Four years on, Krušik whistleblower is still seeking the truth

It’s been four years since Aleksandar Obradović revealed all the wrongdoings in the arms factory Krušik. On September 18, 2019, Obradović was arrested at his workplace at the Krušik factory in Valjevo on charges of disclosing a business secret, after he gave journalists documents showing that the GIM Company, represented by the father of the then Interior Minister, Branko Stefanović, was buying weapons from Krušik at preferential prices.

He is still being prosecuted by the state authorities but the persons who made huge damages to this state-owned arms factory have never been brought to justice. Obradović has been since suspended from work and lives on only a quarter of his salary.

“I don’t regret what I did, because I would do it all over again. I still stand behind all my actions and words. Unfortunately, little has changed in these four years. I just don’t want to continue to comment on this case and be in the media in that way, but I haven’t given up my fight. I still believe that one day, things will be different and better in Serbia,” says Obradović in an interview for NIN weekly.

Although he no longer doesn’t do public appearances, Obradović continues to fight for a better Serbia. Every week he took place in street protests in one city or another. In his native Valjevo, he also supported the policewoman Katarina Petrović, who, like him, was arrested for revealing information of public importance that the close friend of the President of Serbia, Nikola Petrović, had drugs and alcohol in his system when he caused a traffic accident in which two women were seriously injured.

Obradović was secretly arrested on September 18, 2019, by the Serbian intelligence agency, BIA, for the first time for allegedly revealing a business secret and two days later a Belgrade High Court judge ruled that Obradović should be put on house arrest and wear an ankle monitor. However, following an appeal by the Special Department for High-Tech Crime of the Higher Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, the police arrested him again on September 30. Another judge sentenced him to 30 days in prison.

The proceedings against him continued secretly until October 10, 2019, when NIN published the first article about this brave whistleblower. People immediately gathered in front of the Central Prison in Belgrade to protest. Soon, two Belgrade courts, the Appellate and Higher courts, in one day, on October 14, 2019, made a decision to put Obradović on house arrest in Valjevo. His house arrest ended on December 18, 2019. Since then Obradović has been free, but he is still under investigation and suspended from work. For months, the media have been reporting on this case and the corruption that Obradović discovered.

After a series of media reports about the Krušik affair, in late December 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime initiated a preliminary investigation and ordered the BIA and VBA (military intelligence agency) to investigate the business of private arms dealers with Krušik. Once Nebojša Stefanović wasn’t Interior Minister any longer, the Prosecutor’s Office gave the same order to the police. Despite this, even the pre-investigation procedure has not been completed to date.

In their reports, both the European Commission and the European Parliament labelled Obradovic as a whistleblower and demanded the resolution of the Krušik affair. These are things that Serbia must resolve in order to join the EU, which is the declarative policy of the current government.

Obradović discovered that Krušik sold mines to privileged arms traders for about 20 percent cheaper than to the largest arms exporter, the state-owned Jugoimport SDPR, and in some cases at a price lower than the production costs.

The first company (arms trader) that came under suspicion was GIM which had a deal with Krušik that was mediated by Branko Stefanović (the father of the former Serbian Interior Minister), who died in mid-2020. This company generated huge profits while Stefanović was alive and his son Nebojša was the Interior Minister.

Another controversial arms dealer who did business with Krušik was Slobodan Tešić, considered one of the biggest financiers of the SNS party. Five companies under Tešić’s control – Partizan Tek, Vektura Trans, Falcon Strategic Solutions, Arnex and Technoglobal System, which was merged with Partizan Tech in December 2018 – signed 14 contracts worth more than 72 million dollars and 5.86 million euros with Krušik from August 2015 to March 2019. As many as eight of those 14 contracts were signed after December 21, 2017, when Tešić, as “the biggest arms dealer in the Balkans”, was blacklisted by the US administration. In December 2022, he was also blacklisted by the British government.

(Nova, 21.09.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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