|State Secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija|
|Born||1 April 1953|
Rznić, PR Serbia, FPR Yugoslavia
|Died||16 January 2018 64) (aged|
North Mitrovica, Kosovo
|Cause of death||Assassination|
|Resting place||Belgrade New Cemetery, Belgrade, Serbia|
|Political party||SKJ (1971–1990)|
GI SDP (2010–2018)
|Alma mater||University of Priština|
|Profession||Mechanical engineer, economist|
Ivanović served as the State Secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija from 2008 to 2012 and was also a member of the Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija from 2001 to 2008. He was assassinated by unknown perpetrators on 16 January 2018 in North Mitrovica.
Early life and career
Ivanović was born in Rznić, a village near Dečani in the west of the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija, at the time part of the People's Republic of Serbia of FPR Yugoslavia, on 1 April 1953. His father, Bogdan, was a history professor, and his mother, Olga, was a professor of Serbian language and literature. He also had brother Miroslav and sister Nataša. His paternal heritage is Montenegrin. He attended primary and secondary mechanical-technical school in Kosovska Mitrovica. After turning 18, he joined the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1971.
Ivanović enrolled in the Zagreb Military Academy to become a pilot. During his studies he started training karate and quickly became an instructor. Three years into his studies he was diagnosed with congenital vision deficiency and left the Military Academy. He returned to Kosovo and graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Kosovska Mitrovica, University of Priština. He also studied at the Faculty of Economics in Priština. He continued, parallel to his studies, professionally training in karate. He received higher belts and achieved recognition as an honorary international karate judge.
After the studies, he worked in several companies in Kosovska Mitrovica. With the creation of multi-party system in SFR Yugoslavia in 1990, he stepped out of parties, stating that he is "a man of the people". From 1991 to 1998, he was the head of Sports Center in Kosovska Mitrovica. Prior to the Kosovo War and the establishment of UNMIK in Kosovo, Ivanović was a less known member of the Socialist Party of Serbia in Kosovska Mitrovica.
1999–2008: Leader of Kosovo Serbs
With the establishment of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija in 1999, he was appointed as the president of the executive board for North Kosovo. He was removed from this position on 6 June 2001. He was also removed from the presidential function of the Regional Board of Serbian National Council in October 2001.
Also, from 1998 to 2004, he served as the general director of nickel mine company "Feronikl" located in Glogovac.
Ivanović joined the Democratic Alternative led by Nebojša Čović. On 2 August 2001, he became the Head of the Department for Economic Development and Reconstruction of the "Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija", while the Head of the Center was Nebojša Čović.
Ivanović led the Coalition "Return" in the 2001 Kosovan parliamentary election held in November 2001, getting 89,388 votes which earned 22 places in the Assembly of Kosovo (120 places in total) for his coalition.
He was appointed as the minister in the newly formed Government of Kosovo and a member of the Presidency of the Assembly of Kosovo on 2 December 2001. In March 2004, a violent unrest in Kosovo broke out, in which Kosovo Albanians took part in wide-ranging attacks on the Kosovo Serbs minority. The Government of Kosovo consisted of Serbian representatives fell soon after.
Also, in the same year he became the director of the National Employment Service for Kosovo and Metohija controlled by the Government of Serbia.
He was the leader of the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija in the 2004 Kosovan parliamentary election held in October 2004. The election was massively boycotted by Kosovo Serbs. Eventually, the list won 1,414 votes, thus taking 8 out of 10 Serbian minority places in the Assembly of Kosovo (110 places in total).
2008–2012: Governmental position
On 17 February 2008, Kosovo Albanians unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in the Assembly of Kosovo. In a meeting attended by 109 of the total 120 MPs, the assembly unanimously declared Kosovo's independence, while all 11 representatives of the Kosovo Serbs minority boycotted the proceedings.
In July 2008, Ivanović joined the Government of Serbia as the State Secretary of the newly formed Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija under Minister Goran Bogdanović. The Ministry took over jurisdictions of disbanded "Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija".
In January 2010, the SDP ceased to exist, which resulted in an exchange of bitter words between Ivanović and Čović. Soon after, he formed a civic initiative "Srbija, demokratija, pravda" (Eng. "Serbia, democracy, justice"). Since then, he served as president of the civic initiative.
He stayed on the position of the State Secretary until July 2012.
2013–2018: Political decline
In April 2013, the Government of Serbia and the Government of Kosovo signed the Brussels Agreement on the normalization of their relations.
- 2013 Local elections
In September 2013, Ivanović announced that his civic initiative was forced to change its name from "SDP" - "Srbija, demokratija, pravda" (Eng. "Serbia, democracy, justice"),
to "GI SDP - Oliver Ivanovic", following the request of the Central Election Commission of Kosovo, which banned the use of the other countries' name for names of political organizations operating in Kosovo.
Ivanović decided to run in the 2013 Kosovan local elections for the president of North Mitrovica, with his civic initiative "SDP". The election campaign was marked with the Serbian Progressive Party-led Government of Serbia public calls to Kosovo Serbs to come out and vote in Kosovan elections organized by the Government of Kosovo, for the first time since Kosovo gained independence. The Government of Serbia also called the citizens to vote for the Serb List candidates.
- 2014–17 Imprisonment and threats
In January 2014, two months following the local elections, Ivanović was arrested on suspicion over war crimes which occurred in 1999 and 2000. He was sentenced to nine years in jail on 21 January 2016 for war crimes by judges from the EULEX Kosovo. However, the Appeals Court in Pristina annulled the guilty verdict on 12 February 2017 and ordered a new trial.
In September 2017, three months after the 2017 Kosovan parliamentary election, the Serb List with the support of the Serbian political leadership, formed the Government of Kosovo with PANA Coalition, which is formed of former Kosovo Liberation Army leaders (active in Kosovo War).
Ivanović was released from prison in early 2017 and at that time pointed out the poor circumstances in North Kosovo where Serbs formed the majority. In an interview, he stated that Kosovo Serbs in North Kosovo are not afraid of Kosovo Albanians, but rather of, "Serbs, local criminals who ride in SUVs without car plates". He also said that, "Drugs are sold on every corner and parents are very concerned." He pointed that in just a few years, there had been over 50 cases of burned vehicles, many hand grenades thrown, and two unresolved murders committed, and added that, "All this happened on a territory of just two and a half square kilometers, which happens to be completely covered by security cameras". He surmised that, "It was obvious that police forces are afraid to offend the perpetrators" and that, "Perpetrators likely come from security forces."
- 2017 Local elections
He decided to run in 2017 Kosovan local elections for the president of North Mitrovica, with his civic initiative "SDP". During the campaign, he publicly criticized the Government of Serbia and ruling Serbian Progressive Party for favoring Serb List over other Serbian parties in Kosovan local elections.
Goran Rakić, a leader of the Serb List and opponent in elections for North Mitrovica, labelled Ivanović as an "irrelevant person" in Kosovo politics. Also, prominent officials of the Government of Serbia among whom was the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Đurić, blatantly discredited Ivanović labeling him as "traitor" and anti-Serbian politician. Ivanović responded by saying: "I have proven my Serbian patriotism in a much more difficult way than those who are accusing me of being anti-Serbian, I hope, will have to prove theirs [Serbian patriotism].
Eventually, Ivanović finished in second place with 1,475 votes (18.52%), behind Goran Rakić who received 5,372 votes (67.45%). Also, the Serb List won in all 10 Serb-majority municipalities.
On 16 January 2018, Ivanović was shot in a drive-by shooting at 08:17 CET, while entering his office in North Mitrovica. Resuscitation was performed at Mitrovica Hospital shortly afterwards up to 9:15, but it was unsuccessful.
Autopsy findings revealed that Ivanović was killed by six 9mm PARA bullets from a Zastava M70A pistol, mainly hitting his upper torso (vital organs - upper aorta, hollow vein and liver). In an interview four days prior to the assassination, he admitted that he feared for his safety.
Soon afterwards, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, scheduled an urgent session of the National Security Council of Serbia. He condemned the assassination and described it as an "act of terror". The Government of Kosovo condemned the assassination as well. This was the first assassination of a Serbian politician since the murder of former Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Đinđić fifteen years earlier, on 12 March 2003.
His funeral was on Thursday, 18 January, in Belgrade New Cemetery.
Investigation in Kosovo
Silvana Arsović, Oliver Ivanović party's administrator, was detained for 48 hours on 26 November 2018 to be questioned under suspicion as if she manipulated security cameras outside the party office in Mitrovica before the murder, when the murder took place near the office. Prosecutor Syle Hoxha said that Silvana Arsović was detained only for 48 hours.
Kosovo police officer Dragiša Marković was detained for 1 day on 10 February 2018 under suspicion of manipulating the evidences on the place of the murder of Oliver Ivanović. Then, he was arrested the second time on 23 November 2018. Kosovo prosecutor Njazi Rexha said Dragiša Marković was not getting his duties in right order towards the crime scene.
Kosovo police officer Nedeljko Spasojević was arrested on 23 November 2018 towards the murder.
Marko Rosić, a person associated by media with Partizan Belgrade fan club, was arrested in the north Kosovo on 23 November 2018.
Mario Milošević, a Montenegrin citizen, was arrested on 18 July 2018 in Pristina. (He was also on a warrant list by Interpol towards separate murder connected with organized crime in Podgorica.)
Strahinja Danković was arrested together with Mario Milošević. Montenegrin media call him a football fan of Serbian club FK Rad.
Milan Radoičić, a businessman and head of Kosovo Serb party ″Srpska Lista″, was on suspicion towards involvement in the murder, his home was raided by Kosovo Police on 23 November 2018, but he escaped arrest fleeing to Serbia. There in Serbia, Milan Radoičić was interviewed on 26 November 2018 by Serbian police, when he denied his any involvement in the case. Serbian president Alexander Vučić said that Milan Radoičić is innocent, and Kosovo police wanted to kill him during raid to put guilt of organizing the murder on Serbian government.
In February 2020 started a trial against six Serbs charged with the participation in the assassination of Ivanovic. All of them pleaded not guilty of all charges at the preparatory hearing before Pristina’s Special Court.
Investigation in Serbia
Nebojša Stefanović, Serbian Interior Minister, told in January 2019 that Serbia is leading its own investigation towards the murder tracing some persons who were in north Kosovo then moved to Western Europe. He didn't name the suspected. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić stated that German Albanian Fljorim Ejupi is the wanted assassin, which was negated by the government in Priština.
He was in relationship with Milena Popović, with whom he had a son. He also had three sons by his previous marriage with Marina. He also had a daughter in a previous relationship.
Notes and references
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
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