For years, the Serbian authorities have been behaving as if they have the numerically superior and better-armed enemy in football hooligans, but the reality is that it would take Aleksandar Vučić the length of one football game to properly deal with them.
However, Vučić’s SNS party has turned the hooligans into the party’s Praetorian guard, creating a hitherto unprecedented symbiosis. Where the state did not want to publicly conduct its policies, they were conducted on their behalf by football hooligans, with the government’s approval. This could be breaking up the opposition’s protests, burning down foreign embassies or drug dealing.
When, in May 2016, the then Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said that the country currently did not have enough power to fight hooligans, because such a thing requires social consensus, that sounded somewhat comical.
But the then prime minister, now the president, had other plans with the hooligans.
He turned these dangerous hordes into personal and party guards, creating an unprecedented symbiosis of organized crime, hooligans and the government.
And there is nothing funny anymore about Vučić’s statement from 2016.
From the stadium stands came violence, brutal murders, drugs, racketeering, a cut of player transfers, intelligence games, police and policemen, politics and especially the politicians who approved and made all of this possible – from the very top of the state down.
The very few indictments against the hooligans were the first sign that the state was behind everything, and the figurative Hydra had grown to such proportions whereby the differences between the state and organized crime had become microscopic.
The Vučić family
It’s public knowledge that Aleksandar Vučić was part of the FC Red Star fan corps in his youth and that even today holds a certain fascination with the environment on the other side of the law.
After the October 5th political upheaval, Vučić began to embrace the hooligans more seriously.
One of the more graphic examples was the violent demonstrations during the arrest of Hague Tribunal indictee, Veselin Šljivančanin, today a prominent member of the SNS.
In June 2003, the protests in which more than 50 police officers were injured were led by Vučić as the then Secretary General of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), while the protesters included prominent leaders of FC Red Star, FC Partizan and FC Rad “fans”.
The “secret relationship” between the president and hooligans became quite apparent at his first inauguration in 2017.
Then KRIK investigative website identified Borko Aranitović, a known organized crime figure, as being a member of Vučić’s informal security, whose members attacked journalists and demonstrators, while the Insajder investigative website identified a prominent fan of FC Partizan Marko Todorov, who threatened their journalist.
Years later, in February 2021, when Veljko Belivuk’s criminal group was arrested and charged with eight murders, rapes and drug dealing, Belivuk threatened in a statement to the Prosecutor’s Office that he would reveal numerous crimes connected to the regime in power, starting with the demolition of houses in Savamala neighbourhood of Belgrade.
“Zvonko Veselinović, Sale (Aleksandar Stanković, a.k.a. Sale Mutavi, the leader of the Janjičari football fan group, who was killed in October 2016) and I sent guys to carry out the demolition in Savamala”, he said at the time.
We should, of course, bear in mind that the accused are allowed not to tell the truth in the court proceedings, but there are too many “coincidences” to ignore in these statements.
Veljko Belivuk and Marko Miljković, also arrested with Belivuk, spoke about the alleged direct connections between Vučić and the Janjičari.
After the murder of Aleksandar Stanković, they took over the leadership of this FC Partizan fan group.
Belivuk testified for the first time on July 5 and Miljković on July 15, 2021, in front of the Prosecutor’s Office and stated that they not only cooperated, but also met in person with the President of Serbia.
Belivuk said that he maintained contact with Vučić through Aleksandar Vidojević, a.k.a. Aca Rošavi, allegedly the president’s liason to Belivuk’s criminal clan.
He also claimed that he allegedly met Vučić several times in person, without specifying the time or the place, and that he has been a member of the SNS since 2011.
He went on to say that he first met, Darko Glišić, a top SNS official, in the town of Ub when a meeting with Vučić was allegedly arranged.
Belivuk and Miljković allegedly met with Vučić in the apartment of K. Š. in Živko Davidović Street in Zvezdara.
Miljković said that he got contacts of BIA (Serbian intelligence agency) employees from Vučić. Allegedly, his group intervened against taxi drivers who demonstrated against the launch of the Car&Go taxi company and Vučić explained that they wanted to help the company in which Prime Minister Ana Brnabić’s brother has a stake.
Belivuk also said that the hooligans’ scope of work included breaking up opposition rallies, preventing the chanting of derogatory slogans against Vučić and his family in football stadiums, obstructing the Pride Parade and coming to SNS rallies.
Marko Miljković also spoke about the ties with the president. He told how weapons were buried in the village of Jajinci, near the Vučić family house, in order to create an impression in the public about Vučić’s vulnerability.
“Aleksandar Stanković, a.k.a Sale Mutavi, Aleksandar Vidojević Rošavi and Nenad Vučković Vučko, a member of the Gendarmerie, together with Aleksandar Vulin (the then government minister), loaded the car with weapons and left the weapons near the house of Aleksandar Vučić in Jajinci. They wanted to portray to the media that Vučić was a target. To this day, nobody took responsibility for that car full of weapons,” Miljković said.
Even if the statements of those criminals accused of the most serious offences can and should be questioned, some other facts are indisputable.
Among them are several published photos of Vučić’s son Danilo hanging out with hooligans, which require a more detailed explanation.
Namely, Danilo Vučić was photographed at the World Cup in Russia in 2018 on the stand in the company of Vidojević and Boris Karapandžić.
Vidojević was the second in rank of the organized crime group, right under Aleksandar Stanković (a.k.a. Sale Mutavi).
Boris Karapandžić, another person in the photo with Danilo Vučić, was together with Belivuk and Miljković, as part of a group that has since been charged with the most serious crimes.
The explanation that Vučić offered at the time is part of the tried-and-tested SNS folklore about his family being in danger.
“My son Danilo is an honest and decent young man. He is guilty only because he is my son. Up until now, no politician’s child was made a target. By targeting my child, I am backed into a corner with nowhere to go. I will fight with all my might and refute all their lies. I promise you that,” said Vučić at the time.
Nobody knows who Vučić fought against, but it definitely was not the hooligans.
Photo credits: Profimedia
This post is also available in: Italiano