◉ By Domani Spero
The US Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby recently dedicated the new embassy compound in Belgrade. The project which, according to State/OBO had an original completion date of May 10, 2012 was dedicated on July 1, 2013.
In an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with the Republic of Serbia, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Serbia, Michael D. Kirby, dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Belgrade today.
Occupying a 10-acre site adjacent to the Beli Dvor, the $149 million multi-building complex provides a secure, state-of-the-art, environmentally-sustainable workplace for over 350 embassy personnel.
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP was the concept design architect and The Louis Berger Group of Washington, D.C. was the architect of record. The project was constructed by Framaco International of Rye Brook, New York.
The new facility incorporates numerous sustainable features to reduce operating costs and conserve resources, most notably a storm water detention pond; solar hot water technology; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and the careful selection of plantings to reduce the amount of irrigation needed. The facility has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification.
CHICAGO – RUSSELL K. GORDON, 48, of rural McHenry, Ill., was arrested at his home Saturday night by special agents of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly making threatening communications to kill State Department officials, including the U.S. Ambassador in Serbia, as well as Serbians in Chicago, apparently due to a visa dispute involving his wife in Serbia. Gordon is scheduled to have his initial court appearance at 2:30 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, Gordon, a U.S. citizen, lived in Serbia from 1996 to November 2012, and married a Serbian woman who had a child whose father was a Serbian national. In September 2012, Serbian courts awarded custody of the child to the biological father.
Starting in February 2013, Gordon allegedly sent threatening or intimidating text messages to a U.S. Embassy consular assistant in Belgrade, Serbia. On April 15, and again on May 12, the FBI in Chicago received an email, purportedly from Gordon, at a publicly available email account that allegedly was consistent with his prior threatening messages, which are detailed in the complaint affidavit. Last Friday, Gordon’s wife went to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade to request a visa for entry into the U.S., and told embassy officials that Gordon had developed detailed plans to shoot Serbian citizens in Chicago, including diplomats at places he believed Serbians routinely congregated. On Saturday, Gordon’s wife told the consulate chief at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade that Gordon was enraged upon learning that his wife would receive only a two-week guest visa, and that he was going to kill the U.S. Ambassador, his wife, their two daughters and another State Department employee.
If convicted, Gordon faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgway.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that the defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Imagine if the Consular Section refused his wife a visa?
The current US Ambassador to Serbia is Michael D. Kirby who assumed the position on September 19, 2012, after serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C. Prior to holding this position in Washington, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova. He is a career Foreign Service Consular Officer with nearly 32 years of service in the State Department.
The Serbian ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic, jumped to his death from a multistory parking garage on Tuesday afternoon at the Brussels airport, diplomats said Wednesday.
Mr. Milinkovic, 52, a respected diplomat, lawyer and intellectual appointed to the ambassadorship in 2009, was at the airport to meet a visiting Serbian delegation, officials said. B92, an independent broadcaster in Belgrade, Serbia, reported that the country’s assistant foreign minister, Zoran Vujic, was with Mr. Milinkovic at the time and witnessed his death.
Serbian officials said that the motive was not known, and that Mr. Milinkovic gave no sign of what he intended in the moments before he leapt to his death.
PSA from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Every year, millions of Americans are directly affected by the more than 37,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts made by friends or loved ones.
The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).