Some Serbs consider Ivan's disappearance to be the natural conclusion of the 8th Plenum. Others think that this is the logical finale of the Communist coup in which Sloba, many years ago, purged his boss Ivan, his competitor Buca Pavlovic and the entire traditionalist school which shuddered at a thought of populism and nationalism. Malicious Serbs talk of a family feud, and many opposition leaders, being people who are not martyrs of common sense, hypothesize that this is a preemptive strike on Milosevic's part. By it, they say, he is preventing Stambolic's presidential candidacy. What sages?! At the time when Ivan was kidnapped, the nomination process was practically at an end. As far as "voting" for him is concerned, he himself was aware that in the Serbian public opinion he was not worth more than one or two percent. If Sloba should start wiping out his similarly rated competition with equal enthusiasm, the only people who would survive would be Kostunica, Djindjic and Vuk. If the aforementioned animal (trans. note: "vuk" = wolf) is still among the opposition at all.
Money was not the motive for the kidnapping, either. Ivan's friends know that when they sit on the armchairs in their humble home on Belgrade's periphery, they must take care to make sure the springs don't ruin their suits. Three years ago he even lost the bank which he had been quietly directing. Symbolically, recently new furniture for the offices of the general staff of slobists was moved into these facilities. Like the blow of the sword at the end of the corrida, it is apt that his former younger twin should sit in Ivan's office. Sloba! Between these two families there is a long and traditional reserved animosity. The length of this animosity corresponds to that of their former friendship. It all started, claim those in the know, when Ivan, in the middle of dinner with the family, warned Mira to mind her own business because she didn't understand politics. You know how the story ends! Kaca, Ivan's wife, the pillar of mental strength of the family, embittered by the manner in which her husband was broken in those years, refused to accept the condolences of the Milosevic's when, at the beginning of the decade, her daughter was killed in an automobile accident on the crags of Montenegro.
Recently the proud woman conquered herself and, out of fear for Ivan, called the former friends. No one answered her call.
After the death of his daughter, Stambolic gave up his favorite lifestyle; crushed by tragedy, he withdrew completely. He maintained only occasional contacts with Kucan, Racan, Suvar, Gligorov and Vlasi; gave an occasional interview to the foreign press; dictated a book in which he justified himself before history - for creating what he created - and only in the last year or two dared to criticize the regime somewhat more openly.
However, nothing that he said by its tone transcended the border that Serbia considers to be sufficient to have its citizens inform you that, in their estimation, you are the next dead man. In other words, a personal motive, a revenge, must also be discounted.
I don't think that one can say that there was any hurry on the part of the regime to get rid of an unpleasant witness of its beginnings, the period of its servitude to the powerful Stambolic, while it is still in power. At that time Ivan, when promoted to a new function, always left his old job to Sloba. There is a Serbian folk saying from the period when they served as consecutive directors of "Tehnogas": "I don't know what Hitler used in the chambers of Auschwitz but 'Tehnogas' will screw all of us Serbs."
Since the thought has not crossed Milosevic's mind of either giving up power as long as he is alive or losing the upcoming elections, there was no reason for haste and the bringing up of numerous issues by kidnapping Stambolic during the pre-election campaign. Since he retained his sanity and hoped that Milosevic would in turn be humiliated by the Serbian people, not by him personally, Ivan never believed that he would again sit at the head of the Serbian state. Consequently, only a month ago, he vocally advocated and lobbied that Svilanovic be the joint candidate against Sloba. By doing so, he disqualified himself from the ranks of Sloba's serious opponents and analysts of the Serbian political scene.
The foreigners, as a result of their own stupidity and despondency over the fact that nothing they have tried against Sloba seems to work - despite the fact that they are so powerful and rich - truly believed that through some sort of turbulent Serb denouement, Ivan could create a historical precedent and again assume leadership of the state. By doing so, the foreigners disqualified themselves from the ranks of Sloba's serious opponents and analysts of the Serbian political scene. For goodness sake, Ivan fell out of the race against Sloba at the 8th Plenum when he still had the media, the government, the state, the police and the secret service under his control. What would his odds be today against the man who calmly declared war on America? This is not the same Sloba and everyone who is still looking at him through yesterday's eyeglasses does so at his own risk.
When I heard that Ivan had disappeared, I began a different sort of analysis. First, I tried to imagine an action which might occur to Sloba - and which, according to their tandem thought processes, might redirect Serbian public opinion toward abstinence or a switching of sides on the eve of the elections. I concluded that a group, scintillating, grandiosely designed, grand case against traitors who had struck a deal with America to rule Serbia as soon as we are occupied one day would, in Sloba's estimate, be the way to win the elections and to eliminate all the opponents with a single blow.
For example, imagine that I'm Sloba; I mean, only in this instance. I'm in poor shape with the "bookies" at the electoral betting booths, I don't dare attack Montenegro because I'll have NATO on my back, the opposition is tormenting me and ruining the mood at home. Instead of waiting for the outcome, I create it. I kidnap Ivan, whom the foreigners perhaps want for a president but for whom the Serbs will not hold demonstrations; I plug him into the wall and force him to sign a previously drafted accusation against Milo Djukanovic. We know Djukanovic well; he has agreed to serve as the Prime Minsiter in Stambolic's quisling government. After all, we know that a week ago Ivan was a guest on Montenegrin television and it goes without saying that the two of them met over there and plotted something.
To the list I add Dodik who will not obey me and who is now on the side of the majority of the Serbs, that is, of the opposition. He has met with Ivan as well. Then there are the two renegade generals, Perisic and Obradovic, and the traitor Djindjic, a well-known German spy, as well as a wealthy local, another rich man who is a member of the Yugoslav United Left to make the trial more convincing, then a Serb from abroad, two former diplomats and the list expands according to need.
However, since I am more blood-thirsty than Sloba, this plan probably did not occur to him, right?! Maybe Ivan will surface on the other end of the Earth and perhaps it will be in Kosutnjak. Or they'll find him in some basement. Maybe this entire article is only an ode to our madness which during the past decade has made us into what we are. But if all this is not true, then where is Stambolic? Where is the man? Where is a father and a husband, somebody's brother, and friend? Where is he? If we find him, will we able to read from the wounds on his body what they asked him and with what?
If the leaders of the Serbian opposition are right in asking the regime "Where is Ivan?" then that only means that all Serbs know already know where to look for a missing man, a stolen hen, our money and our lives. Then the entire formula of the Evil Genius makes sense. Instead of attacking Montenegro, he suddenly attacks Djukanovic. According to them, this is an internal matter. Undue process of law. If he arrests generals, they were his men to begin with. If he arrests Djindjic, he fled from justice as far back as the war. If he arrests the rich, didn't they gain their wealth anyway through his favor. Of course, the entire plan makes sense under two conditions: that they break Ivan and that he signs the accusation, and that the above-mentioned are arrested in one fell swoop and in secrecy so that they cannot protect themselves or flee. If he is imprisoned, and I believe that he is because in Serbia only one kind of van swallows people, Stambolic cannot be released before he signs what the kidnappers want. That is why I sense that all this will end badly for him, and for us as well.
It is a fact that the state media to date have remained silent, which means that they have been waiting for another piece of news: his admission and the accusation. It is a fact that today they broadcast news of the kidnapping which means that they have not broken his spirit. But I sense that they have broken his body.
No matter how this tragedy, which in episodes is destroying the Stambolic family, ends what we know today only provides us with material with which to build a Serbian future. Everything in that future is red. As red as blood! And everything is black. Like Serbia. Like us.