Serbia, Intelligence and Security

Serbia, Intelligence and Security

Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1989, after the fall of Soviet communism in Eastern Europe, the Balkan region fell into conflict. The former Yugoslav provinces splintered into several independent nations, but Serbia and Montenegro chose to remain a communist dominated state. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as the nation was renamed, is wholly dominated by Serbia.

When civil war erupted in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia provided aid to ethnic Serb forces in the region. The international community protested the move, and Yugoslav leader, Slobidan Milosevic signed a peace accord with neighboring Bosnia and Croatia. In 1999, Serbia refused to restore autonomy to Kosovo. Conflict lingered, and reports that Serbian forces were perpetrating grievous human rights crimes against Muslim Kosavars, including mass murder and deportation, prompted NATO intervention in the region. Following a bombing campaign against Serbian strongholds, peacekeeping troops entered the region.

Following the Kosovo conflict, Serbians ousted Milosevic in a general election. Vojislav Kostunica was the first non-communist leader elected in Yugoslavia in nearly 60 years. Though tension remains high in the region, and periodic violence continues to erupt, Kostunica and his government are committed to democratizing the national government and reforming the economy. The function of the national intelligence community has changed dramatically because of reforms.

The Serbian intelligence community maintains traditional distinctions between internal and foreign, civilian and military intelligence, and organizes its various agencies accordingly. However, many of these agencies' expressed duties overlap. To avoid confusion and facilitate cooperating and data sharing, the Council for Security coordinates all intelligence and security operations relating to the protection of national interests.

Though individual branches of the military maintain their own intelligence units, the Ministry of Defense oversees the largest military intelligence agencies and coordinates the intelligence and security operations of various departments and units. The Kontraobavesajna Sluzba (KOS), General Staff Security Directorate, provides domestic security and counterintelligence analysis for the military. The agency works closely with Military Police to insure the safety and security of Serbian military installations.

Civilian intelligence forces fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. The Sluzba Javne Bezbednosti (SJB), Public Security Service is charged with the protection of public welfare. The SJB guards diplomatic officials and aids intelligence services with anti-terrorism operations. The future of this organization, as well as its parent, the State Security Service (SDB), is unknown. Government officials have reformed the organization several times, stripping it of its powers to conduct espionage for political reasons.

In 2000 the government created a special anti-terrorist unit, the ATJ. The group is trained in both civilian espionage and military battle techniques. The special unit was granted a wide range of operation, from intelligence to policing.

The structure of the Yugoslavian intelligence community is sure to change in the near future, as the government continues reforms. Serbian intelligence and security agencies have cultivated a regional reputation for brutality over the past six decades, a problem that democratic reformers seek to rectify. The new government arrested Milosevic and sent him to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The international tribunal convicted Milosevic. Since the elections of Kostunica and Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, the nation has made strides to join the international community and participate in European economic and security organizations.

On March 12, 2003, Djindjic, one of the primary leaders of Serbia's reform movement, was assassinated by an unknown sniper.


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