, Ph.D. (often Zoran Djindjić,
from Serbian Зоран Ђинђић, ) (1
August 1952 – 12 March 2003) was a Serbian prime
minister, mayor of Belgrade, long-time
opposition politician and a philosopher by profession.
Early life and education
born in Bosanski
Šamac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FPR
Yugoslavia where his father had been stationed at the time as
an officer of the Yugoslav
People's Army (JNA).
Đinđić's family, on his father's
side, originated from Toplica
southern region of Serbia. His mother Mila Dušanić, a housewife,
raised him and his elder sister Gordana in various places wherever
it was that the father's job took the family. Ten years of Zoran's
childhood were spent in the town of Travnik.
Eventually, his mother gained a post in Belgrade, and the family
moved to the capital. There, Zoran Đinđić attended Ninth Belgrade Gymnasium
, and later
studied philosophy at the University of Belgrade
, graduating in
1974. It was during university days that he developed an interest
in politics. After being convicted by the communist regime
and through Party-controlled media
for his role in attempt to organize an independent political
movement of Yugoslav students, Đinđić left for West Germany.
The reason for this was help of former
Chancellor Willy Brandt
persuaded authorities to let Đinđić come to Germany instead of
serving sentence in Yugoslavia. He continued his studies with professor
Jürgen Habermas in Frankfurt.
Germany, Đinđić obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of
Konstanz in 1979.
He became proficient in German
, unlike English, which he mastered
later, while serving as Serbian prime minister.
Đinđić was married to Ružica, with whom he had a daughter and a
son, Jovana and Luka, both minors at the time of his death.
Đinđić returned to SFR
Yugoslavia to take a teaching post at the University of Novi Sad, and on
December 11, 1989 together with other Serb intellectuals and
pro-democracy activists he founded the
liberal Democratic Party (DS) based on the
similarly conceptualized party that existed in the
He became the party's Executive Board
Chairman in 1990, and got elected to the Parliament of Serbia
the same year. In
1993 he replaced Dragoljub
as President of the Democratic Party.
After a massive series of
over election fraud perpetrated by the central
government under Slobodan
during the winter 1996–1997, Đinđić became Mayor of Belgrade
, the first non-communist
mayor to hold that post after the Second World War
. United only by their
political enemy, the coalition "Zajedno" (Together) with Vuk Drašković
and Vesna Pešić
collapsed only four months
after their victory. Đinđić was voted out of his position as
Belgrade mayor by the SPO
Đinđić and his party boycotted the 1997 Serbian presidential and
parliamentary elections, as did others in the "democratic bloc"
Party of Serbia
. This caused the Socialists and Radicals to
sweep most of the seats, leaving the third largest portion to
's SPO. The
boycott helped forced a second set of elections when the second
round was ruled to have had insufficient turnout. Serbian law at
the time mandated at least 50% turnout for a president to be
elected. In this case, Vojislav Šešelj
won the second
round against the Socialists' Zoran
; when the election was re-done, Šešelj lost to the
This caused Šešelj to allege electoral fraud and lead protests
against the government. He changed his mind however when the
began in early 1998, and
his Radicals joined the government as a coalition partner.
Drašković joined the Yugoslav government in early 1999, this left
Đinđić as Serbia's main opposition leader as NATO's war began
former secret policeman, anti-regime publisher and journalist
Slavko Ćuruvija was murdered on
Orthodox Easter during NATO
bombing of Yugoslavia, Đinđić sought safety and fled to
temporary exile in Montenegro, allegedly because he was next on the assassination
list of then-President Slobodan Milošević's secret service .
In September 1999, Đinđić was named by Time
magazine as one of the most
important politicians at the beginning of the 21st century.
Photos of his handshake with Bill
at time of the bombings have been used to portray him
as a traitor, as well as by the opposition to show his and
accordingly Belgrade's possible international recognition. Upon his
return to the country in July 1999, Đinđić was charged with
endangering state security in a trial that was closed to the public
and subsequently found out to be rigged.
A series of mysterious assassinations included the shooting of
Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle
on 7 February 2000 in a restaurant. Serbian Radical
Party leader Vojislav Šešelj maintained during his testimony at the
Slobodan Milošević trial that this murder was carried as a prelude
to the successful hijacking of the Montenegrin People's
in October 2000 by Predrag Bulatović
, who successfully
reversed the parliamentary majority won by Milošević and his
allies, moving his party in alliance with Đinđić's Democratic Opposition of
(DOS). In April, JAT
Yugoslav United Left
down as he was walking his dog. In late August, former Serbian President
Ivan Stambolić disappeared; he
had been murdered on Fruška Gora mountain by members of Serbia's Special Operations Unit.
Đinđić and his allies openly accused Milošević of these events
either by claiming that he had either ordered them or was no longer
able to maintain control and should therefore step down.
played a prominent role in the September 2000 presidential
elections in the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia and in the 5th
October uprising that overthrew the Milošević regime.
While the nationalist Koštunica headlined the effort in October,
Đinđić lead the broad-based 19-party Democratic Opposition of
coalition to its victory in Serbian elections of
December 2000. He became the Prime Minister of Serbia
Đinđić played a key role in sending Milošević to the ICTY in The Hague .
Later, Đinđić said that he became
disillusioned with the protracted trial of Milošević, qualifying it
as a "circus" . Đinđić said the court in The Hague was "allowing
Milošević to behave like a demagogue and to control the trial"
In August 2001, after he briefed Koštunica's cabinet on Serbian
government links with organised crime, former Serbian State
Security officer Momir
was murdered. This caused Koštunica and his 45 DSS
members of parliament to withdraw from DOS and the government.
Đinđić attempted to expel the DSS members from parliament 
, referring to the existence of imperative mandate
that places all
deputies under the control of the party elected to parliament.
Meanwhile, Koštunica and his party openly accused Đinđić of
involvement with organised
Đinđić was received favorably by Western nations. His meetings with
Western leaders George W. Bush
, Tony Blair
and others strongly
indicated that the West supported his politics. Đinđić had constant
disagreements with his ex-coalition partner and then-Yugoslav
federal president Vojislav Koštunica, who was his biggest political
rival in Serbia itself. His earlier close relationship with
Montenegrin president Milo
had also cooled because of Đukanović's aspiration for
an independent Montenegro state.
Đinđić was determined to clean Serbia from organized crime, and
created the "Special Tribunal" with a witness protection program.
This alarmed organized crime leaders, and was a main reason for the
At the order of former commander of Special Operations Unit of
Yugoslavia's secret police, Milorad "Legija
Ulemek, Đinđić was assassinated by Ulemek's soldier Zvezdan Jovanović
in Belgrade on
March 12th, 2003. Jovanović shot him from the building across from
the main Serbian government building at 12:23 PM, hitting him once
in the chest. The high-power bullet of a Heckler & Koch
G3 assault rifle
penetrated his heart and killed him almost instantly. He was rushed
to a hospital where he was treated, but pronounced dead one hour
Milorad "Legija" Ulemek was blamed as the mastermind of the crime.
Legija previously helped remove Milošević from power on October
5th, 2000, and also led the operation to arrest Milošević in April
2001. Ulemek was one of the leading persons in the "Zemun clan
", a leading organized crime group in
Serbia. He was later prosecuted and convicted of being involved in
some of the mysterious assassinations and assassination attempts
that marked Yugoslavia in the months before Đinđić took
acting President of Serbia
declared a state of emergency immediately. Zoran Živković
elected by the Serbian Democratic Party
On May 23, 2007, twelve men were convicted for assassination of
Among the convicted defendants was former policeman Milorad
"Legija" Ulemek, who, during the four years preceding the murder of
Zoran Đinđić, had travelled to Switzerland, Austria, the Republic
of Macedonia, Greece, Singapore and Croatia using a fraudulent
passport that had been one of a batch of blank passports stolen
from the Croatian Consulate in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in
Ulemek, along with Zvezdan Jovanovic, was charged with being the
ringleader of the assassination plot carried out on 12 March 2003,
when Zoran Đinđić was fatally shot by a sniper while getting out of
his official car outside government buildings in Belgrade.
Five of twelve men convicted are still on the run and remain the
subject of INTERPOL Red Notices. Specialist officers in INTERPOL’s
Fugitive Investigative Support Unit continue to liaise with and
assist member countries in the investigation of various leads for
the following individuals wanted by Serbian authorities; Milan
Jurišić, Sretko Kalinić, Ninoslav Konstantinović, Vladimir
Milisavljević and Miloš Simović.
His solemn state procession and funeral, held on 15 March 2003, was
attended by hundreds of thousands of citizens and by foreign
delegations. Đinđić's death represented a political and moral
tragedy to many Serbs who saw in him a statesman of hope who
offered peaceful coexistence with neighboring nations, integration
to Europe and the rest of the world, economic prosperity and a
brighter future. He appealed to people in Serbia whose goal is for
their country to join the West, to join the European Union, and to
become "normal Europeans" with normal lives.
Đinđić and Koštunica realised that they both needed each other for
their respective goals. Koštunica believed that Serbia needed to
join the West so that it could keep Kosovo and so that Republika Srpska
could be maintained.
served as Đinđić's political opponent and critic during his
premiership, acknowledged his work two years later with these
Zoran Đinđić was the first to take this difficult task
to lead government in very unstable times.
Probably his energy and commitment made it possible for
things to move forward.
It is one thing to watch it from the sidelines and it
is completely different to be a part of it.
I understand that now when I am Prime Minister and
watch things a bit differently.
He was very important for the whole
Following his death, a small but influential movement emerged
throughout Serbia and the Serbian diaspora organized around a short
documentary about Zoran Đinđić (created by Belgrade director
documentary – "Ako Srbija Stane"
) – was a collection of edited speeches given by Đinđić
on a speaking tour in Serbia shortly before his death. A movement
called "Kapiraj" created a network of students and other young
people who were committed to copying and distributing the
documentary free of charge. This campaign was known by the slogan
"Kapiraj-kopiraj" (which means "Catch on and Copy" in Serbian) and
its purpose was to have a "non-party initiative to have as many
people as possible hear Đinđić's message, to put an end to the
fleeing from responsibility, and to do the most for oneself so that
Serbia does not stop."