Freedom House’s report on Serbia – the decline of freedoms and the state’s connection to organized crime
The latest Freedom House report has once again highlighted the decline of freedoms in Serbia, but also underlined the country’s increased links with organised crime. That part of the report was used as a basis for the opposition’s criticism of the government, and the report’s conclusions were just another reminder of the collapse of the rule of law, even though the country “swore” to fight corruption and crime just 10 years ago.
The latest Fridom House report accuses Vučić and the SNS of links to organised crime and cronyism. This refers in particular to the recruitment of associates of the President and the ruling party.
In addition, Freedom House points out that corruption investigations are being conducted by several prosecutors, who usually blame the police for not having enough evidence against ministers.
According to the NGO, there are the well-known cases of Nenad Popovic for suspicious privatisation, Finance Minister Siniša Mali for alleged money laundering and former Health Minister Zlatibor Lončar, who is allegedly linked to an organised crime group. The Fridom House report also mentions the case of whistleblower Aleksandar Obradovic, who drew attention to the involvement of the father of Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic in the arms trade.
The government has been criticised for a lack of transparency in major infrastructure projects and for the secrecy of public tenders. For example, details of the state-funded construction of Belgrade on water are not available to the public,” the report says.
Fighting corruption with the arrest of Miskovic: Marketing, glorifying a president and a country that lost a dispute
The real political rise of the SNS, and of its leader Aleksandar Vučić, is largely linked to the arrest of one of Serbia’s richest businessmen, Miroslav Misković. Already in 2012, the owner of Delta Holding and his son Marko were detained on suspicion of unlawful acquisition of proceeds of crime, a case that was also publicly discussed by the then First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vučić.
He announced a fight against the “tycoon octopus”, who stole and enriched, which was a sufficient signal to voters to support the most powerful progressive of the time.
Vucic accused the owner of “Delta” of wanting to remove him from government because he feared that the fight against corruption would not reach his name.
“I see that he wants to throw me and the SNS out of power at any cost, but we will see who wins.” He wants to form a majority in which some of our current partners would be part of the previous regime,” Vucic said.
So it began, and ended with Mišković’s acquittal. The state had to pay €30 million in damages to one of the richest men in Serbia, but according to Vucic, the effect had already been achieved – the citizens believed he was a “good guy” and the tycoons “bad guys”, he wanted to get rid of Vucic.
Ten years of scandals – the Hercegovacka demolitions, Krusik, Jovanjica …
More than 10 years of SNS rule have been marked by numerous affairs that have “shaken” the regime of the current government to this day. Among the biggest corruption scandals of this government was the discovery that Minister Siniša Mali had 24 apartments in a building in Bulgaria.
No one has been held accountable for the “Krušik” deal and the involvement of the late Minister’s father, Nebojša Stefanović, and the GIM company in the arms trade, in which “Krušik” was damaged for tens of millions of dollars. Nor has anyone dealt with the conflict of interest in which Prime Minister Ana Brnabić found herself when it emerged that the company Aseko, in which her brother Igor was then a director, had made tens of millions of euros in deals with the state. The company of Bojan Kisić, brother of Minister Darija Kisić Tepavčević, had made multi-million euro deals with the state.
Although Belgrade on the Water is being built every day, the very start of construction has been marked by the suspension of the rule of law, the arrest of several people, the confiscation of telephones and the suspension of the regular functioning of the state.
In none of these cases has the state, that is to say the ruling party and its leader, prevented the spread of crime and corruption. Moreover, it has been established that representatives of the government were directly or indirectly involved in these scandals./Nova S/