Greek awarded for failure to participate in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

© AP Photo / Darko VojinovicРазрушенный the result of NATO air strikes bridge in the city of Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. May 1999Greek awarded for failure to participate in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia© AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic

Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was awarded the order of St. Emperor Constantine retired officer of the Greek Navy Marinos Ricudis for refusing to participate in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, reported the press service of SPC.

The ceremony was held in Belgrade on Tuesday.

«After serving his sentence and after all the temptations he had the courage to say: I’m not a hero, the hero of the Serbian people! It’s really a commandment brave, wise and true Christian. We don’t have enough words to thank him for this act, so we decided to celebrate him with the order of St. Emperor Constantine», — said the head of the SPC Patriarch Irinej.

The bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (consisted of Serbia and Montenegro) NATO forces continued for 78 days, from March to June 1999. The authorities in Belgrade headed by Slobodan Milosevic, was accused by Western countries in ethnic cleansing against the Kosovar Albanians. The official reason for the outbreak of hostilities was declared, the presence of Serbian troops on the territory of the southern Serbian autonomy of Kosovo.

Accurate data on the victims of the bombing is still there. According to estimates of the Serbian sources, during the NATO operation killed 1200-2500 civilians and wounding 5 to 12.5 thousand people.

The order of St. Emperor Constantine the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates both spiritual and secular persons for significant contribution to freedom of religion and for the development of the rights and freedoms of the person as a whole.

The act of a Christian

Junior Navy Lieutenant Marinos, Ricudis refused in April 1999, to go on Board destroyers «Themistocles» shortly before departure not to participate in the attack on Serbia. In many Serbian sources indicate that Ricudis was captain of a military vessel, which, after going out to sea on a mission returned to port by his order, but this is not true.

Before the release of «Themistocles» in the Adriatic an officer met with then-Archbishop Christodoulos and the priest Georgios Metallinos, which was then next to him in the hall of the naval court on 21 April 1999. The priest said that he did not know Ricudis, and advised him to act according to conscience.

Greek media reported that the officer asked the blessing of the Church. Surrounded by Archbishop refused to comment on whether the meeting was neither confirmed nor denied. After the meeting, Ricudis notified his commander and the commander of the ship, and of the Prosecutor of the naval court that he refused to obey the order.

Naval court sentenced him to two years and six months suspended sentence for three years, which means a suspended sentence. The court’s decision was greeted with applause. Near the entrance to the court they welcomed Ricudis shouts of «Bravo» — then in Greece there were many anti-war speeches, rallies against the bombing of coreligionist Serbia.

The Navy fired Ricudis, he appealed to the European court, but to no avail. He claimed to have done so, as required by the conscience, because «God’s law above all else.»

As he wrote religious site «it’s a heroic act — to resist the dictates of the New order, and Marinos, Ricudis, a brave fighter, bowed his head and was not a party to the offence».

The website also wrote that together with the 10 members of the crew openly expressed disagreement with the participation of the destroyer in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and refused to go on the ship in the Adriatic sea. However, it was given the name of only one seaman Nikos Gardikis.