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Serbia Orthodox Church ‘Shameful’ for Honouring Seselj, Party Says

Opposition party condemns Serbian Orthodox Church diocese for awarding the convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj.

Vojislav Seselj casts his ballot at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia, 24 April 2016. [EPA | Srdjan Suki]

The League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, LSV, on Monday said it was “shameful” that the convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj had received awards and decorations, referring to a recent award from a diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC.

“Seselj dedicated his entire political career to the promotion of hatred, aggression but also political madness, and to the heritage of values ​​that are deeply anti-civilizational but also deeply anti-Christian,” its statement said.

“War criminals and other protagonists of the ‘blood and soil’ ideology must be a thing of the past in our society,” it added.

A US diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the New Gracanica-Midwestern diocese, on Sunday awarded the Order of St Bishop Mardari to Seselj, the Serbian Radical Party, which is led by Seselj, announced.

Seselj had said it was a great pleasure and honour for him to receive this high award, the statement added.

Another opposition party, the Movement of Free Citizens, PSG, on Sunday also criticized the award, calling Seselj a leading representative of the darkest policy in the history of Serbia, which led to bloody wars, persecution and the expulsion of people in the Western Balkans.

This is not the first Church award for Seselj. In 2015, he received the Order of the White Angel of the First Order from the then bishop of Mileseva Filaret, who was dismissed the same year.

He also received the Order of the Golden Image of Saint Peter the Second Secret Seer of Lovcen, from the late Metropolitan of Montenegro, Amfilohije, also in 2015.

Seselj was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2018 by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for inciting war crimes against ethnic Croats in the Serbian village of Hrtkovci in 1992.

However, because of the years, he had already spent in custody, he did not have to serve the sentence.

Seselj’s legal battles are not yet over. There is an ongoing civil case against both him and Serbia launched by one of the Croats who had to flee Hrtkovci in 1992. He is suing for compensation at the Higher Court in Belgrade.

The Serbian Church has honoured a number of controversial figures. Last week, the Patriarch of the Church, Porfirije, awarded the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, the highest award of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Order of St Sava of the First Degree for Merit.


(c) 2022, Balkan Transitional Justice


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