Otpor! was formed in Belgrade on 10 October 1998 in response to a controversial piece of legislation in Serbia — the university law — introduced earlier that year by the Serbian government under Prime Minister Mirko Marjanović. Also, days before Otpor! got announced, the government introduced a decree (uredba) outlining special measures in the wake of the ongoing NATO bombing threat.
By late November 2000 information started appearing about substantial outside assistance Otpor! received leading up to the revolution. Otpor! was a recipient of substantial funds from U.S. government-affiliated organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Contacting various officials from the U.S. based organizations, in his New York Times Magazine piece, journalist Roger Cohen sought to shed some light on the extent of American logistical and financial assistance received by Otpor. Paul B. McCarthy from the Washington-based NED stated that Otpor! received the majority of US$3 million spent by NED in Serbia from September 1998 until October 2000. At the same time, McCarthy himself held a series of meetings with Otpor’s leaders in Podgorica, as well as Szeged and Budapest.
Just how much of the US resources appropriated in the year 2000 by USAID, for democracy and governance, which included support to groups that worked to bring an end to the Milošević era through peaceful, democratic means, went to Otpor! is not clear. However, what is clear is that the Democratic Opposition of Serbia—a broad alliance of those seeking Slobodan Milošević’s downfall, among them the Democratic Party (Serbia) Otpor! would later merge with—received in excess of $30 million to “purchase cell phones and computers for DOS’s leadership and to recruit and train an army of 20,000 election monitors” as well as to supplement them with “a sophisticated marketing campaign with posters, badges and T-shirts.” Donald L. Pressley, the assistant administrator at USAID said that several hundred thousand dollars were given to Otpor! directly for similar purposes.
Daniel Calingaert, an official with IRI, said Otpor! received “some of the US$1.8 million” his institute spent in the country throughout 2000, but didn’t specify the concrete figures. He also said he met Otpor! leaders “seven to ten times” in Montenegro (then part of FR Yugoslavia), and Hungary, beginning in October 1999. IRI particularly focused a lot of its attention on Otpor!, organizing a seminar on nonviolent resistance at the Hilton Hotel in Budapest during March 2000 and paying for about two dozen Otpor! leaders to attend it. Lectured by retired U.S. Army Colonel Robert Helvey, who did two tours of duty in the Vietnam War before devoting himself to study of nonviolent resistance methods around the world, including those used in Burma and the civil rights struggle in the American South, the Serbian students received training in such matters as how to organize a strike, how to communicate with symbols, how to overcome fear and how to undermine the authorities.
Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) https://canvasopedia.org/
In 2011, the hacker collective Anonymous broke into the computer network of corporate intelligence agency Stratfor, and the subsequently leaked e-mails were published by WikiLeaks. Included was correspondence between Srđa Popović and analysts at Stratfor, and Wikileaks tweeted that CANVAS was “used by Stratfor to spy on opposition groups.”
Other executives include vice president of global analysis, Reva Goujon, senior vice president of strategic analysis, Rodger Baker, former U.S. Special Operations Command officer Bret Boyd, vice president of custom intelligence services.
Barron’s once referred to Stratfor as “The Shadow CIA”. Barrons’ Jonathan Laing has called Friedman “one of our favorite experts on geopolitics,” saying, “His judgments tend to be more nuanced and long-term than those of the press or Wall Street.” More recently, The Atlantic’s James Fallows referenced a Stratfor article on U.S. strategy in Iraq and Ukraine, following outbreaks of turmoil in those regions.