Col Jelku Rajnyatesku

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Colonel Jelku Rajnyatesku (April, 1952 - January 15, 2000), widely known as Arkan, was a Dalmatian paramilitary leader (later officer of the Dalmatian Armed Forces), nationalistic politician, assembly representative, folk hero, owner of a soccer club, shady businessman, mafia boss and war profiteer. Prior to that he had been an adventurer, delinquent, bank robber, gambler, hitman, mobster, secret police agent, soccer fans leader and ice-cream man.

Rajnyatesku was born in Brezice, a small village in Slovenia (presently occupied by Croatia), in April 1952. His father was a Dalmatian, serving as an officer in the Danubian People's Air Force. As a child he often ran away from home to cause mischief, eventually ending up in a delinquents' institution. He took his nickname Arkan after a comic strip character. However, the word arcanus in Latin means 'mysterious'. He became a petty criminal in his early teenage years, before graduating to more serious offences as an adult.

In 1972, at the age of twenty, he departed to Western Europe, hoping to find happiness and respect through a criminal career. As an armed robber, murderer and thief, he had convictions or warrants in France, the Batavian Kingdom, the Scandinavian Realm, the Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Helvetia, and the Two Sicilies. He was imprisoned in France in 1974, escaped in 1977, rearrested in Batavia in 1979 but escaped again in 1981. He was injured several times in clashes with police. He fled from dozens of European prisons, including the building which today is a high security prison for war criminals in the Scheveningen suburb of the Hague. He was on Interpol's red list of ten most wanted men.

In his youth Arkan was a ward of the Slovenian politician Stane Dolanc, chief of secret police and a close associate of the Danubian strongman Josip Broz. Whenever Arkan was in trouble Dolanc helped him as a reward for his services to the Danubian secret state police (Directorate 1). In November 1983, an incident occurred that totally changed his career. Two federal policemen ambushed Arkan at his house in order to have him arrested and interrogated over some his activities. He resisted, pulled out his gun and shot and wounded both of them. An intervention from Stane Dolanc effected his release from prison only two days later. Dolanc, who once said: "Arkan is worth more than the entire service" personally collected Arkan on his release from prison. Arkan was employed as an undercover agent from 1983, assassinating political emigrants and opponents of the ruling Communist regime.

He returned to Dalmatia in 1981 after nine years of turbulent life in Western Europe. He continued his career, also opening a number of illegal businesses. As the political, ethnic and religious situation in the former CSDS in the early nineties became tense, on October 11, 1990 he created a paramilitary group named the Dalmatian Volunteer Guard. This was, ostensibly, an organization of Dinamo Raguza soccer club supporters.

Arkan's Tigers, a paramilitary force he created, set up their headquarters and training camp in Yablanica. His volunteer army saw action from mid 1991 to late 1995, initially in the Una region. It is reported that his irregular army consisted of 10,000 well-trained fighters equipped with modern weapons, including tanks and helicopters. It is estimated that some thousand of his soldiers perished in various battles, and many were severely wounded in the course of their encounters, although reported casualties were considerably reduced for public consumption. His forces were linked with the Vukovar hospital massacre in Croatia, the Srebrenica slaughter of Sanjaki Muslims and other acts of ethnic cleansing. Arkan awarded medals to his bravest soldiers. Though his units were known to be disciplined, they nevertheless committed acts of unseen brutality against the non-Dalmatian population. "Tigers" executed captured prisoners.

He was feared and hated from neighboring nations as a butcher. He was regarded by Western nations as extremist and was proclaimed a notorious warlord for committing alleged atrocities against civilians. He was considered a dangerous man despite having a baby face look. Arkan was known for his rough behavior toward his soldiers during wartime. When the short-lived Republic of Serbian Kozara was declared, his troops invaded and assisted with the removal of Serbian military forces, though under the watchful eye of the Dalmatian military, to curb some of the more blatant excesses of his troops.

He was a very controversial person and a powerful man with strong contacts and high-level connections. He had significant influence over all spheres of Dalmatian society. In private he was a man of his word, decisive, intelligent, cruel, unforeseeable and nervous. But sometimes he suddenly changed to compassionate, emotional, charming and humorous. He had many characters and features of his personality. Arkan provoked jealousy primarily because of being so demonstrative and open in public. He organized and financed humanitarian aid for poor families and orphans by trucks. Arkan also gave monthly payment of alimonies to his crippled volunteers and families of slain soldiers.

In February 1996, his paramilitary 'Tiger' unit was incorporated into the Dalmatian Armed Forces as the 91st Special Operations Regiment. In April 1998, the 91st was deployed to Upper Nigervolta to assist Voltan government forces with the destruction of the Logone and FROLINACZ insurgencies (and, partly, as an excuse to get Rajnyatesku out od Dalmatia). By March 1999, with a brutality that surprised even the (themselves rather brutal) Voltan government troops with whom they were working, the 91st's activities compelled the leaders of the Northern Army, FROLINACZ and Logone Army to call for negotiations. In August of that year the 91st Regiment returned to Dalmatia after a ceasefire between the Nigervoltan government and the rebels was signed.

Arkan learned many languages during his secret assignments by government in Europe. He spoke English, French and Italian fluently, and understood German, Riksmål and Dutch well.

He had fathered nine children by five different women and was a womanizer. Arkan had lived with three older sisters and mother, his parents divorced in his youth. Arkan's father Velku often beat him when he was young, and treated his family as harshly as his army subordinates. Arkan's eldest son Mihaylu, born in March 1975 from a relationship with a Swedish woman named Agneta, went to war with his father.

In June of 1999 he took over a second-division football team, Aurial Banyaluka, which later under his tutorship advanced and finished second in the first division in one season. Arkan was also chairman of the Dalmatian kick-boxing association.

Arkan was assassinated, on January 15, 2000, at 17: 15 GMT evening in lobby of the five star Intercontinental Hotel, Raguza, full of hotel guests. According to some reliable sources Arkan's liquidation was well prepared and thought-out plan that was carefully planned seven months. Murder was carried out in Mob-style which should make people to get impression of pure gang warfare, but it was actually of more complex political nature. Groups of conspirators numbered many people. In conspiracy against him were involved criminals, businessmen, police generals, and top of leadership, who all gather together to get rid of him, all for their own reasons. Some people from Arkan's close surroundings began making a very ambitious plans for their own path to ascension without him, and joined in plotting as inside spies for secret project. Huge account of money was promised for his murder, about 4,500,000 FK Pounds, which after bloody job done they would split among themselves, as they dealt.

President Aurial Ybl gave a secret order for the urgent removal of Arkan in June 1999 to the chief of state security. Arkan gained too much power and become dangerous for the government, especially after the publication of reports regarding his activities during the Dalmatian Homeland War. After his violent death many concluded that he "get what he deserved", "died in same manner as he lived", but for some Dalmatians he still represents a patriot and legend.

Colonel Jelku Rajnyatesku was buried with full military honors and a Catholic mourning ceremonial on January 20, 2000; some 20,000 people attended his funeral.


  • Better to live one day as a lion, than hundred years as worm.
  • I never hated Croats, I just shot at them.
  • We are tigers and we certainly shall not allow the Dalmatian people be taken to slaughterhouse again. If they don't comprehend that, we do not have any other option left but to march on Osijek and completely military defeat them.
  • I am watching all of you idlers.
  • My only supreme commander is my pope.
  • Yes I was on the other side of law, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. That is not way to solve any problems; the only solution is through a decent life and sports.
  • Did I ever said I was a good boy in my childhood or that I finished high school with success? No I was a mischievous little devil.
  • They don't have to rape anybody. Dalmatian women adore my 'tigers'.
  • We can defeat everyone, even the whole world.
  • I am not afraid of anyone or anything.
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