Viewing cable 07PRISTINA112
Title: KOSOVO: "SELF-DETERMINATION MOVEMENT" PROTEST

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07PRISTINA1122007-02-12 10:41:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pristina
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DE RUEHPS #0112/01 0431041
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 121041Z FEB 07
FM USOFFICE PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7017
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1023
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRISTINA 000112 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, NSC FOR BRAUN, USUN FOR DREW 
SCHUFLETOWSKI, USOSCE FOR STEVE STEGER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UNMIK YI
SUBJECT: KOSOVO:  "SELF-DETERMINATION MOVEMENT" PROTEST 
TURNS DEADLY 
 
Classified By: COM Tina S. Kaidanow for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary:  A planned protest by radical 
"Self-Determination" Movement members in Pristina February 10 
turned deadly when two protestors were killed as a result of 
police efforts to block demonstrators from reaching and 
ransacking key Kosovo government buildings.  Order was 
restored within hours, and the security situation remains 
calm, but local criticism is mounting that police -- both 
Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and UNMIK international police -- 
overreacted to the provocation of demonstrators throwing 
stones and bricks by using tear gas and rubber bullets.  An 
internationally-led investigation is underway, and our effort 
-- together with UNMIK and KFOR -- is to keep the public 
focused on the real locus of responsibility for the violence: 
 the Self-Determination movement and its extremist leader, 
Albin Kurti, who was arrested Saturday evening and remains in 
custody pending formal charges.  End Summary. 
 
Demonstrations Turn Ugly 
 
¶2.  (C) Anywhere from 1300-2500 demonstrators took part in 
Saturday,s demonstration, which began at 2 pm Saturday 
afternoon in central Pristina with speeches by Vetevendosje 
founder Albin Kurti and firebrand politician Adem Demaci, and 
rapidly deteriorated into a series of confrontations with 
police.  In keeping with advance intelligence that 
demonstrators were likely to be armed with stones, other 
projectiles, and possibly weapons, the police presence was 
heavy.  Police sealed the city center in order to prevent the 
protestors from reaching UNMIK or PISG premises, particularly 
the Kosovo Assembly and government buildings.  Protestors 
nevertheless breached two lines of barricades and then 
advanced toward police, using stones, hard objects, and in 
one instance a small truck to try and break through the 
police cordon and inflict damage on the Assembly and 
government building (where Self-Determination protestors had 
caused significant material damage in November 
demonstrations).  Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and 
other special equipment to maintain control and drive the 
crowd back.  In response to the developments on the ground, 
KFOR also deployed 6 platoons of PSU to assist UNMIK police; 
COMKFOR told local Contact Group reps February 11 that KFOR 
had ample evidence, including pictures, of protestors 
accosting and provoking police and emphasized that this was a 
fully joint operation with UNMIK. 
 
¶3.  (C) Six police were injured in the fray.  Roughly 75 
people were treated on the scene for tear gas inhalation; six 
were hospitalized for more serious injuries, of whom two died 
overnight (both were treated at Bondsteel after consultation 
among PM Ceku, UNMIK PDSRSG Schook, USKFOR commander BG 
Earhart, and COM).  Two more remain in critical but stable 
condition with possibly life threatening injuries.  Albin 
Kurti was arrested on a warrant from a local prosecutor late 
Saturday afternoon under a 72-hour custody order, which UNMIK 
Police Commissioner Stephen Curtis said would provide enough 
time for KPS, under international supervision, to search 
Vetevendosje offices in Pristina and other locations in the 
hope of finding evidence that would conclusively show 
Kurti,s intention to incite violence and thus provide the 
basis for a conspiracy charge against him. 
 
UNMIK Investigation Underway 
 
¶4.  (C) UNMIK Police Commissioner Curtis, who was on scene at 
the demonstrations throughout the day, immediately ordered an 
investigation into the events surrounding the deaths of the 
two protestors, ensuring that forensic evidence was collected 
from the hospitals where the injured were treated and placing 
his (brand new) Deputy Commissioner for Crime at the head of 
the investigative task force.  Curtis also asked the Police 
Inspectorate of Kosovo (PIK), the OIG equivalent in the 
Ministry of Interior, to participate in the investigation. 
Autopsies are being conducted Monday morning, which will 
provide further information on the exact cause of death. 
Curtis was particularly careful in his briefing to Contact 
 
PRISTINA 00000112  002 OF 002 
 
 
Group reps not to point to any specific police element, UNMIK 
or KPS, as responsible for the deaths, noting that such 
information would emerge as the investigation proceeded. 
 
¶5.  (C) International press coverage of the events was 
generally muted (with BBC in particular asserting that the 
demonstrations did not reflect the views of the vast majority 
of Kosovars).  Kosovar coverage, however, was less objective 
and focused heavily on the alleged overreaction by police 
against protestors.  The Unity Team (at COM prodding), 
President Sejdiu, other political parties (including AAK), 
KFOR, UNMIK police and the local Contact Group 
representatives all issued statements February 11 condemning 
the violence, pointing to Vetevendosje as the instigators, 
and welcoming the establishment of an investigation into the 
circumstances of the demonstrations and the ensuing deaths. 
Less helpful were statements by the opposition PDK party and 
the government, despite early interventions by COM with both 
PDK leader Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Ceku, which traded 
accusations and inferred that police would be held 
responsible for the deaths. 
 
Comment 
 
¶6.  (C) The security situation remains stable, and Kosovo 
leaders have been responsible in calling for continued calm. 
However, the events of February 10 again point to the overall 
fragility of the Kosovo political construct and especially of 
the Unity Team, which has come under local fire for not 
pushing independence fast enough and thus "stoking" 
frustration among the Albanian population of Kosovo.  The 
Self-Determination protest and the ensuing deaths will also 
provide an almost irresistible temptation for opposition 
leader Thaci to attack the government's handling of the 
situation, despite the negative impact on Unity Team 
relations. 
 
¶7.  (C) We will watch events carefully over the next few days 
and attempt to prevent any effort on the part of Kosovo 
leaders to foist blame onto UNMIK or the international 
community for the sad and regrettable deaths of the two 
protestors -- particularly if the investigation determines 
that UNMIK FPUs (formed police units performing crowd and 
riot control) fired the fatal shots.  We can expect that some 
Kosovo politicians will seek to cover themselves rather than 
point the finger squarely where it belongs, at Vetevendosje 
and Albin Kurti; calls have already emerged for the 
resignation of UNMIK police commissioner Curtis and the 
Kosovo Interior Minister.  Clear evidence of Vetevendosje,s 
intentions (as well as past history) supported an initally 
assertive posture by police, but the investigation now being 
conducted will have to address the question of 
proportionality of police response. 
 
¶8.  (U) U.S. Office Pristina does not/not clear this cable 
for release to U.N. Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti 
Ahtisaari. 
KAIDANOW