Vojislav Šešelj

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Vojislav Šešelj (2016)
Vojislav Šešelj - signature.png

Vojislav Šešelj [ ʋǒjislaʋ ʃěʃeʎ ] ( Serbian - Cyrillic Војислав Шешељ ; born October 11, 1954 in Sarajevo , SFR Yugoslavia ) is a nationalist Serb politician , ideologist , lawyer and publicist . He is the party founder and chairman of the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS). On February 14, 2003, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia brought charges against Šešelj. Ten days after the indictment he was in custody . He remained imprisoned until the trial began. The trial began on November 27, 2006 and ended on March 31, 2016 with an acquittal after twelve years in prison. The prosecution appealed against Šešelj's acquittal on May 2, 2016. On April 11, 2018, he was found guilty on the appeal process, but was not re-imprisoned because he had served a long time in custody.



Vojislav Šešelj was in Sarajevo , the son of ethnically Serbian (Misita Nikola and Danica Šešelj, born) parents from the Eastern Herzegovina born, his father was a railroad worker from the village Orahov Do.



At the age of six, Šešelj began schooling in 1961 in Sarajevo in the “Vladimir Nazor” elementary school, but he soon switched to the newly established “Brotherhood and Unity” elementary school. According to himself, he was an excellent student and began to occupy himself with literary works at a young age, including those by Momčilo Nastasijević , Branko Ćopić and the Yugoslavian writer Tone Seliškar , as well as works by Honoré de Balzac , Émile Zola , Stendhal and Karl May . It is said that Šešelj discovered his interest in history , but also in social and natural sciences , during his primary school years.

Academic training and study visits

He studied law and sociology at the University of Sarajevo with a scholarship , where he successfully graduated in 1976. He also used the study time for some study visits to Germany and the United States . He was at the University of Mannheim in 1975, two years later he attended the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald , and in 1978 he also spent some time at the Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan . At the University of Belgrade in 1979 he submitted his dissertation The Political Nature of Militarism and Fascism , a contribution to the analysis of the Marxist criticism of the political forms of bourgeois democracy , and was the youngest student in the history of Yugoslavia to receive a doctorate in rights .


University teaching and expulsion from the party

After his military service , he began working as a lecturer in sociology at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Sarajevo, where he had already taught after completing his first degree. When he exposed the scientific work of a protégé of the communist leadership as plagiarism in the same year , it caused a scandal and he came into conflict for the first time with influential political figures of the Yugoslav republic. The party functionary Brano Miljuš , chairman of the Communist League in Sarajevo, had applied for a master's degree at the university with a thesis on The Non-Aligned Politics of Socialist Yugoslavia . The work praised Professor Hamdija Pozderac , the former president of the republic and its parliament. However, by comparing sources, Šešelj was able to prove that Miljuš had copied his master’s text almost verbatim from a propaganda brochure by five party authors. Miljuš did not get an academic title, but thanks to the protection of comrades he remained at the top of the party. Šešelj, on the other hand, who had exposed the hoax, was expelled from the Communist League on December 4, 1981 and has since suffered constant harassment from the party and police in Sarajevo . In the spring of 1982 he was transferred to an insignificant post within the faculty, which left him with no effect. Nevertheless, Šešelj stayed at the university until 1984.

UDBA personal form from Šešelj

At the same time, Šešelj is said to have been an informant of the Yugoslav secret police UDBA under the code name Magistar .

From 1991 he held a professorship at the University of Pristina .

Political activity

At the age of 17, Šešelj joined the Union of Communists of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a sub-organization of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia, and was a committed member.

Ideological change and first imprisonment

After he was expelled from the party, Šešelj turned away from communism and instead began to support Serbian nationalist ideas. On July 9, 1984, Šešelj was found guilty of "anarcho-liberalist and nationalist views" of the crime of "counterrevolutionary threats to society" and sentenced to eight years in prison. His sentence was reduced by the Yugoslav Supreme Court to six, then four and finally two years. Numerous intellectuals from all over Yugoslavia advocated his release while he went on hunger strike . He spent a total of 22 months in Zenica Prison , including over half a year in solitary confinement .

After his release from prison in March 1986, Šešelj moved to Belgrade. There he increasingly joined Serbian nationalist groups and began to publish books. He made friends with Vuk Drašković , who became the godfather of his eldest son. Together with Drašković, Šešelj went on a trip to the USA and Canada in 1989 , where both gave lectures to the Serbian diaspora and collected donations. During this trip, he was awarded the exiled Orthodox priest Momcilo Đujić the fateful June 15, 1989, the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo , the title of Chetnik - Voivod (Chetnik leader), the Šešelj still bears today, and ordered him to "expel all Croatians, Albanians and other foreign elements from the sacred Serbian soil."

Foundation of various nationalist organizations
Vojislav Šešelj (right)

After returning from the USA, Šešelj founded the Serbian Libertarian Movement (Srpski Slobodarski Pokret) on January 23, 1990 , which was merged on March 14, 1990 with a breakaway wing of the Serbian People's Renewal (Srpska narodna obnova, NO) led by Drašković. The result was the monarchist Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO Serbian Renewal Movement), working for the reinstatement of the Serbian Karadjordjevic - dynasty as the head of a Greater Serbia began.

On June 18, 1990, just three months after the SPO inception, one led by Šešelj radical faction split off and called irregulars organization Serbian Chetnik Movement ( Srpski Četnički Pokret SCP) to life, but soon because of their radical agenda was banned after it was founded in autumn 1990 and was therefore not allowed to participate in the first free parliamentary elections in the Republic of Serbia in December of the same year. Also in the fall of 1990, Šešelj was sentenced again to prison for recruiting volunteers for paramilitary support for the Knin Serbs, but he was quickly released, apparently because of an agreement with the authorities, and then stood for election on December 9, 1990 the office of President of the Yugoslav Republic of Serbia , where he achieved fourth place with 96,277 votes (1.91%) behind Slobodan Milošević , Vuk Drašković and Ivan Đurić .

On February 23, 1991, in Kragujevac , Šešelj founded the Serbian Radical Party (Srpska Radikalna Stranka SRS), which was classified as extreme nationalist or neo-fascist , out of the already banned Chetnik movement, a militia member of this militia who committed serious war crimes during the Yugoslav wars in Vojvodina , were accused in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, were automatically members of the SRS until the final dissolution in April 1994. In June 1991 Šešelj was elected a member of the Serbian Parliament. He took a clearly nationalist course, with a large part of his campaigns for the creation of a Greater Serbia with the unification of all regions inhabited by Serbs in the former Yugoslavia.

Šešelj threatened to attack the Slovenian nuclear power plant Krško , the Croatian capital Zagreb and other European targets with long-range missiles .

Role during the Milošević governments

Šešelj's political activities were characterized alternately by cooperation and divergence with the government around Slobodan Milošević.

After the parliamentary elections in late 1992, Šešelj's SRS supported a minority government led by Milošević's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

On behalf of Milošević, the Šešeljs successfully initiated a vote of no confidence by the Serbian parliament against Prime Minister Milan Panić , who had previously openly opposed Milošević.

Shortly afterwards, at Šešelj's instigation, the first President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia , consisting of Serbia and Montenegro , the writer Dobrica Ćosić , was expressed suspicion. Ćosić had been a long-time friend of Šešelj, he campaigned for Šešelj's release from prison in 1984 and also supported him financially. Last but not least, Šešelj from Ćosić adopted a large part of his nationalistic outlook.

The agreement between the socialist Milošević and the ultra-nationalist Šešelj broke up as early as 1993, after Milošević distanced himself from the Republika Srpska on the occasion of the Vance-Owen peace plan . As a result, Šešelj withdrew its support from the government and attacked Milošević and his wife Mira Marković through aggressive publications with titles such as The Red Tyrant of Dedinje, The Serbian Couple Ceauşescu and The Witch from Tolstoy Street .

This was followed by two more prison terms for aggressive incidents in parliament and the organization of an unannounced mass rally in Gnjilane, Kosovo, before he insulted Milošević as the “greatest traitor of the Serbian people” on the occasion of the signing of the Dayton Agreement . Nevertheless, after the 1997 elections, the SPS and SRS formed a coalition government called the “government of national unity” with Šešelj as vice-premier.

After a heated televised duel in 1997, Šešelj's bodyguard inflicted serious physical injuries on lawyer Nikola Barović . Šešelj later stated that Barović had "slipped on a banana peel".

Collaboration with leaders of other right-wing extremist parties

Šešelj has good relations with Vladimir Schirinowski and Jean-Marie Le Pen . In October 1995, Shirinovsky traveled to Belgrade and signed a cooperation agreement with Šešeljs SRS. In 1997 the Frenchman Le Pen came to Belgrade to show solidarity, where he was received by Šešelj. In the same year Šešelj signed a cooperation agreement for the SRS with Ján Slota , the chairman of the Slovak National Party (SNS) .

Further active participation in elections

In the Serbian presidential elections in 2002 Šešelj reached third place behind Vojislav Kostunica and Miroljub Labus with 23.36% of the vote . He was publicly supported by Milošević, who made an election recommendation for Šešelj from the Hague prison, although Milošević's party had put up its own candidate with Velimir "Bata" Živojinović .

Šešelj's Serbian Radical Party was the strongest party in the parliamentary elections on December 28, 2003 with 27.7% of the vote, but found no other party to form a government and therefore remained in the opposition. On January 21, 2007 , his party achieved a gain and came back to first place with 28.7%, but remained in opposition. In the early elections in 2008 , despite a renewed gain (29.45%), she only came second behind the coalition for a European Serbia led by Boris Tadić .

Charged before the Hague Tribunal and acquittal

On February 14, 2003, Šešelj was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague with crimes against humanity and violations of war laws or customs . According to the indictment laid out by the then chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte , he was said to have been part of a criminal organization during the Croatian and Bosnian wars , the aim of which was the forcible and permanent eviction of the majority of Croatians and Bosniaks from an area that made up around a third of the territory the then Yugoslav Socialist Republic of Croatia , as well as large parts of the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and certain regions of the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina . The association is said to have originated before August 1, 1991 and operated at least until December 1995. Šešelj is said to have participated in the operations until a conflict in September 1993 between him and the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević . He is said to be responsible for a part of the war crimes committed during this period , which this association is charged with. According to the indictment, he was involved in planning and preparing the takeover of villages in the municipalities of Vukovar and Voćin , as well as those in Bosanski Šamac and Zvornik , as well as the subsequent evictions. The prosecution alleges that Šešelj played a leading role in the recruitment, training, financing and supply of a Serbian paramilitary unit, the so-called “Šešeljevci” (“Šešelians”), which some also refer to as the “Chetniks” and which by majority perform Volunteers who have been linked to the SRS. He is also said to have stoked national hatred with incendiary speeches and called for war crimes.

Ten days after the charges were brought, Šešelj surrendered to the ICTY, despite the fact that he described the ad hoc criminal court as illegal and all allegations as baseless and unfounded. The indictment was finally read out on November 27, 2006 without the accused, as Šešelj, who had been on a hunger strike to reinforce his demands (self-defense, visits to his wife and receipt of all court documents in Serbian only), since November 10, and refused to appear in court. After two weeks of hunger strike, the court finally allowed Šešelj to defend himself. A year later, the judges reread the charges and on December 11, 2007, the evidence-taking process began.

One of his advisors is the lawyer Jonathan Levy . He is known by the representation of Ustasha -Opfern and the indictment in 1999 against Switzerland and the Vatican Bank di Religione per le Opere Istituto by accusing Serbian gold, money and other assets worth 50 million to 150 million dollars to keep hidden robbed by Serbs and Jews during the time of the formerly Independent State of Croatia (NDH) . Levy represents Šešelj's rights free of charge.

Vojislav Šešelj before the ICTY (2009)

In July 2009, Šešelj was sentenced by the ICTY to a 15-month prison term for disobeying the court for publishing proprietary information about three witnesses in a book published in 2007. The closing argument took place in March 2012, his acquittal of the war crimes and crimes against humanity allegations took place on March 31, 2016. In a majority decision, the judges dismissed all charges and criticized the alleged evidence of the prosecutors. The outvoted judge Flavia Lattanzi sharply criticized the judgment of her two colleagues in her special vote . The long-time judge Wolfgang Schomburg remarked that the judge Frederik Harhoff had been wrongly dismissed after the end of the main hearing because of alleged bias and that his substitute had only ruled from studying the files.

Šešelj had previously been provisionally released by the ICTY after almost twelve years of trial in November 2014 for health reasons in order to cure his illness in his homeland. When Šešelj arrived in Belgrade on November 12th , he called for new elections and announced that he would deal with politics before he could seek treatment. He also accused the Serbian presidents Tomislav Nikolić and Aleksandar Vučić as “traitors to their homeland” and stated that he wanted to return to power as soon as possible.

After the provisional release

On April 1, 2015, Šešelj provocatively burned a Croatian flag in front of the Palace of Justice in Belgrade, where the deputy chairman of the Serbian Radical Party Nemanja Šarović for burning the flags of NATO, EU, Kosovo and USA in 2012 during a protest against the liberation of the former sub-commanders of the UÇK and today's politician Ramush Haradinaj should be indicted. He said he would testify that he ordered the flags to be burned. Šešelj ruled out a return to The Hague after the Appeals Panel of the UN Tribunal on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia decided that he should return to custody in The Hague. He went on to say that he had defeated the Hague Tribunal and that the decision to return to prison would not interest him. On August 5, 2015, Šešelj repeated the burning of the flag, this time lighting two Croatian flags in front of the Croatian embassy in Belgrade.

Conviction in the appellate court

On April 11, 2018, he was found guilty in the appeal process , but was no longer imprisoned because the length of the pre-trial detention had already exceeded the pronounced term of ten years.


Vojislav Šešelj is married for the second time. He has three sons (Aleksandar, Mihajlo and Vladimir) with his current wife Jadranka (née Pavlović) and a son (Nikola) from his first marriage to Vesna Mudreša.

According to information from the end of March 2016, Šešelj suffered from cancer, but is now cured, according to Serbian media.


  • Jens Reuter, Konrad Clewing: The Kosovo conflict: causes, course, perspectives. Wieserverlag, Klagenfurt 2000, ISBN 3-85129-329-0 .

Web links

Commons : Vojislav Šešelj  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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