Who tried to burn down the US embassy in Skopje in 1999?

Dragan Pavlovic-Latas

Pavlovic-Latas

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On March 25, 1999, approximately 200 people broke off from a much larger crowd of pro-Serbian demonstrators in downtown Skopje, Macedonia, and, in a military-style operation, tore down the security perimeter around the US embassy and occupied its courtyard for several hours. With the US ambassador, Christopher Hill, and most of the embassy staff inside the building, the occupiers set fire to embassy cars and tried to set the building alight. By the time they were dispersed by police, the rioters had managed to destroy all the cars parked in the embassy’s courtyard, as well as a large part of the embassy building’s exterior. The demonstrators were protesting US and NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia, which had begun on the previous day, sparked by brutal ethnic clashes in the Kosovo region. But the question remains: who, if anyone, organized the attempted burning down of the US embassy? On Monday, Skopje-based daily newspaper Vreme (Time) published what it says are formerly secret documents, which show that Dragan Pavlovic-Latas, one of Macedonia’s most prominent newspaper and television editors, organized the attack on the embassy, on behalf of Yugoslavia’s State Security Service. The paper alleges Pavlovic-Latas was a paid informant for the Serbs, who asked him to arrange a seemingly spontaneous takeover of the US embassy by “outraged citizens”. The documents suggest that he told the Serbs he would try to reduce the embassy “to ashes”. But Pavlovic-Latas, who is now senior editor of Macedonia’s daily newspaper Vecer, and national television station Sitel, has rejected the charges and says he will sue Vreme for defaming his character.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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