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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (3)

Vucic: After Novosti Cane is Moving On To the Church!

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Radical rhetoric: Aleksandar Vucic: I loved Manjo Vukotic, hated Cane
Radical rhetoric: Aleksandar Vucic: I loved Manjo Vukotic, hated Cane
Photo: BETA

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

Responsible for all troubles: Stanko Subotic

Photo: Stock

Concerning the attacks against him, Stanko Subotic says for Serbialeaks: “The media campaign against me started the moment when I made it clear that I would not agree to any kind of blackmail or give in to attempts at extortion. Since as early as 1997 when Milosevic’s people decided to get hold of my assets and fabricated their investigation against me, a number of people ‘voluntarily’ made offers to me for ‘pacifying’ relations, in return for part of the money that I had earned. When I showed no sign of agreeing to something like this, the persecution continued. After the change of power pressure went on, only the ‘messengers’ were different. Besides the usual mighty figures in secret services, ‘journalists’ such as Ratko Knezevic or Braco Grubacic also appeared. They directly asked me for certain sums of money or to sponsor their alleged projects. This is how I gave thousands of Deutsche Marks to Bratislav Grubacic for launching some kind of magazine which was supposedly meant to inform the public about the truth behind Slobodan Milosevic’s criminal regime and to support the democratic opposition. Even though I had given the funds, all articles in the very first and I think the only issue of that magazine called Panorama whose editor was Dragan Vucicevic (today editor of Press) were against the Democratic Party and Zoran Djindjic. In one article I was accused of being a cigarette smuggler who lends airplanes to Prime Minister Djindjic. This was a hint of the direction the attacks on the newly elected government were going to take. At the same time Knezevic blackmailed me directly and asked for 1 million Deutsche Marks for not starting a smear campaign against me. I reported this blackmail attempt to the prosecution in Serbia immediately, which began an investigation into the matter. Prior to the publication of the Nacional article I received dozens of messages that a group of people was visiting newspaper houses throughout Serbia and Montenegro offering ‘compromising material’ about Milo Djukanovic and Zoran Djindjic and that they had also involved me and my long established legal cigarette business in these lies.

One of these ‘well meaning’ sources was also Vladimir Bozovic, advisor to Amfilohije Radovic, who during Kostunica’s government became a high ranking official in the Interior Ministry! Since I did not give in to any blackmail attempt and refused to give in to this ‘media racketeering’ very soon an article appeared in the Croatian weekly Nacional, which was owned by the most prominent organized crime group in the Balkans, a fact which was later admitted even inside Croatia. I did not believe that such lies would be accepted and did not expect them to be so long lived. A full decade has passed and despite tons of evidence showing that everything was fabricated and designed to bring down Djindjic and Djukanovic, all this serves as some kind of ‘base matrix’ and proof even today for many political parties in all former republics of Yugoslavia and they use it for political purposes. The lies that were fabricated then were used as a basis for planning Zoran Djindjic’s assassination, for attempts over many years to get rid of Milo Djukanovic and for conducting fabricated proceedings against me in the Belgrade special court.”

Serbialeaks continues to publish articles related to the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic and other friends of Zoran Djindjic.

I was a thorn in the side of Cane, Drakulic, Zepter, Hamovic, Kostic… (Blic, 17.07.2004; by: Katarina Preradovic)

“I was a problem for many lobbies and that is the real reason for my dismissal, not the alleged slowing down of privatization”, says Branko Pavlovic for Blic. Day before yesterday he was dismissed by the government after only three months as head of the privatization agency.”

Passing through: Branko Pavlovic, a man for all regimes
Photo: Stock

*You said that wealthy and powerful figures from Milosevic’s time lobbied for your dismissal through Dinkic. Whom did you have in mind?

“Basically this is more or less the same group of people who were wealthy and powerful in Milosevic’s times, in Djindjic’s time and are still powerful today. A lot has changed for these people, because earlier they could interfere with the agency but now for the first time their interests are being threatened. They are also very different at a personal level. You have very serious businesspeople who like Mr. Zoran Drakulic tried to get hold of some exclusive rights. Drakulic asked the agency to put in a possible negotiator with the buyer of RTB Bor. As a result the state would not be able to negotiate the sale of Bor or in the very least it would be impossible to go around the negotiator making him a third partner. There is an economic explanation for this and I have a good opinion of Drakulic but I could not allow him exclusive rights of this kind.

In this group you have people completely opposite to Mr. Drakulic, such as Miodrag Kostic. He wanted his entire sugar business to be sold for €30 million. People who wanted to buy it started coming to me saying they were ready to pay his price. Impossible, because the process of privatization control was coming dangerously close to the point of starting the procedure for the termination of contracts for three sugar plants.

Or for instance you have Mirko Petrovic, director of Dunav Osiguranje, who wants to sell hotels Yugoslavia and Metropole which are owned by Dunav, and he is asking for the agency’s approval.

I explained to him that there is no legal way of doing this because directors of socially owned companies cannot sell company assets as they please. Next we will have a director selling an entire factory all together with property. This is simply not legal. I refused him too, despite the fact that I knew he was close to the Prime Minister.

(…) You have a third set of wealthy people who could be threatened by an analysis of previous approvals and contracts. One of them is Mr. Zepter. I don’t think he is guilty of any offense but the agency allowed him to come into possession of a few thousand square meters of space which formerly belonged to Kluz in Belgrade. They bypassed the sale to do this, through some kind of illegal approval. Zepter was the mortgage creditor for that property and he was given approval to receive property instead of debt payment. This is strictly forbidden in our legal system, because it is one of the key elements of loansharking.

This happened during the time of Mirko Cvetkovic and I think that it was also confirmed personally by Aleksandar Vlahovic with his signature. A revision would have annulled the approval. Furthermore, this must be a case for the prosecution, because this is explicitly forbidden. Somebody would be in a lot of trouble trying to explain why they did it.

(…) The largest number of privatization deals through third parties were done by Cane Subotic. He tried to make a similar transaction recently, which we did not go along with even though Minister Dinkic insisted that we also appear with shares. I did not agree..”

*Which transaction are you talking about?

“I would rather not talk about it now but if you ask Dinkic, he will tell you that that was an excellent opportunity. It was neither a good opportunity nor was there any reason for doing it, and it was connected to hidden capital behind it. Anyone who deals with finances should know about this, because I know about it.”

Stanko Subotic Testifies (Glas Javnosti 27.0.2004; by: Srna)

Lawyers of the murdered Dan chief editor, Dusko Jovanovic will call Serbian businessman Stanko Subotic Cane to testify at the trial, writes Dan. Lidija Bozovic, one of the lawyers of the Jovanovic family said that investigators should examine the fact that at a certain point Ivan Delic had stayed at Subotic’s villa in Marbella in Spain. He was brought in for questioning during the investigation into the murders of Jovanovic and Damir Mandic, murder suspects. She said that it was “an open secret that Mandic and Delic had state security identifications” and that “a connection should be looked for between Montenegrin officials and Subotic.” She stressed that Subotic was only one of 59 people, who had sued Dan and was very close to people among Montenegrin authorities.

Suspects Mandic and Delic Spent Summer Holidays at Subotic’s Villa (Balkan, 28.07.2004; By: D.M)

The Montenegrin police have widened their range of suspects in Dan chief editor Dusko Jovanovic’s murder case. Jovanovic was killed on May 27 in front of his Podgorica newspaper office. Police are also continuing their search for Vuk Vulevic and Armin Musa Osmanagic. It is believed that they were in the car with Damir Mandic, the only suspect in the case at the moment, when fatal shots were fired at Jovanovic, say Podgorica newspapers citing sources close to the investigation. The Montenegrin police hope that following final results of the analysis in Wiesbaden and as a result of the information acquired up until now charges will be filed against Vulevic and Osmanagic.

According to Dan, legal representatives of the Jovanovic family will ask controversial businessman Stanko Cane Subotic to testify, as well as others. All individuals mentioned in connection with scandals about which Dan has written and those who have sued the paper could be called to testify before Judge Radomir Ivanovic. Lidija Bozovic, the Jovanovic family lawyer, says that Subotic is only one among fifty people who have sued Dan.

“He is a very close friend of people in the Montenegrin government. According to an article in Nacional Subotic was among those involved in the tobacco scandal, which Dan also reported from the Croatian weekly. Investigators should look into the fact that at one point Damir Mandic and Ivan Delic stayed at his villa in Marbella in Spain.. It is an open secret that Mandic and Delic carried state security identifications, so we should look for a connection between Montenegrin state functionaries and Subotic,” said Bozovic.

She added that “the Montenegrin DB (state security) must have known about Mandic and Delic’s holiday in Marbella and also the reason for their visit there.”

“We should ascertain whether they really went there to provide security to Subotic or was there some other reason in question. Regarding this it is necessary to interrogate the entire circle of people who had any connection with Mandic and Delic. Investigators must verify the movements of these people, not only on the night of the murder, but also much prior to that because these things are not planned overnight,” said Bozovic.

Who is Suing Politika (Borba, 05.08.2004; by: Katarina Lazic)

Controversial businessman Stanko Subotic Cane has sued journalist Milovan Brkic because of an article published in Srpska Rec on June 20, 2001, titled Smoke it Now. In this article the writer talks about Subotic’s recent involvement in cigarette smuggling as well as his alleged links with the late head of Serbian police Radovan Stojcic Badza. The plaintiff asserts that the same newspaper printed the other disputed article by Brkic titled Lunch in Richmond on July 4, 2001. These articles, the charges state, are libel under item 92 of Article 3 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia.

Laundering the Past (Vecernje Novosti, 06.08.2004; by: Stevo Ostojic)

The Montenegrin parliament has adopted a law to ban smoking in all public places, offices, restaurants and buses, which according to the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera sounds “surreal or even a perfidiously calculated move”, considering the fact that this strict measure has been proposed by the government of Prime Minister Djukanovic, “who enjoys (or enjoyed) the reputation of one of the biggest smugglers in the Balkans”. Furthermore, statistically speaking Serbia and Montenegro together with Greece are among European countries with the highest number of smokers.

The writer of the article Mara Gergolet stresses in the very beginning of her wider piece: “the small Balkan country is at the center of cigarette smuggling”. She specially mentions the “personal case of Milo Djukanovic, about whom a lot has been said, a lot has been written, very little proved and nothing done”. Then she says: “From 1993 to 2001 intensive cigarette smuggling went on from Montenegro to the Italian coast Puglia, one of the many businesses that flourished and were continued after the wars in the Balkans. On the Slavic side, it was run by Cane Subotic, frequent visitor at the President’s residency in Podgorica. Djukanovic approved or he was supposed to approve free use of harbors and airports in Podgorica and customs in exchange for a handsome tip for himself (6$ per item) and for the state (10$). A trafficker well known to the west, which was keeping Milo Britva under their protection…”

The Italian journalist quotes the statement of a US diplomat who admitted in 2000, “Concerning Djukanovic we have turned a blind eye”. She presents the information that the “administration in Bar has shelved the charges against Djukanovic” and that “Strasbourg is still keeping the European Union case open”.

Taking away Novosti from us will be taking away the Serbian spirit: Aleksandar Vucic ex-radical
Photo: FoNet/Miljan Čubranović

We Don’t Want Mafia Money (Vecernje Novosti, 13.11.2004; by: R.O)

Aleksandar Vucic said in the Serbian parliament:

“I suppose that you have already heard, because news travels fast in Belgrade, that Milo Djukanovic, Stanko Subotic Cane and Bodo Hombah have joined forces  to take over Novosti Company. I don’t know what the government has done regarding this matter.

I don’t know if state capital has been accurately assessed or not but you should keep in mind that this could be the second newspaper of national importance to go into the hands of suspicious people. Some have already been destroyed and no matter what I think of Politika, I have never thought well of it, it always presented certain items which were more interesting than in other papers, particularly some columns. These people deserved some respect and today the paper’s circulation has dropped from 30,000 to 50,000. Not to mention the fact that the reputation of the newspaper has fallen dramatically because it has literally become the personal bulletin of Boris Tadic and a single political party in this country.

I am not saying this because I am scared Stanko Subotic Cane, Milo Djukanovic and Bodo Hombah’s newspaper might support certain political parties. We are used to that. So far not a single newspaper has supported us directly in this respect, not even indirectly. What I want to say is that this would be a huge financial problem with a lot of illegal transactions and somebody must deal with it.

Of course I have used this amendment to present this objection, which is of grave importance and to express my concern over what might happen. I do not wish to be misunderstood, or for somebody to say that I am trying to stop privatization, foreign capital or foreign investment. Yes, we do want foreign investment but not mafia money. That is what I want to point out to this government and to the Serbian parliament because it is one of the most important issues before the parliament.”

Dangerous Games (Vecernje Novosti, 14.11.2004; By: NN)

Serbianhood measuring unit: Manjo Vukotic
Photo: Stock

“I ask the Serbian government to protect the state’s share in Novosti because it is still not clear how much they own. On the other hand they also need to think about assets of national importance. If somebody starts taking over media houses and institutions one by one like this, with mafia money, I expect them to move on to the Church next,” says Aleksandar Vucic, General Secretary of the Serbian Radical Party.

“What do you think the government should do?”

“It should make every effort through the privatization agency to prevent the illegal part of the process so that we may see that the government can behave according to economic principles not political needs. It should find foreign and domestic investors so that these assets are not thrown away. It should also protect the brand because whether I or somebody else happens to agree or not with what Novosti writes, it is one of our most important newspapers.”

“What is the motive behind this hurrying? The Council of Ministers did not even meet and a statement appeared that debate was held concerning the sale of shares…”

“They are in a hurry to grab as much as they can of that which does not belong to them in this unclear situation. And I am afraid that far more dangerous games will be played than some might imagine. All those who oppose them must also be careful. They are in a hurry because they know that time is running out for them. Those who wish to oppose this grabbing will get organized. They also don’t want big stories in the public. I have already heard about some meetings between individual politicians with connections with the so called centers of mafia power, but I will be able to talk more specifically about this next week.”

“Who is leading this action? You mentioned some names…”

“There can be no mafia lobby without politicians. If you think that anyone is more powerful than the men that I have mentioned (Djukanovic, Subotic, Hombah) you are mistaken. Others are only mice. They are the main figures. They have others on their payroll. They are the bosses of all small politicians who are only helping them with political support and Svetozar Marovic only executes orders.”

Battle for Novosti: German Giant Conquers Serbia (Evropa, 20.01.2005; by: Katarina Jovanovic, Gordana Jovanovic)

If the German publishing giant Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) manages to carry out its plans and purchases Vecernje Novosti the top Serbian newspaper, this company from Essen will be able to control significantly more than half of the Serbian newspaper market. Politika, the oldest newspaper in Serbia and Novi Sad’s Dnevnik have been in the ownership of WAZ since 2000. The third ranked newspaper according to circulation Blic is owned by the Swiss Ringier, which means that soon 80% of the print media advertisement market in Serbia will be run by foreign capital.

The experience of other countries in the region where WAZ has been present longer than in Serbia – Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Croatia (after Politika, WAZ also bought 50% shares in Vijesti from Podgorica) – has been quite controversial therefore it would be enough to ask: is the sale of the majority shares of Novosti to a foreign partner really necessary? The question is even more fundamental because Novosti sells some 270,000 copies daily and is doing better than ever. It is interesting however that the story about Novosti and WAZ has not created too much of a buzz among journalists (apart from executives and employees in the most successful Serbian newspaper). However, it has done so in business circles which see the sale of Novosti to foreigners as something similar to the sale of C Market shares to Slovenian Merkator where basically the market is allotted to foreigners free of cost through the sale of leading companies.

The man Vucic dare not mention: Milan Beko, owner of Novosti
Photo: Stock

The idea of selling Novosti to the German giant is old about one year, when the Council of Ministers led by Svetozar Marovic decided to sell Borba Company which includes the daily Borba, the weekly Ekonomska Politika, Borba Transport, Borba Marketing and joint enterprises. The Council had announced at that point that the strategic partners for the sale of this company, which the state union inherited from the former federation, would be German WAZ and the Danish media firm EMI.

Even though their arrival was announced, the Germans did not show up but the Danish came. However the privatization of Borba was not carried out, rather EMI bought a dead business called Poslovni Klub Borba. This business was once established within the framework of Borba by a top JUL (Yugoslav Left) functionary and the director of Borba at that time Zivorad Djordjevic, in order to sell cigarettes through the Borba distribution network. The Danes have invested $800,000 in this phantom company and have also taken over founders’ rights for Borba daily and Ekonomska Politika weekly which have a very small circulation, as well as 650 kiosks of Borba Marketing and over 30 trucks belonging to Borba Transport. The price of one kiosk was €130 and of one truck €320.

The scandal became complete when it was found out that EMI which was presented as a Danish multimedia company by the Council of Ministers was in fact an ordinary law firm, registered for offering services in real estate sales. Later it turned out that this operation had been approved and permitted by Svetozar Marovic, President of the Council, and the top information man in the state union government Slobodan Orlic. Afterwards it was found out that the purchase of the precious property – 650 kiosks had practically been carried out by the controversial tobacco dealer Stanko Subotic Cane, who has added the cheaply bought kiosks to his firm Duvan in order to incorporate Serbia into his own sales network for selling his cigarettes (…)

Behind Zoran Djindjic’s Murder Not Politics but Tobacco and Oil Lobbies (Svedok, 22.03.2005; by: Svetlana Vojinovic)

The struggle between Serbian tobacco dealers for conquering the market goes on. A tender has been called for the issuance of licenses for cigarette manufacturing. Three offers have been made and one will surely be eliminated because licenses may be issued to only two domestic producers.

Nebojsa Covic’s employee: Vladan Begovic, customs officer
Photo: arhiva.glas-javnosti.rs

Tender documentation was purchased by tobacco companies from Senta and Bujanovac and Monus from Zemun. The deadline for submitting offers expires on March 28, after which the tender commission will take one month to make a list. “We will have a winner by the end of April,” says Vladan Begovic for Svedok. He was once director of the Federal Customs Administration and now heads the tobacco agency.

Svedok: Has there been any direct pressure concerning the final decision in this tender?

Vladan Begovic: While I was still head of Customs I knew a lot about tobacco commerce. It is true that various pressures are always talked about particularly by the tobacco mafia. Personally I can say that nobody has exerted any pressure on me not even those considered to be controversial, because they have obviously accepted the fact that they have to respect the Law.

For example I have never seen Stanko Subotic Cane. There has been no contact, not even by phone, even though he is registered in the tobacco agency as one of the owners of Duvan, a cigarette retailer and wholesaler. Under regulations they properly submitted that there were no legal charges against him, as this was one of the conditions for registration. I have to say that it was about Cane that the Prime Minister of that time Zoran Zivkovic inquired about at a government session. He asked how Cane had acquired Duvan to which I replied that everything had been according to regulations and that there were no criminal or misdemeanor charges against him. By the way, Subotic had earlier been very interested in this market. During 2001 there had been some talk that he had also taken part in deals with the firm BAT regarding a project for the construction of a cigarette factory in Kragujevac.

The Deputy Prime Minister of that time, Zarko Korac, was also part of that whole story.

Svedok: It was said that Subotic was interested in buying the Nis tobacco industry (DIN) which was later bought by Philip Morris.

V.B.: I don’t know. But whatever sort of interest there was, speculation perhaps, it was not serious, because it was a known fact that a tender would be announced for DIN. When it was announced there were several interested parties but it all came down to Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and TDR in the end.

Svedok: Is there a tobacco mafia in Serbia?

V.B.: Let us make things clear. Smuggling will always be there but according to the tobacco agency statistics the situation in the market is good. Last year nearly 24,000 tons of cigarettes were placed on the market, domestic and imported, and huge revenues came from excise and taxes.

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic himself made a commitment to eliminate crime in the tobacco sector, particularly smuggling.

Svedok: Did the late Prime Minister have a grudge against any of them?

V.B.: The stakes in the tobacco industry are big. After drug trafficking cigarette smuggling is the most profitable job in the world. And if we are talking about the degree of certainty not profit, then cigarette smuggling is in the first place, while each one of them is accusing the other one of being a smuggler but collectively they all swear to be clean. I have to say that I was never a personal friend of his. We did not get to know each other when I became head of customs. He never complained to me that he was being threatened or in danger, but it is true that he was firmly determined to root out this kind of crime.

Svedok: How do you know this if you were not close?

V.B.: Zoran and I met 10 to 15 times at the most. And each time the sole reason was cigarette smuggling. The fact that we talked about this subject each time can be confirmed by Interior Ministry and DB representatives who attended those meeting. At some of them Beba Popovic was also present. I remember that once…I can’t say that we had an argument…but Beba and I had a fierce debate because he said that on the basis of the barcode on the cigarette pack it was possible to ascertain the identity of the buyer. This is not accurate because a barcode can only tell you when the cigarettes were produced and then we can ask questions about the identity of the producer for whom the goods were meant. I personally don’t know if the Prime Minister had a grudge against anyone in the mafia, but I am sure that all of them had a grudge against Zoran because he asked all of us to act in a determined manner to uphold the law.

Svedok: Keeping this assertion in mind didn’t you feel that you needed to tell the authorities about this when the Prime Minister was assassinated?

V.B.: That is a good question. But this is not about my needs or conscience rather about facts. I personally don’t know who killed Zoran but I am nearly certain that economic interest stands behind his murder not political purposes.

Svedok: You are thinking of the interests of the tobacco lobby?

V.B.: Definitely, but I would not rule out oil. Not to mention that I live in a country where as head of customs I was not even informed that the Prime Minister had been murdered, assassinated, and they accused me of letting the murderers escape from the country.

Svedok: Is it possible that nobody in the authorities informed you, to increase customs security?

V.B.: As you see, it is. When it happened, my deputy came to me. I was at a meeting and he told me that according to his information somebody important had been injured near the government building. So I didn’t know exactly what was going one. I sent orders to all checkpoints to increase security and to keep in touch with the police, wondering what to write because I could not tell the customs staff if the Prime Minister had been killed or injured and didn’t know details. I will not enter into other matters which are related to the Prime Minister’s security or any other important personality, but this kind of relationship between authorities at such a time would be shameful for a state. Imagine that your Prime Minister is murdered and they don’t inform you about it.

Svedok: Who was in charge of that?

Valuable witness: Vladimir Beba Popovic
Photo: Stock

V.B.: The police were supposed to do it through their channels. That was just a huge embarrassment. At one point in 2002 when the Prime Minister was still alive I was extremely upset and angry with the organization by authorities in Serbia for the departure of a government delegation to Obrenovac to attend the burning of more than 30 tons of cigarettes. I even wanted to write to him personally after that to say how shamefully it had all been organized, particularly security. Before we all started off together in a car, I remember Zoran said to Beba Popovic that emphasis should be put on the fact that cigarettes above all were being destroyed because they were damaging to health. Then we started off and even today I remember that the police were on the roadsides all the way to Obrenovac and our colonnade led by the Prime Minister was ‘scattered’ at the very first road crossing when we entered Kneza Milosa Street. Zoran arrived first in Obrenovac and others came when the cigarette incineration had already started. If we all start off together and reach there like a dispersed army despite so much police presence it is not just a question of security rather of non-seriousness at a state level. I gave up the idea of writing to him so that the whole story wouldn’t turn into me attacking the police. (…)

Svedok: Last year you became a member of the Democratic Alternative Party, which in the meanwhile became a part of the Social Democratic Party?

V.B.: I am not an active member of the party. I did it out of gratitude to Nebojsa Covic who helped me a lot concerning the sugar scandal and later when I became the head of the tobacco agency he helped us find office space. Honestly, I have no political ambitions.

Vladimir Popovic: The State is Protecting the Zemun Clan (Danas, 14.04.2005; by; V.Z Cvijic)

“Two months ago our embassy in Vienna sent official information to SID (Department for Information and Documentation of the Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Ministry), BIA (Security and Intelligence Agency) and the Serbian Interior Ministry that Vladimir Milisavljevic Budala was hiding there and that the Serbian President Boris Tadic had been informed about it during his visit to Vienna. To this day not a single official demand has been sent by our country to Austria to verify this,” said Vladimir Beba Popovic, testifying yesterday at Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic’s murder trial.

Popovic said that Milisavljevic had been recognized by the citizens of SCG living in Vienna. He was moving about freely. About a week ago he had however gotten rid of his BMW. He also wanted to change his address. Asked by Judge Marko Kljajevic how he knew that, Popovic said that he had received information from foreign intelligence bodies in Vienna and from an embassy employee as well.

Describing the event near Limes Sports Hall, Popovic said that he had gotten in touch with Zoran Janjusevic 15 minutes after the event and Janjusevic had told him that an attempt had been made on the Prime Minister’s life. He said that Janjusevic had gone to Dusan Mihajlovic’s office and that it had become evident to everyone that Dejan Milenkovic Bagzi belonged to the Zemun Clan.

Popovic said that those days Ulemek had constantly made attempts to get in touch with the Prime Minister through a middle party and that the most important one had been Milorad Bracanovic, who had persistently told Deputy Interior Minister Nenad Milic that Ulemek wanted a meeting.

He said that Bracanovic had openly sided with the Clan, so much so that by the end of 2002 Djindjic had wanted to dismiss Bracanovic because of claims that Ljubisa Buha Cume had blown up the premises of his own firm Defense Road.

The Prime Minister was advised against doing so as the JSO could once again rebel during the New Year holidays when Djindjic would not be in the country.

Popovic said that a man had come to Nenad Milic asking to be received as a member of the DS. Then he had said that he had a message from Ulemek and Spasojevic that Buha Cume was “throwing everything on to Legija through his mercenary Beba Popovic” and that everything would be fine “if these two were removed”. Buha told Popovic this after the assassination. Popovic said that the Prime Minister had previously gone to Britain and asked Tony Blair for help, that they had received operational and logistical help but that it had become clear to them that information was reaching the Zemun Clan before they could see it.

“A group of trusty policemen was put together including Bora Banjac, Mile Novakovic and Milan Obradovic, but operational information showed that Aco Tomic and Rade Bulatovic were in constant contact with Ulemek and Spasojevic.

“It was clear to Zoran that he was alone, that there was nobody. Even his party members kept running away from it all, except Ceda, Vesic and to some extent Zivkovic. Djindjic met with Ulemek for the first time on the 4th or 5th of October and they had meetings over the next few days.

“The department rejected Milosevic and they turned to the DOS. Ulemek went to Djindjic and Radomir Markovic to Kostunica. They knew that the JSO had participated in the action ‘Revenge for Arkan’. This became clear when Zoran Uskokovic Skole was killed but then they didn’t know who had killed Ivan Stambolic and members of the SPO on the Ibar highway.

“At least two search operations were organized for Stambolic because of information that he was alive and imprisoned. This information came from Ulemek.”

Popovic said that it was true that Ulemek had proposed the appointments of Radovan Knezevic, Bosko Buha and Goran Radosavljevic Guri, a proposal which had been accepted.

He said that before assuming office the Prime Minister had called Ulemek and Buha Cume and told them that there was to be no more crime and that they had expressed surprise at being told this. He added that Ulemek had become angry at Goran Petrovic’s appointment as head of the DB, so Djindjic had proposed Bracanovic for heading the Seventh Department.

Vojislav Kostunica’s favourite writer: Milorad Ulemek Legija
Photo: daylife.com

Popovic thinks that Djindjic and Ulemek met for the last time in the spring of 2002 in his flat. He said that the Prime Minister had told him that he had received a call from Ulemek. Ulemek had said that his contacts in Croatia had told him that Stanko Subotic Cane wanted to kill him.

Djindjic requested Popovic to organize a meeting with Subotic to sort out the matter. He said that they had all met at his flat but after a few minutes it had become clear that the story was just nonsense and the real aim had been the meeting.

He said that Djindjic had ended the meeting and they had all left. Popovic rejected Ulemek’s claims that after Djindjic’s departure they had talked about drug trafficking, reminding that the first accused had not mentioned that Subotic had been present at that meeting.

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