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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (10)

State media in despair: Cane freed by Russians!

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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 into 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

Extortion expert: Dusan Mihajlovic
Photo: srb.time.mk

DB Smuggled Tobacco (Kurir, 23.05.2008; by: I.C.L)

Defendant Miodrag Zavisic said at the tobacco smuggling gang trial that he had been ordered by top Serbian Interior Ministry officials to stop an investigation into the tobacco smuggling he had found out about. He asserted he was told the goods belonged to the DB (state security and intelligence agency). He said in 1994, as deputy head of security in Novi Sad, he had worked on uncovering cigarette smuggling and that Mirko Vucurevic had been arrested in one of the operations. 

“Radovan Stojcic Badza called me and asked me to let him go. I told him people from the DB were also involved in the case. He instructed me to go to the Interior Ministry in Belgrade. There a person called Tepavcevic told me it was all being done to counter sanctions and Vucurevic should be set free,” said the defendant.

He added that later the Interior Minister of that time, Zoran Sokolovic, had called him and told him to follow orders given by his associates. He had also informed him that the orders had come from the DB. Zavisic explained that he had continued with his investigation during 1995 and 1996, on the basis of information about cigarettes in warehouses in Futog and Rumenka. But he was told by head of the criminal police department Dragan Ilic to stop the operation because the goods belonged to the DB.

Asked by the court council if he could have refused to act on the orders and what in that case would have happened, Zavisic replied,

“At the very least, I would have lost my job. My mistake was that I believed when they said it was all being done to meet national needs!”

He explained that he did not know the first accused, Stanko Subotic Cane, but that in 1998 he had found out that Subotic could have been behind Badza’s murder. He was told this by Subotic’s wife, who had her suspicions. . Zavisic added that there had been talk that Subotic had worked for the state and the DB and “had supplied cigarettes.”

Defendants Ivana Olujic and Dragi Dodevski also testified yesterday. They denied charges. Olujic denied that together with Nikola Milosevic, currently a fugitive, she had found a warehouse where they had stored cigarettes smuggled through Hungary and Macedonia.

Cover Up (Kurir, 25.05.2008; by: E.K.)

The investigation into the tobacco mafia was started in order to divert attention from the political background of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic’s assassination, well informed sources tell Kurir. Just prior to the announcement of the verdict in the Prime Minister’s assassination trial, former special prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic pledged that he would accelerate the investigation against political figures involved in the case as well, which never happened. Instead, he decided to go after the “tobacco mafia.”

“Special prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic was faced with public anger because nothing was being done about uncovering the identity of those who had ordered the Prime Minister’s assassination. So, just prior to the announcement of the verdict, he pledged that he would “accelerate action” in order to shed light on the role of many politicians concerning the planning of the assassination. However, instead of initiating an operation to investigate the involvement of politicians in the assassination, Radovanovic announced he would investigate ‘several people who had closely cooperated with the late Prime Minister.’

“This news was used to revive a debate that had started in the spring of 2001, over a scandal created by Nacional, with its articles about Djindjic and cigarette smuggling, even though the subject was in no way connected to the promises made. Later he brought up the “organized tobacco smuggling case,” and on 7 June 2007, less than two weeks after the verdict in the Djindjic trial, he ordered an investigation into organized tobacco smuggling in the 1995–1996 period,” reveals a Kurir source close to the investigation.

The source says within a few days Radovanovic’s deputy handed over a report to the special court.

Mafia media’s battle against the Prime Minister: Zoran Djindjic
Photo: Željko Safar

“The report did not contain any details or precise charges. It primarily made mention of Stanko Subotic regarding ‘abuse of authority’, even though he was the owner of a private firm. The special prosecutor acted in this case on the basis of charges made by Interior Minister of that time Dusan Mihajlovic, which had been based on a hurriedly put together report from an investigative operation known as Mreza (Net). Many at that time thought that Mihajlovic had blackmailed Subotic with this material to extort money,” stresses our source.

Asked for €20mil to Purchase C Market (Glas Javnosti, 04.06.2008; source: Kurir)

At a meeting in Paris, which took place at the beginning of 2004, Dusan Mihajlovic asked Stanko Subotic Cane for a sum ranging from €15 million to €20 million so that he could buy the C Market retail chain, well informed sources close to the justice department tell Kurir.

“Mihajlovic asked Subotic to meet him for a third time on the pretext that he wanted to show him the ‘dossier on privatization’. They met at the office of Veronique Lartigue, a French lawyer. At the very beginning of the meeting, Mihajlovic produced documents from the Mreza report and repeated his blackmail demand from before,” claims the Kurir source.

“‘I want to buy C Market,’ said Mihajlovic, stressing that he needed in between €15 million to €20 million, and then he went to the toilet. This is where the former Interior Minister made a mistake. Cane took the documents he had been waving about and photocopied them. After he was done in the toilet, the Interior Minister gathered together the papers which Cane had placed back on the table in the meanwhile, and left the office,” asserts the source.

“After this meeting, on 4 February 2004 Dusan Mihajlovic went to Marbella accompanied by Slobodan Radulovic who was the director of C Market at that time. He wanted to show that he was seriously planning to buy C Market. At that meeting, Mihajlovic gave Subotic papers with numbers of accounts in European banks, into which Subotic was supposed to transfer €20 million. But despite various kinds of pressure, Subotic never paid anything to Mihajlovic,” claims the source.

Witness to Mihajlovic’s machinations: Slobodan Radulovic
Photo: Stock

The Kurir source says Dusan Mihajlovic continued with blackmail attempts even after Zivkovic’s government fell, but after Dragan Jocic’s appointment as Interior Minister it all started looking a bit comical, because Mihajlovic had lost much of his influence.

Two days ago Kurir reported allegations that Dusan Mihajlovic had attempted to extort €15 million from Stanko Subotic Cane towards the end of 2003 at the exclusive Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, offering in exchange to protect him from the tobacco scandal. The former Interior Minister has not denied these allegations.

Kurir has learnt that French lawyer Veronique Lartigue has made a statement to the French police in which she says the former Serbian Interior Minister blackmailed Stanko Subotic Cane at her office. Kurir presents an excerpt from the statement.

“Around fifteen minutes after their meeting began Stanko Subotic stepped out to request me to photocopy two organograms (Mihajlovic used the form to present information from the Mreza police operation) and two other documents in Cyrillic. While my assistant did the photocopying, Subotic explained to me that the person with him in the meeting room had asked for his financial help, in fact a particular sum of money. I don’t remember the exact figure, but I think it was in dollars. Otherwise his name and his companies would jump from their current place in the organograms to the very top. I asked Subotic what to do with the copies of the charts. He told me to guard them carefully as they were important bits of evidence of the blackmail and threats of which he was the victim,” stated Veronique Lartigue.

French Spy – Cane’s Accomplice (Standard, 06.06.2008, by NN)

The case of Stanko Subotic Cane, who is waiting in Russia to be handed over to Serbia to answer charges of organized cigarette smuggling from 1996 to 1995, is increasingly becoming a real life spy thriller. Allegedly, Arnaud Danjean, a member of the French intelligence agency DGSE working in the Balkans, acted as the main liaison for the tobacco king of the Balkans while he was in hiding after the issuance of a Red Notice by Interpol for his arrest on Serbia’s request.

The Croatian weekly magazine Nacional was the first to write about cigarette smuggling in the Balkans claiming that Stanko Subotic and the then Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic were involved. Nacional now claims that Danjean contacted Subotic from Croatia a few weeks ago. During his assignment in the crucial years of the formation of the state of Croatia, Danjean spent most of his time in Croatia. He made several connections there and also formed some interesting friendships.

According to Nacional, Danjean has contacts with Nova TV network host and journalist Mirjana Hrga. Owing to her relationship with the French spy, she interviewed Subotic a month ago. Nova TV never aired the interview. Their administration said that it was too sensitive to be made public just then.

It is interesting that Subotic is also using paid adverts to fight his battle against the Serbian judiciary. His team of lawyers has placed ads in several Serbian daily newspapers stating that their client has been denied a fair trial. Besides these ads, graffiti has appeared in various places in Belgrade demanding Stanko Subotic be freed.

From younger days: Stanko Subotic
PHOTO:Stock

Silent Mihajlovic (Kurir, 12.06.2008; by V.Stanic)

Former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, who according to allegations by our sources, tried to extort money from Stanko Subotic Cane several times, did not wish to discuss this subject with Kurir journalists yesterday either. Meanwhile Subotic has been in extradition detention in Moscow for longer than 40 days already. He was arrested on an indictment based on a secret police report from the Mreza investigation, which was put together on Mihajlovic’s demand.

An Interpol warrant was also issued for Marko Milosevic, the son of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, on the basis of the same report.

The wider public found out about the Mreza operation when TV B92 aired an episode of its show Insajder in February 2006. The producer of the show told Kurir that the report had been completed and officially filed in the Interior Ministry as early as 2004, but that it had remained buried right up to February 2006, when Insajder had presented a part of it concerning Marko Milosevic’s involvement in cigarette smuggling. Stankovic said that at first everyone had denied the existence of the report, but ten days later they had confirmed everything.

Our newspaper has reported in two issues that former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic made several attempts at extorting money from Subotic using this police report, prior to the issuance of a warrant for him. According to allegations by our sources, the first attempt was made at the Dolder Grand in Switzerland, towards the end of 2003. On that occasion Mihajlovic asked Subotic for €15 million in return for destroying evidence of his involvement in the tobacco affair.

Cane Admits He was Blackmailed (Kurir, 15.06.2008; by: V.S.)

Stanko Subotic Cane has confirmed to Russian investigators that former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic attempted to blackmail him demanding €15 million, well informed sources in Moscow tell Kurir. Kurir recently published that at the beginning of 2004, the Interior Minister of that time had tried to blackmail Stanko Subotic Cane in Paris, at the office of a French lawyer, Lartigue, but the lawyer and Subotic had managed to photocopy documents belonging to Mihajlovic. These documents will now be used as evidence that Mihajlovic attempted to blackmail Subotic.

According to allegations by our sources, prior to the attempt in Paris, Mihajlovic tried to extort €15 million from Subotic in Zurich. The next meeting took place in Marbella, when Mihajlovic’s appetite had obviously increased and he asked Subotic to give him a sum “ranging from €15 million to €20 million to buy C Market.” Allegedly, Subotic was supposed to pay the money into a bank account in Austria, belonging to the former Interior Minister. Mihajlovic also asked Cane to pay him €200,000 in cash at a ceremony celebrating the Patron Saint of the Monastery of St. Nicholas in Soko Grad.

The former Interior Minister has still not replied to our question sent several days ago about whether these allegations are true or not. It is also not known if Mihajlovic tried to blackmail others besides Subotic, who had been included in the police investigation.

Russians Lured Cane with Award (Press, 24.06.2008; by: D. Isailovic)

Stanko Subotic Cane was arrested in Moscow on 28 April 2008, when he travelled there to receive a good deed award by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Press finds out. The Federation Council of Russia, which is the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, extended an invitation to Subotic to visit Moscow, but instead of receiving an award, Subotic was awaited by police at Sheremetyevo Airport and taken to prison! This dramatic story of Stanko Subotic’s arrest was also confirmed to Press by the head of Subotic’s team of lawyers Radoslav Tadic.

Dusan Mihajlovic’s favorite destination: Paris for beginners
Photo: Luka Jelić

One of the richest Serbs, businessman Stanko Subotic Cane, has been in a Russian prison for 57 days now. Subotic was arrested by the Russian authorities on the basis of a Red Notice issued by Interpol for his arrest, on Serbia’s request. The Serbian prosecution for organized crime filed charges against him for heading the tobacco mafia. Until now there had only been guesses as to how an exceptionally cautious man like Subotic allowed himself to get caught; particularly since he visited Moscow twice earlier this year for business purposes: once in January, then in March. Each time his visit there was arranged by none other than Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who is his close friend and business partner. This gave rise to speculation that Djukanovic had in fact “sold him out” to the Russians. This has now been proven wrong.

Subotic’s arrest came about in a rather bizarre, almost unbelievable manner. According to our information, Stanko Subotic was contacted by a Russian called Knez. He informed Subotic that Russian religious and cultural circles had decided that the Russian Academy of Sciences should present him with a good deed award, since he had done so much to improve relations between Serbs and Russians. The story goes that out of humility Subotic did not speak about the award to anyone among his associates who could have verified information, but set off by himself to receive it. Instead of receiving the award, however, he was arrested the moment he stepped inside Sheremetyevo Airport.

According to information acquired by Press, Stanko Subotic will not be extradited to Serbia. Serbia has sent the Russian authorities all the documents necessary for his extradition. Subotic will just be returned to Switzerland, his country of residence. He will not appear before a Serbian court to answer charges of defrauding the state of millions. Lawyer Tadic also has similar information.

“The legal team expects the situation to return to the point where it was prior to the arrest. I am convinced of this for several reasons. One year ago, Serbia asked Switzerland for Subotic’s extradition. The request was turned down because charges made by the Serbian prosecution do not pertain to actions considered illegal under Swiss law. Under Russian law, charges against Subotic can be recognized, but the offense falls in the category of crimes of lesser severity. Then there is the fact that the limitation period in this case expired in 2002. Subotic cannot be extradited to Switzerland because the Swiss are not demanding his extradition. He can return to Switzerland a free man. It is the country of his residence. This is what we expect,” says Tadic.

Stanko Subotic Cane Freed (Politika, 27.06.2008; by Ljubinka Milincic)

It has been confirmed to Politika by the international relations department of the Russian prosecutor general’s office that under a European Convention regulation regarding statutory limitation, adopted on 13 December 1957, the Russian prosecution decided on 23 June to free Stanko Subotic Cane from detention. Subotic was freed yesterday with the explanation that the limitation period in the case had expired. Stanko Subotic was arrested on 28 April at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on the basis of a Red Notice issued by Interpol for his arrest. He was kept in detention at international detention centre No 4 in Medvedkovo, in the northern part of Moscow. Immediately after his arrest, Serbian authorities demanded Subotic’s extradition to Serbia. Russia posed some additional questions including a very important one concerning an “update” of the material presented in the documents for the extradition request. They also asked for verification of whether Cane had actually been hiding from the Serbian authorities, or as claimed by his lawyers, he had entered and left Serbia unhindered on many occasions. There were also interesting questions about who had issued Cane with a passport and with whom  he had worked, as smuggling of the proportions he was charged with could not have been carried out without the participation of the state.   

Serbia’s last hope: Brotherly Moscow

PHOTO:Flickr

During Subotic’s stay at the detention or “isolation center” as the Russians call it, his lawyers made every effort to prevent anyone from Serbia from contacting him, including embassy staff in Moscow. Apparently, the lawyers did not even permit the Serbian consul to visit him. A visit is customary in the case of a Serbian citizen imprisoned in Russia. To this day it is not clear how and why Subotic reached Moscow, who his partners and friends in Moscow were, and he wasn’t seen at any of the spots where Serbs usually gather.

Russian media did not pay much attention to the arrest of the Serbian businessman. Except for a few details given out by Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency, there was almost no mention of the news. Still, Cane’s biography can be viewed on the internet in Russia. It speaks of cigarette smuggling charges, connections with Mirjana Markovic and the falling apart with the Milosevic family. Radio Sloboda linked the change in stance and filing of charges with elections. The Serbian authorities knew the limitation period had expired but they wanted to show the Serbian people that the fight against corruption had started. Now that the elections are over, Cane can return to Switzerland in peace and get on with his business.

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