Mikhail Polikarpov’s “Balkan Border” proves whose interests and against whom Russian volunteers fought in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the early 1990s. Polikarpov was one of them. After the war he wrote the book “Balkan Border” which is, in fact, a collection of testimonies and memories of Russian volunteers who fought in BiH.
“I was 25 years old in 1994, when I got on the train to Belgrade. The Hungarian border police almost stopped me, but in the end everything went well and I arrived in Serbia, and from there I took a bus to Sarajevo, to the area of the Jewish cemetery where the base of the Russian volunteer detachment was located. There were few of us. A total of 17 people. But the Serbs appreciated it very much and felt our support”, the author of the book and volunteer Mikhail Polikarpov will recall in an interview for the Russia Beyond portal, two years ago.
The book was published in 2017 and is exclusively dedicated to Russian volunteers who fought in BiH and Kosovo. The most famous Russian volunteer in BiH was named Igor Girkin. His nickname is Strelkov and he became known to the world public for leading pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. He is accused of crashing a Malaysian civilian plane in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, when 298 passengers were killed.
Girkin fought in Visegrad, a town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Serb soldiers, under the command of convicted war criminal Milan Lukic, burned captured Bosniak civilians, mostly women and children, on live bonfires. Igor Girkin, a volunteer, well connected with the Russian state intelligence services, was a comrade-in-arms of Lukić’s killers.
Milan’s cousin, Sredoje Lukic, took part in the burning of prisoners in Visegrad. The Hague tribunal indicted him in 1998. Sredoje Lukic has been hiding in Moscow for years. He surrendered in 2005, the same year his cousin Milan was arrested in Argentina. Sredoje was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Milan got a life sentence. Igor Girkin Strelkov, a Russian fighter from Visegrad, remained at large and today leads pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“The heroes were buried in the ground,” Mikhail Polikarpov said in 2019, talking about Russian volunteers in BiH, in an interview entitled: “I wanted to show Serbs that they are not alone.”