German FAZ: Serbia’s Vucic pledges fight against mafia which ‘he has links to’

Aleksandar Vučić
Source: Tanjug / Rade Prelić

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily wrote on Monday that Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic had announced the fight against mafia in the country, "while he has links to that milieu."

The daily recalled that the assassins of the then Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 came from the country’s Interior Ministry and mafia, „whose structures intertwined.“

It added Djindjic had to die after his reforms became a danger to the underground. However, the truth was that Djindjic had to make a short-time deal with the mafia, i.e., the Interior Ministry’s Unit For Special Operation (JSO), to oust Slobodan Milosevic and come to power.

„Almost exactly 18 years after Djindjic’s death (March 12), Serbia is shaken by new disclosures of the links between the state and organised crime. President Aleksandar Vucic triggered an avalanche in an attempt to deny the contacts between the state and the underground,“ FAZ wrote.

The daily recalled Vucic’s news conference on Saturday, aired by dozens of TV channels in the country, adding it was unusual even for Serbia used to the President’s permanent media presence. The peak of his speech was the presentation of the photos of mutilated bodies of two men. The show was announced with caution for parents to move the children away from TV sets.

Vucic identified the two as victims of a mafia head Veljko Belivuk, the leader of a notorious FC Partizan fans’ ‘Janjicari’ group.

„The fact that the state now strongly oppose Belivuk and his accomplices suspected of murders, extortions and drug trafficking should relieve the majority of decent people in Serbia,“ FAZ wrote. „However,“ it added, „many suspicions about the links between tough criminals and soccer supporters seek an answer about what are the real reasons for the new sharpness on the part of the state – and how serious is it?“

The daily said that „it really is about a mafia close to the state that often acts on order or is tolerated by the respective state services. As a reward for their obedience, the state provides lucrative businesses for hooligans. outside the stadium .“

FAZ recalled that Belivuk’s people had been seen as a ‘security’ at the President’s rallies, adding some of the mafia members were often provided security to the Belgarde famous barge restaurants where the drugs were usually sold.

„Vucic, who has been present in Serbia’s politics since the early 1990s, himself did his apprenticeship in the hooligan milieu as the right hand of the ultra-nationalist leader of paramilitary formations, Vojislav Seselj, who served time for war crimes in the 90s. As a young man, Vucic organised Red Star FC’s fans, an archrival of Partizan FC. That is why, among other things, Partizan’s hooligans did not like him, so they insulted him at the stadium, calling him names such as a paedophile and a traitor,“ FAZ wrote.

It adds that since that does not happen anymore, it is seen as a result of Vucic’s attempts to appease Partizan’s hooligans after he has managed to do that with those of the Red Star.

„If there are procedures against Belivuk… it will be interesting to see what the defendant has to say about his links with some current state leaders.

Some sources from Belgrade say Vucic is taking a preventive defence strike against former Interior and current Defence Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic. He is said to have collected evidence against the head of state to use it at some point,“ FAZ said, adding it was a speculation.

Besides Belivuk’s case, FAZ recalls that many indications also point at additional links between the state and the underground such in the case of Jovanjica marijuana plant.