Saturday and soldiers rushed to free hundreds of people stranded in a school in Serbia during the worst floods to hit the Balkans in over a century.
A Reuters photographer in the town of Obrenovac, 30 km (18 miles) southwest of the Serbian capital Belgrade and the worst hit by days of heavy rainfall, estimated the water level at 2-3 meters.
By Marko Djurica
Slava Ukraini, Heroyam Slava!
At the beginning I didn’t understand what they were chanting.
The speaker at the podium repeated, “Slava Ukraini” and a mass of people responded in one voice: “Heroyam Slava!”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Glory to Ukraine! Glory to its heroes!” was the answer I got from a girl wrapped in a blue and yellow flag.
By Marko Djuirca
I had been thinking how cold it was for this time of year to need both my hoodie and my jacket. A cold, strong wind blew over the hills of no-man’s land separating Serbia from Macedonia. I stood quietly in total darkness for an hour or so until the border patrol officer, looking through his thermal camera, said: “Here they are, I think there must be 40 of them!”
Every year, the Serbian border police catches more than 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, who are trying to reach Serbia illegally. They come from Turkey, through Greece to Macedonia and Serbia before they reach Hungary and with it, the borderless Schengen travel zone.
Novi Sad, Serbia
By Marko Djurica
At the Exit Festival in Serbia’s second city Novi Sad, you won’t find any signs pointing the way to the closest place to egress, but only signs for “emergency escape.” It is intentional so that concertgoers don’t get confused that the party continues outside the fence, but I came to see it as a hidden message.
The festival is held on the grounds of Petrovaradin, a medieval fortress on the banks of the Danube River, and has been drawing crowds from the region and from Europe for over 14 years. The original festival grew out of a post-war student protest movement against the regime of former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic. The name was meant to be a clear call for the Milosevic regime to step down and for society to leave the consequences of a terrible dark decade behind. The festival climaxed in the mid 2000s when it was recognized as one of Europe’s top ten festivals. Since then, it has all been downhill.