Thursday, March 22, 2007

Samurai Hand Grenade

No, it's not some cool foreign flick but rather last night at around 2100 hours unknown persons threw a hand grenade into the courtyard of the Samurai sushi restaurant near OSCE.  The restaurant is very popular with internationals and one of my favorite places to eat downtown.  Friends joke that when asked what I want to eat downtown, 50% of the time I will reply "Samurai". 

Anyways, the road is closed this morning, probably for an ongoing investigation.  I will be interested to find out the story of what happened and whether or not they catch anyone...or anyone claims responsibility.  There were people dining inside the restaurant when the grenade exploded but no one was injured.  There were only minor material damages reported.

There been a series of protests over the past couple of days.  In Skenderaj, there have been protests for almost a week straight over socially-owned houses being distributed by the municipality.  Mini-bus drivers in Kacanik have been protesting a municipal decision to stop their services.  Every day seems to bring more people to the protest.  And today, 250 works from Ferizaj protested outside the KTA (Kosovo Trust Agency) about non-compliance with a court order concerning the steel tube factory where they work.

And 20 activists of the new local anti-corruption NGO (COHU) protested outside the government building citing corruption in the bidding for the 2nd mobile phone operator in Kosovo.  Over the past couple of years, five or so tenders have been held for a new mobile phone operator in the province but the decisions have either been overturned by UNMIK or the government due to discrepancies or misrepresentations.  Vala is operated by PTK and the power behind the company is rumored to be none other than Ramush Haradinaj.

Thinking about Ramush, I think I forgot to mention that his court case began at the beginning of the month so he has gone to the Hague to answer war crimes charges for his time as a commander in the KLA (UCK in Albanian).    Posters and billboards have popped up all over Pristina saying things like "We are with Ramush" and showing him with children.  It is quite an impressive PR campaign!  I'll have to try to get a photo on some of the posters...but being that most are in the middle of the road, it will be tricky :o)