Benefitting from pro and anti-government rallies in Belgrade, Albin Kurti, prime minister of the autonomous province of Kosovo used his paramilitary police forces to forcibly install Albanian mayors in the four Serb-majority cities in northern Kosovo – Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and North Mitrovica. The mayors were chosen in sham elections boycotted by Serbs living in the region due to human rights abuses by Kurti’s government, as well as its failure to live up to previous agreements. Voter turnout was a mere 3.47%, with 1,566 Albanians and only 13 out of 45,095 eligible Serbs taking part.
Kosovo police seized the buildings of local administrations, despite the resistance of Serb residents, using tear gas and flash grenades. A police car was set on fire in the Zvecan municipality and armored vehicles were reportedly deployed to the site. In response to the violent assault by Kosovo authorities, the Serbian Government put its army on high alert and deployed troops to the administrative border with the autonomous province.
Even U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, a backer of the Kosovo regime, condemned Kurti’s violent assault on the Serbs of northern Kosovo and Metohija, posting on Twitter, “We strongly condemn the actions by the Government of Kosovo that are escalating tensions in the north and increasing instability. We call on Prime Minister Albin Kurti to immediately halt these violent measures and refocus on the EU-facilitated Dialogue.”
Petar Petković, head of Serbia’s office for Kosovo, told the media, “Probably never in the history of democracy has there been an election with such an insignificant turnout. And those who decide the standards of democracy in the modern world have recognized such an election. It is the Serbs, and not Albin Kurti, who will decide the destiny of their people. Kurti is responsible for this act of rape of democracy and human rights.”
The attack from Prishtina, benefitted from Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s decision to use Albanian bus companies to transport large number of Serbs from northern Kosovo to Belgrade to attend his pro-government rally.
“They waited for the day when many men from northern Kosovo and Metohija go to Belgrade and attacked municipal buildings in Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavic. The ‘quint’ [the UK, Germany, Italy, the US, and France] representatives now condemn this but they allowed the Albanians to do that. We will hold a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss what will happen in Kosovo and Metohija,” Vučić told supporters.
Kosovo’s police forces have conducted a systematic campaign to terrorize Serb communities and have targeted the Serbian Orthodox Church. Teachers in the Serbian-majority towns announced that all schools will remain closed until Prishtina ends its police occupation of the cities. The Serb List, the main political party representing Serbs in Kosovo, called on Vučić to suspend any further dialogue with Prishtina until all Kosovo special forces are withdrawn from the north of Kosovo, and all Albanian forces removed from of occupied buildings of municipal authorities.
Despite the international condemnation of his actions, Kurti claimed he had the support of international authorities, saying, “Regarding yesterday, what is important to emphasize is that all that we as the Government and state institutions aimed at was to enable mayors of municipalities elected in democratic elections to have access to and work in their offices, where they have to serve all citizens, regardless of ethnicity and religion, and that’s why I believe that we will have the support of all international factors in this.”