The KRIK investigative news portal claims 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 the criminal clan to do favours for him such as making sure that FC Partizan supporters don’t chant offensive slogans against the president at games, act as security at the Pride Parade, intimidate organizers of anti-regime protests and force taxi drivers to cancel their protests against CarGo, a company that allegedly PM Ana Brnabic’s brother helped develop, 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 FC Partizan supporter groups which were viewed as hostile towards the authorities. Following the arrests, Vucic showed reporters photographs of mutilated bodies he said were the victims of the Belivuk crime clan. More recently, Interior MInister Aleksandar Vulin followed suit showing more gruesome images of people killed by the Belivuk clan during a live appearance on the pro-regime TV Pink.
KRIK further reports that Belivuk initially denied being a leader of the FC Partizan supporters as well as responsibility for any of the crimes he was charged with and refused to answer any questions.
The investigation 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 favours which he listed. Belivuk said that he contacted Vucic through football supporter Aleksandar Vidojevic who is friends with the president’s son Danilo 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.
He added that he did not trust Vidojevic after some time, believing he was taking credit for solving all the 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, a town of which he is also the 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 to organize a meeting with Vucic. “He gave me BIA (Serbian intelligence and security agency) contacts saying that they would tell me when and where the meeting will take place,” he said. He said the meeting went ahead in an apartment in the Zvezdara neighbourhood in Belgrade with Vucic agreeing to see Belivuk and Miljkovic alone.
“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 favours including the dismissal of the FC Partizan management which Belivuk could not agree to. Belivuk also refused to be in contact with Vulin.
KRIK further reports that some of the details in the transcript confirm earlier suspicions that Belivuk’s criminal group played a role in suppressing protests and had a close relationship with people in power.
Photo credits: Pedja Milosavljevic / AFP
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