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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (5)

Dusan Mihajlovic’s lies have no legs

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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 Serbialeaks 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

Kostunica’s Justice Minister: Zoran Stojkovic: it should never be repeated

Stojkovic: Prosecutor should react to Subotic’s statement (Danas, May 16 2006; by: N.D)

Serbian Minister of Justice Zoran Stojkovic stated yesterday that it was the duty of the state prosecutor to initiate proceedings against former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, if there were grounds to believe that allegations made against Mihajlovic by businessman Stanko Subotic Cane could be true. Speaking in the B92 TV show Insajder Subotic claimed that certain individuals, including former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, had informed him about the police operation Mreza (Net) carried out in 2003 to control cigarette smuggling.

“It is the duty of the prosecutor to initiate proceedings if he hears that an offense has been committed,” said Stojkovic at a press conference in Bor, where he was visiting the municipal court.

Subotic revealed in Insajder that he had known about the investigation from the very start because Dusan Mihajlovic had personally informed him of it.  He confirmed that the Serbian Prime Minister of that time, Zoran Djindjic, had used his private jet on a few occasions for official trips. He said that “Djindjic had traveled free of charge” by his private jet. When asked why Djindjic had required this favor, Subotic said,

“Probably in the beginning he did not have the means to travel, perhaps he was unable to arrange it or maybe he had problems. He asked me for a favor and I agreed. What is wrong with that?”

He spoke in the show about his relationship with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, whose government he helped concerning the purchase of a jet. He said that a “good deed had been presented in an ugly light.” He explained that he had helped the Montenegrin government in their efforts to buy an airplane and that they had paid back the loan without any commission or payment for services.

Veran Matic: Mihajlovic is still Cane’s informer (Danas, May 17 2006; by: R.F)

Chief program manager at B92 TV Veran Matic said while speaking at the Role of Media in Conflict conference that former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic had contacted him after the airing of the Insajder show. Apparently Mihajlovic did not send a denial, rather a letter to Veran Matic. It is interesting that later Stanko Subotic Cane called Matic to inquire what Mihajlovic had written to him. When Subotic was asked how he had found out that Mihajlovic had contacted Matic, he replied, “he texted me.”

Mihajlovic Did Not Inform Cane of Smuggling Report (Blic, May 17 2006; by: T. Markovic Subota)

“I don’t believe that Dusan Mihajlovic called Stanko Subotic Cane to tell him that he had come out clean in a police report on cigarette smuggling. The report was confidential and not a single minister would do something like this. Disclosing confidential material is a criminal offense,” said former Interior Minister Bozo Prelevic, commenting on Stanko Subotic’s claims in the B92 show Insajder. Subotic stated that in 2003 the Interior Minister of that time, Mihajlovic, had called him to say that an investigation into cigarette smuggling had been carried out and that everything related to him and his business had been cleared of suspicion.

Subotic also said that Mihajlovic had shown him that report.

“While I was in the Interior Ministry I was informed that Subotic was a top tobacco dealer but I also heard that he was one of the biggest cigarette smugglers in the region. Which part of this is correct to which extent, I do not know. I only know that reports on smuggling were put together with the idea of accusing particular individuals and clearing the names of others,” said Prelevic.

Prelevic was asked if it were possible perhaps that Subotic had outwitted both Mihajlovic and Jocic’s staff. He said,

“This is not about how clever Subotic is. Cigarette smuggling was a state run business at that time, for a certain group. It started because of sanctions and was conducted outside legal financial channels. This is why it is difficult to prove anything. The bottom line is that the number of cigarettes being sold in Serbia did not match the amount entering the country. Those cigarettes didn’t just disappear into thin air.”

It is a striking fact that so far charges have not been brought against individuals mentioned in the Mreza operation report, Subotic among them.

Targeted by Mihajlovic: Stanko Subotic
Photo: Patrice Moullet

Mihajlovic: What I Told Cane (Press, May 17 2006; by: S.M.S)

Businessman Stanko Subotic Cane said in the B92 show Insajder that in 2003 former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic had personally informed him about the police operation Mreza in which he had been treated as a major cigarette smuggler.

“I was informed several times. Besides others, the Interior Minister called me once in 2003 to tell me something about the operation. Mihajlovic informed me that an investigation had been carried out and that my company and I were alright,” said Subotic.

He said that Mihajlovic had allowed him to view confidential police files which had shocked him. Is it possible that a minister informed a prime suspect that an investigation was underway against him and even showed him confidential police documents?

In his letter to TV B92’s chief program manager Veran Matic, to which Press gained access, the former Interior Minister strongly protests against the context in which the presenter of Insajder placed him. In his letter Mihajlovic explains the circumstances in which the infamous meeting with Subotic took place.

“Towards the end of 2003 Mr. Beba Popovic requested that I meet a friend of his who needed help. We met at party premises. This is how I was introduced to a friend and associate of Prime Minister Djindjic. At later meetings we talked about the so called ‘white book’ on organized crime in Serbia, in which Mr. Subotic held a prominent place. At the point when he asked me why there was an investigation going on against him, I was no longer a Minister,” said Mihajlovic.

In his letter to the B92 management, Dusan Mihajlovic explains how the Mreza police operation started.

“Since I accepted a proposal made by my associates and started the operation, I know that it was not conducted against Mr. Subotic. Its purpose was to investigate cigarette smuggling and to trace the mafia money trail. It was to serve as a basis for a follow up operation named Scalpel. The fact that the second operation never took place and that your journalist knowingly or unknowingly is hindering a process which could rid Serbia of the real ‘organized crime group’ is not my problem any longer,” concluded Mihajlovic.

Cane Caught in the Net After All (Blic, May 18 2006; by: N.N)

“A police report was put together at a certain point according to which everything to do with Stanko Subotic Cane’s tobacco business was perfectly legal. This report however was made in 2002, two years prior to the operation Mreza (June 2003 – March 2004) in which the same business was linked with smuggling,” says a source close to the Serbian police for Blic.

This is a comment on Subotic’s statement in the B92 show Insajder that former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic had told him in 2003 that an investigation had been conducted into his business and that he had come out clean.

“The report Subotic mentioned is from the time when Prime Minister Djindjic was still alive. In 2001 Djindjic ordered the police to investigate Stanko Subotic’s tobacco business. Mladen Spasic was in charge of the investigation. Now he heads the UBPOK (the organized crime directorate), back then he used to be the head of the financial crime department. Spasic said in his report that Subotic’s business was clean. He informed Mihajlovic about it and Mihajlovic conveyed this to the Prime Minister. Then Mihajlovic called Subotic and told him ‘we conducted an investigation into your business and you are alright,’” our source says.

The same source also reveals that Spasic investigated the firm Tref and found nothing illegal.

“The operation Mreza started on the basis of information provided by Spasic. During the operation it was established how cigarette smuggling was going on,” claims our source.

Regarding whether it was possible that Subotic had seen the Mreza report in 2003 our source says,

“Mihajlovic found out about the results of Mreza in February 2004 when the report was submitted to him. At that point he was preparing to leave office because of the new government.”

Tobacco mafia’s manhunt: Zoran Djindjic
Photo: Dragan Kujundžić

Our source discloses that in 2001 Prime Minister Djindjic formed some kind of coordinating body which was assigned the task of monitoring tobacco commerce and the prevention of cigarette smuggling. This body included representatives of two companies, Stampa Komerc and Direktna Trgovina, but not Subotic. The team was dissolved the same year because it failed to produce desired results.

How Operation Scalpel Fell Apart (Politika, May 20 2006; by: Dusan Teleskovic)

Stanko Cane Subotic, the Serbian businessman who does not live in Serbia, made a public statement that former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic had informed him of an investigation due to suspicions of “cigarette smuggling.” Dusan Mihajlovic denies this.

Now Mihajlovic speaks to Politika about his acquaintance and meetings with Subotic, the Mreza report, Djindjic’s reaction to accusations concerning the use of a private jet and the failure of the operation Scalpel.

Did you really inform Stanko Subotic of the results of Mreza, as he claimed in Insajder?

“I suppose this is to do with confusion created by provocative questions and the character of that show. The final report from Mreza was submitted when I was no longer in office. It would have been impossible for me to show it to him. However, for Mr. Subotic, I imagine it is all the same which report we are talking about. In order to understand what is going on, we must pay attention to the timeframe for these events.

“It is a known fact that Subotic was a friend and associate of Prime Minister Djindjic and that the Prime Minister had problems because of using Subotic’s private jet.

“This was discussed at a meeting in DOS headquarters on August 27 2001. At the meeting Djindjic demanded an investigation into Subotic’s business to put an end to the matter.

“Subotic was treated everywhere as a great entrepreneur but here a certain part of the public saw him as a mafia boss, particularly following publications in the Zagreb weekly Nacional against which Subotic has won a libel lawsuit. Now I have read in Blic that an investigation into his affairs was conducted much earlier than Mreza and that nothing was found. I suppose that that investigation was carried out by the anti-smuggling team which was directly under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet. I did know him at that time so I could not have told him the results of the investigation.”

Mihajlovic’s worst nightmare: Vladimir Beba Popovic
Photo: Stock
What do you have to say about these lies?

“Subotic and I met at the end of 2003 for other reasons. In fact, Beba Popovic had asked me to help a friend of his. This is how I met Mr. Subotic. Afterwards we talked about his situation and the fact that his name was rather a prominent one in internal police files on organized crime, later compiled as the ‘white book.’ It is true however that none of the material in the files was in the criminal offense category. I also apologized to him for the unpleasantness caused by the disclosure of the document by the media. I did it publicly because that document should never have left police archives for a number of reasons, including the fact that it harmed a lot of people whose names appeared in it unnecessarily.

“After leaving office I was asked why the police had investigated Subotic. I could not provide answers because I did not have the final report from Mreza. I still do not know what it says. I don’t know if the police found fresh information casting doubts on Subotic’s business. His business was also investigated by a number of different police forces and relevant departments in various countries where he resides and works unhindered as a businessman of good repute. However, investigation is the job of state organs and I have no information of value for them.

“It is interesting that everyone only wants to find out if a Minister disclosed confidential material to Subotic or not. Nobody is asking an equally important question: how and why this material was provided to a journalist and by whom? Presuming it is authentic of course. Even if it isn’t, the main question remains: whose mind is really behind the Insajder episode about the operation Mreza? I cannot be certain of motives but I am certain of consequences. This is a deliberate effort to obstruct the course of justice and to prevent the government from tracking down mafia money. Perhaps somebody will end up in prison but the money will be safe. This will allow the mafia to maintain its supremacy and to go on buying valuable assets. The flipping trick, good mafia – corrupt minister, has worked again. Just look at the articles published and shows aired after the arrest of Siptar and Kum following the kidnapping of Miskovic and everything will become clear.”

€3,000 for Cane (Glas Javnosti, Sept 27 2006; by: N.N)

The Podgorica Basic Court Judge Ana Perovic has ruled that former editor of the daily Dan, Vladislav Asanin and publishers of the newspaper Ju Media Mont are to pay €3,000 to Stanko Subotic Cane in damages. Cane claimed €60,000 in damages for mental anguish. According to Sina, the Judge denied the demand for €60,000 claimed by Subotic’s lawyer Milorad Bojovic. Subotic sued Dan because it published material from the Zagreb weekly Nacional in which Subotic was mentioned as “one of the biggest Serbian mafia bosses and tobacco smuggling partner of former Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.” Nacional also linked Subotic with mafia murders in Belgrade.

Seselj Angry at Maja for Doing Business with Cane (Evropa, Oct 19 2006; by: Marija Kordic)

A friend of Novi Sad Mayor Maja Gojkovic says that Gojkovic received the news that she had not been elected to run for the office of Deputy President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) calmly, without any surprise or comment. The matter became clear a few weeks ago when President of the SRS Vojislav Seselj sent a list of deputy presidents and other party functionaries from The Hague which did not include Maja Gojkovic. Party officials announced for the first time that the Mayor of Novi Sad would no longer be within party leadership. Prior to that, any notion of conflict with Gojkovic had been persistently avoided despite speculation by the media. Three weeks ago General Secretary of the SRS Aleksandar Vucic commented on the uncertainty surrounding Gojkovic’s candidacy for Deputy President by saying “the people will choose and results will be there for everyone.” A week after that Gojkovic said about the same subject, “Will my fellow party officials propose me as a candidate for the post of Deputy President again? We will see. I still haven’t seen the list.”

In the embrace of the people: Vojislav Seselj, sex symbol
Photo: EPA

The SRS is not hiding the fact that leaving out Maja Gojkovic is the personal wish of Vojislav Seselj. A functionary of the SRS Milorad Mircic explains to Evropa that as Party President, Seselj has the sole authority to propose names of candidates for other posts. Still it is no secret that Gojkovic and Seselj have not been on good terms for over a year (Gojkovic admits that she has visited him only once since his departure to The Hague). There are many reasons for this.

According to Seselj’s criteria, Maja behaves too much like a free agent and acts too independently while ignoring party policies. Seselj says she didn’t use party colors in her electoral campaign when she ran for mayor. He accuses her of not attending party meetings held in his honor.

A weekly press conference is held at the SRS headquarters in Belgrade about fresh developments concerning Seselj’s trial at the ICTY, whereas Gojkovic as a rule does not mention him in her speeches. This has worsened the situation, say those who are in the know. Another and most important reason for tensions between Gojkovic and Seselj is that the Novi Sad Mayor made certain moves which Seselj did not like at all. Seselj was displeased with her “business cooperation with Stanko Subotic Cane.”

Evropa has learnt that Seselj greatly objected to the allocation of sites for building kiosks, some of them belonging to Subotic and his company Futura Plus.

Subotic is more often than not publicly referred to as a criminal and his business concerns are considered to be suspect. Seselj also looks upon Subotic as a personal enemy. He did not approve of Maja’s decision (a year ago when Seselj went to The Hague, he accused Subotic of having planned the murder of Police General Radovan Stojcic Badza). Subotic has big ambitions for Novi Sad, much bigger than a few kiosks. So far his company has had a very proper relationship with the city government. Seselj does not like this. At a public auction held last year Subotic’s Futura Plus won a victory against its rival Stampa Komerc owned by Sanja Bokan (the widow of controversial businessman Vanja Bokan). Until recently the rival firm controlled the majority of Novi Sad kiosks. Now Futura Plus has become dominant. The information department of the Novi Sad Municipality says that the issue of kiosks is not relevant anymore and that there was never anything controversial about it.

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