"We know that Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic has ties to organised crime like many in the Kosovo Government. We know that Vucic's brother Andrej met with (Kosovo Serb businessman) Zvonko Veselinovic," Drew Sullivan, one of the founders of the 'Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) told the nova.rs website on Saturday.
Commenting on the US Treasury Department’s decision to impose sanctions on Kosovo businessmen close to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), he said Vucic’s brother and his best friend Nikola Petrovic would „probably be added to the list in the next few months or years.“
„I assume that people, like Petrovic and Andrej Vucic, are high on the sanctions’ list,“ the American journalist told nova.rs in an interview, adding the US and European Union governments would probably not punish Vucic.
He said he thought „the US Government is identifying and sanctioning those who link governments and organised crime… We know that Vucic’s brother Andrej met with Veselinovic, who is believed to be protected by Serbia’s regime. Vucic applies the same policy as (Montenegrin President) Milo Đukanovic and Vladimir Putin, who regularly use their connections with organised crime as a secret branch of their governments. Organised crime can allow hooligans to quell protests, as we have recently seen. Those ties are usually arranged by the president’s brothers in the Balkans, as Aco did for Milo Djukanovic.
„US and EU governments will probably not sanction Vucic. They did not sanction more important people like Hungarian President Viktor Orban, or the godfather of all corrupt leaders Vladimir Putin,“ Sullivan told nova.rs.
He believed Petrovic was not on the list because „they either did not think there was enough evidence of corruption or they wanted to take a break in publishing names of some people because of the greater effect.“
„It seems to me that there is a ten-year rule for leaders. After ten years in power, they think they are untouchable, do not control their appetites, and become more and more greedy. Vucic will steal billions if he hasn’t already. His plans for the state to seize property refer not only to (Anglo-Australian company that wants to mine lithium in western Serbia) Rio Tinto, but to reward loyal people and punish opponents,“ Sullivan told Nova.rs.
Environmental activists held the third protest earlier on Saturday against Rio Tinto. They want the company out of Serbia and are not satisfied with the Government’s withdrawal of the Law on Expropriation and changes to the Law on Referendum, which they have demanded.
Vucic announced both moves after protests saw many more people last Saturday than before.