The alleged sexual favors traded for jobs and privileges scandal involving a local Serbian strongman was discussed on independent and pro-regime talk shows on Sunday night.
The scandal was discussed on the Impression of the Week talk show on the independent Nova S TV and on the Hit Tweet show on the pro-regime TV Pink. Hit Tweet was introduced a few months after the Impression of the Week went on the air in the same time slot in an effort to draw viewers away. The TV Pink talk show often features top government officials and very rarely opposition politicians who are not fully opposed to the ruling Serbian coalition.
Dragan Markovic Palma, the politician alleged to be at the center of the scandal, appeared on the pro-regime TV Pink talk show Hit Tvit to proclaim his innocence and accuse opposition politicians of faking the allegations. Markovic was accused of pimping young girls and forcing women to trade sexual favors for jobs and privileges in his home town of Jagodina where he has been in power for years. Markovic, an MP, and his United Serbia party are part of the ruling coalition. He has been in a coalition with Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic’s Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) for several years.
Markovic said that the allegations against him were made just 20 days after he came into possession of a document which he claims proves that opposition leader Dragan Djilas had been charged with beating his ex-wife in 2014. He said he had no intention of publishing the document because “this is an internal family matter”. He said that the video testimony which Djilas’ close associate Marinika Tepic released was recorded by a man who he claims was arrested six times and could not have witnessed any of the things he claimed to have seen.
He said that the serious allegations have to result in someone ending up in jail – either himself or Tepic and added that he would shoot anyone guilty of the alleged type of violence over any of his grandchildren. Markovic added that 99 percent of the prosecutors in Serbia were appointed before the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its coalition partners took power.
Speaking on the Impression of the Week talk show on Nova S TV, the head of a child safety watchdog organization Igor Juric said that he reported a paedophile politician to then Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and a senior police chief but refused to say whether that politician was Dragan Markovic Palma. Juric said he is protecting the identity of victims and added that the fact that he reported what he knows is stopping the politician because he doesn’t know which of his victims reported what.
Speaking on the same show, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, a former Serbian Ambassador to Italy, said that the honorary Serbian Consul Professor Roberto Veraldi and a group of Italian business people had been invited to Markovic’s home town of Jagodina where they were entertained by scantily clad dancers. According to Raskovic Ivic, Veraldi was approached by Markovic who asked him if he had chosen one of the girls. The professor said he wasn’t interested but one of the girls was sent to his hotel room. Markovic proclaimed Veraldi a homosexual and refused to have anything to do with him later, she said.