Dejan “Deki” Beric is a Serbian volunteer fighter serving with the Novorussia Armed Forces in defense of the Donbass. In this interview with journalist Ivan Maksimovic, Beric, a sniper, explains his motivations and the political atmosphere in his homeland. For centuries now Serbs and Russians have fought alongside one another, and the journey of Beric and other Serbs can be viewed as a continuation of this fraternal bond. Translated by Mark Hackard.
Why are you here in Novorussia? What was your motive in coming to the edge of the world, about which we knew almost nothing until recently, in order to risk your life? How and because of what?
I’ve told why I’m in Novorussia many times already. So I’ll be brief right now. I came to help our Orthodox brothers and fight against the NATO criminals who bombed our land, just as more than anyone they have saber-rattled and threatened to attack Crimea. I had forgotten then the fact that NATO and the countries supporting this organization are the usual cowards. They can enter a conflict only where there’s the possibility of bombing from afar, if possible against 90% civilian targets to sow fear and panic. So they haven’t directly participated, but their influence is clearly visible here. And so several American officers were wounded here. They weren’t in battle – they’re located a bit further from the frontline and explain how important it is to destroy civilian targets. I’ve heard this from more than one Ukrainian POW, with a multitude repeating the same words.
How do you see events today in the former Ukraine? If you had waited up to the present moment, would your decision today be the same as it was when you came to Novorussia?
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The situation in Ukraine is more than horrible. If it weren’t for the awful censorship in the Serbian press, then you would be able to see all the horrors of civil war. What we are shown is more than 50% lies.
I can find a simple explanation for this: in Serbia the objective press hasn’t been bought by foreigners. But there is none, so whatever’s not bought is controlled through the government, which is not Serbian and is pushing Serbia to the precipice. I’d like to be wrong…If I hadn’t come over from the very beginning, I would have after the first photos of children murdered in the streets and in schools…
Everyone has a different awareness. I will never forget what the criminals from NATO did in Serbia. I’ll always repeat this – not so that people know I haven’t forgotten, but to remind those who have forgotten. I simply can’t imagine myself sitting in a warm room and playing on the computer when vampiric fascism is awakening in its worst form.
Dejan was “hiding” from the press for a long while until he went on a highly important mission with Motorola’s group of Novorussian fighters. From that moment his life from a standpoint of popularity entered a new phase.
The Serbian public found out about you when it was announced you had blown up a Ukrainian junta armored transport with your rifle. Was this one of the most important events during the war in former Ukraine for you as well?
I was hiding skillfully until we came to help Motorola’s group, which is when we punched through a corridor for the towns Snezhnoe-Stepanovka-Marinovka. They had a reporter with them, and he recored what happened on a small video camera. He asked me for an interview and said it was only for them, and already the next day it turned up on Youtube.
I’ve gone through all the sectors where battles were engaged. Among Serbs in battle I’ve met only one man, Slavisha from Belgrade. Unfortunately he’s not with us now; he’s resting, since when an airplane bombed the house they were in, he got shrapnel in the stomach. He’s alright now, but he’s still not adequate for hard work.
Dejan tells us that in Novorussia he’s not with the Chetniks or any other group, but with the people for whom he came, and it’s very important to him that the local populace accept him as their own.
I proudly wear a five-pointed star on my beret next to my bat reconnaissance pin. Some in Serbia don’t like this, but it’s my choice. Here people are proud of this.
I can’t set apart a most important event. Maybe in Marinovka, when I was able to blow up an armored transport carrier with shots from my sniper rifle. I was using armor-piercing incendiary rounds. It wasn’t some feat like they ascribe to me – the carrier was attacking our positions and I was firing from a heavy-caliber weapon. It passed us by, so we moved forward a bit further than planned. I shot it up more from the disadvantage of having no anti-tank weapons on me. The armor proved weak. I don’t know where I hit, but after a pair of bullets, it caught on fire.
It’s a widespread opinion that in war, snipers find themselves concealment and from there “calmly” shoot at moving targets by choice. What really is a sniper in war?
This opinion is mistaken. I’m a normal soldier, like others with automatic rifles. I became a sniper by force of circumstances. A sniper at the famous airport in Donetsk was killing two to three civilians a day. For four days they couldn’t get him. In four days that balance had reached twelve killed, and of them only one man – the rest were women and children. I grabbed a sniper rifle and went to wait for him. I studied where he was operating from and designated the point where I’d lie in wait for him. I was lucky that I had calculated correctly and saw him after his first shot. He wasn’t firing anymore after that. Then I was given an assignment to destroy snipers. And that, I suppose, is my main task. Or the hardest one, in any case. Sometimes I read comments in the press that some people see a sniper as murdering civilians. It’s painful to read such things, but as a smart man said, “it’s not important what is said, but who says it.” And so as before, I’m a sniper in a reconnaissance-sabotage brigade named Ryazan in honor of our commander. We were a recon-sabotage group with one armored carrier, and now it’s a brigade with three hundred combatants and solid hardware.
How do the people of Novorussia and how do you look upon the reaction in Serbia? Including both the people and the government.
I don’t want to speak of how people here view the reaction from Serbia, because I can’t explain the actions of the Serbian government.
I’ll say only that it’s unimportant what the government thinks – what the people thinks is important. There is a lot of moral support, which is very important. The government gave away Serbia, so how can it be an indicator of attitudes after that? We are normal people who have always shed blood for one another; we are the measure of relations between the two peoples. Just as during the criminal bombardment of Serbia, when the government in Russia didn’t represent the Russian people. Russians came to help as volunteers. Many of them married in Serbia and Republika Srpska.
Recently a law was passed that envisages criminal punishment for participants in wars outside Serbia. This law doesn’t concern Serbian soldiers, who together with NATO forces “guard the peace,” who go on these missions voluntarily and exclusively for money. Those who go in such a way to foreign wars are said to represent their country with pride.
You are in Novorussia to defend the local population from fascism. You’re participating in the defense of Orthodox holy places and nations, and you’re not demanding money for it. How do you view this law?
Your question is relevant. I’ll express my opinion and relay what former soldiers of the criminal NATO army say.
Fighters who had served five years on contract in the French army arrived into our brigade three months ago. The man who was most respected in this group was a Frenchman of Serbian descent, Nicola. Now he’s the commander of an international group. We’re no longer together, but we maintain contact when possible. What is there worth saying anything about NATO after his words: “I was in this criminal army in Afghanistan and I’m ashamed of it. I came here to fight against fascism.”
What must happen with a man in order to leave a well-paid, well-organized army and come to fight in an army where they don’t pay? Concerning organization, there’s still much that needs to be done. When he arrived I told him they fight here, and he didn’t believe it. Some twenty days later, when he went to Donetsk, we met. With a smile he told me what he thought, that we scare him, but everything is precisely so. Perhaps many won’t understand why he did this, but I know. I saw him when he arrived and again recently. No one will drive him from here; his conscience has awakened.
And this conscience should awaken in Serbia. There are arriving ever more men who were in the armies of the NATO nations, and they finally want to struggle for a just cause.
Dejan says that this law forbidding participation in foreign wars was passed on the initiative and wishes of someone outside of Serbia, someone who desires to defend their own interests.
Serbia is no longer the country of its inhabitants. Our beautiful land is managed by foreigners, and their blind followers are in power. I read this law and for me, as a man who knows what loyalty to one’s country is, it’s more than ridiculous. Why? I can’t precisely cite it right now, but it’s written that only the Serbian regular army can participate in wars beyond Serbia’s borders. So the Serbian army becomes one of the cogs in the NATO machine. The Serbian army will be participating in the murder of civilians, just as seventeen armies abused Serbia.
I hope that God will forgive our government for passing such a shameful law. I was horrified when I read it. I didn’t want to engage in politics, but by their actions they force me to… Aleksandr Vucic called upon us to return to Serbia and no longer disgrace her. I don’t know whether he was ashamed of his ancestors when he announced such a thing. Both of his grandfathers fought against the fascists. Struggle against injustice is in our blood, and by their actions they are pushing men to come here. If I understood correctly, and correct me if I’m wrong, but we, arriving here by the call of our hearts, are disgracing Serbia, and those who are mercenaries in armed forces that bombed maternity homes, hospitals, schools, houses, and trains – they are defending Serbia’s honor. In my opinion that’s mad.
Remember the great words said on holy Serbian soil: “It’s not important how many of the enemy there are, what’s important is the sacred place you defend.” And so I remain here in the hope that in Serbia normal men will come to power and change the law so that I can go to my country. I’m interested solely in whether someone will pass a law condemning the government, which by its actions has led people in Serbia to commit suicide because they cannot pay their bills after their already minor pensions or salaries, earned by their labor, were reduced. The government carries direct responsibility for a multitude of lost lives in Serbia. To whom will they answer for this? And to finish with politics: Gentlemen politicians, I wish you long life and robust health, so that you can await the marriage of your great grandsons, and then see how future generations will be ashamed of what you have done.
Mark Hackard is an independent foreign policy analyst. He earned a BA in Russian Language from Georgetown University and an MA in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University. He studies the intersection of political culture, religion and strategic issues, which he approaches from a traditionalist-conservative position. Some of his major influences are Joseph de Maistre, Juan Donoso Cortes, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Rene Guenon and Fr. Seraphim Rose.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.