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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (2)

Pukanic: Montgomery has a sense of fairness

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Spokesperson and his new boss: Ivo Pukanic and William Montgomery, the unbreakable bond
Spokesperson and his new boss: Ivo Pukanic and William Montgomery, the unbreakable bond
Photo: Nacional.hr

All that has been the focus of public attention during the past few weeks: charges by Srdja Popovic in the political background of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the misplaced and lost charges filed by Vladimir Popovic against Legija’s lawyers, articles by Jasna Babic about an organized campaign by the weekly Nacional against Zoran Djindjic, Milo Djukanovic and Stanko Subotic, as well as articles about the role of former US ambassador William Montgomery take us back to the unprecedented media campaign which has been going on for years against the same individuals, mainly against Stanko Subotic, for the sole reason that he was a friend of Zoran Djindjic. From the vast volume of media documents which Serbianleaks has at its disposal, in a series of articles, we will present to our readers the methods, style, structure and motives behind this shocking smear campaign against Stanko Subotic, run in the same way in which Kostunica’s machinery had dealt with Vladimir Beba Popovic or the late Prime Minister for years. Articles from print media will be presented in their original form without comments, simply as proof of the pattern behind this political confrontation.

Fallen on all fronts: Nebojsa Medojevic, his man Milan Beko
Photo: EPA/Boris Pejović
Tobacco Scandal Could Drag in Montenegrin Officials in the State-Union (Balkan, 09.07.2003; by: NN)

Director of the Podgorica transition centre Nebojsa Medojevic stated yesterday for Balkan that the matter of dispute is not whether cigarettes were the main business in Montenegro or not. He stressed, however, that it was necessary to verify Milo Djukanovic’s assertion that everything was completely legal.

“For a long time already Montenegro has been under the “mortgage” of this scandal and it is becoming a tad boring. I think that we have to look at things institutionally. If the Italian judicial authorities have evidence and if that evidence is enough to bring charges, it is high time they did it, and stopped mistreating us with scandals and similar things on a monthly basis,” says Medojevic. He said that the Italian prosecution should either initiate proceedings in this case and ask for the extradition of individuals involved in smuggling, or really put an end to every story about cigarette smuggling.

“And if any of those responsible, for instance Djukanovic, calls upon immunity, we will certainly exert pressure through every institution to make sure that he and any others who have been charged, give up the right to immunity, because we cannot all be held hostage to one man or a group of people. I am personally annoyed that all this information we are talking about is being hushed up precisely inside Italy. It would all be much better if things were to unfold within judicial institutions instead of through the media,” Medojevic explained his stance on the matter.

He said that everybody in Montenegro knew about the tobacco scandal even though Djukanovic was saying everything had been legal and that it had all been done in national interests. He said that these assertions should be verified by Montenegrin authorities and their Italian counterparts, as well as the Montenegrin parliament. Responding to the question to which degree these kinds of scandals were tarnishing the image of Montenegro, he said that the image had been transformed from that of an ecological republic to a republic of smugglers. He said that he believed that the scandal could lead to the fall of the entire establishment in Podgorica, and with that of Montenegrin officials in the state-union institutions in Belgrade.

“Already we have suggestions that the Mr. Svetozar Marovic was at the disputed meeting point of Montenegrin officials in Milan. He has still not denied this. If the court proves that this is correct and that he is involved, the minimum and the logical thing for Montenegrin officials to do would be to resign. Their further presence in politics would be absurd,” he asserted.

Nebojsa Medojevic stressed that the real scandal would be an investigation into cigarette smuggling in Serbia.

“This is a business which during Slobodan Milosevic’s time was bringing in €500 million annually. There from a legal viewpoint we had classic criminals, because nobody was into the transit of cigarettes legally. When DOS came into power, the business, it is true, lost some of its value. Now it is worth €300 million. If we keep that in mind, Serbia cannot lecture Montenegro and bring it down to an inferior position.”

Serbia Has its Pasalic Too (Blic, 21.07.2003; by Mira Babic-Suvar)

In its 400th jubilee issue Zagreb weekly Nacional printed a photograph of its chief editor Ivo Pukanic and William Montgomery on a tennis court, which made us ask him about his association with the current ambassador in Serbia-Montenegro and former ambassador to Croatia. Ivo Pukanic tells Blic this about Montgomery:

“Firstly, I like to spend time with him, because he is a very interesting and intelligent man. Even though he is a diplomat above all else, unlike many other diplomats, he is a man who puts his emotions into his work. He has a sense of fairness. This is a man who cannot be deceived. He understands and knows everything. He will never admit this publicly, but this is chiefly because he understands the language very well, is well read and very well informed. Whoever in Croatia thought they could deceive him, found out that this is not possible. Montgomery made a tremendous effort to bring about a government in Croatia based on the rule of law, as if this were his own country.”

* Is he behaving like that in Serbia now?

“He is making the same kind of efforts in Serbia to ensure governance based on the rule of law, because of which he is having big problems. Whoever in Serbia, as was earlier the case in Croatia, thinks that he can be intimidated is making a huge mistake. I do not want to sound like an advocate of his and I know that he will be angry that I am saying even this about him. Those who are attacking him are very predictable. In that context I think that even Mr. Beba Popovic should think where he will go after all the stupid and shortsighted moves he has made. Perhaps before that Mr. Popovic should tell us in whose flat in Vienna Mr. Nikolic was arrested, who is involved in the murder of Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan. And Serbia will enter the EU whether Beba Popovic wants that or not.”

Friend of a star: Veran Matic and William Montgomery talking about corporate philanthropy
Photo: Stock
* Can you say how Mr. Montgomery assesses the current situation in Serbia?

“I can’t answer that question. Blic can ask only Mr. Montgomery about that.”

* But you are very well informed about the events in Serbia at the moment?

“Even though I find it a bit silly to comment on events in Serbia, being a journalist from another country, circumstances are such that I am very well informed about what is going on over there because, among other things, my own life is at stake here. It wasn’t only because of Ivic Pasalic that I was in jeopardy, but also because of the people I am talking about now. And I will use this opportunity to say things I could not tell the public in Serbia through the media in Belgrade, the way I was treated by Ceda Jovanovic and Milomir Maric. About two or three months ago, when the state of emergency was still in place, Deputy Prime Minister Ceda Jovanovic knowingly lied about me in an interview on BK TV, saying that I was a criminal, that everyone knew that, that I had been busted by the Croatian police, that I was under house arrest! I called Milomir Maric, the chief executive of this TV station, and asked him as a fellow journalist to give me two minutes of airtime in the program to deny those allegations. I have a lot of friends in Serbia and their opinion matters to me, I want them to hear the truth. I told Maric that he knew that what his friend Ceda had said was pure falsehood. But he didn’t let me refute Jovanovic’s lies on BK TV. He told me that he could not give me airtime because of the state of emergency still in place in Serbia. “So,” I asked him, “when Jovanovic smears my name, there is no state of emergency and when I have to answer him, then there is one.” After that I hung up on him. This is how “independent journalist” Milomir Maric behaved, a man for all regimes who published the diary of Mira Markovic.

* In which way were you hurt and made to suffer?

“I was arrested several times and I spent five years under constant police surveillance. I was monitored, tapped and filmed. They even kept an eye on my parents, interrogated my neighbors etc. It was really awful, everything that Tudjman’s secret police did. When, after the fall of the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) the police opened up files, mine was the thickest, with over 3,000 pages! After the HDZ lost the elections, Ivic Pasalic, master of intrigue, the main Mephisto of Tudjman’s regime, who today, through the secret media cartel of Grupo, has become co-owner of Belgrade’s Politika with 12.5%, said that they lost the elections because they lost the media war. I laughed at that statement because at that time, they controlled or owned 90% of the media in Croatia.”

* Does Serbia have its own Pasalic?

“Well, Beba Popovic is the Serbian Pasalic! There is a very similar setup, background and financial deals. Everything is exactly the same. And if Beba Popovic thinks that his mighty protector Stanko Subotic Cane and others from that circle, those bankers in Serbia, are enough for him, then I think that he is in trouble. That what he is doing will do damage to the country and it will also be bad for him. He will not have any chance to remain in politics for the long term; rather he will have to come up with a way to defend himself in a court of law. Mr. Ceda Jovanovic and a few others in the government should also be thinking about that.

* Do you feel a certain degree of satisfaction because of the latest events in connection with the tobacco mafia in Montenegro and Serbia about which Nacional was the first to write, and why did you receive death threats at that time?

“Not particularly. I was even then satisfied as a journalist because I knew that I was publishing the truth. Even people within the Croatian leadership were against me at that time because pressure was being exerted on them from outside. Milo Djukanovic at that time was a favorite, not only of certain circles in the West, but also here in Croatia. That is why even some Croatian politicians tried to convince me not to write about it, not to go against Milo Djukanovic, because that would damage relations between the two countries, since he and his people thought that Croatian politicians also officially stood behind the articles in Nacional, which, of course, was untrue.”

A War on Each Front: Vladimir Beba Popovic
Photo: e-novine
Beba Sues Balkan (Glas Javnosti, 23.08.2003; by: Fonet)

Chief editor of the Balkan daily and its publisher, Generalpublik, have been sued by Vladimir Beba Popovic, former head of the Serbian government’s Bureau of Communications. Popovic states in his charges that his reputation was injured by the publication of an interview with Ivo Pukanic, the owner of Zagreb weekly Nacional, titled “Cane Subotic Finances Ceda, Beba and Milo.” Popovic is seeking a total of 1million dinars in damages for mental anguish and injury to reputation.

Cane Should Read the Official Gazette (NIN, 04.09.2003; by NN)

The Nis Tobacco Industry (DIN) and the Vranje Tobacco Industry (DIV) have been sold. Sale contracts for these two largest cigarette producers in Serbia were signed by Director of the Serbian Privatization Agency Mirko Cvetkovic and representatives of the buyers. US Philip Morris bought 64.5% of the capital of DIN for €18 million and British American Tobacco paid €140 million for DIV.

Target for all charges: Stanko Subotic
Photo: Stock

After signing the contract both international companies announced that they are not even thinking of closing down any of the factories in the region that they have bought. Referring to a statement by Stanko Subotic Cane, who has the reputation of being the most knowledgeable man about secret cigarette routes in the Balkans, NIN asked Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic if these factories had been thrown away, as asserted by the knowledgeable Subotic, and if there was any danger of their being closed down.

“To Subotic I recommend something called the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia. I think that he has certainly not read the issue in which the Excise Law was published.

“The tobacco agency’s board of management made a decision about the first public invitation for calling a public tender for obtaining licenses for the manufacture of tobacco products. The decision says that the first tender will be called after January 3, 2005.

“The Serbian government has issued a license to the trade and services firm MEGA TABAK from Belgrade for wholesale trade of tobacco products for a period five years.”

Duvan Halts Sales (Danas, 05.09.2003; by: Beta)

Momcilo Petrovic, chief editor of Balkan newspaper, said that Duvan refused to distribute the newspaper, calling this “suffocation of the free press”. He told the Beta news agency that Duvan made the decision after an article was printed in yesterday’s paper in which businessman Stanko Subotic, who happens to be one of the owners of Duvan, was linked with international cigarette smuggling.

Businessman Subotic Fails to Show Up (Politika, 16.09.2003; by: J. Stojic)

The trial of the president of the Kolubara district committee of the Serbian Radical Party in Valjevo, Darko Glisic, was postponed for the second time at the Valjevo municipal court. Glisic has been sued by well known businessman Stanko Subotic and his lawyer Radosav Tadic from Ub. Glisic has been sued for libel against Subotic and also for speaking against him at the promotion of Dr. Vojislav Seselj’s book in Valjevo, titled “Cane Subotic, King of the Tobacco Mafia”.

Despite Glisic’s insistence, Subotic did not make a personal appearance at today’s trial as a witness. Instead, Belgrade lawyer Vlado Pavicevic appeared representing both Subotic and Tadic. Glisic’s lawyer Veran Panic from Valjevo demanded the exclusion of Judge Vesna Jankovic, and of the municipal and district courts because of which the trial has been postponed. Panic explained that Judge Nada Zivic had refused to judge this case because of pressure exerted upon her.

Swiss Journalists Apologize to Subotic – 5000 Francs for the Red Cross (Glas Javnosti, 19.09.2003; by: D.V)

Two newspapers have agreed to pay 5,000 Swiss Francs in damages to the Red Cross, so that Serbian businessman Stanko Subotic drops the libel lawsuits that he had filed against the two Swiss papers. Russian weekly Verzija reports that an apology also arrived at the address of Stanko Subotic from Swiss papers Sonntagsblick and Le Matin Dimanche. We would like to remind the public that after apologies by Croatian journalists from Nacional and the verdict against the journalist from Dan in Montenegro, the Swiss have now also apologized to Subotic for publishing articles without any evidence, saying that the Serbian businessman was a cigarette smuggler. The pattern was that Nacional was the first to publish something with inaccurate information, which the Swiss took over and published as material from other newspapers.

In all of these articles the key figure was Subotic, and allegations were made against him that he smuggled cigarettes, which in fact diverted attention from the main smuggling centre, located in Cyprus, and its boss who during the sanctions in Yugoslavia and Iraq supplied the market with tobacco, writes Russian weekly Verzija.

Cane Is Buying Borba’s Kiosks? (Kurir, 01.11.2003; by LJ.K)

Employees in Borba broke into a session of their executive board to prevent “Stanko Subotic Cane from buying the entire retail network of Borba for a ridiculous sum of money.”

“Of course, the owner of Duvan could not have done something like this if he didn’t have the support of Zarko Jokanovic, head of Borba executive board, Borba director Zoran Kalicanin and Slobodan Orlic, whose party gets funding from Subotic,” employees told Kurir. Two of their representatives in the executive board have resigned their positions and walked out of the meeting, at which, they said, a hasty sale of part of the company was forced.

“The meeting was halted, and we found out that no decision had been reached. However, we are aware that we have succeeded in postponing the sale of our retail network only in the short term and the next step will be a general strike with demands for the dismissal of Kalicanin and Jakonovic,” said the embittered workers.

Employees assert that Borba marketing director Djukan Bojovic held that function only on paper because all decisions were made behind his back. They said that he had not been allowed to see the pre-contract on cooperation between Borba and Duvan.

“This is why a general strike, while maintaining minimum work, is the only thing the 2,000 employees can do if they want to prevent the “businessman” from paying a handful of Euros for something which is worth much more, while ignoring the law,” say the employees.

The Spice in Every Media Privatization Deal: Manjo Vukotic
Photo: Stock
I’m Being Set Up by Vecernje Novosti (Glas Javnosti, 19.11.2003; by: M. Dapcevic)

Thanks to decisive action by the Belgrade police, Borba director Zoran Kalicanin and chief editor of the newspaper Miodrag Vukovic were rescued from “imprisonment” last night, having been detained in the company premises for several hours by disgruntled workers. Prior to that, employees had asked Borba executives to withdraw their decision on laying off a number of workers and journalists, and had demanded the resignations of director Kalicanin and CEO Zarko Jokanovic.

Kalicanin said yesterday that the police had announced that charges would be brought against the workers on strike, because they held him and Vukovic prisoners for several hours and blackmailed them asking for their resignations. “If the police do not bring charges, I myself will do so,” he told Glas.

Asked how the dispute with the workers would be resolved and when he was to go back to work, he said that he was going to wait for “further consultations” with all sides, that he had been on sick leave for the previous eight days, that he had gone to his office on Monday only to try to reach an agreement with the workers about ending the strike.

“The firm has run into huge debts, it already owes €8 million and every day of the strike costs another 1.5 million dinars. Bankruptcy is inevitable,” he said.

Kalicanin said that he wanted to pull the firm out of financial loss by making a good bargain with Duvan, worth a few million Euros, but employee representatives prevented him from doing so. Workers, on the other hand, insist that this was a fishy deal, behind which stood Stanko Subotic Cane. Kalicanin asserted that this was untrue, that he had “never seen” Subotic and that he only knew the director of Duvan, “a successful business that has been around for fifty years.”

Kalicanin is convinced that he is being “set up” by the executives of Vecernje Novosti who “want to occupy” the property of Borba, worth €30 million, which belongs to the state-union of Serbia-Montenegro. He said that he would not let this happen, on principle. That was why, he said, he did not resign. He admitted that Borba owed money to Novosti, but said that no boundaries had been set. He said that property could not be taken instead of the debt and accused Novosti of having set up their printing press from the printing equipment belonging to Borba, and of using 6,500 square meters of its work space free of charge. He added that 400 square meters of space had even been rented to a third party, Telekom Srbija, for five years for €5 million. “They are even hiding that contract with Telekom Srbija from me. That is an extremely attractive work space in the very center of Belgrade. Now they have extended their contract with Telekom Srbija for another five years.”

Responding to an inquiry from Glas as to why he did not resign, he answered that it was a “matter of principle” and that behind the attempts to smear his name stood Novosti and its top man. “This is a powerful media house and nobody wants to stand in their way,” said Borba director, asserting that his sole interest was to protect the property of the state-union.

When asked if he had turned to the council of ministers for help he replied, “Yes, about ten days ago. I am waiting for an answer.”

It is questionable whether the state-union or the council of ministers is the right address for the director to turn to for instructions, considering the fact that their ownership rights are very non-specific, no matter how true it might be that Kalicanin established the council of ministers and that, as he says, the state-union is paying him.

On a secret mission: Rade Markovic defending Legija
Photo: crnahronika.rs

Rade Markovic’s Statement to Police Stricken from Evidence (Danas, 28.02.2004; by: V. Z. Cvijic)

The judicial council for the trial in the Ivan Stambolic murder case and the attempted murder of Vuk Draskovic decided yesterday to strike out from the evidence defendant Radomir Markovic’s statement to the police and denied the defense’s request to strike out statements by defendants Milorad Bracanovic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Dusan Maricic-Gumar and Nenad Ilic.

Presiding Judge Dragoljub Albijanic stated that the statement by the former head of the DB (Serbian Intelligence and Security Service) was to be stricken from evidence because at that point he had been promised protected witness status, which was on record. The Judge said that the defense’s requests for striking out other statements were denied because in those cases the suspects had been made aware of their rights in the presence of their lawyers and the record showed that neither the suspects nor their lawyers had any objections to those statements.

Markovic testified yesterday in the trial for the attempted murder of Draskovic in Budva, even though it was announced that he would do so a day later. It is interesting that Markovic repeated some of the key points which are contained in the statement from the police. He said that Slobodan Milosevic told him that Legija had a job to do in Montenegro with his men. Markovic said that he told Milosevic that DB helicopters did not fly to Montenegro and that the then SRY president had said that Pavkovic would be able to take care of it. Defendant Markovic denied that he knew why Legija’s people were going to Montenegro and that he gave the former Commander of JSO (Special Operations Unit) an album with pictures of Draskovic’s house in Budva and identity cards for the assassins. He said that late Vlajko Stoiljkovic, who was minister of police at that time, told him that DB agents were going to Montenegro because Stanko Subotic Cane and Nenad Djordjevic were in hiding there.

Nebojsa Pavkovic, former head of the Yugoslav Chief of the Army General Staff and Nenad Ilic, member of the JSO, accused of the murder of four members of the SPO (Serbian Renewal Movement) on the Ibar major road, also testified yesterday. Pavkovic stated that at Milosevic’s order he engaged Admiral Milan Zec to help DB agents who needed to reach Montenegro, but he did not know what their task was. He said that because of this they called Markovic and late Stoiljkovic, but did not discuss any details. He said that he was simply told by Admiral Zec that he had carried out the orders and taken on DB agents, and that it was possible that he started talking about some details, ambulances, uniforms, but that he did not remember any of that, because it was not important to him. He asserted that the aim in linking him with the assassination in Budva was to send him to the Hague tribunal and that Vladimir Popovic-Beba, Dejan Sortirov, Nenad Milic and Cedomir Jovanovic were behind this.

Nenad Ilic said yesterday that he had made his statement to the police under an agreement with head of the central prison Aca Jovanovic and special prosecutor Jovan Prijic, because they had told him that Legija and Spasojevic had been killed. He stressed that his statement was not true and that his only concern was to ensure the safety of his family. Yesterday Ilic said for the first time that Legija had driven him and defendant Nenad Bujosevic-Rambo to a meeting with late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in Silerova Street.

The meeting was organized by Dusan Spasojevic, and Prime Minister Djindjic had allegedly promised that the state was behind him and Bujosevic and the plan to file charges against Milosevic for ordering the crime on the Ibar major road. Ilic also said that Legija drove them to the Serbian government building, but that they did not want to enter. When Judge Albijanic asked why he did not want to enter, Ilic said, “One should speak well of the dead, but the fact is that I did not trust Djindjic.”

Ilic never spoke of this earlier at the Ibar major road murder trial, not even one month ago when he testified again. This was not mentioned even by Bujosevic, even though in 2001 they admitted twice before the judge that they had committed the murder of four leaders from the SPO. Judge Albijanic has scheduled the next hearing for the March 23 to 26 period.

Philip Zepter: Last Hours with Djindjic (Blic, 09.03.2004; by: Tanja Nikolic Djakovic, Branislav Krivokapic)

Philip Zepter, one of the richest Serbs in the world, spoke in an exclusive interview with Blic yesterday about the political situation in Serbia, the influence of capital on politics and the participation of his company in privatization. In the second part he speaks about his last meeting with Prime Minister Djindjic, allegations about his participation in the assassination of Pavle Bulatovic and his association with politicians and businessmen.

Djindjic’s voice expressed bitterness: Philip Zepter, life and memories
Photo: e-novine
* Why is Zepter inaccessible to the public in Serbia?

“That is simply not true. On the contrary, I think that we are the most open company in Serbia. More than 6,000 of our employees communicate with our clients and the public every day. Worldwide, that comes to 120,000 people, in all regions. On the other hand, if you are referring to our presence in the media, look at press clippings and you will ascertain that we are present there on a daily basis. Since Zepter is above all a major business, and not an entertainers’ association, we reserve the right to determine the degree to which we will be publicly visible. We will always disappoint those who are looking for intrigue and scandals, because we do not wish to enter into petty arguments, or to comment on lies and falsehoods.

* It is said that you manage Stanko Subotic Cane’s operations in the Balkans and that you acted for a long time upon the instructions of former RDB head Jovica Stanisic?

“First of all this is not just talk, it was printed on a pamphlet which was offered to Belgrade newspapers. It read that Subotic and I do business at the orders of Stanisic.

* Do you know Stanisic or Subotic?

“I have never met Stanisic, but I have met Stanko Subotic. But being introduced to someone and knowing them are two different things. I have also met the world’s best football players, Formula 1 champions and movie stars… but nobody can say that I play good football or sing well because of that.

* Why is it that despite denials and slander cases, you are still being linked with weapons trafficking? The current story which we have been hearing for the past few months is that you are supplying weapons to Algerian terrorists?

“You are wrong. The story about weapons trafficking is not the latest one. It has been around for several years. The first and loudest in spreading it were Draskovic and Seselj. Only, they could not make up their minds as to who was I “smuggling” weapons to. Algerians, Palestinians, Albanians… It didn’t occur to me then that I am raising their shaky political rating by suing them for slander. I thought that it wasn’t important what was being said, but rather who was saying it. And then last year in October, a “document” was presented to some of the Belgrade newspapers, of course, anonymous and unauthorized, which was allegedly a “report” by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo. In it I was identified as the one person responsible for all the evil of this world: from the already well publicized story about weapons smuggling, through money laundering and cooperation with the Milosevic regime, to planning assassinations. Belgrade’s Balkan and Dan from Podgorica rushed to publish the worst of the allegations made in that “document”. A few days later Sarajevo paper Slobodna Bosna did the same. It was then that I ordered my lawyers to sue everyone who slandered me. Besides several newspapers, editors and journalists, those sued also included some politicians. The list will not be concluded until the slandering stops, which, as a rule, intensifies prior to elections. By the way, I also have information that very soon another slander campaign will be launched, with even dirtier accusations. Now for the first time I can reveal that my lawyers in New York have also filed a lawsuit against the international crisis group and James Lyon, its head in our region. I have all the evidence I need of his involvement in preparing a slander campaign against me, and I am claiming $400 million in damages. Proceedings are underway. Within the next few months we will have a verdict. Meanwhile, I have been striving to establish “from where the wind blows”. The OHR in Sarajevo has denied any involvement in designing this dirty campaign, and recently the German embassy in Sarajevo also negated the allegations made in the “document”. I met with Stefan Sanin, who is in charge of security in the EU. He assured me that my name was not in any police records and that nobody has ever initiated any kind of investigation against me.

I am here. I am not hiding. I live with my family in France. I travel freely around Europe and the world. I meet prominent politicians and businesspeople, heads of states and members of royal families every day. Do you think that they would allow themselves to make the mistake of talking to an international weapons dealer? Even those who launched that story gave up on it, seeing that it was outright nonsense.

* Right before going to The Hague, Vojislav Seselj asserted that you had planned the murder of defense minister Pavle Bulatovic?

“It was not just an assertion that he made. He actually asked people to lynch me. The story about my alleged involvement in the murder of Pavle Bulatovic was also taken to the parliament by Seselj. Then he was given the opportunity to run the parliament’s committee which was formed to ascertain facts regarding the Bulatovic case. He was desperate when he did not manage to prove my involvement in the crime. That monstrous allegation really hurt me, because I had not been to Serbia for years because of my disagreements with the Milosevic regime. Therefore the name of Pavle Bulatovic was not familiar to me. I believe that apart from the family of late Bulatovic, there is nobody more interested in finding out the truth about this crime than me.

* You were friends with Zoran Djindjic. What in your opinion was his biggest quality and what the biggest weakness? What do you think about Serbia after Djindjic?

Djindjic had a large scale personality. That is not just my impression or opinion. He had a huge amount of energy and exceptional managerial talent. That was what gave hope that soon he would make his vision of a happy Serbia come true. I like people who are active, who take initiative, who do not just enjoy the beauty of the game but also know how to score. I appreciate those who work hard and are not afraid to make decisions. And common wisdom says that mistakes are made by those who actually do something. Of Serbia after Djindjic I think what its people think of it.

* Where were you on October 5?

“I was in Monaco.”

* Did you know what was going on in Serbia that day, since you are called a financer of the DS?

“It was not necessary to finance anybody in order to know what was going on in Serbia. It was enough to turn the TV on, because all major TV stations in the world were broadcasting the events taking place in the streets of Belgrade.

* Do you know anything more about the Prime Minister’s murder than what is known to the public?

“I do not. But I would like to see the truth come out. I remember that we spent the night before the murder together in the company of our families. His leg was causing him trouble and he complained of pain. He looked gloomy and said something to the effect that he was moving the oars but he could not feel that the boat was responding.

* Did the Prime Minister tell you that the mafia had taken over the government?

“No, he did not speak in that context. He said that things were not going and moving the way he wished. That was his brief comment to the ordinary question “How are you? How are things?” Afterwards we moved on to private subjects, but I remember the bitterness in his voice.

* Did he give you any hint that he was in danger?

“We did not talk about that, because he was a man who saw danger as something relative. Earlier he had told me about the case near Limes. He was angry at those who allowed that man to get away.

Waiting for the telescope: Vojislav Kostunica, astronomer
Photo: Stock
* Do you see anybody in politics fit to become Djindjic’s heir?

“I don’t know enough people in politics in Serbia. That is why I can speak only of personal impressions, risking that again they might link me with somebody. Still, I think that Mr. Tadic is a promising man. He is competent, serious and honest. Of course, provided that he is able to fight that syndrome, so common among us, of becoming somebody completely different after coming into power.

* Do the results of December elections disprove or confirm your hypothesis that Serbs are a suicidal nation? What do you expect from the new government and will cooperation with it be harder or easier than cooperation with Djindjic’s government?

“Sometimes my assessments can be too emotional and harsh, but the intentions behind them are always sincere. The nation I belong to can surprise me. Often it behaves irrationally, works against its own interests, indulges in masochistic behavior, wallows in the mud. But there is nothing to be done about that, as somebody has observed well – mud too is part of the birthplace. We cannot reject ourselves. I am here to help in any way I can.

I wish the new government success, because this is in the interest of the people. And as a businessman I expect the government to work hard, to create conditions for secure investments, to establish reliable and firm rules and to start building a base for development. Neither less, nor more. I have never thought about “cooperating with governments”, because I don’t have a single reason for doing so, nor do I know what that could possibly mean. As long as the new government fulfills the expectations I have talked about, I will be satisfied with that kind of “cooperation.”

* Why did you agree to this interview now, a year after the murder of the Prime Minister, when the DS has lost power?

“The question is justified, since it doesn’t start like most of your previous questions with ‘it is said’, ’they are mentioning you’, ’many think’, ’they are accusing you’… I agreed to talk because you asked for it, after having put me on the list of the mighty ones. I thought that some of that which is attributed to me with bad intentions and without any basis should be clarified. If you think that there are any political motives behind my interview, then you are mistaken.

* You like to quote famous historic persons. Which quotation would you like to convey to Serbia’s new Prime Minister?

“It doesn’t make any difference who said it, or whether it is the present, past or the future Prime Minister, the message is: a statesman needs a telescope, not glasses.

* Naval captains need that in order to see better so that their ship doesn’t run aground or get smashed against the rocks. Does Kostunica have a telescope?

“If he consistently remains respectful of the Constitution, as he presents himself, and if he works fast, because many things need to be done quickly, he will fulfill our collective expectations. It is a fact that we have to acknowledge the expectations of the international community, whether we like it or not. The telescope is there to show us more clearly our objective position on the new map of the world, so that we can adjust quickly to the new international situation. This is a condition not just for our prosperity, but also for our bare survival.

Beba Demands a Million Dinars from Balkan (Balkan, 12.03.2004; by A.M.)

There will be a new hearing in the lawsuit filed by Vladimir Beba Popovic, former head of the Bureau of Communications, against chief editor of Balkan Momcilo Petrovic and Balkan’s publisher Generalpublik. They have been sued for inflicting mental anguish and injury to reputation. The hearing will take place at the Palace of Justice today.

Beba is asking for a million dinars in damages over an interview with Ivo Pukanic which was published by us on July 9, 2003. In this interview Balkan quoted Pukanic with full name and surname, who mentioned Popovic in a single sentence, saying that Cane Subotic was financing Beba. At previous hearings Popovic and Director of Generalpublik Mirjana Cogoljevic testified.

Budala (Fool) in Vienna (Vecernje Novosti, 14.04.2005; by: Zagorka Uskokovic, Natasa Bijelic)

Vladimir Milisavljevic Budala, one of the defendants in the murder case of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, is hiding in Vienna. Until seven days ago, he was living in a flat 500 meters from the Serbian embassy. This information has been conveyed to the Serbian Interior Ministry, the Security and Intelligence Agency BIA and President Boris Tadic. This assertion was made yesterday in the Special Court, at the trial of the accused parties in the assassination case, by witness Vladimir Beba Popovic, former head of the Serbian government’s Bureau of Communications and a close associate of Zoran Djindjic. In an almost five hours long monologue (president of the court council Marko Kljajevic made only a half an hour break), Popovic, among others, accused the current government of not having done anything to arrest Vladimir Milisavljevic.

“I got this information from several intelligence services in Vienna, as well as from our citizens there who see him going to the shops and driving his BMW 5,” said Popovic. “Our embassy is also in possession of this information. They conveyed this to President Tadic when he was visiting Austria. Two months ago this information was also forwarded by our embassy to the Serbian Interior Ministry, the BIA and the Foreign Ministry. Nobody, however, has asked the Austrian police to arrest him.”

Champion of Stupid Defenses: Milorad Ulemek Legija, murderer

In a navy blue suit, a white shirt and a characteristic tie, in his recognizable manner, Vladimir Popovic went on describing for a few hours the entire political and criminal scene prior to and after October 5, 2000, in which first the opposition, and later the new democratic government found itself. The defendant, just as most of the lawyers and the judges, listened to this speech by Djindjic’s associate with undivided attention. To the surprise of many, Popovic also talked about the meetings which have tickled the imagination of the public, and at which the key figures present were various businessmen, Legija, Stanko Subotic Cane and Prime Minister Djindjic himself.

“I think that Legija and Prime Minister Djindjic last met in the spring of 2002, in my flat,” said Popovic. “The meeting took place because Djindjic had asked me to arrange a meeting with Stanko Subotic Cane and Milorad Ulemek. Legija had called Zoran and told him that Cane wanted to kill him, asking Zoran to help him prevent massive bloodshed. He even threatened to kill Subotic!”

Subotic, however, had refused to meet with Legija saying, as Popovic put it, “You know what he is doing to me.”

This was in regard to the messages that Ulemek had been sending to Subotic indirectly or personally through Popovic.

“He would tell me to greet Stanko and to tell him to return the money to Kestner, because this is ‘about us’,” said the witness not pausing for a moment during his testimony. “The ‘us’ here is the JSO. Somehow I managed to convince Subotic to meet him. Djindjic and I agreed on the place of the meeting and since we were constantly followed by the military security, recording everything, which was not a problem to us, we decided that the meeting should take place at my flat.” Everyone but Legija turned up, then Djindjic’s driver Aleksandar Bijelic went to pick up Legija. Legija came with a gun, which he placed on Popovic’s mantelpiece.

“His first words upon entering the flat were, ‘You have such cribs’,” said the witness describing the famous last meeting between Legija and Prime Minister Djindjic.

“He then told us some story of his about how he had received a call from Croatia telling him that Subotic wanted to kill him, and that he had engaged some of his men to follow Cane. Subotic then told him, ‘For God’s sake man, what on earth do you and I have to do with each other!’”

“And that was it. The meeting lasted 15 minutes.”

As only Legija arrived without a car, Subotic sent him his man Branko Curic, who had once worked in the JSO, to drive him off. Soon after this meeting a murder attempt was made against Ljubisa Buha Cume and it became clear to everyone that decisive steps had to be taken in the fight against organized crime.

In those days Prime Minister Djindjic was visiting Tony Blair and it was agreed there that the British should help in that fight.

“The British were monitoring the Zemun group, whose actual leader was Legija, and in no way Dusan Spasojevic,” said Popovic. “They knew that they were hiding Ljiljana Buha, obstructing court procedures, bribing, meeting with Aca Tomic… From them we got the information that the connection between that group and Vojislav Kostunica’s cabinet was more than active.”

Popovic accused Ulemek of constantly using Djindjic for his own interests and goals, and all of that under the cover of some emergency, national interests and security…

Living under threats: Zoran Djindjic
Photo: EPA/Saša Stanković

“He called him constantly saying things like the Albanians are getting ready to enter Presevo, the army is preparing for a coup, he has information about major crimes, he knows where Ivan Stambolic is…” The witness described the relationship between the JSO Commander and the Serbian Prime Minister. “And he always asked him to meet, so that he could explain this to him personally. Twice we went out to look for Stambolic. Ulemek had first said that he was in one of the houses near Golubac, tied up in chains, and then he would say that he was in some place in Vojvodina, and so on.”

Popovic accused Ulemek, the Zemun Clan and part of the state security department of murdering Momir Gavrilovic, to send Kostunica a final message and convince him that Djindjic was playing games with him and that he was “next”. After this crime came the definite divide within the Democratic Opposition Party of Serbia (DOS).

Popovic presented tons of information about Zoran Djindjic’s meetings with various people. This is how he described his meeting with Legija and Ljubisa Buha Cume, at the premises of the Spektra company, on Christmas, January 7, 2001. “Not a single state department was working because of the holidays, and we decided to meet at my office,” said the witness. “The meeting was initiated by Djindjic. It lasted for half an hour. Zoran told them he would be elected to the office of Prime Minister within the next 20 days and that they must not think now that they were his friends, free to do anything they wanted. He told them straight away that the new government’s task would be to fight crime. He clearly said, “I don’t care about what you have done up until now, but it is over.”

Popovic said that Buha then remarked that he knew some kids and that they would go abroad to “work”, while Legija was still convinced that he and Djindjic were “partners” who will continue resolving problems.

“Throughout that time and even now in the court Legija has manipulated facts,” said Popovic taking a sip of water. “He gets hold of something, an incident which actually took place, but then he lies about the circumstances surrounding this incident, what was talked about, what the real meaning of all that was…”

Popovic said that the first time Djindjic and Legija met after the JSO rebellion in December 2001 was at a dinner at Zepter’s. The witness said that besides himself, the Prime Minister and the defendant, the meeting was also attended by the Prime Minister’s wife, Nemanja Kolesar, Zoran Janjusevic and Milan Jankovic.

“I was invited to dinner by Djindjic, and I believe that he had also invited Ulemek,” said Popovic. “He certainly did not turn up uninvited, so Cedomir Jovanovic is probably talking about some other dinner. We talked about unimportant things. I was displeased to find Ulemek sitting among us and I didn’t hide it. We hated each other. I stayed for an hour and during that time Ulemek talked about some business in Greece and Thailand.”

In Popovic’s words, first defendant Milorad Ulemek turned to Vojislav Kostunica when it became “completely clear” to him that the action against Milosevic’s institutions and police had started.

“Problems between Djindjic and the JSO started when Rade Bulatovic and those responsible for the murders on the Ibar major road were arrested. At that moment Legija realized that it was clear to us too what they had done,” said Popovic, according to Beta news agency.

Popovic said that upon finding out what had happened near the Belgrade Arena with Zoran Janjusevic, he went to the office of Dusan Mihajlovic, where later top police officers arrived, as well as the then public prosecutor Sinisa Simic. According to the witness, it was clear to him that this had been an attempted murder, which was confirmed by the list of phone calls made by Dejan Milenkovic Bagzi.

“Simic was trying to be smart and said that Zoran’s bodyguards should make a statement on the basis of which charges can be filed,” said the witness.

However, the bodyguards were not around. When he heard Djindjic’s statement in Banjaluka on TV that this was not an attempted assassination, he felt relieved.

He said that Milenkovic was to stay in custody and once all the information was gathered, further action would be taken. When we showed Djindjic our information upon his return to Belgrade, he was concerned but not frightened.

Ulemek’s eternal obsession: Cedomir Jovanovic

Before Popovic’s hearing yesterday, defense lawyers and first defendant Milorad Ulemek presented objections to the testimony given a day earlier by Cedomir Jovanovic. They were unified in their opinion that 90% of Jovanovic’s statement in the special court was not true. Ulemek said that after the testimony of the former deputy prime minister it was clearer to him that Jovanovic knew much more about the events prior to and after the assassination, but he didn’t know why he would not talk.

“The JSO rebellion in November 2001 was a defeat for Zoran Djindjic and the Serbian government. The Prime Minister was forced to dismiss Goran Petrovic, head of the DB, and his deputy Zoran Mijatovic, and to put Andrija Savic and Milorad Bracanovic in their place. A compromise was reached. A few days after the end of the protest, Djindjic went to Kula at the JSO patron saint celebration and there a “reconciliation” was staged for the public to see,” said Popovic.

Beba: You are Lying! Legija: So Are You! (Serbian Nacional, 18.05.2005; by K. K.)

Witness Vladimir Beba Popovic and first defendant Milorad Ulemek Legija confronted each other at the end of yesterday’s hearing in the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic’s assassination trial. During 16 minutes of staring into each other’s eyes, both asserted that the other one was lying. Witness confrontation took place after a decision by the judges’ council to verify the credibility of the witness and Ulemek’s defense. The judges wanted to know whether a meeting took place in 2001 at the house of Dragoljub Markovic in Zemun, which, according to Ulemek’s defense lawyers, was attended by him, the witness, Cedomir Jovanovic, Ljubisa Buha and Markovic, and at which an agreement was reached concerning the sale of 700 kilograms of heroin in three neighboring countries, as a state deal under the auspices of the DB. The second point for witness confrontation was their meeting at Popovic’s flat where, according to assertions made by Ulemek, details of the sale of heroin and purchase of equipment for the JSO were discussed.

Popovic said that he had never in his life been in Surcin and that they had never talked about drugs, insisting that “he was ready to take any lie detector test”. At Ulemek’s remark that he could tell these tales in Vienna and that he was “pretending to know nothing” now, Popovic asked him when was it that he went to Silerova Street.

“In June 2002,” responded Ulemek.

“Have you no shame, shame on you” Popovic retorted, “I was never in Zemun, nor did I meet with (Dusan) Spasojevic.

“You are my guru, you are my idol… you met him dozens of times,” replied Ulemek.

“Be a man and say who is forcing you to lie! Say when was it that I went to Silerova Street and met Spasojevic,” said Popovic.

“With Ceda and Dragoljub, when the scandal about the clash between Spasojevic and Cume broke out,” said Ulemek.

“Do you know that I had police protection at that time?” asked Popovic and upon receiving a negative answer, he said that at least three bodyguards could confirm that he was never in Zemun.

“That is your story,” said Ulemek, adding that he never would have given himself up if he had intended to lie.

“No, you had a different plan,” said Popovic and explained that he “knew that he had been forced to tell these stories,” that he had “made a stupid deal with stupid people” and that he should have checked the facts they were using for his defense. Popovic said that he knew that after giving himself up, Ulemek made a deal with Dragan Jocic and Rade Bulatovic in the Interior Ministry building. During the confrontation Popovic repeated the assertion that he had made earlier during his testimony: that Ulemek was planning to escape after the verdict, and that some former members of the JSO were waiting for him in Dubai, where they would establish a security firm.

“Your Honour, are we going to go on like this for long? I can do this for days on end but this is going nowhere,” Ulemek addressed presiding Judge Marko Kljajevic, who remained silent, and then told Popovic that perhaps his foul money transactions had led to the murder of the Prime Minister and repeated that Popovic could tell his tales in Vienna.

“What is it with you? Do you want me to explain it to you in Cyrillic as well? You are lying!” said Popovic. When he explained that there was still a living witness to the meeting in his flat, Stanko Subotic Cane, who could testify that there had been no talk of drugs but only of who was or wasn’t threatening whom with murder, Ulemek responded that Subotic was his man and that this kind of testimony would be of an advantage to him.

“You didn’t say that while defending yourself, just as you did not mention that Subotic was there. Did you talk to me about drugs,” asked Popovic of Ulemek inquiring further about where Subotic could have been in the flat that he did not hear their conversation.

“I don’t remember that,” replied Ulemek.

“Let me refresh your memory,” said Popovic and reproduced what Ulemek said in his defense the previous year remarking that he did not say a word about Subotic having been there.

“We talked about splitting up the money,” spoke the barely audible voice of Ulemek from a loudspeaker. It was then that the confrontation was halted, with the conclusion that the witness and the defendant remained consistent with their testimonies. The trial continues today with the testimony of Goran Petrovic, the head of the RDB in 2001.

Immediately visible honesty: Aco Tomic, Dr Voja’s right hand man
Photo: Tanjug

Answering a question by the lawyer, Vladimir Popovic said that the murder of any head of state in any country is always a political murder, that there was no dilemma that those directly responsible for the crime were uncovered and were present in the court room on the benches as defendants. Popovic said that preparation had been underway since October 5 to justify the possible murder of Djindjic, and that Rade Bulatovic and Aco Tomic had “psyched and heated up” the JSO.

“Even if they did it without Kostunica’s knowledge, although I think that he knew what they were doing, he must take responsibility for this,” said Popovic. He said during the hearing that the real motives for the murder would be uncovered in around ten years.

Answering Judge Kljajevic’s question, Popovic among other things said that a newspaper had published the disinformation that Dusan Spasojevic and Mile Lukovic had been arrested much earlier than the operation for their arrest began, which was a sign that it would later be used deliberately, as it was, to circulate lies that they had been assassinated so that they would not talk.

Arrests and Comments (Vreme, 10.06.2004; by Tamara Skrozza)

Member of the SRS and head of the Serbian parliament’s committee on security Milorad Mircic made serious allegations against suspect Ivan Delic. He said that during the DOS government Delic was wanted by the Serbian Interior Ministry for alleged involvement in the murder of Pavle Bulatovic. Mircic said, “Delic’s bosses were Philip Zepter and Stanko Subotic Cane.” He said that it was “well known that Zepter and Subotic not only ordered the murder of Pavle Bulatovic, but also the killing of Radovan Stojicic Badza” and that it was “finally time for the Montenegrin authorities to explain why they were hiding Delic” (Dan, June 7). Of course, as it seems that this Podgorica newspaper is seldom read in Belgrade, up until now nobody has reacted to this theory by Mircic. Even though the Serbian Radicals have a tradition of publishing unknown and lesser known details about various murders, this is about an official representative of an official institution which should come out in the open with official information.

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