Friday, February 17, 2006

Belgrade Underground

This is almost two years old - why didn't I know about this?

Secret Complex Exists Underneath Belgrade
The entrance is hidden beneath a hilltop army barracks in Belgrade's Topcider district, which is home to several embassies and luxurious diplomatic residences.

According to media reports citing unnamed military sources, a 185-foot-deep elevator shaft leads down to a six-story underground complex dug into rock and reinforced by 10-foot-thick concrete walls.

Retired Gen. Momcilo Perisic, who was the army's chief of staff until 1999, confirmed that the sprawling complex is intended as a wartime command center.

The main hall is as big as a subway station and could be used to shelter tanks and trucks, the reports by the Vecernje Novosti newspaper and other media said.

Tunnels stretching for hundreds of yards link palaces, bunkers and safe houses. Rooms are separated by steel vault doors 10 feet high and a foot thick. The complex has its own power supply and ventilation.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is believed to have convened his war Cabinet there in 1999 while NATO bombs fell on his country for 78 days to punish him for cracking down on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

The complex is so well designed that Yugoslav construction firms were reportedly hired by deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to build a duplicate bunker near his hometown of Tikrit in the 1980s.

It would appear the ideal hiding place for a fugitive like Mladic, who is believed to have the support of Milosevic-era generals still commanding the army. The Bosnian Serb army chief was indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands for the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia.

Serbian Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic has insisted that no war-crimes suspects have been found inside. Otherwise, the military has been tightlipped about the complex, even threatening to prosecute media that have described it for violating laws on disclosing state secrets.

But once-unsuspecting neighbors make no secret about their desire to get a peek at Tito's tunnels.

"I didn't have any idea that I have been living on top of a major military secret," said Radmila Spasic, a 60-year-old housewife. "Now that the big secret is revealed, the army should open the complex to the public. It would became Belgrade's major tourist attraction."
More details here.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:33 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink