Maybe you’ve seen the photo before: a Serb soldier with sunglasses balanced on his head, a grenade launcher strapped to his back, and his right foot cocked, seemingly on the verge of kicking a woman who lies face down on a sidewalk in a pool of blood. The picture, taken by Ron Haviv on April 2, 1992, is one of the most iconic of the war in Bosnia. But who is the soldier, and what happened to him after Haviv captured his brutality on film? As this forensic investigation shows, the soldier was a member of a paramilitary group known as Arkan’s Tigers who went on to become a popular DJ — and these days, he’s still spinning:
Former members of Arkan’s Tigers are on Facebook, Instagram, and the Russian social media site V Kontakte, where some of them share photos of themselves in uniform, connect with other former members of Arkan’s Tigers, and boast about their past.
On Facebook, Golubović does not present that version of himself. He’s a motorcyclist. He’s a racer, an automobilist, and a musician. A DJ, a producer, and an owner of a music studio. There’s no mention of war — let alone alleged crimes — only his description of himself as a “commando scout high officer.”
In 2018, Golubović updated his Facebook to say he got married. In the comments, people congratulate him with heart emojis. One commenter, however, shares Haviv’s famous photo. “You bum,” he writes in Serbian. “Your time will come.” He adds a curse, one that roughly means: May all the dishonorable things you’ve done come back to hurt you and your family.
In Golubović’s Facebook photo, a bottle of Taittinger champagne balances on a motorcycle.
He’s Facebook friends with at least 10 men who appear to be former members of Arkan’s Tigers. Some of the men listed on the Serbian State Security payment list that Rolling Stone obtained currently work within the Serbian government, and others allegedly have links to organized crime. One former Tiger appears to have recently served as a bodyguard for Ceca, Arkan’s widow and one of Serbia’s most famous singers, who now has her own Kardashian-style reality television show. And at least one former Tiger is on the run from Interpol, having allegedly fled to Russian-occupied Ukraine in 2014 after refusing to stand trial for alleged war crimes he committed. One man on the list is serving 40 years in prison for killing Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić in 2003.