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Serbian minister calls slain Oliver Ivanovic a man committed to his homeland

January 17, 0:19 UTC+3 BELGRADE

"He was extremely bound to Kosovska Mitrovica and, frankly speaking, I didn’t understand him," he said

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© AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

BELGRADE, January 16. /TASS/. Oliver Ivanovic, a leader of Kosovan Serbs, the head of the Freedom, Democracy, Truth civic platform was extremely devoted to the city of Kosovska Mitrovica and he did not want to leave it, Serbia’s Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic told national television on Tuesday.

Ljajic was a long-time friend of the late Ivanovic.

"He was extremely bound to Kosovska Mitrovica and, frankly speaking, I didn’t understand him," he said. "After the arson attacks on his car and personal threats to him I asked him, what are you doing over there in Mitrovica. He was a target of attacks from all sides and I spoke to him about it."

"He had a subtle understanding of the political situation but he wanted to overhaul everything democratically and that’s the main difference between him and all others," Ljajic said. "He was an obstacle for all of them."

Serbian television has retrieved from its archives the shows where Ivanovic took part. One of them contained his explanation for the devotion to Kosovska Mitrovica.

"Why are the Albanians craving to take it away from us," Ivanovic said. "Because Mitrovica is the only serious industrial center in Kosovo and it presents the only chance of industrialization for them, and that’s why it’s so important to stay and live here at all costs."

He was gunned down on Tuesday morning while entering his party’s office. A colleague of his told reporter neither she nor anyone else had heard the sounds of shots. It was a neighbor who was returning from a shop that found the wounded Ivanovic.

Somewhat later, the police found a burned car, in which the assassins had supposedly been riding.

Ivanovic was rushed to a hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica with five gunshot wounds in the upper region of his chest. Doctors there did everything they could to rescue him but to no avail.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic convened an emergency meeting of the national Security Council in the wake of the assassination, and the head of the government office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric said the Serbian delegation was suspending technical dialogue with the Kosovo authorities in Brussels and returning to Belgrade.

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