Several Serbian media outlets have recently promoted a conspiracy theory – the counterintelligence services of the Balkan countries, in a car dealership in Skopje, are preparing to assassinate Serbian oppositionists. Afterwards, the “West” would blame these crimes on Vučić’s government.

The Serbian weekly newspaper ”Pečat“ in the issue released on 19 July 2019, published a text entitled: “Noose for Serbia” (original: „Омча за Србију“). The text is about the alleged “special war that NATO’s leading countries are waging against Serbia”, and the focus is on the “new secret operation – Noose, which has an elaborate plan for Serbia’s ruin”.

Afterwards, the text was published by several other media outlets such as “Novi Standard“, and  “Večernje Novosti“,  a state-owned newspaper whose editor-in-chief Milan Vučelić is the owner of “Pečat”.

The conspiracy theory predicts assassinations of opposition leaders in Serbia

Author of the text is Ljuban Karan, a 66-year-old retired KOS  (Counterintelligence service of the ex-Yugoslav People’s Army) colonel who had analyzed the possible scenarios for the demise of Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić. In his analysis of the special military methods against Serbia, Karan warns of the possible political assassinations aimed at opposition members, for which the government will be blamed.

“If we ask ourselves who could be the target, it is only logical for it to be one of the opposition leaders, maybe even someone who is controlled by the West. From the point of view of waging a special war, it would be most effective to remove someone who is attacking the current government most vigorously. Someone who would be more useful dead, as a “political victim of the regime”, than as an unsuccessful opposition figure without people’s support. Those who are engaged in the dirty games together with the Western counterintelligence services are not even aware of the danger that they may suffer from the dirty machinery for which they work hard and believe to have use from…” writes Karan in the controversial text.

At a special press conference the leaders of the opposition party “Alliance for Serbia“ (Savez za Srbiju) expressed concern that this is a threat against them and demanded an investigation of these allegations by the prosecution. They particularly emphasized the fact that “Vecernje Novosti” is a state-owned media outlet, and also stated they have information that they had been monitored and wiretapped through a special department of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, active since September 2018.

Car dealership as a center of world conspiracy against Serbia

Interestingly enough, Karan states that in this synchronized “Western powers plot” against Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia participate. He claims that under the influence of the CIA, a group that operates from a car dealership in Skopje has been formed?!

“Two months ago, the Bulgarian counterintelligence service became part of the joint special operation against Serbia, that is, roughly in the same period that the operation “Noose” was launched. Their operatives are working together with the counterintelligence agents from Macedonia, Albania and Germany from Skopje, a group most likely formed by the CIA, camouflaged as a car dealership,” Karan writes.

However, this conspiracy scenario seems, at any rate, strange. Karan himself does not point to precise sources, even unofficial ones. Nor does he point to the “holders of the secret information”.  Answering a direct question posed by the weekly newspaper „Vreme“ (no. 1491), he calls upon “information published in the media” that he interpreted with “expertize”. However, he does not specify the information or the media on which he relies on.

Truth be told, the Macedonian public is not aware that there is a car dealership in Skopje where a special war against Serbia is being waged. Such information so far (6 August 2019) has not been published in any Macedonian media outlet, even as a speculation.

If such a “camouflaged car dealership” existed in Skopje, it is unlikely that it would have remained undiscovered and that no such information would have “leaked” into the public. In particular, this would not have gone unnoticed by the media critical of the current governing structure.

So far there is no evidence, even from anonymous sources, that would confirm such allegations made in the text published in the Serbian weekly newspaper “Pečat”, which makes this media outlet somewhat unreliable. As for the retired KOS colonel Karan, his anti-NATO positions are well known to the Serbian public. For “Vreme” he stated that he did not want to convey a death threat to the opposition, but merely to “warn” that a special war is being waged against Serbia aimed at forcing the country to get closer to NATO and separate it from the Russian Federation.

According to Slobodan Georgijev, a journalist at “Vreme” and author of the interview with Karan, precisely these texts are indicators that “Serbia is in some kind of special war, but it is a war that the regime is waging against everyone who thinks, speaks and works differently from Vučić and his team”. According to him, in that war, the media plays perhaps the leading role. “Fake news, fake media, fake journalists, fake analysts – they have flooded the Serbian media space,” concludes Georgijev.

In the previous period, the term “noose” was used by a series of Belgrade tabloid known for publishing misinformation about world conspiracies against Serbia, such as “Informer” or “Srpski Telegraf”. In such articles, and before Karan’s article was published, they often wrote that the “noose around Vučić’s neck is tightening”.

Earlier, such claims were made on RTS, the national broadcasting channel, by Serbian Progressive Party MP Milovan Drecun, who commented the case when Russian pranksters released recorded phone conversations with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.