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Serbian Icons Tarnished

12:00 AM, Mar 3, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Artemije Radosavljevic’s career in special pleading for Kosovo Serbs has apparently come to an end, and without much chance that he will someday be canonized for his activities. Serbian church authorities have removed him from authority in the new republic, and replaced him with his fellow-extremist Atanasije Jevtic. Artemije, who, more than once, flew to the U.S. to denounce the Kosovar Albanians and their declaration of independence, and assail president George W. Bush for supporting them, has been charged by his own church with enabling “financial abuse” of donations from believers, and “spreading discord.” The Serbian authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of Simon Vilovski, an associate of Artemije who allegedly embezzled close to half a million dollars intended for the rehabilitation of Serbian churches. The change in leadership provoked fistfights at the Gracanica monastery which were videotaped on February 13, the day before the commencement of fasting for the Orthodox Easter. NATO troops intervened to keep order.

Artemije, the false advocate of interfaith concord, has been called “an Orthodox version of the Wahhabis” by Branko Milic, an independent-minded Serbian blogger. Kosovo is, however, far from America and its immediate foreign policy concerns, and the deceptions of Artemije Radosavljevic, as well as his past patronage by American politicians, will doubtless be treated as forgettable. Some pro-Serbian fanatics may even find a way to blame Artemije’s disgrace on the Kosovar Albanians. But with their spiritual destiny in the hands of such apparent hypocrites, and their political prospects bound up with Belgrade’s intrigues, as encouraged by Putin’s Russia, the future of the Kosovo Serbs looks dim.

Stephen Schwartz is a frequent contributor.

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