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Audio Recordings Leak Triggers Scuffles in Kosovo Parliament

A physical fight erupted in Kosovo’s parliament between opposition MPs and government ministers after published audio recordings suggest an MP negotiated with the controversial Kosovo Serb strongman Milan Radoicic – who is wanted in Kosovo.

MPs from the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, physically attacked Prime Minister Albin Kurti and government ministers during Kurti’s speech in parliament on Thursday, as a physical fight erupted between the two groups.

Parliament speaker Glauk Konjufca, from Kurti’s ruling Vetevendosje party, called the incident “unacceptable”. “The use of violence is also punishable, to be condemned by all of us,” he said, adding that the police will deal with any “physical attack” that happened in parliament.

Ructions started while Kurti was talking about the situation in the Serb-majority north, and was interrupted by opposition MPs who called him a “liar”. PDK MP Ganimete Musliu placed a photo-montage of Kurti with an elongated liar’s nose on the parliamentary podium, which was removed by Deputy PM Besnik Bislimi.

Soon after, PDK MP Mergim Lushtaku approached Kurti and threw water at him and Bislimi. The Minister of Finance, Hekuran Murati, then placed himself in the middle, moving a file in the air.

But he was pushed by Lushtaku, who was then hit by Bislimi with a bottle of water. Lushtaku then had a physical collision with Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, and more MPs from the PDK and government ministers joined in the fight, while speaker Konjufca called for the police.

Vetevendosje MP Fitore Pacolli said that when the incident happened, Kurti was talking about “extending [Kosovo’s] sovereignty and control in the north,” claiming he was attacked because what he was saying “hinders the opposition”.

But Lushtaku from the PDK on Facebook claimed his reaction with the water bottle was directed against both Kosovo Serb businessman Milan “Radoicic and his servant”. Radoicic is widely considered the real powerholder in the Serb-majority north.

The affray started in Thursday’s parliamentary session after recordings were published of the Vetevendosje parliamentary group chief, Mimoza Kusari-Lila, meeting Slavko Simic, a former MP for the Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party, Srpska Lista.

In the recordings, published by Kosovo media outlet Nacionale, believed to date from June last year, the two mention that Kusari-Lila has discussed matters with Radoicic, also Srpska Lista deputy leader, particularly on electricity in the north.

Kosovo Serbs in four municipalities in the north have not paid their electricity bills since the Kosovo war ended; 2013 and 2015 Brussels agreements between Kosovo and Serbia, designed to solve this and other issues, have not been implemented.

Radoicic is currently wanted in Kosovo on suspicion of corruption in construction in Brezovica mountain resort and is also a suspect for the murder of a rival Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, in 2018. Radoicic is also on a US black list for involvement in international organised crime.

Kusari-Lila confirmed that she had spoken with Radoicic, and that PM Kurti, as leader of Vetevendosje, had been informed. Vetevendosje has regularly criticised politicians who have been seen with Radoicic.

Eliza Hoxha, on behalf of PDK MPs, on Thursday called for parliament to be dissolved and for extraordinary elections, claiming that the audio-recordings proved links between Kurti, Srpska Lista and Radoicic.

“What more needs to happen to understand that you are caught by a criminal who is on a black list in America, and has an arrest warrant from the Prosecutor’s Office? Neither your resignation nor dismissal are enough because you have daily coordination with Radoicic, not with the Albanians or with the internationals,” Hoxha told the assembly.

Before the altercation in parliament, Kurti had claimed that, before his government was formed, in 2021, an arrest warrant for Radoicic, for suspected involvement in the murder of Ivanovic, had been revoked.

“Under previous governments, this criminal was in Mitrovica and in Pristina [in Kosovo]. Now, because of our contribution, he is in a hotel in Kopaonik, in Serbia,” Kurti said.

US ambassador to Kosovo Jeffrey Hovenier condemned the violence in parliament, writing on Twitter that, “resorting to violence is never an acceptable means to express disagreement”.

The head of the other main opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Arben Gashi, blamed the government for the fight.

He claimed the situation “escalated when ministers attacked an MP. Ministers constantly have behaved violently against MPs. I have asked several times for measures to be taken against the ministers.”

Source : Balkaninsight