May 1992

Sefik Lojo
Director of the Tobacco Factory in Sarajevo

‘The vital objects were destroyed, but we continued with the production because probably those who had destroyed the boiler room didn’t know that the Sarajevo Tobacco Factory had been connected by cable with the Sarajevo Dairy since 1970, so that we could continue with the production.’


MAY 1992

• At a peace conference in Lisbon, the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, agrees to talks on territorial demarcation. The President of the EC, Jose Cutileiro, offers a map drawn up by EC experts on the basis of the three constitutent peoples of BiH.
• In Sarajevo, 17,000 refugees from various towns settle in the city. They have either been expelled from their homes, or their houses or apartments have been destroyed by shells.

• Sarajevo is under siege. The circle around the city closes, with entrenched tanks, mortars, snipers and cannons.
• As the JNA withdraws from its Command headquaters over Skenderija bridge conflict erupts. Self-organized defenders of the city attack the JNA convoy.
• After returning from Lisbon and landing at Sarajevo airport, the JNA holds captive the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, his daughter who had accompanied him, as well as the leader of the SDP, Zlatko Lagumdzija. They are released later after long exchange negotiations with the assistance of UN Commander Louis Mackenzie.
• Juka Prazina, a city paramilitary unit leader, becomes Commander of Special Units of MUP BiH.

• Members of the Presidency of BiH, Stjepan Kljujic and Fikret Abdic, sign a ceasefire agreement for the lifting of the blockade of the JNA barracks.
• In the Old City, at the entrance to Sarajevo, an old wooden barricade is set up.

• The JNA dismisses Blagoje Adzic and relieves from duty the Chief Commander of the sector of Sarajevo, Milutin Kukanjac.
• The Sarajevo neighborhood of Dobrinja is surrounded by SDS troops. SDS terrorists give an ultimatum to the defenders of Dobrinja. The SDS sets up a barricade with armed soldiers between the neighborhoods of Dobrinja and Mojmilo.

• Within the blockaded JNA barricades conflicts erupt between individual soldiers.
• Gunfire from the barracks at vehicles and passersby. The area around the barracks becomes lethally dangerous.

• The JNA leaves, destroying everything in their path.
• Fighting goes on around the JNA barracks.
• Transmissions halted of the independent news program “Yutel.”

• With the shelling of the Central Post Office from the surrounding hills by Serb paramilitary groups, 40,000 telephone lines are scorched. The reserve Telephone Exchange on Obala (bank of the Miljacka river) is mined. Sabotage is carried out by specialists from Nis.
• Street fighting goes on in different parts of the city.

• The Tobacco Factory in Sarajevo is burned after being hit by firebombs.
• Urban fighting goes on in Pofalici between Serb units and the city’s defenders. The defenders liberate this neighborhood.
• The Headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in Sarajevo is evacuated.

• The Presidency of BiH sets May 19 as the deadline for the withdrawal of the JNA.
• In Ilidza, a convoy leaving the city with 5,000 women and children is stopped by SDS troops.

• The agreement on the confederation of Bosnia and Croatia comes as a bombshell.
• The Presidency of BiH proclaims the JNA an occupation force.
• BiH becomes a member of the UN.

• After lengthy negotiations, the convoy of women and children abducted in Ilidza is released.
• SDS troops forcibly expel patients from the hospital in Jagomir. 113 mental patients roam the city.
• Sarajevan writer Abdulah Sidran, an avid chessplayer, seeks donations from 50,000 DM for BiH chessplayers to compete in the Chess Olympiad in Manila.

• In an attack on the city, the large Olympic complex “Zetra” is targeted.

• The MUP files criminal charges against members of the SDS, including former members of the BiH Presidency, Biljana Plavsic, Nikola Koljevic and Momcilo Krajisnik.
• Sefer Halilovic is named Commander of the BiH Territorial Defense.
• SDS troops attempt to break into the city through Vraca.
• Lisbon, May 24, 1992: A resolution is adopted, after new rounds of negotiations.

• Portugese Ambassador, Jose Cutileiro, initiates new rounds of negotiations. The Croat delegation from BiH led is led by Mate Boban. Radovan Karadzic represents the Serb people. The representatives of the Muslim people and delegation of BiH is led by Haris Silajdzic.

• JNA leaves the “Viktor Bubanj” barracks.
• Report from the Botanical Gardens: unique specimens are in jeopardy from incessant bombardment.
• The Apiarist Association of BiH sends out a statement to the world on the true state of affairs in the city.

• Heavy artillery attack by the aggressor on the maternity ward.
• Shelling in the city center. Massacre of civilians waiting in line for bread.
• The Presidency of BiH refuses a convoy exit from the city because of the possibility it will be taken hostage by the aggressor.

• JNA units evacuate the city barracks “Jusuf Dzonlic.”
• Artillery attack on the city. The city burns. Attack on the “Oslobodjenje” building.
• The destruction and burning of the city causes the interruption of the peace conference in Lisbon.
• The JNA leaves the Pazaric military compound.
• New York, May 30, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 757, which imposes sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and which:
- prevents the import of all products and commodities from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- prevents the sale of all products and commoditites to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- makes unavailable any financial resources, including Serbian and Yugoslav assets in foreign countries;
- denies permission to aircraft to take off from, land or overfly member states’ territory if it is destined to land or has arrived from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro, except for special flights approved in advance on humanitarian grounds;
- prohibits the maintenance of aircraft registered in, or serving the purposes of Serbia and Montenegro, delivering spare parts for such aircraft, providing insurance for them and charging for such services;
- reduces the level of diplomatic and consular staff in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- prohibits participation in sporting events to persons or groups representing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- suspends scientific, technical and cultural exchanges and visits with individuals and groups supported by or representing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro.


The tradition of famous tobacco from Herzegovina and more than a century of the existence and production of the Sarajevo Tobacco Factory left a bad impact on Sarajevans. It spoiled them - people were used to the best cigarettes and tobacco for which special pipes, cigarette-cases and cigarette-holders were made.
Today, cigarettes are the biggest luxury and need. No one is quitting. You can buy them on the black market. Members too, are to be found only on the black market.
On some markets you can find tobacco dust, which before served as a high quality fertilizer for plants and vegetables. Today, that dust is precious and hard to find. Tobacco leaves are even more expensive and very rare. The most passionate smokers are smoking tea. They are drying chamomile, Swiss chard, leaves, and cut it into ‘tobacco’. That tobacco is then being rolled into regular paper or daily paper. Filters are made of toilet paper which comes as a part of lunch packages. It seems to be easier to find a pipe.


The “Marlboro” cigarettes produced in the factory under the Philip Morris license was one of the most prized cigarette brands in former Yugoslavia. There is the cult of the cigarette in Sarajevo. Although a large quantity of the stored tobacco was destroyed, the factory managed to produce small amounts of cigarettes throughout the siege. In spite of their inferior quality they were eagerly bought sometimes at 100DM ($70) per carton. Cigarettes were the most valued barter commodity. For a pack of cigarettes one could get several tins of humanitarian food. Due to the lack of paper, cigarettes were rolled into various textbooks, books and official documents. You couldn’t read on them warnings about health hazards but you could learn, for instance, about the process of producing copper. The citizens were often telling the story about how Sarajevo would have surrendered had the cigarettes disappeared.