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At the Faculty of Philology, Prof. Radmilo Marojevic, a member of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party and a professor of Russian, was appointed as the new dean. Marojevic himself reportedly stated publicly that he was appointed through the efforts of Seselj.16 Marojevic, who spent much of the last five years in Moscow, is also a self-proclaimed admirer of Zhirinovsky, the Russian nationalist, whom Marojevic claims to have personally introduced to Seselj.

Marojevic has brought his pan-Slavic and Serb nationalist views to his new job. As described below, he has moved aggressively to dismiss dissident faculty and to reformulate the curriculum. Because only the government has the power to remove him, he is not obliged to take into consideration the views of independent faculty, 104 of whom in November 1998 signed a petition calling for his removal.17

In an interview on July 2, 1998, shortly after he was appointed dean, Marojevic criticized some of his colleagues among the new government appointees. Although pleased with the overall composition of the new university leaders, he said: “I still see some persons [among the new deans] who cannot truly be deans at a really creative Serbian university, because they still favor positions of anti-Serb Yugoslavness. I noticed that, when we were signing, some deans did not know how to sign their names in Cyrillic, or did not want to, and they teach at a Serbian university.”18 In the same interview, stating that “foreign intelligence services” were behind the campus protests in 1996-97, Marojevic praised the new law for giving new administrators power to eliminate purported foreign agents.19 Asserting that “our country and our culture are somehow under occupation from within,” and that the country is facing “a fifthcolumn in scholarship, in culture, everywhere,” Marojevic called the changes to the universities introduced by the government “a good attempt to return a Serbian character, a national, cultural, and authentic character, to this university.”20

In subsequent weeks, Marojevic announced that professors could not leave Belgrade or take their holiday leave until after August 5, the deadline under the University Act for all professors to sign new employment contracts.21 Marojevic also interpreted the requirement that professors sign new employment contracts broadly, stating: “It is not only a question of whether a professor or associate wants to sign the contract, but whether I, as the dean of the faculty, who defends the interests of the Republic of Serbia and its scholarship and education in this case, shall want to sign it.”22

Suspension of Nineteen Professors; Dismissal of Six

On September 30, Marojevic announced that all of the professors at the faculty who had refused to sign new contracts were being relieved of their teaching duties. This group, numbering nineteen, was not fired outright but was transferred to a previously non-existent “Center for Scientific Research Work and Publications.” Among them were thirteen of the fourteen professors at the Department of World Literature (see below).

On November 12, six of the professors who had been transferred to the new “center” were fired. Under Serbian labor law, employees may be fired for failure to show up for work five days in succession. The professors, refusing to comply with what they saw as an unlawful transfer, had not shown up at the room that the dean had specified as the new “center.” The six professors who were fired are: Vladeta Jankovic (World Literature; Classics); Djordje Trifunovic (Yugoslav Literature), Zoran Milutinovic (Comparative Literature), Aleksandar Ilic, (World Literature), Slobodan Vukobrat (English Language and Literature) and Branka Nikolic (Hebraic Language). All six had been active in the 1996-97 anti-government protests, and two, Jankovic and Ilic, are well-known opposition figures.

Changes to the Curriculum

Soon after his appointment, Marojevic announced his intention to disband the Department of World Literature. As noted above, thirteen of the fourteen members of the teaching staff in the department had refused to sign contracts, and several of them were well known members of opposition parties. The chairman of the department, Professor Vladeta Jankovic, is chairman of an opposition party (the Democratic Party of Serbia), and had engaged in heated public polemics with Seselj. On September 30, Marojevic carried out his threat. The sole professor in the World Literature Department who had signed a contract was transferred to the University of Novi Sad and the department formally ceased to exist at the University of Belgrade.

Over the opposition of the faculty, Marojevic made several other changes to the curriculum, including the following:

· he renamed Croatian literature the “literature of Catholic Serbs”;

· he reorganized fourteen departments into five to consolidate his authority;

· Marojevic, a professor of Russian grammar, introduced Russian as the obligatory first foreign language for all post-graduate students. Students must choose between Polish and Czech as a second language and can elect English, French, or German, previously the languages of choice, only as a third language.23

Ranko Bugarski, a leading Serbian linguist whose case is described below, said of Marojevic in this regard:

He’s really not aware of how his actions appear to his colleagues. . . . He knows he is strong politically, so he’s confident, not careful about the moves he makes. As a Slavicist, he sees a chance to bolster Russian studies and Serbian studies even without the approval of the faculty. First he attacks world literature, then he makes Russian mandatory for all graduate students, and then he takes his pet theory — Croats had only dialectical language and what everyone calls Croatian is not in fact Croatian — and makes it university policy. So there is to be no mention of Croatian language or literature. He had expressed these ideas before and no one took them seriously. Now, with government backing, his private fantasies are made into the new truth about these things. Slavicists will think this is the official Serbian view. It is madness, but it is now state madness.24

Case of Ranko Bugarski

One of Marojevic’s first acts as dean was to attempt to dismiss Professor Ranko Bugarski. Bugarski brought suit against Marojevic and eventually won an injunction temporarily allowing him to remain on the faculty. His case, however, shows the extent to which the university law has given rein to personal animosity and political criteria as a basis for academic decision making.

Ranko Bugarski, on the faculty for thirty-seven years, is one of the most respected language scholars in the country and has taught overseas on several occasions, including as a Fulbright lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago in the 1970s. Prior to the new law, Bugarski and Marojevic had clashed publicly on a number of politically charged linguistic matters, including the proper name of the language (Marojevic favored “Serbian” and Bugarski “Serbo-Croatian”) and the use of the Cyrillic alphabet (Marojevic favored exclusive use of Cyrillic and Bugarski argued for continued use of both Cyrillic and Roman alphabets).

Soon after he was appointed, Marojevic asserted that Bugarski was no longer eligible to work at the university because he had reached the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. Professor Bugarski, however, had signed a new two-year contract under the former dean in May 1998 and the Serbian Labor Relations Act expressly authorizes such an extension. Using the broad powers given him under the new law, however, Marojevic declared a new policy: no extensions would be given to those who reach the age of sixty-five and all of the extensions given by his predecessors would be vacated. Bugarski was the only professor affected by the new policy.

In a long interview with the Serbian newspaper Danas in July 1998, Bugarski discussed the situation in detail. The interview is excerpted below:

At the first meeting of the Faculty Board, which was led by the recently appointed dean, Radmilo Marojevic, I resigned from all of the functions that I had formerly been responsible for. At the time, I announced my resignation from my post as the head of the General Linguistics Department, as the director of the Center for Graduate Studies and as a member of the Planning Committee. I also said at that time that I would remain in my teaching post, that is, so long as I was not removed by the effects of the newlyimposed university “autonomy.”25 My resignation of the administrative posts was a clear declaration of protest against the new university law, which, among other things, enables the government to appoint deans who are no longer to be elected by their colleagues. I simply did not want to hold any (administrative) functions under the new Law, but I wanted to stay at the Faculty, in my teaching position, as I felt needed by my students and younger colleagues.

At the press conference that he held at the Faculty [after my resignation from the administrative posts], the new dean said that “those resignations were probably coerced [by his colleagues], as professor Bugarski is, according to law, supposed to retire on the first of October.” This explanation makes no sense. The resignations were not coerced, and I had already obtained, by the decision of the former dean, a two-year extension delaying my mandatory retirement. . . .

What Marojevic is doing is essentially what he was brought in to do, what he was appointed to do, but he is doing more than that. He is working for the highest grade— “stands above the rest.” [But] he is brought here just like all the other deans under the new law, to pacify the university, to prevent future student protests, to, as they say, “bring the University back to learning,” and that really means of course that there is “no political turbulence.” To bring the university under absolute political control—that is the only reason for this law, and [it is done] under the guise of depoliticization. This dean says that there will be no political activities. What more political activity do you want than the imposition by the government of a dean, selected right out of the ranks of one of the governing parties? . . . In order to be a dean or a rector, one has to belong to the ruling party and to carry out its orders.26

In mid-December, under pressure from striking students and faculty, Marojevic invited suspended professors to return to their jobs, for the first time softening his stance. Marojevic stated that, in suspending the professors, he had followed what he thought was the directive of the minister of education, but that since other deans had not suspended staff who had not signed contracts, he would allow them to return to work. Marojevic also stated, however, that it would be for courts to decide the status of professors who had been dismissed. At the time this report went to press, students at the faculty backed by dozens of faculty members continued to demand that the dean resign.

16 Human Rights Watch interview with Goran Milicevic, Belgrade, November 13, 1998.

17 Belgrade Center for Human Rights, “Bulletin No. 17 (universities): New Dismissals of Professors and Threats to Students,” November 25, 1998 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch), p. 4.

18 Transcript of interview with Dr. Radmilo Marojevic, B92 radio broadcast hosted by Aleksandar Timofejev, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., July 2, 1998 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch).

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 CCDUS, “Chronology of Events, July 1998 - August 1998, (Implementation of the New Law),” entry dated July 1, (copy on file at Human Right Watch).

22 Transcript of interview with Dr. Radmilo Marojevic, B92 radio broadcast July 2, 1998 (copy on file at Human Rights Watch)

23 Human Rights Watch interview with Zoran Milutinovic, Belgrade, November 11, 1998.

24 Human Rights Watch interview with Ranko Bugarski, Belgrade, November 11, 1998.

25 Although it does not come through well in the translation, Bugarski is referring ironically to the “autonomy” of the universities from faculty members under the new law.

26 Interview with Ranko Bugarski, Danas, July 18-19, 1998, p. 11.

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