KRIK: Crime group chief claims contacts with Serbian president, officials

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Source: Tanjug / Rade Prelić

The KRIK investigative news portal said that the recently arrested head of an organized crime group told investigators that he was connected to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and high-ranking officials of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

Veljko Belivuk, aka Velja Nevolja, told investigators that Vucic and his associates wanted favors such as making sure that Partizan FC supporters don’t chant offensive slogans against the president, securing the Pride Parade, intimidating organizers of anti-regime protests and forcing taxi drivers to cancel their protests against CarGo, KRIK said quoting a transcript of Belivuk’s interrogation.

Belivuk and his group were arrested a few months ago and charged with murder, drug trafficking and other serious crimes. They are alleged to have taken over the Partizan FC supporter groups which were viewed as hostile towards the authorities. Following the arrests, Vucic showed reporters photographs of mutilated bodies he alleged were the victims of the Belivuk crime clan. More recently, Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin followed suit showing more of the same during a live appearance on the pro-regime TV Pink.

KRIK said that Belivuk initially denied being a leader of the Partizan supporters as well as responsibility for any of the crimes he was charged with and refused to answer any questions. It added that he did talk about his relationship with people in power. The transcript quotes him as saying that he decided to talk about his relationship with Vucic, Vulin, Vucic’s brother, friends and other politicians who demanded favors which he listed. Belivuk said that he contacted Vucic through football supporter Aleksandar Vidojevic who is friends with the president’s son adding that he spoke to the president in person several times. He also threatened to reveal more details “unless certain people smarten up” and that he has been a member of the SNS since 2011.

According to Belivuk, the authorities lost control of the football supporter groups following his arrest in 2016. He was freed of the charge of involvement in a murder after evidence was compromised and an expert witness changed his testimony. “Vidojevic told me that the chief, which is what we called Vucic, had a big problem on the Partizan bleachers after my arrest in 2016, that his brother Andrej (Vucic) was in control of the Alkatraz supporter group but that they did not have the strength to do anything…. The idea was to form a new supporter faction which would united them all and create the same situation as at the Red Star stadium… We did that,” Belivuk is quoted as saying.

He added that he did not trust Vidojevic after some time, believing he was not passing on everything to Vucic and was taking credit for solving problems. Belivuk said that he complained to Vucic’s close friend Darko Glisic (also an SNS official) who invited him to his house in Ub where he is mayor. Belivuk said that he and his right hand man Marko Miljkovic had a constructive meeting with Glisic and was told that Vucic confirmed that Vidojevic was the direct link with the president and that they should not meet face to face. Belivuk also complained about then Internal Affairs Ministry State Secretary Dijana Hrkalovic who said something against him and his crew. Glisic allegedly told him that she is an enemy of the Vucic family and that they don’t know how to solve the problem.

Belivuk told investigators that Glisic promised him a meeting with Vucic. “He gave me BIA (Serbian intelligence and security agency) contacts saying that they would tell me when and where,” he said. He said the meeting went ahead in an apartment in the Zvezdara neighborhood in Belgrade with Vucic alone with Belivuk and Miljkovic. “We discussed several topics and had a couple more meetings. He told us at the first meeting that we would meet as little as possible so that we would not jeopardize him or ourselves because of the political situation,” the transcript quoted him as saying, adding that Vucic demanded several favors including the dismissal of the Partizan management which he could not agree to. Belivuk also refused to be in contact with Vulin.

KRIK said that some of the details in the transcript confirm earlier suspicions that Belivuk’s group played a role in suppressing protests and had a relationship with people in power. The portal said that Vucic and others named by Belivuk were contacted for comments but that none of them replied.