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October the 5th 2000 - Where were you? / Gde ste bili, Sta ste radili?

Update - zahvalujem se svima na odgovorima i srecan vam peti oktobar 

Naravno dajte komentar teksta koji sledi ali iznad svega zelim da znam gde ste bili sta ste radili 5 Oktobra 2000. 

By all means make comments about the following but above all I'd like to know where you were and what you were doing on October the 5th.

Ajde ljudi ova tema zaista moze biti zanimljivo. 

For anybody involved in the Yugoslav crisis October the 5th marked the end of an era.

Some now talk bitterly about lost opportunities and the lack of a 'October 6th'. Others use the date as an example of what happens when real protest fades and the dregs of society join in. Yet others like to refer to a coup and usually bring up the fact that legally speaking, there should have been a second round of voting.

I personally invested years of effort and personal grief in the Yugoslav story. At times almost suffocated by my own emotion and frustration I believed that Serbia was doomed to the Communist scenario – a President for life. Indeed I remain convinced that Slobodan Milosevic would never have surrendered power willingly.

But I digress; my real intention here is to share my own feelings during the final days of Milosevic’s reign.

In a sense I had been personally defeated; my investment in Yugoslavia / Serbia had not paid off. For years I had worked on projects to try to help the former Yugoslav free media / opposition politicians etc but Sloba had outlasted me.

In London at least, where I was based at the time, it was difficult living from an NGO salary so when the Kosovo crisis began I had persuaded myself that it was time to grow up and get a real job. I remember one of the last 'official' duties I carried out was to meet a delegation of Kosovo Albanians who had just spoken to Robin Cook. They were friends, but I didn’t hesitate in telling them how gloomy I was about the situation and tried to warn them that things would surely get worse before they got better.

So I became a manager working in the city of London earning a fast buck. But my passion was surfing the internet, urgently seeking information on unfolding events in Serbia, bitterly arguing with people (mostly Serbs) in chatrooms, providing long distance help or advice to whoever I knew involved.

By October I dared to believe and sensed victory. Nobody in my office particularly cared but I proudly told anybody who would listen that the end of ‘SloboSadam’ was in sight.

At times I wanted to shake these wretched employees who didn’t seem concerned with anything else but their pay packets. But the truth is that I felt glad, as this was something special to me and connected me to thousands, nay millions of others who had waited for this moment.

On October the 5th 2000  I was sitting at my desk hammering away at the update button on B92’s website. Once I read that the Federal Parliament building was burning and that RTS had finally fallen it was official.

Utterly elated I felt like doing something rash like handing in my resignation and catching the first flight to Belgrade. This was my victory too and surely I deserved it. Just thinking about the years of pent up frustration, the years of anger, misery I felt on behalf of my family, friends, of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia was overwhelming. (Truly, there is no anger stronger or more certain than that felt on behalf of others)

I promised my Bosnian friend that we would one day toast Sloba’s downfall with a bottle of expensive champagne – at my expense. Sadly he was no longer around so I bought the bottle and drank it myself. A million things were going through my mind as I watched the live images that evening. Perhaps I would not hand in my notice right away but I did realise that there was never going to be any getting away from Serbia. The only logical step was to relocate to Belgrade, how and when was another question.

So now you know folks. Of course my opinion has changed over the years. Now I no longer see Sloba as the devil incarnate or have a simplistic view of Serbian politics. In fact I put down some of my previous opinions to my sense of outrage and emotion. Today I believe that too much emotion is unhealthy and leads to warped or inaccurate opinions.

Enough about me - what were you doing? Please, I'd really like to hear your stories in Serbian or English.

PS English language bloggers I'm interested in your stories as well. Did the October revolution register on your respective 'radars' before you moved here and what were your thoughts when you heard the news?

Hey dude

Why don't you post a bio of yourself?

Thanks but not for the moment

Are you headhunting me James! Sorry my friend but the British got there first. :)

I'll consider writing a bio if you give me a similar story to mine (you know what I mean by that - personal) of what you were doing and how you felt on October 5th 2000 - which is after all what this blog subject is about.